Memories of Grumeti as we head back up to Newmarket tomorrow

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Friday October 13

Quicker ground than we had envisaged and an honourable defeat for Dusky Legend on her chasing debut at Worcester led to Alan pulling out our other two runners there, and as we prepare for what promises to be a busy week-end we still have another potentially exciting recruit to fences in The Unit kick-starting his new career at Newton Abbot today, while the promising Sula Island has her first run in a handicap in Kempton’s finale on the polytrack this evening.

The mere mention of Grumeti‘s 50-1 success in the £250,000 Cesarewitch two years ago brings a smile to Alan’s face, so is it too much to ask that lightning strikes again in tomorrow’s Newmarket marathon, in which we launch a three-pronged attack?

Alan said:”We would have been four had Coeur de Lion not been balloted out as if he had beaten Who Dares Wins in the trial he would then have got the 4lb penalty. Instead, he goes for the two-mile handicap at York and as Newmarket was his first run since May you would like to think that he would improve a bit for it.”

Who Dares Wins and First Mohican are both owned by Henry Ponsonby’s syndicates, and, assessing their chances, Henry said:”We took the view that it was best to have ‘the bird in the hand’ so risked the penalty in the trial, and Who Dares Wins lived up to all our hopes. He has plenty of guts and might well have won the Ascot Stakes had that been two and a quarter (miles), but he has taken us to all the best places – remember he has also finished in the frame at the Cheltenham Festival and in a Chester Cup – and Tom Marquand know him so well.

“First Mohican has been another star for us and he ran a screamer in the race last year, beating all except a mare (Sweet Selection) who was getting 11lb and who came out and won the G3 Sagaro Stakes at Ascot in May. To think old First Mohican was being talked of as a possible Derby horse by Henry Cecil until he fractured a bone in a knee – he’s nine now and still going strong.”

Both the Ponsonby horses have single figure draws which is always a help in this race, though Max McNeill, who owns Oceane, our third runner, will gain some comfort from the fact that Sweet Selection came out of stall 23 last year, so maybe his 32 is not so bad. Oceane loves fast ground, and it has been drying out all week at Newmarket, so if he gets luck in running you never know maybe that thunder bolt from above might be heading his way.

Let’s not forget we also have Burguillos going up to York. He runs in the opening handicap, and, though he was disappointing at Ascot last time, he had run Big Country to a neck over this course and distance in June, and he now enjoys a 2lb pull. It might be quite a week-end.

  • Alan revealed that Barry Geraghty came over from Ireland last week and schooled Yanworth over fences in readiness to go chasing. The Best Mate Beginners Chase at Exeter on Tuesday week could be the first port of call for the top-class hurdler, who notched his Grade 1 at Aintree in April.