Sunday, May 26, 2024

Brian Hughes: Melling next for Minella Drama


Brian Hughes: Melling next for Minella Drama


Kelso was great last weekend. There are a few racecourses that could take a leaf out of their book. Plenty of prize money, competitive and healthy fields, and a good calibre of horses from trainers up and down the country. Hopefully, it’s a sign of things to come for these ‘Premier’ meetings.

It was made better for me with a couple of nice winners, General Officer and Escapeandevade.

Minella Drama ran well for a long way too, but had to settle for second place. It was his first proper run for a while given the hurdles race before was a bit of a non-event, so he might just have needed it a touch.

The Melling Chase at Aintree should come next. He comes alive there for some reason, so fingers crossed he gets to take his chance.

Ballygeary put up a decent performance in the Morebattle, which was a bit of a messy race. I think if he went to the boys’ race at Aintree, where Peter Kavanagh would probably ride him, it would suit him. A two-mile run with a long home straight would be right up his street. He’s definitely handicapped to win a race like that.

Keep Camarrate on your tracker too. He was second in the Juvenile Hurdle but will be winning when he gets good ground.

On Cheltenham…

I won’t lie, Cheltenham doesn’t exactly get my blood up like it will do for some people this year. I’m not sure whether I’ll be going down there for a ride or two, but the trainers and owners I’m connected with are more Aintree-focused.

That said, I’ll be watching in between races. The racing is brilliant and, apart from poor old Constitution Hill, most of the stars are on show.

Galopin Des Champs would be my idea of a banker for the meeting. He’s out-jumped and outstayed everything that’s been put in his way, and I can’t see him being passed.

Willie Mullins has more favourites than most trainers have runners at the meeting, and the only thing I can put that down to is the fact he truly is the best trainer. He’s a top operator and deserves to be as dominant as he is.

It can’t go all Willie’s way, though, and I fancy Sir Gino to give the home team something to cheer about – he looks pretty special. If there’s to be a yard from The North celebrating, then I’d have to say Lucinda Russell has the strongest chance. Corach Rambler could show up well in the Gold Cup, while Ahoy Senor must have a very solid chance in the Ryanair. He’s a very talented horse on his day and won’t look like a 16/1 shot if bringing his A-game.

Friday and Saturday at Ayr:

Ridin Solo (2:00 pm) on Friday is one of my best chances over the next couple of days at Ayr. He’s a grand horse and should take a good step forward for his run on the last day. He’s a horse with a good deal of stamina, so I’ll go out there and make plenty of use of him.

City Derby (3:00 pm) could get involved, but he needs to recapture some of his old form. Innovated (3:30 pm) needs to improve a fair bit if he’s to get involved, and then Baron Briggs (4:00 pm) has a bit of a habit of finishing third, so let’s hope we can go a couple better than that. On paper, he looks like Sandy Thompson’s second-string, but fingers crossed he can be in the shake-up.

Got Your Back (1:23 pm) and Not Staying Long (1:58 pm) look like my best rides on Saturday.

Got Your Back came home a bit sore after making a mistake the last day, so he needs to bounce back. But if he’s got over that, then I think he’ll run well. Coming back in trip won’t be a problem.

Not Staying Long won well on the last day. It’s a quick turnaround, and she’s up 5lbs, but I know Mike Smith is happy with her and doesn’t see the extra weight being enough to stop her. Ayr is her home track and I don’t see the step back to 2m5f causing any issues.

Dreams Of Home (2:33 pm) has lost his way a touch, so now has blinkers back on. Donald McCain is hoping there’s a bit more in the locker that he’s shown us so far, so fingers crossed. He’s won at the track before and could get involved if rediscovers some of his older form.

Keep an eye on Cornerstone Lad in the same race. He’s very well-handicapped now and could go well with a visor on. I rode him on his last start and he felt like the fire still burns.

Kerosine Light (3:08 pm) is on a bit of a recovery mission. The last time he won, he picked up a bit of an injury, so he had a bit of time off. He had one run back in May and I’d say whatever he does here, he’ll improve plenty for it.

They’d be the pick of my six rides on the card.