JAMES Ewart is enjoying his best-ever month and the Langholm trainer is after more success with his four runners at Musselburgh today.
He is represented in the £12,000 Weatherbys Printing Services St Andrews Day Handicap by Sleep In First, partnered by stable jockey Brian Hughes, and one of seven declared for the afternoon’s feature race.
Ewart, who has saddled seven winners already in November, said: “Sleep In First is back chasing after a spin over hurdles in June. The ground, trip and track should suit, but I’m very worried about Donald McCain’s top-weight Swift Arrow. Our horse is in good order and I expect him to run well.”
The Dumfriesshire handler is hoping for a change of luck with Teo Vivo in the Semichem Novices’ Handicap Chase.
He added: “He fell at the first here on his chasing debut and then, just two days later at Kelso, he was pulled up after getting hampered and slipping early on. He’s in good order.
Mandarin Sunset is third up for Ewart in the Cornhill Building Services Ltd Maiden Hurdle and he said: “He was never quite right all through last winter, but he was a different horse altogether when he was second twice at Perth in the spring. Everything has just come together and maybe the less testing surface helped, so he should run well again.”
Varene De Vauzelle makes his British debut in the 32RedPoker.com Maiden Open National Hunt Flat Race. Ewart said: “His bumper form in France is quite good and he is very athletic and extremely tough-looking. He’s a very nice horse.”
At Newbury yesterday, Ifandbutwhynot benefited from a superbly judged ride from Timmy Murphy when making every yard of the running in the bet365 Intermediate Hurdle, better known as the Gerry Feilden.
The David O’Meara-trained winner is usually waited with, as was the case when he made late progress to finish 10th in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham almost a fortnight ago, but there was a complete change of tactics on this occasion.
Murphy was happy to let the 8-1 shot bowl along at the head of affairs and he remained full of running as he straightened up for home. Joint-favourites Puffin Billy and Chatterbox loomed up as big threats, but Puffin Billy’s challenge was short lived and he dropped away quickly.
Chatterbox looked likely to give Ifandbutwhynot a serious challenge, but the latter showed smart acceleration between the final two flights to seal the deal. He skipped over the final obstacle and passed the post four-and-a-half lengths clear, with Chatterbox holding onto the runner-up spot by a short head from Chris Pea Green.
O’Meara said: “It’s great for Timmy, as he took a nasty fall off him when he was going well in the Scottish Champion Hurdle. There was no obvious front-runner so Timmy said, if no-one wanted to lead, then he would.”