ITV Racing's Ed Chamberlin reflects on his afternoon at Wincanton where he saw Sir Alex Ferguson's Give Me A Copper land the feature Badger Beers Silver Trophy.
Fergie Time in Badger Beers
The pictures of Sir Alex Ferguson grinning like he used to do when Manchester United scored in ‘Fergie Time’ was an image we’ll remember for a long while after the horse he part-owns, Give Me A Copper, landed the feature Badger Beers Silver Trophy at a nippy Wincanton on Saturday.
We should’ve taken the hint that the great man coming to watch was a sign he was well fancied by Paul Nicholls, who should be making the headlines really, having won one of the most competitive handicaps of the season an extraordinary 10 times now.
A remarkable feat, even by Nicholls’ high standards.
It was a big coup by Wincanton to get Sir Alex there and his smile and excitement after the race lit up the racecourse.
He was good enough to speak to us on ITV and it was lovely to see arguably the greatest football manager of all time in such good health – although with my former football hat on I had to resist asking him who he was supporting at Anfield tomorrow! I thought it was a mean question.
I imagine now they’ll try and keep Give Me A Copper sound and maybe train him as a Grand National horse.
Earlier in the day it was an inspired move to name our first race after Richard Barber, the man who discovered See More Business and many other stars in the point-to-point and National Hunt field.
It was a race many trainers were desperate to win for a man they worked for and alongside, but the prize went to Emma Lavelle’s Misty Bloom who landed another live ITV race for up-and-coming claimer Ben Jones.
There was a big punt on the horse, too, 16/1 in 9/2, and I can only imagine it was the hordes of Ben Linfoot’s Value Bet followers who inspired the gamble. It’s hard to believe he’s a better tipster than he is an interviewer after listening to his weekly chats with Daryl Jacob on the Sporting Life Racing Podcast – we even had an elongated yawn from the top jockey on it this week!
Fusil Raffles doesn't impress
Jacob looked more alert on Fusil Raffles but he had to be to see off Grand Sancy in the Unibet Elite Hurdle and I must admit to being distinctly underwhelmed by his performance.
It was a mile off what will be required to figure in a Champion Hurdle and I was surprised to see Sky Bet trim him a point to 11/1 from 12s afterwards.
Nicky Henderson was adamant afterwards that the horse wasn’t fit and Jacob seemed happy enough, too, and that pair would know plenty more than me, but I still felt disappointed after expecting bigger things.
Every year we seem to overrate the juvenile hurdle form and I just wonder if we are guilty of doing so again? Perhaps they were a modest bunch last year, although the one juvenile who could be very good is Gordon Elliott’s Coeur Sublime.
The Triumph Hurdle runner-up was monstrously impressive at Down Royal the other day in the WKD Hurdle and it’ll be interesting to see how he develops as he tackles top-level company.
I suppose the same can be said of Fusil Raffles, but the jury is out for me on him. His next run will be very informative.
It’s been a big week for Fusil Raffles’ owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede with Janika establishing himself as a contender for the big two-mile races – and I do hope they go for the Tingle Creek.
And good old Top Notch, too, winning at Aintree on Saturday, what a tenacious little horse he is.
Tank a player in the spring
I’ve digressed from our Wincanton fallout and I must mention Reserve Tank who won the Rising Stars Novices’ Chase this afternoon despite hating the rain-softened ground.
We’ve had some vintage winners of this race over the years and while it probably wasn’t up to scratch as a renewal considering past victors, I still think Reserve Tank could be a big player for whatever he goes for come the spring.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Colin Tizzard gives him a break when the ground is bad as he really does look like a good ground spring performer and how lucky is Richard O’Dwyer, one of the Reserve Tankers, who also has a share in Lostintranslation who looked absolute dynamite at Carlisle last weekend?!
My favourite moment on the show today was a new feature we’ve introduced called ‘Where Are They Now?’ Two weeks ago we showed Balthazar King in rude health being looked after by Izzy Beckett while this week we tracked down Celestial Halo who remains in Ditcheat.
Please let us know on @itvracing if you’d like to know where your all time favourite is now residing. My request went in to track down Harchibald – and we’ve found him – so keep watching to see what he’s doing in retirement soon.
And so to Prestbury...
All eyes are on Cheltenham next week now and the November meeting, three days we have ringed in the ITV racing calendar a long way off.
The headline act for us this year will be the full debut for Ruby Walsh on all four ITV shows, including The Opening Show on Saturday, and I’m really excited about reuniting him with his old adversary Sir Anthony McCoy. I have high hopes they’ll gel like a certain duo did on Monday Night Football.
It’s the stars on the track that really matter, however, and the prospect of soft ground at Cheltenham means plenty of stars, like Defi Du Seuil (how good was that JLT?!), Al Dancer, Birchdale and Slate House are set to come out to play…