Hambro’s Hill is a lone star
Mary Hambro is preparing to take on some of National Hunt racing's biggest stables with her only horse as Dover's Hill lines up in Saturday's Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown.
The trainer's main concern is the potential absence of jockey Sam Twiston-Davies, who could be required to partner Viking Blond or Major Malarkey for his father Nigel, but has regularly ridden Dover's Hill at home as well as winning on him at the course in early March.
Twiston-Davies has been in the plate for four of the 10-year-old's five career victories.
“He's in awfully good form, really well at the moment, and Sam Twiston-Davies came and rode him this morning,” said Hambro.
“He has been schooling him twice a week, but I get the feeling he won't be able to ride him at the weekend and I'm in the middle of working out what I'll do.”
Hambro lacks the equine resources of her Saturday opponents such as Paul Nicholls and Jonjo O'Neill as Dover's Hill has to complete his exercise routine alone.
“He doesn't see another horse from one race to the next, but he seems quite happy,” she added.
“I used to run a stud farm, dealing with yearlings and so on, but I don't any more. I still breed, but not in a big way.
“I only train one or two — I had a mare called Rose Row who won four on the Flat.”
Dover's Hill was priced up by the race sponsors at 12-1, with Galaxy Rock, Major Malarkey and West End Rocker the 8-1 co-favourites among 25 confirmed entries.
“He's been a wonderful horse, he's very sweet, and I'm going there hopeful as I know he's well,” said Hambro. “Other than that, we're in the lap of the gods.
“I'd rather have a dry week as he wouldn't want it too soft and it'll be sad for me if Sam can't ride him.”
West End Rocker is one of a number of horses who failed to complete the Grand National, but is set to be turned out again, along with Rare Bob, Vic Venturi, Viking Blond and Deep Purple.
O'Neill's Galaxy Rock would have an even shorter time-lapse between races, as he was pulled up in last weekend's Scottish National.
It is the finale of the jumps season at the Esher track and while Nicholls has already secured another champion trainer title after his Grand National victory, he may be double-handed through the quirky Tidal Bay, who has been left with top-weight, and Aldertune.
Meanwhile, Folkestone have been forced to call off this afternoon's Flat meeting due to waterlogging.
The current wet spell led to the Kent track calling an inspection at 3.30pm yesterday and officials decided there was no way the fixture could take place.
Folkestone's estate manager, Gavin Armstrong, said: ““There are some really bad patches on the straight and it's not raceable. It's just far too wet.”