Towcester Mini Festival Racing Preview

Towcester Racecourse – Preview for Wednesday 25th & Thursday 26th March 2009.

THE start of Towcester’s two day mini ‘Festival’ next week may lack some of the glitz and star quality of the recent Cheltenham parade but certain results at Prestbury Park mean we can hold our heads high in rural Northamptonshire.

Silk Affair on left

Silk Affair on left

For while only three 2008/09 Towcester winners went on to compete at the Festival, two of them, Character Building and Silk Affair, went on to score in top class races.

Character Building, trained by John Quinn in Yorkshire, landed the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup for amateur rider Jamie Codd at odds of 16/1 on Thursday, having won a handicap hurdle at Towcester over 2m 5f in early November when Dougie Costello was in the saddle. This success was Character Building’s only other victory in six starts this season.

What’s more, Character Building now features among the leading fancies for the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree on April 4, being regarded as 6lbs ‘well in’ after his Cheltenham victory and is currently quoted around 14/1 for the four and a half mile marathon.

Were he to be successful at Liverpool he would join a list that includes horses such as Rubio (1908), Forbra (1932) and Well To Do (1972) who have included Towcester on their ‘CV’.

Meanwhile, on the Wednesday of the Festival, Silk Affair, who is trained by Mick Quinlan at Newmarket, completed a memorable four-timer which had begun at Towcester on January 29 when the four year-old filly took the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle. All of those wins were achieved with jockey Tom O’Brien in the saddle.

Towcester racecourse manager Kevin Ackerman said (with tongue only slightly in cheek): “These results go some way to proving what we always secretly believed – that Towcester is the breeding ground of champions!”

He added: “There is a serious side to this as we would love to bring higher class races to Towcester and it does prove that there is a direct correlation between the exertions of the Towcester hill and those experienced at Cheltenham.”

It should also be noted that Venetia Williams, a trainer who has been plundering Towcester prizes with some efficiency during the course of the last ten years, deservedly captured headlines by having two winners during the Festival with Kayf Aramis and Something Wells.

Perhaps it would have been too much to expect for Aachen, the only Williams-trained runner at the Festival who had been a Towcester winner during 2008/09 to deliver the goods in the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle landed in some style by American Trilogy. That, as they say, would have been a bridge too far!


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