Murphy returning to scene of biggest win with Mercian Prince
Amy Murphy, who enjoyed the best day of her training career so far when Kalashnikov landed the Betfair Hurdle last year, has her sights on another significant Newbury prize when Mercian Prince tackles the Grade 3 William Hill Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup on Saturday.
Last time out winner Mercian Prince features among a record field of 16 for the £50,000 prize, which is headed by Dolos who with Warrior’s Tale and San Benedeto makes up a three-pronged assault by Paul Nicholls who has won the race eight times since its first running in 2004.
Mercian Prince comes into the race off the back of a 17 lengths success at Kempton in January for which he has been raised 10lb. He will be Newmarket trainer Murphy’s second runner at the track since last year’s Betfair Hurdle triumph.
“Even without a win, Newbury is a fabulous place,” said Murphy. “I have very fond memories of last year’s success with Kalashnikov. It’s nice to have a horse that can run at a track of Newbury’s calibre on a Saturday.
“Mercian Prince had a huge hike after Kempton and it makes sense to let him take his chance in a better grade race. He is in great form and his main asset is his jumping so if he can get on the front end and get into a rhythm like he did at Kempton then he absolutely deserves to go down this road.”
Another taking the step up in grade is Nightfly, a winner twice this season, who suggested she could cope at a higher level when outrunning her odds of 33-1 to finish fourth in a Listed Mares’ Chase at Huntingdon.
Trainer Charlie Lonsgdon said: “I am looking forward to her running. It’s been her target the whole time. She ran way better than her rating in the Listed race at Huntingdon. On the day I thought she was third best but paid for trying to go with the front two. She only went up 2lb to 132 as well. I think she ran at least to a mark of 135 that day.”
The Grade 3 William Hill Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup is the feature race of Greatwood Charity Raceday on a seven-race card, which is the second day of two days of racing at Newbury.
Friday’s fixture, of which four of the races are run in aid of West Berkshire Mencap, has attracted 78 runners across seven races.
The most informative race could be the RR Elite National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle (3.25), whose previous winners include Le Breuil, Hell’s Kitchen and Minella Rocco, in which Emitom, trained in Lambourn by Warren Greatrex, will bid to maintain an unbeaten record.
The winner of two bumpers and two hurdle races has to concede 10lb to seven of his eight rivals of which three, Gallahers Cross, Interconnected and Storm Of Intrigue, represent champion jumps trainer Nicky Henderson.