The late and great Arthur ‘W.A.’ Stephenson has lent an unknowing hand to the preparation of Red Marauder for Saturday’s Cheltenham Open feature, the £80,000 Thomas Pink Gold Cup.
On Tuesday Red Marauder’s jockey Richard Guest took the horse to Stephenson’s old schooling ground at Leasingthorne to pop him over the poles that were used to prepare hundreds of winners trained by ‘W.A.’.
“Arthur’s son John kindly lets me pop a few horses over the six telegraph poles the legendary ‘W.A.’ used to use for his own horses,” said Guest. “It is a trip out for Red Marauder and will tighten him up for the Thomas Pink.”
Red Marauder has missed a serious bit of work due to the recent horrific weather conditions.
“I have never seen conditions like we have had here. The all-weather was washed away and no sooner had we repaired the damage than it was swept away again. But there is a two and a half-furlong bank here and Red Marauder has been cantering up it half a dozen times a day.
“He has worked well enough and will be right for Cheltenham.” said Guest, who partnered Red Marauder to his opening win of the season in a Market Rasen hurdle in September.
“Ever since then the Thomas Pink has been the aim,” he confirmed. “We wanted him fresh for Cheltenham because he always goes best when he has had a break between races. As long as the ground is soft we are hoping he will run a big race.”
Paul Nicholls relies on Norski Lad, while champion trainer Martin Pipe runs Majadou,Lady Cricket and Exit Swinger. Irish hopes are riding on Slaney Native and Feathered Leader, and the Venetia Williams stable is expected to get a good run from the fancied Davoski.