HORSE RACING: Trainer Paul Cowley is juggling his options in an effort to land an elusive Towcester winner when the Northants track stages its first meeting of 2012 on Sunday.
Culworth-based Cowley has seen both Grand Article and Billy Murphy occupy positions in the frame at the course in 2011/12 and is hoping one of them can win after making entries in the 2m 1/2f handicap chase at 2.10pm.
Grand Article was second of six runners to the Henrietta Knight-trained Bertenbar at Towcester back in November in a race over 2m 3f but then probably didn’t get the extra distance when asked to travel 2m 6f in mid-December.
He has since advertised his well-being by finishing third at Warwick on New Year’s Eve where again his stamina just appeared to run out at the end of a 2m 4 1/2f trip. This drop back in distance could be a worthwhile experiment, especially on a tough track like Towcester.
The grey Billy Murphy has been given a short breather since finishing a runner-up at Towcester on Boxing Day to Pensnett Bay over a slightly longer distance. The nine-year-old rallied gamely after the last fence under 7lbs claimer Rachel King to grab second spot but was still two-and-a-quarter lengths in arrears of the winner.
While it is more likely Cowley will only run one of his charges, the county picture in the race is clouded by the fact both trainers Caroline Bailey and Anna Brooks could be represented. Bailey has pencilled in entries for course winner Bohemian Rock as well as Earl Of Thomond who benefited hugely for a recent treatment to an ulcer problem when an encouraging third on his chase debut behind My Faithful Annie at Huntingdon.
Meanwhile, Brooks could be double-handed with Devils River in the 2m contest and Duke Of Ormond in the 3m 1/2f handicap chase. In-form handler Charlie Longsdon could also make his mark at Towcester as he has plans to saddle Loose Chips in the novices’ hurdle, Tarbeck in the 3m novices’ hurdle as well as Universal Soldier in the novices’ chase.