Charlie Longsdon limbered up for a big weekend’s racing at Cheltenham with a cross card double at Bangor and Exeter yesterday to bring his seasonal tally to 20 winners. The West Oxfordshire trainer is still searching for a top flight horse that will lift the earnings of the yard back above the £1/2m mark of a few years ago.
At Bangor, Snow Leopardess won her handicap chase gamely enough to justify 5/2 favouritism, and can be expected to be seen in some of our bigger long distance handicaps. She was only beaten 3/4l in the Rowland Meyrick last December, and is next lined up for the Becher Chase at Aintree later this month. She is set to give owner Alice Fox-Pitt plenty of fun yet.
Ten minutes later, Castle Robin made his debut chase appearance a winning one in the Dudley Westlake Memorial Novices Handicap at Exeter. This is another looking capable of improvement, having been reassessed upward by 13lbs last season over hurdles by the handicapper.
Although the Jumps season has been accelerating well since Chepstow’s season opener in October, the next three days at Cheltenham are a staging post in its reaching top gear. Headed up by the Paddy Power Gold Cup, the weekend serves up a variety of handicap and novice races that define the ante-post market for the Festival’s championships.
The Longsdon camp isn’t sending great numbers down the road to Cheltenham. Glencassley runs in the Ballymore Novices Hurdle, a Grade II contest, whilst Maninsane appears in the Old Valda Energy Handicap Hurdle, both on Friday. There are more obvious winners, but Glencassley does have Brian Hughes’ support in the plate, and he is riding winners like they are going out of fashion. In this form, he is long odds on for the Jockeys’ Championship.
On Sunday, Parramount is entered in the concluding listed Bumper.
However, if you're looking for other-worldly trends for this weekend, choose horses trained by Williams. That's any Williams at all. Since Sunday, no less than 5 individuals with that surname have won a race. Surely a poser for Question of Sport?