HORSE RACING: Demon success sets up Cheltenham Festival chance

Cheltenham Festival
Cheltenham Festival

An ambitious target of running in the Kim Muir Challenge Cup Chase at Cheltenham a fortnight today has been resolved by former editor of The Times and The Independent Charlie Wilson for Delgany Demon, after the eight-year-old scored over hurdles at 8/1 at Southwell on Sunday.

Delgany Demon, who won a Towcester bumper back in the 2012/13 season, had shown useful form over the bigger obstacles, but was reverting to timber in a confidence restoring mission.

However, Wilson and his wife Rachel, who live at Great Bowden near Market Harborough, hope the Neil King-trained runner, who was ridden on Sunday by Sean Bowen, will get in at the foot of the handicap at the Cheltenham Festival for the amateur riders’ contest.

Wilson explained: “Delgany Demon had finished second in the Southwell race 12 months earlier to a good horse of Jonjo O’Neill’s called Spookydooky ridden by Tony McCoy. However he has had a series of back ‘kissing spine’ problems which he was treated for back in the autumn.”

He added: “We decided his future was over fences but after a couple of second places he ran an awful race at Newbury in December which was totally out of character.

“He is rated 131 and we hope he gets in the Kim Muir race at the bottom of the handicap but it will be touch and go. If he doesn’t, I imagine he will run at Uttoxeter over fences on the following Saturday at the Midlands Grand National meeting.”

The Wilsons also have Red Invader on the flat trained by Paul D’Arcy at Newmarket and that six-year-old is likely to run on the all weather this week with Luke Morris on board, although he is usually the mount of Rachel Wilson.

The brace of 3m hurdle contests on Southwell’s Sunday card continued with a local theme when the Alex Hales-trained Shinooki took the other in the hands of Kielan Woods, being heavily eased after leading by 20 lengths at the last.

Hales’ Edgcote yard has landed plenty of ‘Best Turned Out’ prizes of late thanks to the care and attention of stable lass Esme Stanley who managed three in one afternoon, but Shinooki (10/1) proved another example of a horse benefitting from a return to hurdles after failing to complete three chase starts. The horse runs in the colours of the late David Allen.

NORTHAMPTON owner Simon Hunt saw his colours carried to victory at Plumpton on Monday when Jot ‘Em Down took the bumper in the hands of Tom Scudamore.

The 2/1 joint favourite had previously run fifth at Towcester in a contest from which the third horse Boudry came out and scored at Newcastle on Saturday.

GERALD Bailey’s Holdenby North Lodge point to point yard could have a hunter chase target at Towcester when the Northamptonshire track stages its next meeting on March 17, on the Thursday of the Cheltenham Festival.

Gunmoney won his third consecutive race at Garthorpe on Sunday to take Bailey’s seasonal point haul to 11, setting up the Towcester option.

That looks dependent on his jockey Johnny Russell who needed hospital treatment and wasn’t released from Nottingham Hospital until midnight when a fall from Easythingsarebest resulted in Russell being kicked in the face but also damaging his back which thankfully proved to be bruising rather than anything more severe.

Bailey said: “The Towcester run could depend on how Johnny recovers as it would be a shame if he couldn’t ride his horse.”

Bailey’s other Garthorpe winner was Mr Madeit for George Greenock, while 24 hours earlier Alex Vaughan-Jones had been successful for the yard when scoring at Horseheath on Ignite Alight.

Racing action in the county steps up a pace in the next few weeks with Towcester’s next fixture getting underway at 1.15pm while the annual Oakley Hunt point to point meeting at Brafield on the Green takes place on Sunday, March 20.

Towcester also stages its Sky Bet-sponsored Cheltenham Preview Night next Monday evening at 7.30pm for which £12 tickets include a free £5 bet and hot pork roll as well as the Racing Post Betting Guide to the Festival, which retails at £12.99. Bookings can be obtained via the web-site www.towcester-racecourse.co.uk or by ringing (01327 353414).

Among the panel of experts is jockey Nick Scholfield.