TOM George is hoping to pick up some of the generous prize-money on offer as he launches an eight-horse assault on the Challenger Series Finals at Haydock today.
With cash filtering right down to eight places, the Slad trainer has runners in five of the six races on card. “It’s a meeting that needs supporting,” said George, who has enjoyed a resurgent season thanks to his association with new stable jockey Adrian Heskin.
“We ran them in the qualifiers and there’s some running against each other but there’s good prize-money on offer so they need to take their chance.”
George’s raid kicks off with three runners – Some Buckle, Ballinvarrig and Cernunnos – in the opening Challenger Middle Distance Chase Series Final Handicap Chase.
The trainer said: “Some Buckle won well last time. He’s gone up a bit in the weights and has got a big weight to carry, but he’s in good form.
“Ballinvarrig has been a bit of a revelation this season. He’s won two races nicely. It probably wouldn’t do any harm if we had a shower of rain overnight.
“Cernunnos lost his way a bit but he’s had a nice break back at his owner JP McManus’s place at Martinstown. He’s come back in good form and just hope we can find our way again with him.”
Behind The Wire and Moss On the Mill take their chance in the Challenger Staying Chase Series Final Handicap.
“Moss On The Mill won quite well last time. It’s coming quite soon for him, but with the money on offer, they have to take their chance,” said George
“This has been Behind The Wire’s target for a while. He’s a young, progressive sort of horse. Hopefully, he should still be heading in the right direction.”
George has just single contenders in three of the other contests.
He feels Stamp Your Feet deserves his chance in the Challenger Two-Mile Hurdle Series Final Handicap Hurdle, in which he is towards the bottom of the handicap.
Some Are Lucky is his representative in the Challenger Stayers Hurdle Series Final Handicap Hurdle as he reverts to the smaller obstacles.
George expects Song Saa to put an under-par performance behind her when she lines-up for the Challenger Series Mares’ Chase Final Handicap Chase.
Dean Skelton reached a career-best 105 winners in a season with a double at Wetherby on Thursday and runs two horses at the Merseyside track, though both have to lump top weight in their respective races.
Late Night Lily goes for the mares’ handicap hurdle, while Sam Red is in the stayers’ handicap hurdle.
Seabass, who came close to giving Katie Walsh a famous Grand National triumph at Aintree in 2012, has died at the age of 14.
Trained by Walsh’s father, Ted, Seabass was third behind Neptune Collonges and Sunyhillboy as Katie achieved the highest position for a female rider in the world’s greatest steeplechase.
He was sent off the 11-2 favourite in 2013 but could not repeat those heroics, though he did complete the course in 13th place as Auroras Encore landed the spoils for Yorkshire’s Sue and Harvey Smith.
Dale Swift, who partnered Brian Ellison’s Moyenne Corniche to Ebor glory in 2011, has quit the sport, citing weight issues and a lack of opportunities.
Moyenne Corniche is the last Yorkshire-trained horse to have won York’s signature race.