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  • Writer's pictureSimon Long

Masaccio will enjoy the soft ground at Newbury on Saturday

Tom Cannon has three rides today at Newbury.

Alan is hoping to end 2023 on a high, and, though his three Newbury runners today are the high-profile representatives for Barbury, Ezmerelda proved the perfect hors d’oeuvres for a week-end celebration when winning the maiden hurdle at Doncaster yesterday.

Ezmerelda, a well-backed 5-2 chance, took control of the race at the second last flight and galloped clear for a runaway success, leaving stable jockey Tom Cannon suitably impressed.

Cannon said:”Ezmerelda ran well on her jumping debut at Newbury in what looked a hot race, and she clearly learned from that experience and did it really well today.”

Alan expected a big showing from Ezmerelda in this less-exalted company and said:”She showed just fair form on the Flat and was rather thrown in at the deep end at Newbury, where she jumped well and stayed on from the final flight. This looked the ideal race for her to build on that promising start.”

Ezmerelda is owned by one of Alan’s Barbury Lions syndicates, which include my good friend Colin Mackenzie, now enjoying retirement after being chief racing correspondent for The Daily Mail for many years, having been one of the founder members of The Racing Post staff when they set up in 1986.

Mackenzie has been a part-owner in a fistful of good horses, one of the best being The Betchworth Kid, who won seven races, including the prestigious Mallard Handicap on Town Moor at the 2008 St Leger meeting.

Only one month away from his 82nd birthday, Colin, who was instrumental in tracking down train-robber Ronnie Biggs in Brazil, said:”I was at a party last night, so did not wake up that early and, consequently, missed all the 9-2 this morning, which is a bit annoying.

“Howevet, while I had to be content with starting price, it’s great to be here to see Esmerelda win, and, of course, Doncaster has been a lucky course for me, with great memories of The Betchworth Kid.”

By Geoff Lester - Alan King Website.


Age, Colour, Sex 4 b g (30 Mar 2019) Trainer Alan King Owner Dodds-Smith, Farrell, Hodgson & Coupland Pedigree KODIAC 112 PARAISA 95 RED RANSOM (USA)

useful on Flat, stays 1½m: 2/1, had bit in hand when won 14-runner novice at Lingfield on hurdling debut by 3¼ lengths from Celtic Ned, easing clear run-in having jumped fluently: sure to progress. TFR 126p

Paradias, who takes on Supreme Novices’ Hurdle favourite Jeriko du Reponet  in the Introductory Hurdle, would not appreciate the ground deteriorating too much.

Paradias was close to Listed class on the Flat, and, assessing his prospects, Alan said:”He was an impressive winner of his hurdling debut at Lingfield last month, which did not come as a surprise as he has jumped well right from his first day’s schooling. This is a sensible next step rather than throwing him in with the big boys too soon.”


Age, Colour, Sex 9 b g (20 Apr 2014) Trainer Alan King Owner Mrs Kathryn Leadbeater Pedigree MAHLER 119 BALLYBROWNEY HALL (IRE) SADDLERS' HALL (IRE) 126

rangy gelding: winning hurdler: fairly useful handicap chaser: off 8 months, 22/1, shaped as if better for run when 27 lengths tenth of 12 to Make Me A Believer at Exeter last time: thorough stayer: acts on heavy going: wears headgear again nowadays: usually races prominently. TFR 137+

Notachance in the Coral-sponsored Mandarin Chase. Once a prestigious Listed race – the mighty Mill House won two of the first three runnings with welter burdens and subsequent winners included Night Nurse and Jodami – sadly the Mandarin is now just an ordinary 0-135 handicap.

However, the £16,000 plus first prize is well worth winning, and Notachance represents Barbury here rather than running in Wednesday’s Welsh Grand National at Chepstow.

Alan said:”Notachance was travelling better than our eventual winner Major Dundee for much of the way in last season’s Midlands National at Uttoxeter, and he still has plenty of ability. He has been in good for since his comeback race at Exeter last month.”


Age, Colour, Sex 6 gr g (2 Feb 2017) Trainer Alan King Owner McNeill Family & Niall Farrell Pedigree MASTERCRAFTSMAN (IRE) 129 ANGE BLEU (USA) ALLEGED (USA) 138

well-made gelding: useful bumper performer: fairly useful form over hurdles: won maiden at Chepstow (by ¾ length from Beat The Bat) in October: 7/4, improved from debut when nose second of 12 to Jingko Blue in novice at Newbury last time: sure to progress further. TFR 143p

Paul Nicholls tries to win the fourth Challow Hurdle in a row at Newbury on Saturday, courtesy of Captain Teague, but Alan hopes to spoil another Ditcheat celebration with Masaccio.

And Alan knows just what it takes to win this Grade 1 novice as he lifted the prize seven years ago with Messire des Obeaux. Like Niall Farrell and the McNeill family, the six-year-old’s owners, Alan was delighted to see his local course take a soaking this week as Masaccio is at his best when the mud is flying.

Alan said:”Masaccio was only beaten a nose by Jingko Blue over this course at the start of the month, giving 6lb to the winner, who is a horse I know Nicky (Henderson) thinks a lot of.

“Masaccio jumped very well on what was only his second race over hurdles, so he will improve for the experience. He was a smart bumper horse last season and made an excellent start to jumping when winning well at Chepstow in October. The ground would have been plenty quick enough for him at Newbury last time, and we have always thought that he is better when he can get his toe in.”


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