Thomas Crapper after second Greatwood Gold Cup success at Newbury on Saturday
The £50,000 G3 Greatwood Gold Cup (2.40pm) is the highlight of a fascinating seven-race programme at Newbury on Saturday, March 3, Greatwood Charity Raceday.
Greatwood Charity Raceday provides an opportunity for racegoers to learn about Greatwood, a unique charity based near Marlborough which provides fulfilling futures for former racehorses and teaches emotional literacy and life skills to children and young people with special educational needs.
First run in 2004 and staged over just short of two and a half miles, the Greatwood Gold Cup has attracted 22 entries for its 2018 renewal.
There has yet to be a dual winner of the valuable handicap chase, but Thomas Crapper (Robin Dickin) is looking to defy that statistic.
An impressive 20-length winner from Vic De Touzaine (Venetia Williams) last year under Charlie Poste, the Tamure gelding subsequently finished a creditable fourth in the G3 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.
The 11-year-old was injured when falling heavily at Cheltenham in April, but returned to racing earlier this month, when he was pulled up in a handicap chase at Warwick.
Dickin, based at Alcester, Warwickshire, reported today: “Thomas Crapper is in good form at home. It’s highly probable that he will run on Saturday in the Greatwood Gold Cup and he seems to have come out of his latest race at Warwick in good form.
“We are fortunate to just have him back on the racecourse, but he retains all his old enthusiasm and the return to Newbury should suit him.
“He is very well since returning from injury. At Cheltenham in April, he smashed a bone behind his knee and we weren’t sure whether he would be able to race again, so we are just delighted to have him back again and enjoying the game as he is a really classy horse.
“We ran him with huge caution at Warwick last time. The ground was very bad that day and the most important thing was that he came back in one piece. Looking back at the race, we were helped by the fact that Charlie Poste has ridden him so much and knows him.
“I’m really looking forward to running him again and I think he is a better horse on decent ground. He was very impressive in the Greatwood Gold Cup last year. He jumped and travelled well, and, if he is in the same sort of form, then he is an extremely well-handicapped horse.
“He won so easily last year on soft ground, which I thought he wouldn’t like, so it proves that good horses go on any ground. He goes to Newbury with every chance if reproducing last year’s run in the race.
“He is entered again at the Cheltenham Festival [Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase] and has been placed at three different Festivals. He owes us nothing and it’s a testament to how classy he is that he’s able to return time and time again to continue to run well.
“We may go back to Cheltenham, but we will get Newbury out of the way first and see how he comes out of the race before making any other plans.”
No trainer has a better record than Paul Nicholls in the Greatwood Gold Cup. The Somerset-based handler has saddled the winner eight times, most recently with Sametegal in 2016.
He has four entries this year, with Sametegal joined by Listed Sky Bet Chase runner-up Warriors Tale, smart novice Adrien Du Pont and recent Musselburgh scorer Marracudja.
The likely top-weight is Kylemore Lough (Harry Fry), while young Newmarket trainer Amy Murphy, who enjoyed her biggest success to date with Kalashnikov in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Betfair Super Saturday earlier this month, has entered Mercian Prince, successful on his latest two starts at Kempton Park and Wetherby.
The seven-race card on Greatwood Charity Raceday runs from 1.35pm through to 4.55pm.
The Bloor Homes Supporting Greatwood Charity Race (in aid of Greatwood) Charity Race takes place after racing at 5.25pm.
Newbury also races on Friday, March 2, which is Mencap Charity Raceday. The seven-race programme takes place from 2.20pm to 5.35pm.
The going at Newbury is currently: Soft, Good to Soft in places.
Frost covers are down on the racing surface.
Newbury Racecourse will monitor the weather forecast closely and provide a daily update on the condition of the course.
There are snow showers/flurries forecast during the early part of the week, with further snow expected late on Thursday.
Night temperatures look set to remain below freezing for most of the week, though warmer weather is forecast on Friday and Saturday.