I attended an entertaining Cheltenham Racing preview evening hosted by the Racing Post midweek and the excellent Tom Segal (Pricewise) advised retirement beckoned for him if Olly Murphy’s Brewin’upastorm won the Arkle next month. I have rarely heard anyone as bullish about their antepost wager(s) since I bored everyone throughout a long winter that Hawk Wing was the biggest certainty to have ever graced Newmarket’s hallowed Rowley Mile ahead of the 2002 2000 Guineas.

History tells us that Hawk Wing was drawn on the wrong side of the track, given too much to do by jockey Jamie Spencer and beaten a neck by stablemate Rock Of Gibraltar. I hope Tom has more luck than I did that fateful day. I didn’t go to Newmarket but watched the race from the bar of the Valentine pub near Aintree racecourse. It still hurts just thinking about it. 

There is rain and the possibility of sleet for both turf cards on Friday afternoon but both Doncaster and Newbury are optimistic that the two-day meetings will go ahead as planned. We begin at Newbury and in the opening handicap hurdle for conditional jockey’s I hope to see Alnadam (2.10) make a winning handicap debut for Dan Skelton stepping up in trip with William Marshall taking off a valuable 8lbs.

The selection is a winning pointer and suggested he was ready for a step up in distance when staying on into fourth at Leicester last time although confidence is tempered by the fact that the third horse home went off at 100/1. The selection has been given 85-days to get over that effort which suggests all was not quite right with the selection on that occasion and his opening mark looks fair based on his previous Uttoxeter success.

I have not been able to get Financial Outcome right this term although he looked an unlucky loser when blundering four out when, seemingly, cantering at Uttoxeter last time.  Rebecca Curtis has given her seven-year-old a wind operation since that last effort, but marginal preference is for Indian Brave (3.15) who is stepped up in trip having won at Chepstow last time from a 6lbs lower mark. The  additional 3f should suit although I am slightly concerned about the form of the Neil Mulholland yard.

The progressive Dorking Cock is likely to be all the rage in the 2m handicap chase with Richard Johnson taking over in the plate as the champion jockey tries to chase down Brian Hughes at the top of the jockey’s table. Marginal preference, however, goes to Skelton’s Amoola Gold (4.55) who has run a couple of very good races over C&D including when possibly an unlucky loser from a 4lbs lower mark last time.

At Doncaster It’s Probably Me is weighted to reverse Warwick form with Molly Ollys Wishes (4.10) but I believe the mare – another trained by Dan Skelton – can improve again and follow up despite shouldering a 7lbs penalty for that fluent success. It’s Probably Me finished third in a listed contest on her penultimate start at Taunton but that run might just be a shade flattering and she may again have to settle for the silver medal.

Earlier in the card I thought Goobinator (2.35) jumped better when scoring at Carlisle last time than had been the case when disappointing at Wetherby on his previous start. Donald McCain’s four-year-old is currently number 41 in the weights for the race formerly known as the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham next month.  A penalty for winning today would see him in the weights for that juvenile handicap at the Festival.

There is little between Miah Grace and Stainsby Girl (3.40) at the revised terms on Hexham running earlier in the season but the former was well held off this mark at Leicester last time while I felt the latter ran well until her stamina gave way over an additional half-mile at Newcastle last month.      

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