Mike Cattermole reflects on the recent action and predicts a big year for Jeremy Noseda's Newmarket string and Phoenix Thoroughbred Ltd.
CATCHING UP IS HARD WORK!
The weather is incredibly frustrating right now but one good thing about this 'Beast from the East' is that it gives you a chance to re-evaluate things ahead of Cheltenham or, in my case, have a good old catch-up after being away on holiday last week (I picked the wrong week, didn't I?)
First up, I am not surprised that Alan King was delighted with Redicean in the Adonis Hurdle. Up to now, his jumping had been questionable but not this time and he fairly flew over the last two flights at full pelt to win emphatically.
King is a dab hand at training juvenile hurdlers and all the work on him at home fine-tuning Redicean’s jumping technique had clearly paid off. He has to have a chance in the JCB Triumph, which is one of the Festival's most competitive races. When you look at the top contenders, it is hard to know which ones will not make the frame.
Ben Pauling's Global Citizen also very much took the eye in the Dovecote Novices' Hurdle and in fact beat Redicean's time by over two seconds. Global Citizen had no entry at the Festival – yet – but the proposal to run him in the County Hurdle was blown apart when his new rating came through this week at 149, some 19lb higher than on Saturday morning. The best laid plans, eh?
Chasing him home in second place was the King-trained Scarlet Dragon and although the winning margin was nine lengths, I don't think this represented the true difference between them.
Scarlet Dragon, rated 107 on the Flat, was given a lovely, educational ride by Wayne Hutchinson in spite of pulling and exhibiting some novicey jumping – he gave the third flight a right whack. Still happy to sit and wait, Scarlet Dragon made up a tremendous amount of ground up the home straight when allowed his head.
Connections are considering the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle and there won't be a higher-rated Flat horse in the line-up. Sure, he needs to improve his jumping fast, but the strong gallop will suit him and he is a standout 33/1 with the sponsors.
Check that Kempton run out (click for free video replay) and see if you agree with me...
JEREMY NOSEDA ONE TO WATCH THIS YEAR
Jeremy Noseda was one man smiling in the frozen atmosphere of Lingfield – it was bitter - on Tuesday when he saddled a double at the track.
The ardent Spurs fan was pleased with Abe Lincoln, who won the good quality 10f handicap well enough, but was more guarded about Walk In The Sun, a fine- looking son of Street Sense who was no more than workmanlike in the novice conditions stakes.
"If I’m being honest, I was a touch disappointed", admitted the trainer to me as I interviewed him on ATR. "He didn’t really handle the track. I think he has a big future but we might have to be patient."
Walk In The Sun, an Irish 2,000 Guineas entry, was bought for a whopping 1.4m EUROS at the Arqana Breeze-Up Sale last May and carries the colours of Phoenix Thoroughbred Ltd who made an impression in its first season last year.
Phoenix operates a bit like a venture capital company with some very rich people investing in their thoroughbred investment portfolio, which is based in Luxemburg.
Noseda has always been a dab hand at placing his horses, and indeed mapping out a plan for them, and I am looking forward to seeing what he does with Phoenix's Take Me With You this summer.
He regards this Scat Daddy filly very highly and she was first home of those drawn on the near side in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot before winning her maiden easily at Windsor last September. Plans to take her to the Breeders' Cup had to be shelved after she suffered a setback.
The same owner’s Gronkowski was due to run at Kempton on Thursday with high expectations, so keep an eye on him, too.
A decade or so ago, Group One wins were a pretty regular occurrence at Shalfleet Stables and now that Noseda has some quality material to work with again, I have a feeling that there will be more big race success coming his way pretty soon.
WEST BERKSHIRE RACING CLUB QUIZ
After Lingfield on Tuesday, I had a surprisingly trouble-free journey across to Newbury racecourse to take part in the annual West Berkshire Racing Club Quiz.
The event had been rearranged following the untimely death of Phil Brown who had been the question master for years. Phil, a tremendous enthusiast, had sadly passed away just before Christmas but had still set most of the questions. He must have had a laugh looking down because they were his toughest yet.
At least they were for me and my team-mates, made up of Geoff Lester, Neil Morrice and Bernard Mills, who subbed for the absent Nick Deacon whose father, the legendary Darkie, had been taken unwell. Best wishes to him, Fulke Walwyn’s right-hand man, of course, in the glory years.
Anyway, the Freelance Four were upsides to halfway but we faded alarmingly and our “joker” round of "best horses of the 1970s" was an absolute disaster.
Raceform romped home, chased up by Richard Phillips’s team, which contained Charlie Poste, former commentator John Hanmer (“still alive”) and the legend that is Sir AP McCoy, who is a regular on the night. Phillips couldn’t help quipping: “No wonder you’re all freelance!” He had a point.
I will be back at Newbury next Tuesday March 6 for their Festival Preview Night alongside Jamie Snowden, Charlie Mann and Lizzie Kelly. If you can make it, it would be good to see you. It starts at 8pm and proceeds go to the IJF.
EDDIE JONES DONE WITH PUBLIC TRANSPORT – WHO CAN BLAME HIM?
The BBC’s sports correspondent, Dan Roan, tweeted a film of some Scottish rugby “fans” hassling and abusing England rugby coach Eddie Jones at Manchester railway station earlier this week as he was getting into a taxi.
The lack of respect and common courtesy was risible, especially as Jones had posed for some photos with them moments earlier. Yet still they shouted abuse at him. What a pity that the likes of Dylan Hartley or Chris Robshaw weren’t nearby!
I enjoyed watching the Scotland/England game when my loyalties, as usual, were divided (I am half of each) and again admired the spirit of the players and their respect for the officials.
But watching this film made me cringe.
As they say in Scotland, "nae class."
ARSENE WENGER IS CLASS, BUT HIS TIME IS UP
The long-serving Arsenal manager got a grilling from the press at his latest pre-match conference ahead of the rematch with Manchester City on Thursday night.
He bristled as they repeatedly asked questions about his future. But Wenger stood his ground and didn't storm out in a fit of pique as others often do. Fair play to him.
Surely he must know, deep down, that his time at Arsenal is up. Arsenal have a strong squad but they are not performing for him right now and something is clearly out of step at the club. It is not likely to get better any time soon until Wenger goes.
Click on the image below for Sky Bet's next Arsenal manager odds...