Gunther McBride, who recently returned to Philip Hobbs’s stables after an away-trip designed to make him concentrate on his jumping, could be in just the frame of mind to end the season in a blaze of glory in Saturday’s £150,000 Attheraces Gold Cup at Sandown.
Hobbs admits to being disappointed with Gunther McBride’s jumping in the Scottish National at Ayr a fortnight ago, when, after some indifferent leaps, he jettisoned Richard Johnson as he clouted the second-last fence.
The Minehead trainer believes that his horse would have finished third behind Ryalux and Stormez, saying: “His jumping let him down, so we decided to send him for three or four days’ loose-schooling.”
Gunther McBride ran away with last year’s Racing Post Chase and in this season’s renewal finished second to that highly-talented and rapidly-improving mare La Landiere.
“He’s competitive in these big handicaps and the type that’s better off in a decent race with a low weight because he’s not all that big. Carrying big weights doesn’t really suit him,” explains Hobbs.
Paul Webber is keen to saddle Frosty Canyon, who has been running well in long-distance chases and hurdles. The master of Cropredy Lawn Stables, near Banbury, believes that there is a worthwhile prize awaiting his versatile 10-year-old.
Webber says: “The Attheraces is the aim. He’s got a nice weight and seems to be in as good a form as he has been all season.
“He’s typical of a first-year-out-of-novice and he’s lazy, but not a monkey or ungenuine – just lazy. He’s not very big and the wholefamily is a little bit quirky. He just takes a bit of riding. He ran very well on the fast ground at Ascot the other day and I don’t think quick going at Sandown would be a worry.”
Martin Pipe, who saddled Bounce Back to beat his stable companion Dark Stranger last year, is likely to have a handful of runners again, including Bounce Back.
The Paul Nicholls-trained Ad Hoc was fourth that day and is likely to join another Nicholls raider, Montifault, in the line-up as long as the ground is not too firm.
Ad Hoc, who ran away with the Whitbread two years ago, came to grief in the Grand National at the 19th, but had jumped well until disaster struck. Montifault went on to finish fifth at Aintree behind Monty’s Pass.
Peter Beaumont is leaning towards Punchestown with Attheraces top weight Hussard Collonges, while First Gold has been ruled out.
Read the full preview in this week’s Horse & Hound (24 April), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.