Ground playing havoc with our plans

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Friday Feb 12

That other famous King – singing superstar Carole – first jumped off the page with her classic 1960’s hit, ‘It Might As Well Rain Until September’, and with virtually every turf track except Doncaster boasting almost as much mud as it does grass, you just hope and pray that there isn’t too much more of the wet stuff up above and that the ground will start to dry up soon.

Alan had planned a busy Saturday with the jumpers, but he has pulled all his runners out of Warwick and only two of his six entries at Newbury survive, though we do also have a couple going on the all-weather.

Summing up his thoughts, Alan said:”The ground will be too soft for Montbazon in the Betfair Hurdle, but time is running out and he needs to have a prep if he is going to go to Cheltenham. We have put the novice chase plan on hold as it is getting too late in the season to switch, and after 574 days on the sidelines he will need this comeback race.

“We have Herewego Herewego making his debut in the opening novice hurdle. He is a fine big, half-brother to Puffin Billy and very much one for the future, but it will be good to get him started.

“We have three heading off to Exeter on Sunday, including two in the Pertemps Qualifier. Salmanazar bounced back to form when winning at Market Rasen last time and got a 7lb hike for that, and he will be joined by The Tourard Man, who finished third in the Pertemps Final last year. It will be good to get him qualified as it has not been happening for him over fences, so we will switch codes even though the ground will not be ideal for him.

Midnight Prayer, one of our Crabbies Grand National hopes, runs in the veterans handicap chase on the Sussex course. I was thrilled with his second in the Classic Chase at Warwick as he hadn’t enjoyed the best preparation, having been switched late on from the Welsh National. He was lucky not to get brought down at one point and also pitched on landing over the third last, and it was only his second run in a year so I was absolutely delighted.

“Sunday is the last day’s racing that the handicapper can use for framing the National weights, and, though Midnight Prayer is rated 139, which was the bottom weight at Aintree last year, I’d like to get him up to around 143 to take the pressure off and ensure that we get in the race, so a decent run here might just do the trick.

“We have two going on the all-weather tomorrow. Kings Bayonet is in great form after his win at Huntingdon, but the ground has gone for him over hurdles and it makes sense keeping him ticking over with a run at Lingfield, while Paddy’s Runner is back from a mid-season break and has his prep run for the Fred Winter Hurdle on the tapeta at Wolverhampton.”