Six go to post in totepool Towton Novices’ Chase at Wetherby tomorrow – Vaughan hoping Milborough can make his mark

Six runners are set to go to post in the £30,000 Grade Two totepool Towton Novices’ Chase (3.20pm), the highlight of a seven-race programme on Medieval Raceday at Wetherby tomorrow, Saturday, February 1. There is a precautionary inspection at 8.00am tomorrow.


The runners for the three miles, one furlong contest are headed by Green Flag (trained by Lucinda Russell and the mount of Peter Buchanan), who won his first three starts over fences before finishing second in the Grade One Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.


The 18-time champion jockey A P McCoy will be donning the famous silks of owner J P McManus on Shutthefrontdoor (trained by Jonjo O’Neill). The seven-year-old was a very useful handicap hurdler and won his first start over fences at Aintree in October. He has subsequently been placed twice at Cheltenham.


Welsh handler Tim Vaughan has declared Milborough (the mount of Michael Byrne), who fell when travelling well at Ayr on January 2. The eight-year-old son of Milan made a winning start over fences at Uttoxeter on December 10, having previously been trained in Ireland by Charles Byrnes.


Vaughan reported today: “Milborough is fine and dandy. Obviously, it is a very competitive race at Wetherby tomorrow but it is a small field and there is good prize money on offer. We decided to let him take his chance as he loves the soft ground.


“We wanted to get a run into him now and then he can have a nice little freshen up before he possibly goes to Cheltenham, where he could either go for one of the handicaps or the four-mile National Hunt Chase.


“He was travelling well when he fell at Ayr last time, so it was a bit frustrating. We just want to get his confidence back with his jumping, so we thought a small field where he can get plenty of daylight would be ideal as hopefully he can get into a rhythm.


“He was definitely always going to be a chaser and just needs a bit more experience. It has been a bit of a funny old year with the weather but hopefully we will get another run into him at Wetherby tomorrow and be back on track.”


Top local handler Sue Smith is represented by Coverholder (ridden by Jonathan England). The seven-year-old was successful over hurdles at Wetherby in 2013 and won on his first two outings over fences this season. Last time out, he was runner-up in a Grade Two event at Haydock Park on January 18.


Ely Brown (trained by Charlie Longsdon and partnered by Noel Fehily) was an easy 16-length winner over fences at Leicester on December 27 having previously been very useful over hurdles while the field is completed by Strike Fast (trained by William Kinsey and partnered by Harry Challoner), who will be making his debut under Rules having previously run in point-to-points.


The Totepool Towton Novices’ Chase is a trial for the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and has a roll of honour featuring good horses such as Wayward Prince, Weird Al, Ollie Magern, Royal Emperor, Escarteifigue and Mr Mulligan, who subsequently won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1997.


Medieval Raceday also includes the £18,500 Bet Totequadpot With Totepool Handicap Chase (2.10pm, seven runners) over an extended two and a half miles and the £8,300 Download The Totepool Mobile App Handicap Hurdle (2.45pm, eight runners) over three miles and furlong.


Gates open at 10.30am with the action getting underway at 1.00pm.


The medieval theme includes Archery and Falconry demonstrations, as well as a medieval kitchen and live music. Tickets are available from £16, while a special ‘1461 Package’, which includes Paddock Enclosure admission, a racecard, a £2 free tote bet, a pint and a bap from the hog roast, is £25.




The current going at Wetherby is Soft, Heavy in places with precautionary inspection planned at 8.00am tomorrow morning


Wetherby’s Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course, Jonjo Sanderson, reported: “We have been relatively lucky compared to our colleagues at Sandown and Ffos Las in that we have had a good 48 hours without any rain. However, as predicted by the forecasters, the rain started at about 1.00pm today and looks set to continue for some time.


“As for how much rain the ground will take, it is impossible to be exact at this stage.  We’ll simply have to assess the conditions at 8.00am tomorrow once the rain clouds have passed through, which the forecast suggests will be by about midnight tonight, and update the situation thereafter.”

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