Second inspection called at Newbury

By Sports Desk March 02, 2024

This afternoon’s BetVictor Greatwood Gold Cup meeting at Newbury is subject to a second course inspection at 10am.

While Friday’s six-race card took place in its entirety, conditions worsened throughout the day and with further rain forecast, an initial precautionary check was announced for 8am.

The Berkshire circuit was found to be waterlogged in places early on Saturday morning, but officials are keen to give the fixture every chance and will look again later in the morning.

Saturday’s Navan card, featuring the Grade Three Flyingbolt Novice Chase and the Grade Two BoyleSports Webster Cup, will go ahead as scheduled after the course passed a a 7.30am inspection.

IHRB clerk of the course Paddy Graffin said: “I’m pleased to say that the track at Navan is fit for racing and has passed our inspection here this morning.

“The team here at Navan have done an outstanding job on the track and there is no longer any standing water. The ground remains heavy, and will be testing, but racing goes ahead.”

Leopardstown’s meeting on Sunday has come through an initial Saturday morning inspection, but a further check has been announced for 3pm this afternoon.

“The track at Leopardstown remains unfit for racing at present due to snow still lying in some areas,” said clerk of the course Lorcan Wyer.

“However, there has been improvement since yesterday and further thaw is expected today so will have a further inspection at 3pm this afternoon.”

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    The gelding has been a star for trainer Christian Williams, winning big handicap events like the Eider Chase and the Scottish Grand National and going close in the Charlie Hall and the Coral Trophy.

    He has particularly good record in the bet365 Gold Cup on the final day of the season, missing out only due to interference when second in 2021 and coming home third in 2022.

    Last year he was completed the set of podium finishes when winning by two and a half lengths under usual jockey Jack Tudor.

    The two are well acquainted and teamed up for Kitty’s Light’s Grand National bid at Aintree earlier in the month, where he ran a valiant race to finish fifth behind four Grade-One winning Irish chasers.

    Williams was incredibly proud of his stable star and is now hoping the gelding can shine again in the Sandown contest he has found to be lucrative in the past.

    “It was wonderful, we trained him to win the race and we thought he could, but you couldn’t be disappointed with what he did,” Williams said of the National performance.

    “We were thrilled, the horse tried his best and we were very, very proud of horse and jockey.

    “He’s come out of it very well, if the race was run today even then he’d be running, he’s in good form.

    “He loves it at Sandown with the big fences, his jumping has come on now but even as a five-year-old he nearly won the race.

    “He was third the year after that, it really seems to suit him.

    “I think he likes going right-handed, he hangs a little bit right at home and he seems to really enjoy it there.

    “We’re taking our chance anyway, he seems well and we’ll hope for the best.”

  • Olivier Peslier announces imminent retirement Olivier Peslier announces imminent retirement

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    The 51-year-old has enjoyed an exemplary career in the saddle, being crowned French champion on four occasions and claiming a string of big-race successes across the world.

    Peslier counts four victories in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on his CV, as well as Derby success aboard High-Rise in 1998 and a 2000 Guineas triumph with Cockney Rebel in 2007.

    He enjoyed a long association with star miler Goldikova, riding the mare to win 17 of her 27 career starts which included a famous Breeders’ Cup Mile hat-trick in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

    Peslier also chalked up two Japan Cup wins and victories the Hong Kong Cup, Mile and Vase plus big-races successes in the likes of Germany, Italy, Ireland and Dubai during a truly international career.

    He was retained rider for owners Alain and Gerard Wertheimer between 2003 and 2014 with the aforementioned Goldikova and 2012 Arc winner Solemia two of the headline acts of their lengthy relationship.

    Peslier will sign off after two rides at La Teste in the south-west of France, bowing out with over 3,700 wins to his name.

    “My health is fine, but you need the horses and need the practice and if you don’t have so many horses, it is the time to decide to stop because it is very tricky to ride only a few horses,” Peslier told the PA news agency.

    “After a very long career I have had plenty of success. I have had more than 3,700 winners and over 500 Group race wins. I have won with both Arabians and thoroughbreds and 165 Group Ones, so it is amazing when I look at my career.

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    Peslier is unsure what the future holds, intending to spend the summer months enjoying time with family and friends before finalising plans for the next stage of life, while he highlighted the talents of both Goldikova and Prix du Jockey Club and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Peintre Celebre as notable memories from his decorated career.

    “I will take a little break and see some friends and see what happens over the next few months,” continued Peslier.

    “After a holiday, September will be a new life, and I think I need a little bit of time to see what will happen in the future. I’m going to spend some time with my kids and enjoy life, then it will be a new life.

    “Normally when I go to say Hong Kong and England it is for work, now I can go and visit people I know and take the time to enjoy it.

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    Without looking like winning, he closed to within three-quarters of a length of the 9-1 winner, looking promising for the future on just his third outing.

    Bellum Justum was cut to 25-1 from 50s for the Derby by both Coral and Paddy Power.

    “He had a setback about a month ago and he missed 10 days, so he’s entitled to come on for that today,” Balding told Racing TV.

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    Previously trained by the now-retired William Jarvis, he was sent straight to the front by Jim Crowley and controlled matters from the outset.

    He kicked clear over two furlongs out and came home five and a half lengths ahead of Ziggy, who stayed on without ever looking a danger.

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    “I thought he’d run well as he’s been training well at home. It was a small field and he likes making the running, so I thought we’d be able to set our own fractions and that’s what Jim did, it worked out well.

    “I had a mile-and-a-half handicap at York in mind so we’ll see how we go.”

    Eustace had to settle for third with Duke Of Verona in the Weatherbys Global Stallions App Great Metropolitan Handicap as Champagne Piaff (5-2 favourite) ran out an easy winner for Gary and Ryan Moore.

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