Crock Of Gold at Sandown
Form students who have followed the fragile Grey Gold will not have been surprised by his epic effort to overturn Desert Cry at Sandown on Saturday. His form this season has been backed up in all respects and the reversal in the weights with the Wetherby winner told on the uphill finish.
Heavy ground and a stiff, right-handed track are what Grey Gold loves best and that's exactly what was served up to him on Saturday. This time receiving 9lbs from the horse who beat him by an easy 7 lengths when giving away just a 1lb on a not-so-strenuous left handed track.
Statistics aside, Grey Gold has gone from strength to strength over the past 12 months and is testament to Richard's skills with fragile horses. Since winning at Punchestown last spring he has never finished out of the frame. His first start of the season came at Carlisle where he finished a gallant third. The winner, Cloudy Too, went on to step up in trip and win the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby on Boxing Day.
Jamie Moore, Grey Gold's regular partner, is a Sandown specialist himself and when it came to kicking on three from home, Jamie was all systems go. While the handicapper is sure to slow us up in the coming days, if heavy ground were to appear at the Cheltenham Festival then the Grand Annual Chase could be an option for this fragile 2 mile chaser.
Kris Puts Warwick Rivals In A Spin
On just his third start for the yard, Kris Spin, a six-year-old son of 2003 Epsom Derby winner Kris Kin, built on promising placed efforts at Towcester and Chepstow by winning with authority over 3m 1f on Soft ground at Warwick on Thursday.
Content to track the leaders off a moderate pace, Richard Johnson bided his time before making a decisive move for home three furlongs out. An injection of pace put his rivals in trouble, and he eventually saw off the very well backed favourite Tidal Dance by three quarters of a length. Chasing is the long term plan for this handsome gelding.
Cara-smacks another one in at Wolverhampton
Hot on the heels of his first career win, when scoring at Wolverhampton over six furlongs on January 12th, the colours of David Edwards were once again carried to victory by Caramack, as he made it two wins in 12 days when repeating the trick at the Midlands venue on Friday evening.
Stepping up a furlong, Caramack was again given a cool ride by rising star Eoin Walsh, who didn't panic despite being trapped wide in the early stages.
He delivered a well timed surge inside the last furlong to get the job done in style, avoiding the wrath of the handicapper after winning an apprentice race (no penalties!) the time before.
It's highly unlikely lightning will strike twice where the assessor is concerned, but Caramack is only just four and is clearly enjoying his new surroundings after making the switch from Richard Hannon's Wiltshire yard last summer.
Caramack Proves We Have Winners In All Weathers!
At a whopping 23 furlongs shorter than Mountainous scored over in the Coral Welsh National at the end of December it was the turn of some of the younger legs in the yard to fly the flag last weekend, as four year old Caramack scored over six furlongs on the All Weather at Wolverhampton.
Expertly partnered by up and coming claimer Eoin Walsh, the ex-Richard Hannon inmate abandoned Plan A (to make all) after missing the break, but horse and jockey sat tight and produced a withering burst late on see off Parisian Pyramid by a cosy half a length, and in doing secure his first ever career success.
Richard had been quick to mention his love of both staying chasers and sprinters in the aftermath of Chepstow, and this Flat win certainly supported those claims!
That's two winners on the Flat in recent times for the yard, both carrying the colours of long term owner David Edwards, who also enjoyed a victory with multi-faceted Highway Code at Chepstow in the autumn.
Caramack will return to the level in the coming weeks, though he has also done some slick work over hurdles on the Brand Hill schooling ground.
Prior to that we signed off from 2013 with a flourish, as Tresor De Bontee struck at the first time of asking over fences, with a gutsy win at Uttoxeter.
Life will get much, much tougher for him now the handicapper has had his say, but this was a cracking first effort over the larger obstacles under Richard Johnson.
Tresor's CV now boasts wins at Vire, Hereford, Uttoxeter and Uttoxeter - surely unique!!
Mountainous scales Welsh National heights
Mountainous secured victory in the Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow in December 2013 for Welsh owners James and Jean Potter who own the eight-year-old in partnership with Dai Walters.
The brave Milan gelding gave his all to secure the 3m 5½f Grade 3 contest by a head from the Paul Nicholls-trained duo, Hawkes Point and the multiple Grade 1 winner, Tidal Bay.
Paul Moloney rode a clever tactical race, giving the inside rail away to no-one throughout. Always among the first six in the race, Moloney was able to save enough at the start of the home straight to get him to the winning line in front.
Mountainous will now enjoy a well-deserved rest in the field before his future is mapped out. Richard said this afternoon:
"We're having a lovely sunny day and Mountainous is enjoying himself in the field. He's polished off his food since the race and was shouting for his breakfast this morning.
"He will turn 9yo on Wednesday which is the perfect age for a progressive staying chaser. He's a big horse and is only just maturing. While I know he has quotes of around 25-1 for the Aintree Grand National, we are in the hands of the handicapper a little bit. I will be discussing his future with James and Jean and of course Dai Walters, although the Grand National is a long-standing dream."
So Richard, tell your website something that no-one else knows?
"I was woken up at 5.50am today by a girl from BBC Radio wanting to do an interview. (Ed: Brave girl)....I duly obliged and was recognised by a local farmer in the paper shop this morning who had listened!!
"Seriously though, we're enjoying the publicity and I'm looking forward to a big future with Mountainous."