The National Hunt season comes to a close at Sandown this weekend with the Attheraces Gold Cup
The curtain comes down on the National Hunt season at Saturday’s Sandown mixed meeting where the Attheraces Gold Cup (formerly the Whitbread Gold Cup) features a fascinating clash between Frenchman’s Creek and the two previous winners Ad Hoc and Beau.
Trainer Hughie Morrison has warned that the favourite, Frenchman’s Creek, won’t run if he considers the ground too firm. This enormously promising horse could develop into a Cheltenham Gold Cup prospect.
Hughie Morrison has had this race in his sights ever since Frenchman’s Creek beat Carbury Cross, Ad Hoc, Grand National hero Bindaree and Scottish National winner Take Control in the William Hill National Hunt Handicap Chase at last month’s Cheltenham Festival.
“He is in such good form I am frightened he may have gone over the top,” said Hughie, who won two point-to-points on Frenchman Creek’s dam Hollow Creek. “Everything has gone well but I’m not going to risk ruining him on unsuitable ground. If necessary I won’t make a decision until Saturday morning.”
There has been enough rain in the Esher area to ease underfoot conditions in Frenchman’s Creek’s favour.
Ad Hoc ran away with the Whitbread Gold Cup 12 months ago and Beau did exactly the same the year before. Ad Hoc was desperately unlucky in the Grand National, being brought down four fences out when going like a winner.
Beau unshipped Carl Llewellyn at the 14th at Aintree but then galloped round to ‘win’ the race in his new found role as a loose horse. If Frenchman’s Creek does not run Beau appeals as the likely winner.
Martin Pipe, who will be crowned champion trainer for the 12th time, runs six – Majed, You’re Agoodun, Royal Predica, Bounce Back, Iris Bleu and Dark Stranger. Tony McCoy, who is champion jockey for a seventh time, partners Bounce Back.
Champion owner David Johnson is represented by Iris Bleu, the mount of Tom Scudamore.
Flagship Uberalles intends to confirm himself as the country’s outstanding two mile chaser in the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Celebration Chase.
On the flat Tough Speed, who has been galloping with 2000 Guineas hope King Of Happiness, is the tip in the Attheraces Mile, while Pawn Broker is a tentative selection for the Gordon Richards Stakes.