THE Heart of the South Racing Club entertained their syndicate members earlier this week with An Evening with the Handicapper, and the event proved to be a great success with the 90 or so enthusiastic and knowledgeable guests in attendance.
The Channel 4 broadcaster and racecourse commentator Simon Holt was on hand to compere the evening where Dominic Gardiner-Hill, the Deputy Head Handicapper of the British Horseracing Authority, was explaining his art and taking questions.
Prior to this enlightening debate, John Penny, who is the syndicate manager and inspiration behind Heart of the South, had arranged a visit to the stable of Gary Moore who himself guided the members around his yard and was very helpful in answering their questions and providing updates on the progress of a number of his horses.
The members of the syndicate that own Fruity O’Rooney are on tenterhooks at the moment as their pride and joy continues his preparation for next week’s Cheltenham Festival and they flocked around his box to give him their affection and best wishes .
To their relief, good news was forthcoming from Gary which went some way to alleviating their pre-race nerves.
“He is in great form and everything has gone well. I just hope he makes the cut,” said Gary who was also able to update us on his plans for some of his other horses that are also going to the Festival.
“I have changed my plans for Sire De Grugy, who will also now run in the Imperial Cup at Sandown on Saturday as well as going for the County Hurdle at Cheltenham.
“He and Swift Lord will run in Saturday’s race and I think he has a real good chance.
“Grabtheglory will also run on Saturday in the EBF Novice Final at Sandown and he’s in great form as well. Amaury De Luisagnon will run on Friday at Sandown and I think he has a good chance.
“The handicapper has put him up but he’ll run off a penalty this week as the new mark hasn’t kicked in yet.
“Vino Griego is well and will be going to the Festival for the same race in which he finished fourth last year.
“Also Via Gallilei will be running in the County hurdle and has his chance.”
After a clutch of winners Gary has had to endure hitting the post with a whole stack of his runners this week and hopefully at least a couple of the aforementioned will give him a big win to set up his yard for next week’s big meeting.
It is always interesting to hear what the racing insiders fancy in the big races and I asked them for their Festival fancies. The knowledgeable Simon Holt said: “Of the so called bankers at the Festival I think Sizing Europe would be my choice. Now Peddlars Cross is going for the Jewson, I think he looks a good bet.”
Dominic Gardiner-Hill ventured: “I was so impressed with Sprinter Sacre. The time and style of his win at Newbury really took me and would have to be my nap for the Festival in the Arkle.”
And the thoughts of John Penny: “I have backed Fruity O’Rooney at 33/1 for his race at Cheltenham and I think I have got a great bet.
“He is such a lovable horse and I think he will relish the occasion.
“Off a light weight he has everything in his favour.”
Whatever the fate of Fruity O’Rooney next week, the Heart of the South syndicates have a great summer to look forward to, with their classy flat performers Shamahan and Jupiter Storm reported by Gary Moore as having done really well over the winter and their expensive youngster Rome, who is with Henry Cecil.