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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Vinnie Lewis back over hurdles as Whittington looks to mix and match

Vinnie Lewis: won the Sussex National at Plumpton in January
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Vinnie Lewis was a much improved chaser for Harry Whittington throughout last season and looked a stayer going places after his easy victory in the Sussex National at Plumpton in January.

He was then sent off 5-1 favourite for the lucrative Eider Chase at Newcastle in February, but things didn't quite go to plan as Harry Bannister pulled him up.

Whittington decided to call time on the seven-year-old's season after that below-par display and he sends him back over hurdles at Southwell on his return to action (3.25) on Tuesday.

Harry Whittington: sends Vinnie Lewis back over hurdles

He said: "We were a little disappointed after the Eider but he's in good form now, has summered well and strengthened up nicely. The plan is to alternate between hurdles and fences throughout the season."

Despite winning two handicap chases last year, Vinnie Lewis has yet to score over hurdles.

The trainer added: "He has a good-ground action but doesn't really have the scope to jump fences on good ground.

"His mark is lower over hurdles and he's still a novice. The three-mile trip will suit and this looks an ideal pipe-opener for the campaign. Perhaps he could be a Welsh National horse in time but we'll see."

Cotter sprinters renew rivalry 

Kieran Cotter has been training horses for more than two decades but he hasn't had many more fulfilling days than last Saturday at Navan, when Polly Douglas beat stablemate Dash D'Or to complete a first ever forecast for the trainer, whose stable is located between Monasterevin and Portarlington. 

Three days later and Cotter will try to repeat the feat with the same two horses in the Naasracecourse.com Handicap (2.15) which opens the eight-race card, and he is in no doubt about which one we all should be backing. 

Polly Douglas: races against stablemate Dash D'Or again at Naas, three days after a 1-2 at Navan
"I think Polly will win again and I would be fairly sure of it," said Cotter.

"I don't know if you kept watching after the line at Navan but it took Dylan [Hogan] an age to pull her up. That was over five furlongs. She is up to six now, which will definitely suit. I think she could bolt up.

"Dash is probably better over five as she has more speed. This trip might stretch her. It's such a shame we have to race them against one another again, but there are just no options for them. There are very few opportunities for sprinters like them."

Cacique chasing hat-trick 

You seldom see a horse who has won by just a length and a half receive a 19lb penalty for his troubles, but the handicapper was suitably impressed with Cacique Royal's recent Down Royal display to raise his mark from 60 to 79.

The three-year-old tries to defy that hefty hike in the Naas Golden Ticket Handicap (6.05), the same course and distance where his winning spree began last month off a mark of 62. 

Trainer Andy Oliver admitted the 19lb rise was quite severe but thinks there could be more to come from Cacique Royale. 

Oliver said: "He's done well over the last few weeks and this seems the logical place to come. I know he got a 19lb rise for winning at Down Royal, which is a lot, but he's a big horse who should have more improvement in him so we're hoping he runs well again."

Well-bred Godolphin duo of interest

Many top trainers like to educate their horses by running them on the all-weather and Saeed bin Suroor sends a couple of nicely-bred types to Kempton early in their careers.

Jim Crowley rides the three-year-old Wajaaha in the 1m4f maiden (7.15), who showed the benefit of his Lingfield debut in 2017 when pulling six lengths clear of the third in a Wolverhampton maiden last month, hanging left on the run-in and just going down to a more experienced Roger Varian runner.

Any improvement from that return could make the son of New Approach difficult to beat. 

Saeed bin Suroor: will hope that at least one of his runners shines at Kempton
Bin Suroor certainly knows a thing or two about saddling debut winners as well. Perhaps his other contender Silver River can become just that with Oisin Murphy, who has established a good association with the trainer, taking the ride.

Although one suspects the Tamayuz gelding has proved difficult to train, seeing that he is making his first racecourse outing in a late-season Kempton maiden at the age of four.


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The three-mile trip will suit and this looks an ideal pipe-opener for the campaign
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