malcolm Jefferson hopes to complete a big-race double at Wetherby’s Christmas meeting with Cape Tribulation and King Of The Wolds.
Cape Tribulation will seek a second successive win in the £40,000 William Hill Rowland Meyrick Chase on Boxing Day after an 11-length victory 12 months ago.
Jefferson, who also won the 2011 Rowland Meyrick with the ill-fated According To Pete, has nominated the promising King Of The Wolds for the Castleford Chase next Friday – day two of the William Hill Yorkshire Winter Festival.
Even though Cape Tribulation rounded off last season with creditable efforts in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Betfred Bowl at Aintree, he has failed to fire in two starts this term.
He was pulled up in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on November 2 before trailing home in 16th under top-weight in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury at the end of last month.
“We were expecting a bit more from him at Newbury, but it is not the easiest race in the world to carry top-weight. Jack Doyle felt he needed it a bit and he has actually come on for the run,” said Jefferson.
“We lost a little bit of time with him at the end of last season and he was meant to go to York on the Flat for the race he was just beaten in last year, but he was just held up.
“There is only so much work you can do with them and he came back very fat this year, which has meant it has taken that bit longer to get him fit. He seems in good nick now though and I am very happy with him.
“He has come down a bit in the ratings and, with the Charlie Hall second Wayward Prince running, he won’t carry top-weight, so that will be a help.”
Jefferson also has a good record in the £20,000 William Hill Castleford Handicap Chase where Calatagan prevailed in 2006 and 2007.
Unbeaten over fences, King Of The Wolds scored at Sedgefield and Fakenham, though he will be dropping back in trip to two miles.
“I don’t think it will be a problem, especially on soft ground and given the way he jumps. He has won a two-mile novices’ hurdle at Wetherby anyway,” added the trainer. “He has done well in his two starts over fences so far and I am hoping for a nice run. We like the horse.”
Boxing Day entries close today with Sue Smith’s Grand National winner Auroras Encore due to be declared for the Rowland Meyrick.
Big Buck’s took an important step ahead of his eagerly-anticipated return to action with a racecourse gallop at Exeter yesterday.
The champion staying hurdler, trained by Paul Nicholls, was partnered by Daryl Jacob in the two-mile workout.
Looking very fit, with his skin in good condition, he travelled alongside Finale Hurdle-bound stablemate Solar Impulse before going ahead near the line.
The 10-year-old, unbeaten in his last 18 races, has not been seen since making a winning reappearance at Newbury in the Long Distance Hurdle a year ago. Owner Andy Stewart’s star was found to be suffering from a leg injury later that month.
He has been back cantering since October and is aimed at the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January before bidding for a fifth Ladbrokes World Hurdle triumph at the Cheltenham Festival.
Nicholls said: “It’s been a long road back, but there was no way I was going to rush it. You take it day by day.
“It was the same injury that Al Ferof sustained and he has come back at the top level. He’s done loads of steady work on the walker and is a horse that wants to be ready to run. It’s amazing, but he hardly ever blows afterwards.”
Mountain Tunes, the horse that provided AP McCoy with his 4,000th winner at Towcester last month amid emotional scenes, made a victorious return to the Northamptonshire track yesterday under the 18-times champion jockey.
Don’t miss tomorrow’s Yorkshire Post when Sue and Harvey Smith talk about their year to remember.