A Few Pointers …

January 7th, 2021 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

Hi there!

One of the things I have always done is take a close look at the big-race entries when they are published. This is because it’s one of the few areas left where trainers have to declare their hand.

Years ago entries for every race were made two to three weeks in advance. That sounds unworkable now, but that way you could glean an early insight into the trainers’ opinion of their horses.

This week saw the publication of the entries for the Betfair Hurdle. One name that caught my eye was Sky Pirate, better known as a chaser and a very smooth traveller. Things fell into place for him last time at Cheltenham and he is rated 5lb lower here over hurdles than fences. Unexposed over hurdles, with two wins from six starts, he stays three miles but appreciated the drop to two last time out.

A strongly-run race over this distance would be ideal and although Jonjo O’Neill has not suggested, in public anyway, that the race is a possible target his entry here is, at the very least, intriguing.

The name that came to my notice for the Gold Cup was Terrefort.

Nicky Henderson’s eight-year-old has not been seen in public since pulling up behind Frodon in the 2019 Ryanair Chase. I gather his absence is a result of a leg injury and an infection which has resulted in him losing sight in his nearside eye.

A pre-season stable report suggested the horse has made a great recovery and he also holds an entry for the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster in three weeks’ time.

The winner of four of his 14 chases, second four times and third three times, he beat Cyrname in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown in February, 2018, and then ran second in the JLT at Cheltenham before ending the season with a defeat of Ms Parfois in the 3m1f Grade 1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree.

Things went less well in 2018/19 but the fact that the trainer has entered him for the Gold Cup suggests the horse is, at least, pleasing him. He is currently 220 on Betfair, with no takers.

He is rated on 152, 7lb lower than when last seen. If he were to win the Sky Bet (currently 16/1) then the Gold Cup could become a consideration.

I am also pleased to see that Willie Mullins has included Burrows Saint in his batch of entries. As you may be aware I was keen on him in the Dark Horses Guide.

Others that catch the eye are Lake View Lad, Lord Du Mesnil, Royale Pagaille and Yorkhill. They are unlikely winners but their presence here augurs well for their futures.

Bye for now