Porticello faces Listed test on British debut at Wetherby
Gary Moore’s French import Porticello must concede weight all round in the Weatherbys nhstallions.co.uk Wensleydale Juvenile Hurdle at Wetherby
A winner of a valuable Auteuil event for his former trainer David Cottin, Porticello beat Magistrato – who has since joined Paul Nicholls and was an easy winner at Chepstow on his British debut.
Moore, sending a rare runner north at this stage of the season from his Sussex base, will certainly know where he stands after Friday’s Listed contest.
I just hope he lives up to his reputation
“Porticello is a great, big horse and I can’t believe he was able to win at Auteuil in April as a three-year-old,” said Moore.
“He goes nicely, although he would not be the flashiest work horse. Hopefully, he shows more on the racecourse than he does at home.
“He was pretty expensive, and the form of his win in France obviously looks pretty good. I just hope he lives up to his reputation.”
Donald McCain’s Sacre Pierre is already a dual winner. After his promising successes at Uttoxeter and Cartmel, he is the only runner in the field to have won twice over hurdles.
“The ground won’t bother him if it rains – whatever it is, he’ll be fine,” said McCain.
“He’s grand. He’s only a little fella, there’s no point trying to carry more penalties. I don’t know if he’s up to this standard or not, but we may as well find out.
“He’s still a little bit immature. He’s been running a bit green, but if you’ve got a juvenile that wins a couple early doors this is the obvious place to go.
“He didn’t cost much, so to be running in a Listed race at this stage of the season is nice for his owners.
“He’s a straightforward little horse who would probably appreciate a fairer track like Wetherby.”
Dan Skelton’s Too Friendly and Alan King’s Oceanline meet again here, with the latter having a length and a quarter to find from their run at Stratford this month.
Genuflex, Keepyourdreamsbig, Addosh and course-and-distance winner Battle Angel complete the eight.
There is a very interesting novice chase on the card – which sees Paul Nicholls’ Barbados Buck’s, rated 143 over hurdles, clash with Lucinda Russell’s Grade One winner Ahoy Senor.
The latter has already missed one intended engagement this season because of quick ground, so Russell will be praying the forecast overnight rain falls.
A second Listed event on the card is the Cash Out At bet365 Handicap Chase – with Nicholls’ Magic Saint set to carry top weight on his first outing since a wind operation.
Bobby Renton winner Whoshotthesherrif is back over the same course and distance – and Henry Oliver holds high hopes for The Big Bite, who goes well fresh.
“The Big Bite has had a similar preparation to this time last year and wouldn’t be far off where he was before winning at Aintree,” said Oliver.
“Johnny (Burke, jockey) schooled him last week and he jumped lovely. He goes well fresh, and I would be very hopeful of a big run.
“This trip around Wetherby for a first start of the season will be absolutely ideal, although we have it in our minds to try him over further this season.
“We felt it was worth giving him an entry in the Ladbrokes Trophy, just to keep our options open, and we’ll see how things unfold.”
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