Stand Guard has sights on new all-weather record
Southwell could be the scene of another feat of longevity today when Stand Guard bids to retake the title as the sport's winningmost all-weather performer.
The 12-year-old returned from an eight-month absence to score for the 27th time at Kempton nine days ago to equal the total set by La Estrella exactly a year ago today. If he can follow up in division two of the Betway Handicap he will hold the record outright.
He takes on eight rivals under a 6lb penalty on the track where General Tufto won for the 17th time on his 100th course appearance this month.
Trainer John Butler said: "He came out of his last race fine and he is now back where he likes winning. We are just hoping he can repeat his Kempton win."
In his pomp Stand Guard won 11 times in 14 appearances during 2013 and 2014 but had not won since March 2014 until scoring at Kempton on his return from surgery to have chips removed
"I don't know if he will ever run up a sequence now," said Butler. "He is older but to be fair I was impressed with the way he won around Kempton. He is a bit sharper since he ran so I'd be surprised if he can't improve because he was off for quite a long time.
"The plan is to see if we can break the record – he wouldn't be in training otherwise. The record was in our grasp and we had to see if we could get it back. If he doesn't win he is still the joint-record- holder."
La Estrella was retired after his last win at Southwell a year ago. He is now 13 but his trainer and owner Don Cantillon has not ruled out a comeback if his tally is surpassed by Stand Guard.
"I've not really thought about it," he said. "He gets ridden out two lots every day and is a lead horse for the babies. He doesn't think he's not in training anymore and is still a handful.
"I am delighted my horse achieved what he did. For any horse to do better is a remarkable thing."