Aye Right bidding to give Harriet Graham big-race win in Ladbrokes Trophy
Aye Right has his eyes on the prize
Aye Right can give northern racing a huge fillip and, at the same time, provide Harriet Graham and Callum Bewley with the biggest winners of their respective careers by triumphing in an open Ladbrokes Trophy, one of the jump season’s marquee races, at Newbury on Saturday.
The Scottish Borders-trained seven-year-old, from a yard where he only has seven stablemates, fits the bill on several counts, not least of all because this has always been a good race for progressive second-season chasers.
You could make a case for most of the runners, but Aye Right had the speed to finish a close second to Nuts Well over two miles at Kelso – I am not sure many of his rivals would be up to that – but he stays three well as he proved when seven lengths third to Cyrname at Wetherby last time.
The horse that split them that day, Vinndication, is possibly his biggest danger but Kim Bailey’s chaser has a big weight to carry here. Aye Right has more of a racing weight.
If the difference between the two comes down to small margins Vinndication, who is sometimes inclined to take a chance on his jumping, has never won left-handed, although there was nothing wrong with his Wetherby form. All except one of Aye Right’s wins have been left-handed.
Black Op, runner-up in the Kauto Star last year and close behind Imperial Aura on his return over two and a half miles at Carlisle, also looks a threat, while Beware the Bear has been fourth in this race twice and, in a race that suits him, has an each-way chance again.
His trainer, Nicky Henderson, should be on the mark earlier with Marie’s Diamond in the Ladbrokes Committed To Safer Gambling Intermediate Hurdle. She was unbeaten in a bumper and two novice hurdles last season and had a nice gallop round Newbury 10 days ago.
On Friday, Thyme Hill, an unlucky fourth in last season’s Albert Bartlett, stamped himself as a serious player in the Stayers Hurdle division when beating Paisley Park and McFabulous a length and a half and five in the Long Distance Hurdle.
“It was only his fifth start over hurdles, he’s only six, he was pretty fit but you’d hope he’d come on for the run,” said his trainer Philip Hobbs afterwards. “He’ll probably have one more run before Cheltenham (in March), either the Long Walk at Ascot or the Cleeve Hurdle.”
Jockey Aidan Coleman was delighted with Paisley Park. “I couldn’t be happier without winning,” he said. “Compared to where he was at Cheltenham in March (with an irregular heartbeat) this is a huge step forward.”
However, the horse you would want to take home with you was Bravemansgame, a strapping five-year-old, who won the two-and-a-half-mile novice hurdle without coming off the bridle for Harry Cobden.
“He will take the Denman route and come back for the Challow Hurdle (at the end of December),” said Paul Nicholls. “But I’m more excited about him going novice chasing in 12 months’ time.”