Mann hoping for second Greatwood Gold Cup with Seventh Sky

Racing returns to Newbury this Friday, February 27, Mencap Charity Day, and Saturday, February 28, Greatwood Charity Day.

Mencap Charity Day offers a seven-race programme running from 2.00pm to 5.15pm. The day will support West Berkshire Mencap, a charity doing invaluable work to support people living difficulties and their families in the local area.

Now in its sixth year, the Greatwood Charity Day supports the unique Greatwood charity, founded in 1990 and based near Marlborough. Greatwood provides fulfilling futures for former racehorses and teaches emotional literacy and life skills to children and young people with special educational needs.

The feature race on Greatwood Charity Day is the £50,000 Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup (3.25pm), a handicap chase over two and a half miles which has attracted 21 entries. The entries include Niceonefrankie (Venetia Williams) and Edgardo Sol (Emma Lavelle), who finished first and third respectively in the Grade Three December Gold Cup at Cheltenham earlier this season.

Upper Lamborun trainer Charlie Mann scooped the Greatwood Gold Cup in 2011 with Fine Parchment and is targeting this year’s race with Seventh Sky.

The eight-year-old was a half-length second to Far West over two miles and a furlong at Newbury in a novices’ limited handicap chase on December 29 before recording victories at Huntingdon, in another novices’ limited handicap chase on January 9, and in the Scottish Future Champions Novices’ Chase at Musselburgh on February 1.

He made a quick reappearance when second under 11st 12lb in another novices’ limited handicap chase at Plumpton on February 9.

Mann reported: “I would think Seventh Sky will be heading to Newbury for the Greatwood Gold Cup on Saturday.

“He had a big weight last time out at Plumpton and had only run a few days before. It was probably also a bit too short for him as he really wants two and a half miles.

“He has been good around Newbury before and we won this race a few years ago with Fine ParchmSeventh Skyent. I think Seventh Sky is a decent horse. He is still only a novice but I think there is more to come from him.

“He ran a good race behind Far West at Newbury earlier this season and I think he was a bit unlucky not to win that day.

“The horse is in good order and the plan is to go for the Greatwood at this stage. He goes on any ground.”

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has won the race on six occasions and has two entries in Rebel Rebellion, successful in a valuable handicap chase at Ascot in January and Sound Investment, a winner at Sandown Park in December.

Upsilon Bleu (Pauline Robson) could make a quick return to Newbury having taken the runner-up spot last time out behind Mr Mole in the Grade Two Betfair Price Rush Chase on February 7, while Philip Hobbs has two entries in Royal Regatta, successful at Newbury and Doncaster this season plus Ballygarvey.

Newbury will break new ground on Greatwood Charity Day as it becomes the first racecourse to run a handicap hurdle specifically for older horses. The opening £20,000 Betfair Supporting Greatwood Veterans’ Handicap Hurdle (1.45pm), over two miles and five furlongs, is restricted to horses aged eight and older. The excellent 28-strong entry includes Bothy (Brian Ellison), who went down by a short-head when runner-up in the 2011 Betfair Hurdle at Newbury, and Topoloski (David Arbuthnot), a Grade Two scorer at the Grand National meeting in 2011.

Veteran chasers also get their chance in the £30,000 Betway Supporting Greatwood Veterans’ Handicap Chase (2.15pm, 15 entries). Among the entries for the extended three and a quarter mile chase, which is restricted to 10-year-olds and upwards, are 2011 Hennessy Gold Cup hero Carruthers (Mark Bradstock), Tranquil Sea (Warren Greatex), winner of the 2009 Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham, and Golden Chieftain (Colin Tizzard), a Grade Three handicap chase scorer at the Cheltenham Festival in 2013.

The most valuable handicap hurdle of the day is the £20,000 Ladbrokes Supporting Greatwood Handicap Hurdle (2.50pm). Among the 23 entries for this race, staged over an extended two miles, are 2012 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle victor Cinders And Ashes (Donald McCain) plus Retrieve (John Ferguson) and Snake Eyes (Nicky Henderson), who have both won Listed handicap hurdles so far this season.

Completing the line-up on Greatwood Charity Day are the £6,000 Moore Of Devizes Ltd Supporting Greatwood Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Race (4.00pm, 24 entries), the £11,000 BetVictor Supporting Greatwood Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (4.35pm, 15 entries) and the concluding £2,500 West Berkshire Racing Club “Junior” Bumper (5.05pm, 28 entries).