RYAN Mania may have a problem next April. It would probably take a huge amount to drag him away from Grand National winner Auroras Encore in next year’s big race. But VINTAGE STAR could be the cause of the headache. Today at Carlisle, in stamina-sapping ground, Vintage Star held off Buddy Bolero and Imperial Vic to win the valuable Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Graduation Chase with this year’s National second Cappa Bleu in fourth.
Vintage Star, who stood out in the paddock, looks another fine staying prospect for Sue and Harvey Smith. He was deemed good enough to run in the RSA Chase in March and is clearly highly regarded. Despite a couple of errors today, he showed plenty of guts to win in a thrilling finish. Buddy Bolero clearly needs further and the Welsh National could be the ideal race.
Trevor Hemmings’ racing manager Mick Meagher said there were no definite plans for the winner but it would be no surprise, given the owner’s penchant for Aintree, if he is targeted at the big one next April.
Today was my maiden visit to Carlisle. It is my sort of racecourse: earthy, friendly staff and a no-nonsense feel to it. There is no posh bit: it was £15 to get in. And there was a fair crowd despite it being a wet day.
Racegoers saw two very nice young horses emerge. Milo Man, who finished down the field in the Cheltenham bumper, made a winning debut over timber and despite fluffing his lines at the last he won with a bit in hand from Raya Star’s half brother Greensalt. Milo Man looks to have a real engine.
Even more impressive was Donald McCain’s Stonebrook who won the concluding bumper with any amount in hand. He looks very smart.
James Ewart’s string are in sparkling form and he landed a double with Snuker and Rockawango. Snuker won as he pleased and he looks a step ahead of the handicapper while Rockawango could run up a sequence in novice chases in deep ground.
Tutchec, part of Tony McCoy’s five-timer at Carlisle in October, followed up under Brian Harding and is another who looks to still be on a fair mark.
Eyecatchers: Lucinda Russell’s Shine a Diamond showed promise on his hurdling debut in Milo Man’s race. He travelled into the race sweetly before tiring in the ground. And in the last Leney Cottage tanked along and only found the smart Stonebrook too good.