Catching Pigeons: Night to remember
Much-improved amateur rider Nico De Boinville will be getting his mucking out done as early as possible for boss Nicky Henderson before he heads north to ride three at Doncaster on Saturday.
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A contender alongside Sam Waley-Cohen for being the best-spoken member of the weighing room, De Boinville has gone from strength to strength in the saddle this season and his booking to partner Night In Milan for the William Hill Grimthorpe Chase is most interesting.
The Reveley team are in cracking form at present, as evidenced by a double at Donny on Friday, and this race has been on the agenda for Night In Milan almost as soon as he was edged out in a similar contest at this track in December.
He didn't stay the trip at Catterick subsequently, but has had a long time to get over those exertions and he has a good chance of reversing course form with Court By Surprise - the trainer expects this better ground to suit and reckons stablemate Corkage could even give him a one-two.
Cry Of Freedom shaped with promise on his seasonal return at Musselburgh last month and although the second and fourth-placed horses have been beaten since, the suspicion is that the form of that race is quite strong.
With three winners from eight runners in the last fortnight, John Ferguson's stable remains in decent form and the trainer expects this horse to appreciate the better ground in the two-mile Ladbrokes Supporting Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Newbury.
However preference in the same race goes for another horse making the trip from East Anglia, The Betchworth Kid. He shaped quite nicely on his first start since rejoining Michael Bell when midfield in the Totesport Trophy last month and seems to be enjoying life back at his old yard. (Bell, incidentally, managed to bring Newmarket to a virtual standstill last week when - just like the good old days - marching most of his string down the High Street on their way to the gallops).
Andy Turnell, one of the most popular trainers in the Lambourn Valley, could do with a pick-me-up after a recent serious health scare and Micheal Flips might just be able to provide it in the Stan James Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup.
Good ground, testing fences and a flat track bring out the best in this horse - as he showed when chasing home For Non Stop in a Grade One at this track last season.
Conditions haven't been ideal for him for most of this season but he ran notably well in a hot jumpers' bumper against some pacier sorts last time out and back down to the same handicap mark from which he was last successful (in a race where the form worked out very well), everything is in place for a big run. Get well soon, Andy.
Bradbury gets a good shout from the Pigeon's Cheshire cousin on his first start over jumps since joining Donald McCain in the Charlton Baker Supporting Greatwood Handicap Hurdle.
He won nicely on the all-weather on his latest start and is fancied to replicate that return to form back over hurdles - especially as he has clearly been crying out for this move up in trip.
Act Alone is a good free-moving type and carries the colours of locally-based owners in the closing bumper. You won't get rich backing Henderson's bumper horses, but he's one of the better ones.
Finally, it was good to see Sir Henry Cecil's team move up a gear with some fast work on the Al Bahahtri all-weather gallop last Saturday.
Shane Featherstonehaugh, for the last two years married to Frankel, has a new partner for the season in Hot Snap, a three-year-old Pivotal half-sister to Midday. Is this a sign of high hopes for the season to come?