Turf Talk: Mulholland’s Doing Fine in hunt for back-to-back victories on final day of jumps season

Trainer Nicky Henderson with Altior.
Trainer Nicky Henderson with Altior.
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Doing Fine has hit form at the right time and can give Neil Mulholland back-to-back victories in the bet365 Gold Cup on the final day of the jumps season at Sandown.

The nine-year-old only joined the Mulholland team in the autumn, having previously been with Rebecca Curtis, and came good on his fourth start for the Wiltshire handler when winning in good style at Cheltenham last week.

Trainer Neil Mulholland.

Trainer Neil Mulholland.

Doing Fine escaped a penalty for that success, leaving him on a handy mark considering the handicapper has put him up 8lb for future races.

Mulholland has two other major contenders in last year’s winner The Young Master and The Druids Nephew, but it is Doing Fine that gets the nod in what is always a fiercely competitive contest.

While the bet365 Gold Cup is the big betting race on the card, star billing goes to Altior, who struts his stuff in the bet365 Celebration Chase. With Douvan sidelined by injury, Nicky Henderson’s brilliant novice is the most exciting two-miler around by far and is expected to take his unblemished record over fences to six. He trounced Fox Norton at Newbury in February and while accepting that horse may have have needed the race, Colin Tizzard’s charge has franked the form by winning Grade Ones at Aintree and Punchestown this month.

Altior went on to take the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham and while it was not his most impressive victory, he was still far too good for the opposition. Special Tiara is his main rival and he only just held Fox Norton by a head in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. That suggests he will struggle to hold Altior and repeat last year’s success in this race.

Menorah under the guidance of Richard Johnson at Wetherby in 2014.

Menorah under the guidance of Richard Johnson at Wetherby in 2014.

The biggest cheer of the afternoon would go to Menorah if he can win the bet365 Oaksey Chase for the fourth year running.

Philip Hobbs’s veteran comes good at this time of his year, as illustrated by his performances in this race, and he arrives fresh in his bid for the four-timer.

TURF TALK TIPS

DONCASTER: 4.50 Chaplin Bay, 5.25 Koditime, 6.00 Firefright, 6.35 Fidaawy, 7.05 Baltic Eagle, 7.35 Karisma, 8.05 Lahore.

HAYDOCK: 1.30 Pivotman, 2.05 El Vip, 2.40 Afjaan, 3.15 Royal Headley, 3.45 Western Safari, 4.20 Sidewinder, 4.55 Zain Arion.

LEICESTER: 2.20 Sumou, 2.55 Never Back Down, 3.30 Buzz, 4.05 Home Of The Brave (next best), 4.40 King Of Nepal, 5.10 Splash Around, 5.45 Dose.

RIPON: 2.10 Magnus, 2.45 Gurkha Friend, 3.20 Pipers Note, 3.55 Isharah, 4.30 Tawdeea, 5.05 Marqoom, 5.40 Jack Flash.

SANDOWN: 1.50 Hestina, 2.25 Menorah, 3.00 Altior, 3.35 DOING FINE (NAP), 4.10 The New One, 4.45 Shantou Village, 5.20 The Unit.

WOLVERHAMPTON: 5.50 Fleckerl, 6.20 Captain Swift, 6.50 Idol Deputy, 7.20 Migyaas, 7.50 Marmajuke Bay, 8.20 Quadriga, 8.50 Manchego.

Trainer Hugo Palmer.

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