GREATWOOD HURDLE winner Elgin is looking for to present the high-flying Elite Racing Membership an outstanding finish to a tremendous yr within the Racing Welfare Handicap Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday.
The nation’s largest syndicate hit the headlines earlier this month when their top-class sprinter Marsha was offered for a file six million guineas at Tattersalls Gross sales.
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Whereas Sir Mark Prescott’s Marsha was a twin Group One winner on the Flat, Alan King’s Elgin has been very progressive over hurdles, with victories over this course and distance and within the Greatwood at Cheltenham seeing him take an 11lb hike within the scores to the top of the precious handicap.
“The character of profitable races just like the Greatwood means you go up within the weights. That is to be anticipated,” mentioned Elite’s racing supervisor Dan Downie.
“The factor is, you do not know how far more enchancment there’s in him. He tries onerous and he appears to be bettering with each run, so that you simply by no means know the place it would cease.
“He is simply more adept all spherical actually. His hurdling is slicker and he is simply much less inexperienced than he was.”
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Owner JP McManus has supplied the runner-up in this race three times since the contest was transferred to Britain in 2001 and has a talented duo running for him this year in the Nicky Henderson-trained Charli Parcs and Bleu Et Rouge from Willie Mullins’ stable.
“Charli Parcs ran well the last day at Newbury and Nicky is very happy with him,” said McManus’s racing manager Frank Berry. “It’s a competitive race, but we’re hoping for a good run.”
“Bleu Et Rouge was a bit disappointing on his first run back, but hopefully he will have come on for the run.
“Willie’s been happy with him at home since.”
Fergall and Chesterfield ran well in this race 12 months ago, finishing third and eighth respectively, and trainer Seamus Mullins is happy to let the pair try again.
“Chesterfield got bogged down in the mud at Cheltenham in his first run this season,” said Mullins. “On genuine soft ground at Ascot I’d expect a much better performance.
“Fergall loves this race. He comes there every year and always runs a big race. He’s been working well and we’d be hopeful of a good run.”
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Welsh trainer Evan Williams is hoping to be rewarded for his patience with Silver Streak when the four-year-old has his first race since making a winning return at Chepstow in mid-October.
“He did it well last time and we just wanted to run him in a handicap off as low a weight as we could,” said the Llancarfan trainer.
“He was in the Greatwood, but he would have been out of the weights, so we thought we’d wait for this.”
Williams has decided to let Evening Hush take her chance as she gets in towards to the bottom of the handicap on 10st 3lb.
“She got into the weights and it’s such a good prize that if you’re in the handicap why not run for that kind of money?” he said.
Harry Fry has been left cursing the handicapper after Air Horse One was raised 6lb for making the first four behind Elgin at Ascot and Old Guard at Newbury.
“He has run two good races this season, but although he has finished third and fourth he has ended up going up another 6lb,” said Fry.
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“This time he will be trying to win off a career-high mark, which doesn’t really make sense, but that is the way the handicapping system works.
“He has run well at Ascot before. He has not had a strongly-run race in either of his two runs this season, but I would like to think he will get that on Saturday. I think he is versatile trip-wise, but over two miles he does need a strong pace.”
Henderson’s course-winning mare Verdana Blue, Paul Nicholls’ Divin Bere and Kerry Lee’s hat-trick seeking Magic Dancer are others towards the head of the market in the 17 runner field.