JOHN QUINN hopes his mare Aurore D’Estruval can make the most of her seven-pound weight advantage and maintain the North Yorkshire trainer’s fine record in the Grade One StanJames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.
Quinn, who won the 2012 race with the now retired Countrywide Flame before Cockney Sparrow’s second place finish 12 months ago, is unperturbed about taking on the Paul Nicholls-trained Irving or Irish raider Arctic Fire from the yard of Willie Mullins.
Aurore D’Estruval, the mount of James Reveley, was an impressive winner at Wetherby on Charlie Hall Chase day and Norton-based Quinn opted to swerve a clash at Haydock last weekend with The New One in favour of today’s test.
“This is a Grade One and looks a good opportunity,” he said. “Cockney Sparrow was second in this last year but she’s Flat-bred and a bit of a more speedier type. This one is National Hunt type.
“Hopefully, the ground should be no issue. It’s a great race and we like supporting it. On ratings, she faces an easier task than she would have done last week and I’m hopeful that she’ll run well. She’s in good fettle, anyway.”
Meanwhile Ryedale trainer Mark Walford hopes conditions will not be too testing for Fentara in today’s At The Races Rehearsal Chase.
“She wouldn’t want the ground too soft, just on the soft side of good would be ideal for her,” said Walford. “She has plenty of weight. She’s running off 139 and has never won off that sort of mark. The highest she has run off before is 130.
“She’s very well and if we can sneak a place we’d be delighted.”
A field of nine is headed by last year’s winner Hey Big Spender, who makes the long trip from Dorset for trainer Colin Tizzard and young jockey Brendan Powell. His opponents include 2013 runner-up Vintage Star, who represents the High Eldwick yard of Sue and Harvey Smith.