Doncaster stages the final Group 1 race and Cheltenham race for the first time this season on Saturday while the first Aintree meeting takes place the following day. So over the weekend we have Flat racing at the highest level and action at the two biggest jumps tracks. The Doncaster Group 1 is the race formerly known as the Racing Post Trophy, there are some competitive handicaps at Cheltenham and the Old Roan Chase is the feature race at Aintree.
The Aintree race is named in honour of Monet’s Garden who is the only three time winner. It’s a Grade 2 chase over about two miles and four furlongs and there are 16 fences to be jumped. The best horse to win the race is Kauto Star in 2006 who went on to win two Cheltenham Gold Cups. Kauto Star is the only horse to win the £1 million bonus for winning the three most prestigious chases of the season. A horse must win the Betfair Chase, King George and Cheltenham Gold Cup to earn the huge prize and Might Bite could do just that this season.
Monet’s Garden won the Old Roan Chase in 2007, 2009 and 2010 and since the race was founded in 2004 no other horse has won it more than once. Kauto Star is the youngest winner at the age of 6 while Monet’s Garden won it for the third time as a 12-year-old. Over the last five years the winner has been aged from 7 to 11 so there are no clues in the age trends to the outcome of Saturday’s race. The retired Tony McCoy is the leading jockey with two wins and the last eight winners have come from the stable of different trainers.
Cloudy Dream would be a popular winner because the horse is trained by Donald McCain jnr. His dad, ‘Ginger’, won the Grand National at Aintree four times, with the only triple winner Red Rum and Amberleigh House in 2004. The younger McCain trained Ballabriggs to win the National in 2011. Cloudy Dream is owned by Trevor Hemmings who has won three Nationals one of which was with Ballabriggs. Cloudy Dream has the right connections but also has the form to win the Old Roan Chase.
The Vertem Futurity Trophy used to be sponsored by the Racing Post. Colts and fillies aged two are eligible and the race distance is one mile. The Doncaster race identifies one of the leading juveniles and the winner last season was Saxon Warrior. The horse beat Roaring Lion and went on to win the 2,000 Guineas in May while the runner-up has won four Group 1 races and is set to run his final race in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on dirt at the start of next month. The list of former winners features Classic winners of the future and other exceptional Flat horses.
Andrea Atezni won four Racing Post Trophies from 2013 to 2016 for four different trainers which must be unique for a Group Flat race. Saxon Warrior was one of Aidan O’Brien’s record setting eight winners and he is the only multiple winning trainer this century. Magna Grecia has been well backed this week to give the Irish trainer a ninth win and if prevailing the horse would become a leading contender for the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket next May. Magna Grecia has the form and ratings to win the feature race at Doncaster on Saturday.
There is no standout race at Cheltenham on the same day but there will still be a decent crowd. The appetite for racing at the home of the jumps knows no bounds and even though the turnout won’t be of Festival proportions thousands will flock to the track in the Cotswolds. We Have A Dream won well at the Aintree Grand National meeting in April and is a worthy favourite to win the Masterson Holdings Hurdle. The double with Cloudy Dream in the Old Roan Chase pays about 12.