Jump racing moves up a gear this week-end

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Friday October 21

Inn the Bull was NH winner number 1,201 for Alan at Ludlow yesterday and after five runners back on the Flat today we march on over jumps with a busy week-end ahead, being involved at Cheltenham, Aintree and Wincanton.

Casting his eyes towards Saturday at Cheltenham, Alan said:”We run two in the Masterton Hurdle, Gibralfaro and Sceau Royal. Gibralfaro is rated 3lb the better and receives 4lb, but I don’t see it as cut and dried as that as I’ve always felt that he got an inflated mark as a result of his first two wins last season.

“We have had him cut since he finished down the field in the Triumph here in March and I was pleased with his comeback third under top weight in a four-year-old handicap hurdle at Chepstow three weeks ago. He’ll come on a bundle for that first run.

“Sceau Royal was a decent juvenile hurdler last season and, though he disappointed at Aintree and Cheltenham, my horses were not firing at the time and I’m sure he’s better than he showed there. He has thrived for his summer break, and I am looking forward to getting him out again.

The Tourard Man reverts to hurdling for the Pertemps Qualifier, having disappointed over fences at Hereford when he was taken out of his comfort zone. He enjoyed a prolific summer chasing, but I’m still convinced that he’s a better horse over hurdles. He’ll have the winter off as good ground is important to him, but this is a good opportunity to get him qualified for the series before he heads off on holiday, and Kevin Dowling, who claims the 10lb allowance and has already won on him twice, keeps the ride.

“On Sunday Smad Place leads the team who head up the M6 to Aintree. He needs a prep before he goes for a second Hennessy at Newbury next month, so, while this two and a half miles may be a bit sharp for him, the Old Roan Chase does not look quite as hot as the Charlie Hall at Wetherby next week so we have opted to start back here.

“It won’t be easy for Smad Place this year as he’s not really good enough to take on the top horses at level weights, so we’ll have to duck and dive a bit and we will look at the Cotswold Chase back at Cheltenham in January. The old horse seems in good form and whatever happens none of us will ever forget last year’s Hennessy. He gave us a moment or two to savour that day.

“Will Featherstone rides Kerrow for us in the three mile conditional jockeys handicap hurdle up there. He would have won at Wetherby on his final start in the spring but for an horrific fall at the last, but he has schooled great since and the plan is to then go chasing with him.

Black Sam, who is out of that good racemare Amaretto Rose (third in the 2007 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham), ran a super race in a bumper at Worcester in August and goes for the Aintree bumper.

“At Wincanton on Sunday we run Mille Nautique in the two and a half mile novice handicap chase. He did not jump as well at Huntingdon last time as he had done previously at Uttoxeter, but he is still only five and can be forgiven that blip.”