NIGHT IN MILAN left the father and son combination of Keith and James Reveley dreaming of Aintree glory after continuing their love affair with Doncaster last Saturday, winning the William Hill Grimthorpe Handicap Chase.
The winner was up there in the van all the way and kicked clear in the straight to defeat the chasing pair Storm Survivor and Renard. Fellow pacemaker Golden Call finished fourth.
The 14-1 winner is entered in the Crabbie’s Grand National and bookmakers make him a 50-1 shot for the world’s greatest steeplechase.
Another horse bound for Aintree, Monbeg Dude, recovered from a bad mistake early on to finish a running-on fifth.
Night In Milan, who had a first and a second from four starts at Doncaster prior to this, put his course experience to good use here, jumping with aplomb out in front as he and Golden Call set a strong pace.
While the chasing pack got to Golden Call, they couldn’t catch the Reveley runner, who put the race to bed with further bold leaps over the last two fences.
Given how he jumps, the eight-year-old would be an interesting contender for Aintree, although as he is currently number 72 on the list it will be touch and go whether he makes the final 40.
“He’s in the National, but he’s only got 9st 13lb and would need a lot to come out to get in,” said Keith Reveley.
“His owner Richard Collins is keen for him to run over the fences and so we’ll also enter him in the Topham. I’d quite like to see him run in the Topham this year and the National next year. He’s a brilliant jumper, but he must have this ground.”
A couple of horses put a dampener on their Aintree hopes here. Top-weight Wayward Prince never went a yard, while Godsmejudge’s jumping was indifferent and he was struggling some way out. There’s hope for Monbeg Dude, though, who didn’t jump too badly after his early error. Given a typically patient ride by Paul Carberry after that, he was too far behind turning in, but ran on well to nearly take fourth spot.
Earlier in the afternoon the in-form duo had another smart winner with Victor Hewgo in the Novices Chase, and once again a trip to Aintree is on the cards, with the trainer saying: “He’ll go for the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree. It’s a race we won a lot of years ago with Cab On Target and we’ll give it a go and see what happens.
The ground is important to him. He hated it last time when Jonjo’s horse (Holywell) beat him because it was tacky, but he’s bounced off it today and really did operate over the last four fences.”
Sedgefield raced on Sunday and there was a couple of local winners to report, starting with the popular grey Boris The Blade, whose trainer Tina Jackson said afterwards: “He scoped dirty last time and all my horses have been coughing.
He’d never run here before but he’s a quirky old sort and I thought if he whipped round these bends it might spark him up.”
Alan Swinbank was also on the mark with Mitchell’s Way in the Novices’ Chase. The trainer, who has enjoyed many successes at this track over the years, said: “That didn’t surprise us, though that’s probably as good as he is. He’s taken a bit of time coming to hand as he had a foot infection earlier in the season.”
Trainer Philip Kirby continues to churn out the winners and he has a couple of really smart bumper winners on his hands thank to Celtic Agent who won at Southwell on Monday and Ustica who made an impressive winning start to his career at Newcastle on Tuesday.
Ustica was ridden by Richie McGrath, and running in the colours of his wife Nicky. The four-year-old could well be a future start on the evidence of this polished performance.
Kirby’s fine run of form continued at Catterick’s final meeting of the season on Wednesday when Rosie Du Berlais landed the Hunters Chase.
The story of this race was the very stylish ride the mare received from Philip Dennis.
Son of former jockey Chris Dennis, Philip is due to turn conditional in the next few months and it will be a surprise if we don’t hear a lot more from this talented young lad.
The Cheltenham Festival gets under way on Tuesday with the Champion Hurdle being the highlight on the first day of the four-day bonanza.
The New One looks the best of the English raiders, but they will have a tough task trying to beat the reigning champion Hurricane Fly.
Trained by Nigel Twiston- Davies, he will be ridden by the trainer’s son, Sam and the handler is looking forward to it, saying: “I cannot emphasise enough that with your son riding, it is twice the enjoyment.”
Assessing his horse, the trainer said: “He looks very glossy and happy. He is as easy as you can get. We have not had to do any racecourse gallops as we have the proper facilities here.
“He is totally uncomplicated.
There will be pace but, if there is no pace, others will struggle more than us.
“The New One quickens and has a phenomenal turn of foot.
Someone showed me some statistics. He covered the last two furlongs, over the same track as Hurricane Fly last year, unbelievably quicker. I don’t understand how to access such information.
“I hope his turn of foot will win him the day. We don’t know if he will win – he has never met Hurricane Fly and Our Conor.”