We are now less than two weeks away from the first Cheltenham meeting of the season and already we are starting to see some top class horses make their first appearance of the new jumps campaign. As always at this time of the year, National Hunt racing fans are clamouring for any news on their favourites horses, trainers and jockeys and with that in mind we have put together the five most important stories from the last seven days.
Classy Hurdler Irving Set For Elite Hurdle Return
Irving was one of the star novice hurdlers of the campaign last season for Paul Nicholls and news emerged from his owners during the week about his intended first target. Axom Racing Cub announced that the dual Grade 2 winning novice will head to Wincanton next month for the Elite Hurdle with a tilt at the Champion Hurdle at the back of the mind. Irving flopped in the Supreme Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham back in March when only 9th after a previously excellent season. The Ditcheat trained horse was reported to be coughing after that race though and connections will be hoping he can return to his best form at Wincanton.
Tom Scudamore Reaches 50 Winners for the Season
It has been a good week for Tom Scudamore who picked up his 50th winner at Sedgefield last week. The retained rider for David Pipe reached his half century in comfortably the quickest time of his career and he appears to be going from strength-to-strength at the moment. At the time of writing, Tom Scudamore has racked up 53 winners from 214 rides at a conversion rate of 25% and although AP McCoy remains a long way ahead in the Championship, Scudamore is right on the coat tails of Richard Johnson at this early stage.
Neptune Winner Faugheen Set To Stay Hurdling
Owner Rich Ricci has an embarrassment of riches with trainer Willie Mullins at the moment and plans are starting to be made for some of his star names. Ricci gave a a fascinating interview to At The Races last week and the headline news out of it was regarding the classy Faugheen. Ricci confirmed that the brilliant Neptune Novices Hurdle winner will remain over the smaller obstacles this season. rather than going chasing, although his long term plans remain up for debate. Faugheen is currently 5/1 for the Champion Hurdle and 14/1 with Bet Victor for the World Hurdle with the horse clearly versatile when it comes to stamina. Ricci also confirmed that plans remained up in the air regarding Annie Power and Vautour with both having hurdles or chasing as options this campaign.
Ruby Walsh Returns with a Win at Tipperary
There was a welcome return to the sport for Ruby Walsh at Tipperary on Sunday evening as the jockey returned from injury with a bang. Walsh had been out of action for four months following extensive rehabilitation and surgery on a shoulder injury but unsurprisingly, he didn't miss a beat on his return to the saddle on-board Indevan in the Like A Butterfly Novice Steeplechase.
Sizing Europe Claims PWC Champion Chase Success
Popular chaser Sizing Europe continued hid Indian summer with a win in the PWC Champion Chase at Gowran Park on Saturday afternoon. The 12-year-old was originally retired after his success at the Punchestown Festival last spring but he continued to work well at home and connections decided to let the horse have one last season in training, The former Champion Chaser showed all of his famous battling qualities to claim the Grade 2 success by a head from even money favourite, Road To Riches, who had five years of age on his side. Henry De Bromhead nominated the Clonmel Oil Chase as the next target for Sizing Europe who continues to defy his advancing years.