Olly Murphy didn’t enjoy much luck at the Cheltenham Festival but the trainer has plenty to look forward to for the rest of the season and he sends unbeaten mare Monbeg Zena over to Ireland today to contest the Grade 2 Charleville Cheese Irish EBF Mares Novice Chase (2m6½f) at Limerick.
Monbeg Zena was successful on her only start in point-to-points before winning over hurdles at Southwell in December 2018. The daughter of Flemensfirth returned from an absence of over a year to score on her novice chase debut at Market Rasen in February, albeit looking a fortuitous winner following the last fence fall of The Mighty Don.
Her rivals today include the Willie Mullins-trained Salsaretta, winner of her last three races, and Naas Listed second Tintangle, representing leading handler Gordon Elliott.
At Carlisle, the elder statesmen take their turn in the spotlight in the veterans’ handicap chase over an extended three miles. Seeyouatmidnight came out of retirement to finish a well-beaten fourth at Kelso last month and connections will be hoping for an improved showing today.
Nicky Richards appears to hold a strong hand in the contest saddling duo Takingrisks and My Old Gold, both successful at the course previously, while Jepeck holds sounds claims for Anthony Honeyball, enjoying his best season to date in terms of both winners and prize-money.
There is also jumps action today at Market Rasen with a seven-race card at the Lincolnshire venue.
Nicholls stays in form
Fresh from the success of Politologue in the Grade 1 Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham, Paul Nicholls enjoyed an excellent Saturday with big wins at Uttoxeter and Kempton.
Truckers Lodge proved his love of a stamina test when chasing home Potters Corner in the Welsh Grand National in December and the eight-year-old went one better with a decisive success in the Midlands Grand National, at 4m2f one of the longest races in the jumps calendar.
Conditional jockey Lorcan Williams did the steering on Truckers Lodge, owned by Gordon and Su Hall, to enjoy the best moment of his career to date, defeating Captain Drake by 18 lengths.
The Grade 3 EBF Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final (2m5f) at Kempton looked a competitive race with 18 runners yet the winner could be called a fair way from home.
McFabulous, owned by Giraffa Racing, travelled powerfully under Harry Cobden, who still had a tight hold of the six-year-old coming to the final flight. Asked to put the race to bed, McFabulous saw off Sevarano by six and a half lengths, looking every inch a young hurdler on the upgrade.