Horses for Courses: Fighting Fifth is on Intense Tango’s ‘to do’ list

Intense Tango, above right.
Intense Tango, above right.
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Karl Burke is considering pitching Intense Tango into the Fighting Fifth Hurdle following her fine effort at Wetherby on Saturday.

The North Yorkshire trainer felt the soft ground just proved too much to handle for the four-year-old filly, winner of a Grade Two at Doncaster last winter, as she failed by five lengths to give Blue Buttons 8lb in the Listed Mares’ Hurdle.

He is now thinking he would like her to have a try at Grade One company in the Newcastle showpiece on November 28, but if conditions were unsuitable he could switch Intense Tango to Newbury for the Gerry Feilden Hurdle two days earlier.

“She ran a great race on Saturday and the ground was against her,” said Middleham-based Burke.

“Brian (Hughes) basically looked after her. She never even got a slap behind the saddle.

“She just couldn’t quicken in that ground and the winner (Blue Buttons) loves that ground. We were giving the winner 8lb.

“We were very happy with her. The idea at the moment is to train her for the Fighting Fifth and if the ground comes up good, or on the easy side of good or faster she’d go.

“Two days before if we’re not happy there’s a Listed handicap at Newbury, so that would be the option.

“We’re keen to give her a crack at a good race if everything’s in her favour.

“She’s a very good mare and Brian thinks she’s improved on last year and she would improve a little bit fitness wise for Wetherby as well.”

Jonjo O’Neill, meanwhile, believes Wetherby flop and Cheltenham Gold Cup fourth Holywell needs to raise his game if he is to prove himself as a genuine top-level performer.

Although a Grade One winner over fences in the 2014 Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree, the eight-year-old has subsequently endured mixed fortunes, winning once in six outings.

The eight-year-old came up short again when finishing fifth on his seasonal return in the Grade Two Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby last Saturday and while he will now bet aimed at the Betfair Chase at Haydock later this month, O’Neill has suggested he could consider easing him in class should he fail to be competitive.

He said: “Holywell is in good order following his run at Wetherby on Saturday.

“The ground went very soft and I was really surprised how soft it got.

“He will run in the Betfair if the ground is right and then we will make our mind up where we go from there.

“He is a grand horse but he is just lacking that little bit that makes him top class.

“Although he won that Grade One at Aintree, it put him on a bit of a false mark.

“I want to win races with him and he is not going to win those races if he doesn’t shape up better than he did the other day, as it was the third or fourth time he has come up against those type of horses and has been beaten.”


1, Wilsons Ruby (tonight, 4.35pm Chelmsford): Close second to a subsequent winner last time and only gone up 3pbs for Brian Ellison.

2, Oceanographer (tonight, 5.40pm Chelmsford): Godolphin runner has been gelded since disappointing handicap debut and should be too good for these.

3, Spanish Squeeze (tonight, 6.15pm Chelmsford): Similar to Oceanographer as a lightly-raced type who has more potential than his rivals.

4, Anglophile (tomorrow, 6.10pm Chelmsford): Super consistent Godolphin runner who looks solid in a weak race.

5, Argus (Saturday, 3.30pm Doncaster): Progressive, lightly-raced, likes the ground and a low weight. Ticks lots of boxes at 7-1 for the November Handicap.

Anibale Fly, ridden by Barry Geraghty (centre) on the way to winning the Coral Handicap Hurdle at Punchestown back in April 2016. PIC: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

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