IRISH Classic-winning trainer Adrian Keatley is looking forward to a fresh start in North Yorkshire.
Keatley, who won the Irish 1,000 Guineas with Jet Setting in 2016 from his base on the Curragh, believes the time is right for a change and a new challenge.
He will begin using part of Tony Coyle’s yard at Malton with an initial team of six horses. He hopes to have his licence by the end of February and will then look for a place of his own to build up his string of Flat horses and jumpers and attract new owners.
It’s a New Year but there are some old faces in the Veterans’ Chase Series Final at Sandown tomorrow (Saturday).
This contest has been on trainer Anthony Honeyball’s radar for some time and his 11-year-old mud-loving JEPEK will be one of the youngest in the field. A prolific winner as a pointer, he has been given a hurdles preparation for this encounter but his form when last seen chasing makes him a standout candidate.
Only subsequent Scottish National winner Takingrisks was too strong when he was runner-up in a qualifier for this at Carlisle last March, when the pair finished 16 lengths clear of the rest. Honeyball has protected his handicap mark by campaigning him over hurdles and he added a second victory in that arena when he led from start to finish at Chepstow last time out.
Another popular old boy VALDEZ gets his first run as a teenager this weekend. He may have just turned 13 but Alan King’s charge showed he has still got what it takes when winning at Hereford last November and the drying ground and right-handed track at Wincanton will suit.
The Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle is officially the headline race at Sandown, where FIDDLERONTHEROOF opened his hurdles account over this course and distance recently. Proven course form and the ability to go on any ground make him a slight favourite ahead of HANG IN THERE and SON OF CAMAS in what looks like a three-horse race.
But Fergal O’Brien’s SILVER HALLMARK is a promising type and is worth a small each way wager assuming the field does not shrink to paying two places.
John Gosden can strike with his first runner of the new decade when FINESPUN lines up in the closing 1m4f handicap at Lingfield tomorrow (Saturday). Unlucky in her three outings in maiden company to date, the daughter of Sea The Stars is rated just 71 for her first handicap assignment this weekend and is said to have impressed on Warren Hill over Christmas.
Mark Johnstone’s MILDENBERGER has not progressed after finishing second to Roaring Lion in the 2018 Dante, but the colt looks like he has found his preferred trip after finishing third over 2m at Newcastle last time and is fancied to have too much for his rivals over the same distance in a Class 2 handicap at Kempton (6.10) tomorrow (Saturday).
Carrigill’s nap: (money back as a free bet if finishes outside top four. Write Augur on your slip to qualify):
FIDDLERONTHEROOF, Sandown, Saturday, 2.25.
Augur’s best bet:
MILDENBERGER (e/w), Kempton, Saturday, 6.10.