Gala Marceau to spearhead Alexander’s Mares’ Hurdle team

By Sports Desk February 18, 2024

Owner Kenny Alexander is set to unleash a two-pronged assault on the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle, with both Gala Marceau and Telmesomethinggirl attempting to add to Honeysuckle’s two famous victories in the Cheltenham Festival contest.

Trained by Willie Mullins, Gala Marceau has just stablemates Lossiemouth and Ashroe Diamond ahead of her in the ante-post betting for the Grade One event and was runner-up in the Triumph Hurdle at Prestbury Park 12 months ago.

She finished third when making her seasonal return at Doncaster recently, but tasted top level success over two and a half miles in Auteuil’s Prix Alain du Breil last May and connections feel a return to further can see her improve on her Town Moor reappearance.

“We were very happy with her and Danny (Mullins, jockey) said she took a bit of a blow after the last,” said Alexander’s racing manager Peter Molony.

“He thought he would definitely have been second and closer to the winner without that and he wasn’t overly hard on her to try to get second as the big day is in a few weeks time.

“The step up in trip is going to help her, she stayed the extra distance well last year in Auteuil and we really think that will play to her strengths.”

Telmesomethinggirl may be as big as 25-1 in the betting, but Molony has been encouraged by reports from trainer Henry de Bromhead since she finished second at Naas last month.

The nine-year-old is already a Cheltenham Festival winner having been part of De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore’s respective six-timers at the showpiece meeting in 2021, winning the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

She was also in the process of running a huge race the following year in the Mares’ Hurdle before being brought down two out and having spent a year struggling over the larger obstacles, is back at the discipline in which she is most proficient.

“We were over the moon with her performance at Naas. The first day she ran (at Leopardstown) she was still rather gross and I think as she has got older, Henry has found it harder to get her fit,” added Molony.

“Last year was a complete waste of a year and she just didn’t take to the fences, that is a year that can be scratched.

“Henry and his team are very happy with her and I think if she is back to her best, she is going to give all the other ladies something to think about. She’s a very high-class mare in her own right at her best.

“Rachael came in and said it was a case of how far, not if (when she ran in the race previously) and if she gets back to that level she could take a lot of beating – she is certainly a wonderful each-way price.”

Related items

  • Arrests made after fighting breaks out at Aintree Arrests made after fighting breaks out at Aintree

    Merseyside Police said eight men were arrested at Aintree on Friday, including four on suspicion of affray and two on suspicion of assault.

    A fashionable crowd totalling 44,687 enjoyed an afternoon on what was Ladies Day, but the meeting also saw fighting break out.

    Well-dressed racegoers flocked to the Liverpool course for the second day of the Randox Grand National Festival, with celebrities including Olympian Sam Quek among those enjoying the event.

    But the day also saw the arrests of a group of men after reports of a fight. Merseyside Police said four men had been arrested on suspicion of affray and two men were held on suspicion of assault after an altercation outside the Princess Royal Stand at 2.25pm.

    Another man was detained on suspicion of a drug offence after being searched near the main entrance to the racecourse, while an eighth man was arrested for being drunk and disorderly.

    The force also said three drones had been seized after being flown in a restricted area.

    Aintree officials passed on their condolences after Giovinco and Pikar suffered fatal injuries in their respective races.

    A spokesperson said: “During our first race of the day, Giovinco fell at the last fence and was immediately attended to by our expert veterinary professionals. After assessment, sadly they concluded the necessary course of action for the horse’s welfare was to put him to sleep.

    “Pikar sadly passed away following a fall at the second-last hurdle in the last race of the day, having also been attended to on course by our veterinary team. Our heartfelt condolences are with the connections of both horses.”

    Last year, the National itself was delayed by about 15 minutes after activists gained access to the track, leading to more than 100 arrests.

    Merseyside Police has warned it will deal “robustly” with any incidences of “anti-social behaviour, hate crime, disorder and other criminal activity” at the racecourse and punters have been subject to security checks, including bag searches.

    About 80,000 people are expected to attend the course on Saturday.

  • Dancing City hits the right notes in Sefton success Dancing City hits the right notes in Sefton success

    Dancing City strutted his way to a cosy success in the Cavani Sartorial Menswear Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree.

    A surprise Grade One winner at the Dublin Racing Festival in February, Willie Mullins’ seven-year-old was third when upped to three miles for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

    Paul Townend’s mount was placed alongside fellow Joe and Marie Donnelly-owned runner Shanagh Bob as the duo tracked the steady pace set by Albert Bartlett runner-up The Jukebox Man and Pertemps second Kyntara.

    The tempo was increased turning for home and as Kyntara began to retreat it was Dancing City who appeared in The Jukebox Man’s slipstream travelling menacingly.

    Townend stalked his prey down to the final flight, with the rider simply having to keep the 4-1 winner up to his work in the closing stages as the gelding kept on for a five-and-a-half-length triumph, reversing Cheltenham form with The Jukebox Man who bravely held on for second.

    Kyntara took a heavy fall at the last, but was thankfully able to walk away.

  • McManus dreaming of another green and gold national McManus dreaming of another green and gold national

    What has already been a special couple of days in Liverpool for owner JP McManus has the potential to be even greater as he can look forward to five runners in the Randox Grand National.

    His famous green and gold silks have been carried to victory four times in the first two days, and he celebrated an incredible Grade One treble on Friday.

    Having watched Inothewayurthinkin and Iroko provide him with a one-two in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase, Mystical Power, a son of Galileo and the Champion Hurdle winner Annie Power went one better than at Cheltenham in the Top Novices’ Hurdle.

    However, he was especially pleased to see Jonbon, denied a run at the Cheltenham Festival due to the cloud hanging over Nicky Henderson’s yard, land the Melling Chase.

    “Days like these are very special so you’ve got to celebrate and enjoy them,” said McManus.

    “Jonbon winning meant a lot because it has been a trying time for Nicky over the past two months so to see him up there, you could see it was special to him.”

    McManus has been lucky enough to win the National twice already, firstly when providing Sir Anthony McCoy with his only success, at the 15th attempt, on Don’t Push It, and then he watched Rachael Blackmore create history on Minella Times in 2021.

    “I don’t think there is any race like the Grand National. From being a kid I always had a bet in the National, no matter how old you are it is the one race everybody watched,” said McManus.

    “If you go to the local hurling club or wherever, they’d all know who won the Grand National.

    “Look at AP (McCoy), it took him a long time to win it but I know how much it meant to him when he did, I’m just surprised these days he doesn’t say he should have won it twice!”

    Despite having won all there is to win in racing, the former bookmaker still admits to getting excited about the famous race.

    “I’ve been coming to Aintree since 1976, Rag Trade I think, I may have missed one in between and the covid one,” he said.

    “It’s an unbelievable race, the National, you think about it 12 months before and try to think if you’ve one good enough to run in it.

    “We run five tomorrow but hopefully we’ve one real one, I hope.

    “I’ve had a little on Limerick Lace at 25-1 each-way because I thought that was a big price, but if my life depended on it I think I Am Maximus is the one. Willie (Mullins) said we’re going to try to win the Grand National and then the Gold Cup!”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.