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Golden Ace steps up for Cheltenham Listed assignment

Golden Ace steps up for Cheltenham Listed assignment
Golden Ace steps up for Cheltenham Listed assignment

Star mare Golden Ace returns to the scene of her finest hour attempting to remain unbeaten over hurdles in Cheltenham’s Changing Young Lives At Jamie’s Farm Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

Jeremy Scott’s six-year-old hinted at her potential when second to Dysart Enos in a Grade Two Aintree bumper at the end of last season and since switching to hurdles has been flawless, giving her handler a maiden success at the Cheltenham Festival last month.

The form of that triumph was franked by the bloodless success of Gordon Elliott’s Brighterdaysahead at Aintree, with Golden Ace missing her own intended engagement on Merseyside due to a bruised foot.

However, she has recovered sufficiently for a step up in trip on her return to the Cotswolds and this Listed event looks the perfect spot for Golden Ace to finish the season on a real high.

Scott said: “I was very cross we weren’t able to run at Aintree but she seems absolutely fine now and we’ll go to Cheltenham and take our chance.

“On ratings she looks the best but who knows what the others have got up their sleeves.

“Gordon’s horse looked very impressive and that was up to two and a half miles and now we are as well. We will see how well, or not, we see the trip out. She won over two-miles-three and a bit at Taunton (earlier in the season), so I have every confidence she will get it, no problems at all.

“She’s a lovely mare and has been outstanding. We’re looking forward to another run, which will be good for experience and then we can hopefully put her away for next year.”

Trainer Jeremy Scott celebrating at the Cheltenham Festival
Trainer Jeremy Scott celebrating at the Cheltenham Festival (Adam Davy/PA)

Dysart Enos may be missing from the line-up but Fergal O’Brien is still represented by Lilting Verse, while Henry Daly’s talented Wyenot, Dan Skelton’s Lightening Mahler and Ben Clarke’s consistent Ooh Betty are others arriving with good form to their name.

Meanwhile, it is Nicky Henderson who has won this race the last two years and with his Seven Barrows string back in form after a short spell in the doldrums, the Henry Ponsonby Racing team can look forward to Aston Martini’s outing in the Cotswolds with more optimism.

Aston Martini was last seen finishing fourth in graded action at Sandown and Liz Rutter, racing manager for the syndicate, said: “I think the ground at Sandown turned out to be far more testing than a lot of people were expecting, so she did well to finish fourth there.

“We are all delighted to see Nicky’s horses back on track and she’s in good form at home. But this is a hot race – the competition is very high – but there are not a lot of opportunities for these mares in novice company, so I think it is worth having a crack at.

Aston Martini in action at Lingfield
Aston Martini in action at Lingfield (Adam Davy/PA)

“She’s not run at Cheltenham before but there is no reason why she won’t handle it and I think the ground will be lovely; it will be nice, beautiful ground. She’s a very good mover and she’s a very long-striding mare and I think she quite enjoys decent ground.

“She’s a lovely mare who we hope will keep improving, but this could be a tough ask.”

There is also Grade Two action on the card in the British EBF Mares’ Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase Final, where Mel Rowley’s Malaita looks to win on the card for the second year in a row.

A winner over hurdles at Prestbury Park’s April meeting 12 months ago, the eight-year-old has been a respectable performer since switching to fences this term and will be suited by drying conditions, having opened her account over the larger obstacles at Ludlow last month.

Malaita in action over hurdles at Ludlow
Malaita in action over hurdles at Ludlow (David Davies/PA)

“She won at this meeting last year over hurdles and now needs to repeat the performance over the bigger obstacles,” said Rowley.

“She ran at Cheltenham earlier in the season and was running an absolute blinder before overjumping at the third last and she fell. It was just one of those where she was just jumping so enthusiastically, she forgot to put the landing gear out.

“We’ve put that to the back of our minds and since then she has gone out and won and is in really good form.

“She looks great and the ground won’t be a problem, as she would prefer a sounder surface anyway. We would be hopeful that would play to her strengths, rather than her weaknesses.”

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