Middleham master Johnston looking for Dream end to season

Trainer Mark Johnston.Trainer Mark Johnston.
Trainer Mark Johnston.
DREAM Today bids to sign off his juvenile campaign on a high with a Group-race success at Newbury.

The Mark Johnston-trained colt showed he was up to Group Three level when finishing second to Ghaiyyath in the Autumn Stakes at Newmarket two weeks ago.

That sound effort made amends for a disappointing display in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster and connections are optimistic of a good show in what looks a competitive renewal of the race registered as the Horris Hill Stakes.

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“He was second in the Autumn Stakes behind a good horse of Godolphin’s and that was a good run,” said Johnston’s son and assistant, Charlie.

“He was just a bit disappointing the time before in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster, but his last run showed he is a genuine Group horse

“It would be nice now to get a Group win next to his name before the end of the season. We are quite looking forward to heading there.”

Victory would complete a memorable week for Middleham-based Johnston and big race rider PJ McDonald.

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Dominating’s success at Pontefract on Monday was the trainer’s 4,000th triumph and, in doing so, saw the in-form rider bring up his first century of winners.

Malcolm Jefferson’s highly-regarded Double W’s heads to Cheltenham for today’s Ultima Handicap Chase.

A winner of the Red Rum Chase at this year’s Grand National meeting, the chaser was fifth to Brian Ellison’s Forest Bihan at Kelso earlier this month.

Jefferson’s daughter and assistant, Ruth, said: “He always improves from his first run. Last year he was beaten in a handicap hurdle at Hexham.

“We’ve been happy with him since Kelso.

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“He worked very well on Wednesday and we’re happy to have a go.”

The Malton stable will be represented at Aintree tomorrow when last season’s top novice Cloudy Dream, second only to the invincible Altior in last season’s Arkle Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival, lines up in the prestigious Old Roan Chase.

A quality field is headed by Tom George’s perennial God’s Own and Tea For Two who is already a dual Group One winner for jockey Lizzie Kelly.

Bookmaker bet365 has renewed its sponsorship of the Charlie Hall Chase for a further three years from 2018 onwards.

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The firm first supported the Group Two three-mile chase, Wetherby’s £100,000 feature race of the season, in 2003.

This year’s renewal takes place next Saturday and could feature a mouth-watering clash between former Gold cup winner Coneygree and the ever popular Cue Card.

Wetherby chief executive Jonjo Sanderson said: “The generous support of bet365 has enabled the Charlie Hall Chase to maintain its position in the racing calendar as the first major target of the season for the best three-mile chasers.”

Sports Monday – racing reflections on One Man’s Charlie Hall Chase win 20 years ago.