Tidal Bay can wash up a winner for Jacob

 

Though one perennial anomaly persists, with a "new" season starting at Ludlow and Wetherby tomorrow, little else is routine about the final day of the jumps season.

Certainly none of the trainers who targeted the Bet365 Gold Cup, highlight of a popular mixed card at Sandown, can have expected midwinter ground. At the best of times the race represents a thorough test of jumping and stamina, but conditions today will permit no hiding place for any runner low on fuel at the end of the campaign.

That is not a concern for West End Rocker, who arrived at Aintree a fortnight ago as a fresh horse – and left as one too, having got no further than the second fence. He has a sound chance, but those of a more adventurous disposition might yet give one more chance to Tidal Bay (3.10).

As wilful as he is talented, consenting to run on only when the race is over, he has now slipped down to a very fair mark despite top-weight. Ridden for the first time by Daryl Jacob, whose skills in long-distance chases were so amplified at Aintree, the old rogue gets a distance of ground that might allow him to get involved without especially noticing. Historically his best finishes have been drawn out by the hill at Cheltenham, and the one here could well soften up the leaders sufficiently for him to pick up the pieces. He could simply down tools, of course, but the odds make that a risk worth taking.

Painful as it is, similar doubts must now be entertained about Somersby in the other steeplechase on the card. After a tame submission at Cheltenham, he will have to show rather more spirit in conditions he may find too gruelling. Sanctuaire remains entitled to improve, but Wishful Thinking (2.35) should wrap this up if able to replicate a generous effort at Aintree – albeit that is quite a proviso, given barely a fortnight's recuperation. It might be noted that his stablemate, Menorah, was attempting something similar when failing to get home in desperate conditions behind Lucky William in the Ryanair Gold Cup at Punchestown yesterday.

Willie Mullins has enjoyed another marvellous Festival and today saddles Quel Esprit, among others, on its final card. The champion trainer had the favourites for both the other Grade One prizes yesterday, but Felix Younger ran flat behind Dedigout in the Cathal Ryan Memorial Novice Hurdle and Hurricane Fly made hard work of the Rabobank Champion Hurdle. There were only three other runners, two of them his own stablemates, yet Hurricane Fly had to be driven out firmly to see off Zaidpour by three and a half lengths. "I was worried about him passing the winning post first time round," Mullins admitted. "I thought: 'This guy's not enjoying this.' On reflection, I think he wasn't enjoying the sticky ground – especially after a hard race at Cheltenham last time. I think when the ground's better, he'll be back to himself."

The weather has plainly been inimical to Punchestown's role as a fitting celebration of the season; and while a parade of its British stars might lend a due sense of occasion to proceedings back at Sandown, the most accomplished animal engaged in anger there will actually be on the Flat. Twice Over is well treated at the weights but the same was true on his return at Newmarket last week, when shaping only adequately on his comeback.

World Domination could yet renew the promise of last spring, but one guaranteed to relish conditions is Poet (3.45). Though last on his reappearance in France, he was taken on for the lead on fast going there and made Workforce himself work over course and distance last spring.

Sadly the Bet 365 Classic Trial, potentially the most instructive race on the card, eludes terrestrial coverage – but then the extreme conditions are going to make it hard to quantify the relative merits of two winners at the Craven meeting last week, Stipulate and Rougemont, and two debut winners for top stables. The Group race on yesterday's card, meanwhile, saw Penitent confirm himself better than ever for his flourishing new trainer, David O'Meara.

Turf Account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Dubai Dynamo (2.20 Ripon)

His reliability in this grade makes him a solid play.

Next Best

Top Smart (2.0 Sandown)

News
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
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

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits