What will be the Scottish Champion Hurdle’s key to finding Swinton’s winner? | Horse racing news
John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
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Anna Bunina (blue cap) and West Cork (white cap) lock the horns again in the Swinton Handicap Hurdle at Haydock
John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
Saturday: 3.00 Haydock
Pertemps Network Swinton Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) | 1m7½f | 4yrs+ | ITV4/RTV
The Scottish Champion Hurdle in April is the most important form line when it comes to clearing the Swinton Handicap Hurdle. Anna Bunina beat West Cork with Milkwood in fifth that day and the three horns again.
The front two dominate the Swinton market and both can be scored against Ayr’s run as the time was modest and both would have benefited from a stronger canter. Anna Bunina was only one behind on three jumps and made up a lot of ground.
Anna Bunina’s 5-pound rise to success is dashed by Mark McDonagh’s 5-pound claim and that runner is 1-2 in the last five seasons in Britain.
West Cork are up 2 pounds but ran free early last time out, and are expected to benefit from stronger pace to aim with 16 runners in opposition.
The only horse behind Anna Bunina at three from home was Milkwood, whose 2-pound drop also brings her into contention at a prize.
Chasing never clicked for the former Scottish Champion Hurdle goalscorer in the winter and trying to overtake after a 181-day break with an 8lb-plus mark was never going to be easy.
Milkwood is just 1lb over for his second Galway Hurdle behind Saldier three starts back and this race was hotter than that. His luck depends on which track avoids the rain.
Philip Hobbs enjoyed great success at the Punchestown festival with Camprond last week and unlike the also raced Scottish champion Hurdle, the Swinton appears to have been his runner Luttrell Lad’s long-term focus.
Luttrell Lad was beaten by five lengths by Camprond in the Persian Tier 2 War in October and has been lightly raced since, losing by half a length to JPR One in November before blasting the cobwebs with a second at Chepstow in April. Expect a better effort here.
Race analysis by Robbie Wilders
Skelton fires two for Swinton’s late glory
Dan Skelton has had several attempts to clinch the lucrative early season jumping prize and this time around mounts a two-pronged attack with West Cork and Cabot Cliffs.
The coach’s main hope is the admirable West Cork, who narrowly fell in the Scottish Champion Hurdle last month after an excellent fourth place behind State Man in the County Hurdle of Cheltenham.
“He’s running really well and still looks in good form at home,” Skelton said. “It’s not going to be easy in a race as competitive as this.
“It was a good race at Ayr but I think this speed track might suit him better with the longer straight.”
Cabot Cliffs, who will sport cheekbones for the first time, has had wind surgery since his last appearance in January.
“He comes into the race with a chance each way,” Skelton added. “He’s worked his palate and hopefully that helps him.”
What they say
Neil Mulholland, trainer of Milkwood and Penwell
Milkwood might have needed the run at Ayr and they went too slow, but he still ran a decent race. He is 1 pound heavier than when he was second in last year’s Galway Hurdle and if he runs his race he will be close. Peltwell is in great shape and it wouldn’t be a surprise if she bumps into her lightweight frame coming down on a trip.
Tom Lacey, Sevastopol coach
It probably wants further over hedges, but it’s processed better than over fences and it’s a decent price to try.
Brian Ellison, Cormier’s trainer
I’m hoping for some rain. He is in fine form and might have finished a little closer at Cheltenham had he not been ousted.
Oliver Greenall, Herbaria co-trainer
He hit a bit of flat ground last time out, but he’s improved and the high pace we’re likely to have should help him.
JOhn McConnell, trainer of Anna Bunina
That’s been the plan since winning the Scottish Champion Hurdle. We claim 5 pounds on his back with Mark [McDonagh] on board so basically she runs on the same brand. There is a big field and it will be competitive and there could be something better for the disabled, but we are going there with a good chance.
Philip Hobbs, coach of Luttrell Lad
He ran well at Chepstow. It’s his first try in a handicap and we hope he’s on a good note.
Lucy Wadham, Miss Legacy trainer
It’s full of Nathaniel. There are many anecdotal things about mares running over themselves when pregnant and hopefully that will be the case with her. The original plan was to race at Aintree but she had a little bug so she must have missed that. Difficult to assess the form of her last race at Doncaster in January but Anna Bunina was well behind her that day. She was raised for this victory and is back where she started.
Ben Pauling, Severance coach
We were delighted with him last time and hope he can trust himself even more after his wind surgery. He is closely tied to Cormier and that could have been the problem when he was behind that rival in Kelso.
Reporting by Michael Robson
Read previews from Saturday’s race:
2.20 Ascot: Do Al Aasy have what it takes to get back into shape in the tough Buckhounds Stakes?
2.40 Lingfield: Walk Of Stars offers to do better than Adayar at Lingfield Derby Trial
3.15 Lingfield: O’Brien and Moore to strengthen their Oaks hand with Emily Dickinson class
3.25 Naas: “She’ll learn a lot from the experience” – Can Weld win the Blue Wind again?
3.50 Lingfield: ‘It’s competitive’ – who could be placed for crucial Group glory in the Chartwell?
4.05 Ascot: ‘This race is tailor-made for him’ – the coaches of their Victoria Cup contenders
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FIRST PUBLICATION AT 6:00 PM, MAY 6, 2022