Step Back, Cracks Back But Top Girls Bid Farewell
Bradstock Grabs Gold In Bet365
Mark Bradstock has had a few smart staying performers over the years, with the likes of Gold Cup hero Coneygree and the admirable Carruthers springing immediately to mind, and it looks like he may well have another on his hands. The word seemed to be out about his eight year old, Step Back, with the gelding seeing plenty of support ahead of Saturdays Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown, and under Jamie Moore he duly turned one of the most competitive handicap chases of the year into a procession.
The Grand National is the quoted aim for this one next season, and given how well he jumped and stayed it’s not hard to see why connections are favouring that route. He will no doubt face a considerable hike in the handicap, but it was hard not to be impressed with this 13 length rout. For those wishing to get on early for next year’s Aintree showpiece, Step Back can be backed at 50/1 with Ladbrokes for Grand National glory.
Cracksman Comeback Goes To Plan
This weekend also saw the most eagerly anticipated flat comeback of the season to date as John Gosden’s Cracksman made his return to the track. Steadily progressing throughout last season, this imposing son of Frankel signed off with a mighty effort in the Champion Stakes, slamming the field by a resounding seven lengths. The recently reopened Longchamp was the venue for his return in the Prix Ganay with Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe runner up Cloth Of Stars amongst those in opposition.
There’s always a nagging doubt as to how well a horse will train on between campaigns, but there doesn’t seem to be much to worry about in that regard with Cracksman. Enthusiastic from the off, the manner in which he put the race to bed once asked by Dettori was devastating. It is the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe which seems to be the ultimate goal this season and a potentially mouth-watering clash with stablemate and defending Arc champ, Enable. Betfair make him their 4/1 second favourite for the race, and on this evidence Enable will have to be at something like her very best to lower his colours.
Katie and Carberry Call It A Day
Hot on the heels of Katie Walsh announcing her retirement from the saddle, another giant of the female jump jockey scene announced that she would be following suit. Nina Carberry’s victory aboard the Enda Bolger trained Josies Orders at Punchestown on Saturday will be the last time we see her in the saddle. Winners of ten Cheltenham Festival races between them as well as recording an Irish Grand National success each, the pair proved more than a match for the boys over the years and led the way for the likes of Lizzie Kelly and Bryony Frost.
O’Brien At The Double In Guineas Again?
Looking ahead to the coming weekend we have one of our favourite meetings of the year taking place at Newmarket. It’s Guineas time at HQ as the most promising three year olds in training line up for the first Classics of the season in the 2000 Guineas and 1000 Guineas. Both prizes fell to Aidan O’Brien last season and the markets suggest we may be in for more of the same this year. O’Brien looks set to saddle the favourite in both races, with Gustav Klimt leading the way in the 2000 and Happily atop the betting in the 1000.