HORSE RACING: Northants owners Hunt and Rexton hoping for Cheltenham glory

GIRL POWER - a jubilant Lizzie Kelly after the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last Saturday but Agrapart does not hold a Festival entry and county owner Rob Rexton has high hopes for Flying Angel which finished third, on better ground (Picture courtesy of www.gjmultimedia.co.uk)
GIRL POWER - a jubilant Lizzie Kelly after the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last Saturday but Agrapart does not hold a Festival entry and county owner Rob Rexton has high hopes for Flying Angel which finished third, on better ground (Picture courtesy of www.gjmultimedia.co.uk)

Cheltenham Festival trips are very much on the agenda for county owners Simon Hunt and Rob Rexton following placed runs on last Saturday’s high profile card at Newbury.

The Giant Bolster, owned by Simon Hunt, the boss of the Winvic construction firm on Moulton Park, is an intended runner in the Cheltenham Gold Cup for the fifth year running which would also be his seventh consecutive appearance at Prestbury Park at the March jamboree, after chasing home Houblon Des Obeaux in the Betfair Denman Chase.

Rexton, who runs the Agetur UK building concern in Brackley, expects to be double-handed at The Festival with Flying Angel, third behind Agrapart in the 22 runner Betfair Hurdle as well as Bally Beaufort who has a pair of entries at Ascot on Saturday, including the Sodexo Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase.

While Rexton’s trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies will consider each of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the Neptune Investment Hurdle and the Coral Cup for Flying Angel, Bally Beaufort could run in the 4m National Hunt Chase at the Festival and has been given an entry in the Grand National at Aintree on April 9.

Several notable pundits have tried to suggest to The Giant Bolster’s trainer David Bridgwater that the 11 year-old should go down a handicapping route as he pulled up in Coneygree’s Gold Cup last year, having previously been second, fourth and third behind Synchronised, Bob’s Worth and Lord Windermere respectively.

However Hunt said: “If we ran in the Kim Muir amateur riders’ race they will go off a hell of a gallop. If my horse doesn’t get his position and we are sitting 18th of 24 after half a circuit we would be finished. He could get beaten in a selling race if he set off wrong. You can look at the form of the Gold Cup horses but these things have a habit of falling apart.”

Hunt explained: “The pleasing thing about Saturday was that he finished his race. He was a few lengths behind in fifth place turning in but Jake filled him up with air and at the line the horse behind him back in third was 20 or so lengths back. The Hennessy form has come to the fore again... Houblon Des Obeaux was a couple of places behind us when Smad Place won in November.”

Hunt added: “I was delighted for Jake Hodson who rode the horse. It was a huge thing for him to get a ride like that in a Saturday race. We told him to ride The Giant Bolster just like he would at home and the horse would carry him home! As well as his Cheltenham record The Giant Bolster has now been second twice and fourth in three runnings of the Denman Chase.”

Meanwhile, Rexton has reason to believe Flying Angel could turn the tables on Agrapart in different conditions. He said: “Agrapart also thrashed us on soft ground at Aintree but we had that horse behind us in a novice hurdle at Worcester in October and believe Flying Angel will be much better on better ground.”

As well as Bally Beaufort and Flying Angel, Rexton has Arthur McBride and Thunder Sheikh in training with Twiston-Davies and sponsors the yard, while his other company Rexton Investments sponsor the jockey Ryan Hatch. He said: “I couldn’t be happier with the thought of going to the Festival with two runners.”

EAST Northamptonshire owner Brian Johnson has good reason to be happy with the week’s events after a victory for Borough Boy and a placed effort for Unex Modigliani at Wolverhampton on Monday.

The Derek Shaw-trained six year-old has now recorded seven wins as well as finishing in the first three on another 13 occasions, from a 57 race career, and came home five lengths clear of Fujin at Southwell last Thursday.

Unex Modigliani has also tried his hand at hurdling and while still without a win, has been placed on six occasions.

WHATEVER the outcome for Worcestershire trainer Claire Dyson’s runners on Towcester’s second February card on Wednesday, the county track will always be one she will hold with some affection and based on the current form of her string, she is worth following there.

Cheat The Cheater won on the last Towcester card and was due to attempt a quick follow up rather than tackle the Sussex National at Lingfield next Monday. Although Dyson has now retired Musical Wedge and Quayside Court, responsible for a brace wins each on the track since 2013, she also has fond recollections of her 33/1 success on the hurdler Whitford Don which she rode herself, back in February 2007.

“I remember going past Richard Johnson at the second last. He just turned and smiled at me!” said Dyson.