If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Sandown’s Saturday card is in the clear from the foot and mouth but has to survive a 7am inspection following the abandonment of Friday’s card because of waterlogging.
The Alvis Grand Military Gold Cup has been salvaged from the Friday card and provides Major Ollie Ellwood with a great opportunity to win the race for a third time.
The 44-year-old galloping major rides Mister One, trained by Colin Tizzard atMilborne Port in Dorset.
Major Ellwood and Mister One staged an incredible run up the Sandown hill to catchMilo Watson and Flat Top in the last stride to win the Royal Artillery Gold Cup lastmonth. But Mister One is now 10lb worse off with Flat Top.
Flat Top hails from the stable of North Yorkshire farmer Mick Easterby, who has beenthe loudest voice from among the training ranks, telling the authorities to keep onracing through the foot and mouth crisis.
Major Ellwood also has outstanding prospects of following up last year’s victory onCoulton in the Dick McCreery Hunters’ Chase. Bella Macrae, in the colours of theQueen Mother, is another fancied Ellwood mount in the Barclays Handicap Hurdle.
Malton trainer Malcolm Jefferson, who has been highly critical ofthe shamblessurrounding the postponement of the Cheltenham Festival, has re-routed his classyex-French hurdler Dibea Times from the abandoned Champion Hurdle to the Sunderlands Imperial Cup at Sandown.
Dibea Times won his only start in France before coming over here to pick up threehurdles on the trot in untroubled style. The Martin Pipe-AP McCoy representativeValiramix will be hard pressed to successfully concede 13lb to Dibea Times.
Noble Lord, one of the leading fancies for next month’s Grand National, humpstopweight in the Warwick National Crudwell Cup at Warwick. The three mile fivefurlong trip will bring his unflagging stamina into play.