Midnight Chase faces Cheltenham scare from the weights

 

Hard though it was to believe, as frost sugared every twig in the surrounding hills today, plenty of intriguing sport seems guaranteed at Cheltenham over the next two afternoons. The cross-country track still requires an inspection this morning, but the remainder of the card should be staged in as much comfort as rain, wind and one of the shortest, darkest days of the year permit.

While Midnight Chase is probably happiest on better ground, he so adores this track that he will command many loyal wagers even under top-weight in the day's most valuable race. After a respectable comeback behind Silviniaco Conti at Wetherby, he is only 5lbs higher than when winning the equivalent contest two years ago. In three visits since, he has finished fifth and seventh in the Gold Cup itself and made all in an Argento Chase. "Though he has to give weight all round, at least he is meeting them on the right terms," Neil Mulholland, his trainer, said today. "Whereas he has been wrong at the weights in some of the conditions races he has been running in."

Midnight Chase will have to be near his peak, however, to concede 13lbs to the thriving Quartz De Thaix – or 15lbs to the bold Becauseicouldntsee (1.55). Twice runner-up at the Festival here, the Co Clare raider has not lived up to expectations in the National but shaped as though coming to hand when third over hurdles a fortnight ago.

Another Irish horse summoned home from home is Uncle Junior (2.30). He has discovered a new lease of life over these varied obstacles, where an inflated rating seems less pertinent than in everyday disciplines. It looks significant that Willie Mullins has also put Inish Island (3.05) on the boat, presumably considering him well treated after an impressive start for the stable at Downpatrick last month.

Unfortunately the novice races, over fences and hurdles respectively, both elude terrestrial coverage but either could volunteer an improver eligible to return here for the Festival in March.

Meanwhile the British Horseracing Authority disciplinary panel today rejected appeals against two contentious punishments in recent days: one for Daryl Jacob, after momentarily appearing to mistake the winning line at Wincanton; and another for Oliver Sherwood and Leighton Aspell, who were both incensed by the suggestion that Furrows should have been given a more searching ride in a novice chase at Hereford.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Royal Sea (6.20 Wolverhampton) Had been green in qualifying for a mark and still seemed short of experience when favourite for his handicap debut, regrouping well and looking ready for this extra furlong.

One to watch

Basle (Michael Blake) Made the perfect start for her new trainer at Lingfield on Tuesday.

Where the money's going

Cristal Bonus has been slashed from 10-1 to 5-1 by Coral for the Paul Stewart IronSpine Charity Gold Cup at Cheltenham tomorrow.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore