Kashmir ready to Peak
Simon Holt previews Saturday's StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle and fancies Kashmir Peak for John Quinn.
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There are few better dual purpose trainers in the country than Malton-based John Quinn who is fancied to land Sunday's StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle with KASHMIR PEAK.
A generally progressive horse under both codes, the four-year-old won his first two starts over hurdles last season, beating Sametegal (now 6lb worse off) by a length on the second occasion at Doncaster.
Kashmir Peak looked set to cross swords with Sametegal again until unseating Dougie Costello four out at Musselburgh next time - both horses were travelling well at the time - and then made another jumping error when only 12th behind easy winner Our Conor (Sametegal third) in the Triumph Hurdle at the Festival.
Hopefully, Quinn has got to work on the selection's jumping but what makes him look most interesting here is a recent run on the Flat at Doncaster where Kashmir Peak was beaten just a head by a highly progressive John Gosden-trained three-year-old called Thomas Hobson.
That effort confirmed the horse's well being and, with a clean round of hurdling here, he could prove very well handicapped.
Quinn also runs Calculated Risk, a horse rated over a stone inferior to his stable companion on the level (and in receipt of only six pounds here). The son of Motivator has a chance on his game win under top weight at Ascot last April but Costello, who rode him there, prefers Kashmir Peak.
A recent win here confirms that Sametegal is in good form, though his neck defeat of Bayan was probably nothing to get too excited about. Paul Nicholls' charge gets a 5lb pull with Court Minstrel for their running together in the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Aye in the spring and, in light of the winner's recent lacklustre effort at Ascot, has a good chance at turning those tables.
Meanwhile, the winner of the Ascot race, Pine Creek, could be a danger to all despite going up 7lb in the ratings since.
Denis O'Regan's mount travelled well throughout that day though it remains to be seen how the form works out with the first six finishing reasonably close together.
In any case, Pine Creek has a little to find with Tanerko Emery on their running behind shock winner First Avenue in the Imperial Cup at Sandown in March.
Tanerko Emery looks to have a tough task under 11st10lb but runs here after a promising narrow defeat on his chasing debut at Uttoxeter and could be a contender should any rain provide his favoured soft ground conditions.
In the absence of rain, David Pipe's admirably tough gelding may find himself struggling to get there in time.
Pipe also runs his French import Dell Arca who was beaten by a very highly regarded horse called Vukovar in a hurdle race at Auteuil in June. This four-year-old must have been difficult to assess for the British handicapper and a market move could be very significant.
Cheltenham Festival winner Flaxen Flare had a stiff task against the smart Jezki at Down Royal recently and will appreciate this return to handicap company, albeit now a stone higher in the handicap since winning here last March.
Ante-post favourite Cash And Go, second to Olofi in this race 12 months ago before proving disappointing, has apparently done well this autumn with trainer Nicky Henderson reporting that he is a more muscular horse than before. Another big chance in a hugely open contest.