HORSE RACING: Rexton revving up for Cheltenham Festival
The Cheltenham Festival is the showground of dreams, and Northamptonshire man Rob Rexton is backing his trainer to deliver at the four-day jamboree next week.
Australian-born Rexton is the boss of Brackley civil engineering firm Agetur UK and both the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Flying Angel and Robinshill are poised to sport his orange and green colours, although their exact target races are as yet undecided.
Six-year-old grey Flying Angel was second to Ibis Du Rheu in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham 12 months ago, so his proven ability to act on the track is a bonus.
So impressive was the manner in which the gelding bounced back to form at Warwick in the Kingmaker Novices’ Chase last month that the Naunton team has been left deliberating whether to take on Nicky Henderson hotpot Altior in the Racing Post Arkle Trophy on Tuesday or to plump for the easier option of the JLT Novices’ Chase over 2m 4f on Thursday.
“I am keen to run him in the Arkle,” admitted Rexton whose firm also sponsor the Cotswold operation. “Whether we can beat Altior is another matter but it wouldn’t be any disgrace to finish second to him.”
Meanwhile, Robinshill, four times a scorer over hurdles since June, is an intended runner in one of the handicaps if he can make the cut and could notch a first victory in Rexton’s colours.
Rexton said: “Nigel has plenty of chances next week with the likes of Ballyandy, Ballyoptic, Bristol de Mai and The New One as well as my own horses. I have had a little bit on him at 50/1 to be top trainer at the Festival although you might get 100/1 if you shop around!”
TYRINGHAM trainer Stuart Edmunds bids for a first Festival winner with new recruit Domesday Book in the Fulke Walwyn/Kim Muir Challenge Cup over 3m 2f next Thursday.
Gina Andrews has been booked to ride the seven-year-old who is a recent recruit to the Fences Farm team, purchased for Olney-based owner Jim Humberstone whose Elusive Cowboy was a Wolverhampton winner for the yard on Boxing Day.
Domesday Book was previously trained by Henry de Bromhead in Ireland.
Edmunds said: “The horse has had just the one run for us at Leicester where he finished third (behind the Caroline Bailey-trained Crosspark) and we are really looking forward to having a Cheltenham runner.
“He will probably be our only runner at the Festival as Apasionado will not get into the County Hurdle.”
Future possibilities for Apasionado include the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr next month before a crack at the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock Park in May
The yard sent out Land League, second at Towcester last month, to finish third in a maiden hurdle at Huntingdon on Sunday and the gelding is now eligible for handicaps.
Meanwhile, Molly Childers will run in the mares’ bumper final at Sandown on Saturday while Maria’s Benefit, who swerved her outing at Newbury due to the desperate ground on Saturday, will go to Huntingdon next Wednesday before tackling the Listed contest at Aintree next month.
FOUR winners on the spin... that is the current record of Caroline Bailey’s Holdenby North Lodge team following the success of 6/4 favourite Malapie in a 3m handicap hurdle at Southwell on Monday, under Adam Pogson.
Malapie was following hard on the hoof prints of Galway Jack at Leicester last Tuesday, maiden point to point winner Seamusjay at Kingston Blount on Saturday and then Dig Deeper at Huntingdon on Sunday.
The stable will be looking to extend that sequence at Leicester on Friday when they have three scheduled runners with Gorran Haven, Global Dream and Elkstone, although trainer’s husband Gerald Bailey quipped: “The first one can’t possibly win so that will take the pressure off!”
Malapie could hardly be termed a lucky individual despite possessing a decent engine and Bailey said of the Westerner gelding: “He is a nine-year-old which has only had four runs since 2012!”
Seamusjay was sent out by the Bailey team to land the opening race maiden at Kingston Blount on Saturday, in the hands of Tom McClorey.
TOWCESTER stages its only March fixture next Thursday when the action is due to get underway at 1.20pm with the last race at 5.15pm.