Premier Magic set for Harkaway return
by Andrew King
Racegoers are in for a mid-Festive treat at Chaddesley Corbett's Harkaway Club meeting next Thursday December 28th when Britain's number one hunter chaser, Premier Magic, is scheduled to make his seasonal bow. Bradley Gibbs' stable star is set to line up for the Men's Open on the seven-race card as he takes his first step towards a return to the Cheltenham Festival next March where he will defend his crown in the St James's Place Hunter Chase.
Gibbs emphasised that as things stand the 10-year-old was bang on target to reappear next Thursday by saying: "We are 100 per cent go with him - he is a definite runner.
"Everything's been grand with him at home and we could not be more happy with him. He has had a few away days so there should not be any question marks with fitness - he is ready to go."
The trainer confided that the plan with Premier Magic would be much the same as 12 months ago where he won on the corresponding card at Chaddesley Corbett and then had one more outing in a point to point before heading to Prestbury Park.
He said:" We will start with him next week and then it will be one more outing in late January/early February. If all goes to plan it will then be on to Cheltenham and another tilt at the big prize."
With Premier Magic likely to frighten off some of the other entries in the Men's Open, it may pay to side with Hung Jury to give him most to think about as he scored in workmanlike style at the course's previous meeting earlier this month.
Gibbs could be in for a busy afternoon as he has a number of other hopefuls on the card with Highway Jewel likely to bid to go one better then when runner-up on her seasonal return three weeks ago in the Conditions contest. The mare may have been a shade unfortunate to go down on that occasion as she appeared to lose her place at a critical point before regaining her composure and finishing with purpose. Given a more fortuitous run through the race this time around she can go one better at the expense of the consistent Myth Buster and Soldier Of Love.
My Little Toni has returned to the care of Gibbs following a spell under Rules with Donald McCain and she could take her place in the Conditions race for Novice Riders where she she is likely to be partnered by Archie Loweth, who works in the Gibbs yard.
The Maiden for 4 & 5yo has a very tricky look and with 23 entries from many of the usual suspects in this type of event there is always the chance that the race may divide on the day. The Gibbs representatives, Crocodile Lounge and Premier Fantasy, are among those to keep an eye on as is Tom Ellis's Rushmount Boys and the Francesca Poste-trained Mount Denali.
As usual with so may unknown quantities due to go to post it will probably be a case of following the money as the betting on this sort of race is usually more informative than anything else.
Tara Storm was impressive in running up a hat-trick before disappointing at Paxford last Spring and if he is back in good heart there is every chance he can be a major factor in the Intermediate where the unbeaten Regatta De Blanc is also of obvious interest.
The Tom Ellis-trained pair Captain Biggles and Fairly Famous catch the eye among the entries for the Ladies Open and whichever takes up the option must come into the reckoning.
An older horse Maiden closes proceedings and it's a bit of a pin job as many horses appear to have some sort of chance. Perhaps a small interest in Getaway Cory, one of three entries from the Tim and Ed Vaughan axis, may pay off.