Memories of Ray as we plan Haydock assault

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Friday Feb 19

Alan was a great admirer of my journalist colleague Ray Gilpin who died last autumn, as was Richard Johnson, so it would be fitting if the pair could team up successfully with our French recruit Messire des Obeaux in the Victor Ludorum Hurdle, which is named after Ray and the curtain-raiser to Haydock tomorrow.

Turning the clock back, Alan said:”It seems strange not seeing Ray and his famous red scarf in the winner’s enclosure looking for interviews from jockeys and trainers, He was a great fella and it would be terrific to win the race that commemorates him.

“Messire des Obeaux has only been with us a couple of months, but we are anxious to pitch him into a decent race to find out just what we have got. He showed promise in a couple of runs at Auteuil and looks a decent prospect for next season.

“We also have Brod Na Heireann going to Ascot for the staying handicap hurdle. He won at Towcester and you can forget his subsequent disappointment at Kempton as he came back with a poor scope.

“He’ll be accompanied down the M4 by Big Chief Benny, who runs in the opening novice hurdle which has excellent prize money (£25,000) and deserves support. He won well at Doncaster and, though he does go in the soft, I would rather the rain did not return as he would appreciate the ground drying up.

“We have runners at Market Rasen on Sunday. Awesome Rosie kicks us off in the mares novice hurdle. She is in good form and the more ground improves the better her chance.

“The same comment applies to Winner Massagot, who runs in the two-mile handicap hurdle. He won impressively at Ascot but it was to soft for him when he went back there for The Ladbroke, so I hope they don’t get too much more rain.

“Finally, we run The Mumper in the two miles and three furlongs handicap chase. He ran a smashing race to finish second at Doncaster, only his second outing in three years, so I hope he would run well.”