MURPHY HOPING JOE CAN HAVE EDGE IN COOLFUN LTD GRIMTHORPE CHASE
Doncaster hosts the £50,000 Coolfun Ltd Grimthorpe Chase (3.30pm) on Saturday, March 1, the highlight of the Yorkshire course’s final jump meeting of the season.
Coolfun Ltd is the new sponsor at Doncaster on March 1 and will generously be backing all seven races on the card. The company’s portfolio includes Gainsborough’s new superclub, The State Club, as well the renowned jazz club in the same town, The Sands Venue. The company is owned by Peter Swann, who has enjoyed success as an owner with Derek Shaw.
The three and a quarter mile handicap chase attracts some of the best stayers in the country and the last two renewals have fallen to subsequent Scottish Grand National winners. Grey Abbey was a convincing victor for Howard Johnson in 2004 and captured the Scottish National two months later, while Run For Paddy beat Lou Du Moulin Mas in a thrilling finish 12 months later and went on to win at Ayr in 2006.
This year’s five-day entry of 18 includes several horses who are being aimed at the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree on April 5, including current ante-post favourite Cloudy Lane from the Donald McCain Jnr stable, Becher Handicap Chase winner Mr Pointment, trained by Paul Nicholls, and Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Grade One scorer Ollie Magern.
Trainer Ferdy Murphy hopes that 2004 Scottish National hero Joes Edge will take his chance at Doncaster on Saturday. The 11-year-old gelding was pulled up on his latest start when co-favourite in last season’s Grand National, and the Leyburn-based handler is tempted to run his chaser in the Coolfun Ltd Grimthorpe Chase on Saturday, prior to another crack at the Aintree fences.
Murphy said: “We’ve entered Joes Edge at Doncaster on Saturday and he’ll take his chance providing the ground is not too firm. He needs good ground and we might pop down to Doncaster on Friday to see if it is not too fast. He’s also entered at Newbury at the weekend and we’ll go where the ground is better.
“He’s very, very well and we need to get a run into him prior to the Grand National, which has been his target all season. We are keen to get him to the racecourse and he’s in fantastic order.
“We are looking to get probably just the one run into him before Aintree, although he might take his chance at Cheltenham, where he won the William Hill Trophy Handicap Chase last year. We’ll see how he comes out of Saturday’s race before finalising any plans, but the gap between Cheltenham and Aintree looks a bit tight this year.”
Murphy has also entered Clemax in the Coolfun Ltd Grimthorpe Chase. The seven-year-old gelding was never travelling when being pulled up in the Try And Bluff Me @ williamhillpoker.com Handicap Chase at Doncaster on February 2, but Murphy believes that the grey might sneak into the places with a bit of luck.
He added: “Clemax is not in the same league as Joes Edge, but he won a competitive handicap at Catterick in December before being pulled up on his last two starts, including at Doncaster where he didn’t travel like he normally does. But we had him checked over when we got him home and he seemed fine.
“He’s a good little northern horse who will be running for place money on Saturday.”
Saturday’s card at Doncaster also hosts the £25,000 Sands Venue Live Entertainment Handicap Hurdle (2.25pm), in which last year’s Grand National second McKelvey could make his seasonal reappearance over the smaller obstacles.
Ferdy Murphy has three entries in the extended-three-mile contest, and hopes that Cardinal Spirit could return to Doncaster following a good victory over the same trip in the Be In The Game - Betlive @ williamhill.co.uk Maiden Hurdle on February 2, and has also entered Spring Breeze and Poker de Sivola in Saturday’s race.
Murphy commented: “All three could possibly run in the Sands Venue Live Entertainment Handicap Hurdle at Doncaster on Saturday. Spring Breeze won well last time and he’s a very nice individual. He’ll take his chance providing the ground is not too firm, but I have every faith that Clerk of the Course David Williams will produce good racing ground.”
With little rain forecast for the coming week, David Williams, Clerk of the Course and Estates Manager at Doncaster, is preparing to water the course to ensure a good racing surface for the weekend.
Williams explained: “The ground is currently good to firm, good in places. The forecast is for two millimetres of rain tonight and a possible further seven millimetres on Wednesday and Thursday.
“We will do a bit of watering to take the sting out of the ground, particularly around Rose Hill and the Grandstand area, where it is at its fastest.”