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Honeyball hopeful despite head-scratching disappointment at Ascot

Midnight Tune (Aidan Coleman) is a good winner at Kempton's Christmas meeting
1 of 1

2.25 Sandown

Weatherbys General Stud Book Jane Seymour Mares' Novices' Hurdle |Grade 2 | 2m4f | RUK

Midnight Tune presents a headache to punters weighing up this Grade 2 novice hurdle for mares, for if she had not run at Ascot last month she would be a worthy favourite, yet judged on her uncharacteristically half-hearted effort there she has no chance.

That was admittedly an even classier event, but Midnight Tune should have run much better and trainer Anthony Honeyball can not explain it.

He said: "On handicap marks she's joint top, and if you took out the Ascot run we would be pretty confident, but nothing major came to light and she finished tailed off there in a race in which she had a great chance of finishing in the first three.

"It was so unlike her, as she's so genuine and normally so relentless, but Aidan [Coleman] felt that even at the first flight she wasn't quite the usual Midnight Tune. She might have gone over the top, but if she bounces back to the Kempton form she's got to have a good chance on that ground."

Ladies' man

Noel Williams enjoys training fillies and mares, and Briery Queen, who was awarded the Newbury final two years ago and followed up at Cheltenham, was a first flagship horse for his yard.

Briery Queen has now been retired to stud, so Williams would love to find a replacement. Perhaps Sensulano will fit the bill.

Jamie Snowden: runs Naranja in this Grade 2 novice hurdle for fillies and mares

He said: "Fillies have got to love it. In my opinion if a filly doesn't enjoy what she's doing she will down tools very quickly, but if she does enjoy it she'll give you everything and more, so it's vital that you start them right.

"Sensulano has got to step up hugely on what she's done so far, but all she's done from race to race is improve so she's perfectly entitled to. She's not in the wrong company on ratings and she seems very well. Black type is so important that a place would be a job well done."

Special day for Snowden

As a serving officer, and subsequently as an assistant to Nicky Henderson, Jamie Snowden no doubt put a ring around the dates of Sandown's two military cards almost as soon as he received his racing diary.

Ten years have passed now since he last won the Royal Artillery Gold Cup on Le Duc, but he takes a keen interest in the card as a trainer and besides Midnight Monty in the chase he has a chance with the progressive Naranja in this Grade 2 hurdle.

He said: "The ground is in her favour and she's won her last two. She's a tough, hardy individual who keeps galloping and finding and slogging it out. She'll be up against some decent mares and will have to run her best race, but she's in good order and my horses are all running well."

Josh in temporary charge

Josh Moore is helping run operations while his father Gary enjoys a well-earned break, and he also rides last month's good Newbury winner All Currencies.

He said: "All Currencies has put in a couple of good performances and won very well last time at Newbury. Hopefully we can put a line through the previous Taunton run, as they went very hard up front and I think she may just have got disappointed.

"I think she's well up to this standard and she's in good form at home."

In a race featuring plenty of in-form mares, the Paul Nicholls-trained If You Say Run is another who comes into calculations, although there is a worry about the stamina-sapping conditions.

Nicholls said: "If You Say Run has done very well and has won on heavy ground at Wincanton, but while two and a half miles is not a problem in itself, getting it in this ground just might be. In a perfect world I'd like better ground for her."


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It was so unlike her, as she's so genuine and normally so relentless, but Aidan felt that even at the first flight she wasn't quite her usual self
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