RICHARD Longley will never be fortunate enough to own another horse like Mister McGoldrick who won eight races at Wetherby – his second home – and a fairytale Cheltenham Festival success in 2008.
Yet he hopes the McGoldrick colours will carried with distinction by rising star Delusionofgrandeur in today’s totepool Towton Novices Chase, a yardstick for next month’s National Hunt Festival.
A Grade Two race won 12 months ago by the Ryan Hatch-inspired Blaklion who went on to land the RSA Chase at Cheltenham, Delusionofgrandeur could not have been more impressive when winning at Catterick last month.
Now seven, Leeds-based Longley co-owns the horse with Phil Martin, who has several horses in training with Brian Ellison, and four other members of the McGoldrick Racing syndicate.
A competitive test against five opponents who all have chances, the Sue and Harvey Smith-trained runner is the only Yorkshire representative and the outcome will reveal whether their provisional entry in next month’s RSA Chase is justified.
Longley hopes so. “Harvey was at the sales and bought the horse. I said who would name a horse like that, but Harvey said he was a nice horse and Phil agreed – he’d looked at Delusionsofgrandeur the previous day,” he said.
“He was placed in his first two novice chases before winning well at Catterick when he beat Sue’s Vintage Clouds who they like very much. Sue says he’s spot on and that’s good enough for me.”
Though Delusionofgrandeur is the most inappropriately named horse for a horse trained at the no nonsense Craiglands Farm on Baildon Moor, the trainer concurs. “He won well at Catterick last time. The ground will be more testing but he goes there in good form,” said Sue Smith.
“He’s done nothing wrong. It’s only a small field and we’re hoping he will run a very good race. It’s quite a nice prize for Wetherby.”
Delusionofgrandeur’s Catterick win came when the Warren Greatrex-trained One Track Mind, a Grade One winner in the 2015-16 season, jumped below par.
Greatrex, who has a good record at Wetherby with stable jockey Gavin Sheehan, relies upon Missed Approach. “This looks the right sort of race for him and a galloping track like Wetherby will suit,” he said. “We’ll know a bit more about where we are ability-wise afterwards.”
Another horse on a fact-finding mission is Calett Mad for Nigel Twiston-Davies who saddled 2016 hero Blaklion. The French import made a winning start to his British career at Newcastle in November, but is now 18lb higher in the weights having since finished second at Ludlow before striking gold again at Taunton.
The Dutchman has won over hurdles and fences at Wetherby for Scottish trainer Sandy Thomson. The King’s Theatre gelding was a hot favourite to complete a course hat-trick over the Christmas period, but had to make do with the runner-up spot behind Oldgrangewood.