Top racing tipster Kevan Minter, known as The Colonel, will be giving Mercury readers his top racing tips from this week. Kevan, who lives in Stamford, is at trackside most days, is regularly seen on TV and runs his own website.
The highly regarded Clerk’s Choice is set to return to Cheltenham for another crack at the £130,000 Grade Two StanJames.com International (3.05pm), one of the highlights of the second day of The International this Saturday .
The five-year-old was fourth behind Menorah in the two mile, one furlong hurdle last season and headed back to Cheltenham for The Festival in March, when he came home sixth behind Hurricane Fly in the Grade One Stan James Champion Hurdle.
He ended his season with a below par second in a Listed hurdle at Sandown in April but is reported to be in rude health after being moved from the Cambridgeshire stables of owner Michael Banks to the Lambourn yard of Oliver Sherwood, who has won the StanJames.com International three times with Cruising Altitude (1989) and Large Action (1994 & 1996).
Banks revealed today: “Clerk’s Choice will be entered for the StanJames.com International and the intention is to run him. Oliver Sherwood has been very pleased with the horse and I am heading down to Lambourn to see him do his final piece of work tomorrow (Saturday).
“My head girl broke her pelvis in three places - she is on one crutch at the moment but is off for another four months - so I decided to send him to Oliver. We would have been in a real mess if we had kept him here anyway because we haven’t been able to use our grass gallops all year due to the lack of rain. “I wanted him to send him somewhere where he would be appreciated and I have known the Sherwood family for a long time. My wife is involved in the Million In Mind partnership and Oliver is one of their trainers, so I thought that I would give him a chance.
“Clerk’s Choice coughed after he ran at Sandown and I put it down to the oilseed rape that we have on the farm, which could have given him hay fever. We scoped him afterwards and found nothing wrong with him. “Sandown was a peculiar race as well because there were only really three runners and Clerk’s Choice likes to be amongst horses and you can’t do that in such a small field. “The transition between a four-year-old and a five-year-old is a big leap for a hurdler and we think that he is a lot stronger this season compared to last year.
“We are slightly in no man’s land and my plan is to keep him over hurdles this season and we will see where we go. He’s only five and I suppose his programme could include next Saturday, Kempton on Boxing Day and then back for the big one at The Festival again.”The note pad horse this week is Twin Bud who was backed from ( 25-1 to 18-1 ) when second to Cinderella Rose in the Handicap Hurdle at Plumpton on Monday, the mare railled well on the run-in to get close to the hot favourite after traveling well I think she will lose her maiden tag very soon judged on this run
Al Ferof looked strong in the finish when landing the Novices Chase at Sandown on Saturday, Paul Nicholls’s smart Novices jumped like an old hand and looks a horse to keep on the right side of this winter. Sizing Europe’s win in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown on Saturday was a true Christmas cracker never giving his supporters a moments worry this horse loves this stiff up-hill finish. Nicky Henderson’s Gold Cup winner Long Run has been backed 5-4 from 6-4 with Ladbrokes for the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, Kauto Star remains a solid 4-1 secound favourite with the layers . The Welsh National Handicap Chase over Christmas at Chepstow looks wide open this year with Synchronised the 6-1 market leader I have had a word for Wymott and I expect the staying chaser to trade a lot shorter on the day so I suggest you take a bit of the 12-1 with the high street bookmakers. At Sha Tin on Sunday Cirrus Des Aigles will be a hard horse to beat in the Hong Kong Cup and Rocket Man will start a warm favourite for the sprint on the same card and looks a banker for the punters. At Cheltenham on Saturday Hinterland looks a leading contender in 12.10 JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial for Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh and at 2.30 live on CH4 Great Endeavour looks the weekend nap bet to win this £100.000 guaranteed ( Grade 3 ) Handicap Chase for Martin Pipe and Timmy Murphy.
A very big well done to Willie Carson was voted out of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here last week, the former champion jockey has booked fifth place.
The highlight of his 20 day stay in the Australian Jungle was biting bed bugs and sharing a hot tub with Peter Andre, but he performed with courage, well done little Willie.
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