Present Man faces his “toughest task yet” according to part-owner Mark Woodhouse as the chaser bids for a historic third victory in the Listed Badger Beers Silver Trophy at Wincanton on Saturday.
The nine-year-old won the handicap chase for the first time in 2017 and returned last year to record back-to-back successes in the 3m1f contest, both times partnered by Bryony Frost, who gets the leg up again tomorrow.
No horse has ever won the race three times and Woodhouse, who owns Present Man with his wife Tessa, is aware that Saturday’s renewal is his charge’s biggest challenge to date.
He said: “He’s gone up in the ratings a fair bit since last year and I think he’s running off a mark of 148. He was [effectively] seven pounds lower last year, as Bryony claimed three pounds off him.
“This is his toughest task yet. We’re probably up against it, which is the practical way of describing it.
“But fairytales do sometimes happen. We’ve already had two fairytales and anything that happens now will just be a massive bonus.”
Woodhouse’s connection with the Badger Beers Silver Trophy extends through the family business Hall & Woodhouse, which is sponsoring the race for the 58th year in 2019. It was Woodhouse’s mother and aunt who persuaded his father and uncle that sponsoring a race at Wincanton would be a good idea.
“Anything that happens now will just be a massive bonus”
He said: “We’re the oldest sponsor in racing. It’s such a big occasion for us and a big family day out. We’ll have 100 immediate family members and another 500 extended family coming.
“They’re all following Present Man avidly and I will be reminding them that they will have won more in the last two years then they will probably lose on Saturday!”
Present Man, who has an outstanding record when fresh, having won first time out for the past three seasons, will face 13 rivals in his quest for glory. The biggest threats appear to be his Paul Nicholls-trained stablemate Give Me A Copper, making his first start of the season, and the Colin Tizzard-trained White Moon, who fell on his seasonal reappearance in October.
The Young Master, trained by Neil Mulholland, contests the race five years after he won the race as a five-year-old, only to be disqualified after a computer system failure saw him declared when, in fact, he was ineligible to run in the race.
Wincanton’s card also features the Grade 2 Rising Stars Novices’ Chase (2m4f) with Reserve Tank the standout among the six-runner field. The five-year-old, who was a dual Grade 1-winning hurdler last season, will be looking for a first chase success having finished second behind Jarveys Plate at Chepstow last month.
The Nicky Henderson-trained Fusil Raffles, owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, contests the Grade 2 Unibet Hurdle (1m7½f) and looks a cut above his rivals, having claimed the Grade 1 Champion Four Year Old Hurdle at Punchestown in May.