Alrehb, a winner when trained by Charles Hills on his second start last September, since when the four-year-old War Front gelding has been moved to the yard of Kevin Philippart De Foy, will be tough to beat in a Novice Stakes over the straight Newcastle tapeta mile this afternoon; ‘big hitters’ will be out in force and unless a newcomer from Roger Varian’s Newmarket complex, Tyrrhenian Sea, is above average, they’ll draw winnings.
Although I’m close to Hills’ ‘Faringdon’ stables, his legendary father Barry still rings me almost daily, I’m unaware of twice-raced Alrehb but, on the time-handicap, he represents a stand-out selection; one thing is certain he’ll have been well looked after by excellent, conscientious staff.
There must have been several ‘bargains’ sold world-wide by the Shadwell operation (formerly Hamdan Al Maktoum, who sadly died earlier this year!) and Barry mentioned last week nigh on five-hundred thoroughbreds were initially lined up for sale; what a colossal commitment Sheikh Mohammed’s brother made to our wonderful Sport Of Kings.
All good things come to an end but ‘Hamdan’ was indeed a giant and his passing a tremendous blow to the English racing scene; I, personally, placed so many of his winners, trained by Robert Armstrong and Barry from the time he purchased racehorses back in the late 1970’s!
I never met him but, ironically, can recall having a conversation at Royal Ascot with his young brother, Maktoum Al Maktoum, who died a long time ago.
David Probert partners Alrehb, enough boxes are ticked for an ‘anchor’ punt!
Two other juvenile races are intriguing but tricky and a better proposition is progressive, twice-raced Storm Dennis in the Novices’ Hurdle over two miles of ‘good to soft’ Wincanton where Chris Gordon’s charge is clear ‘best-in’ judged on his last effort around Fontwell eight weeks ago.
Two other significant pointers lead to Storm Dennis being selected; he’s dropped back in trip and has since undergone a wind operation!
A sound each-way bet and I’ll also ‘play the place’ with Per Vino Veritas in the Novices’ Hurdle over two and a half miles; following an agonising near miss with stable-companion Jpr One at Cheltenham last week I’m keen to follow the in-form Colin Tizzard yard and is super jockey Brendan Powell.
Storm Dennis has one serious rival, Rainyday Woman but in horse-racing nothing is easy!
We’re in good form but keep hitting the goal posts; time to move them, eh?
Selections, Wincanton, 12.30 Storm Dennis (e.w); 2.00 Per Vino Veritas (e.w); Newcastle, 4.30 Alrehb.
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Jeffrey Ross, horse-racing correspondent for WMN since 1983 when winning the most prestigious racing journalist award, Sporting Life Naps Table, before winning it a record number of six times collectively in the Racing Post, the current ‘trade’ paper, including 2019