Champagne to spark celebrations
CHAMPAGNE To Go can sparkle in the Smarkets Northern Lights Mares’ Hurdle Series Final Mares’ Handicap Hurdle at Carlisle.
Trained by Rebecca Menzies, the eight-year-old does not have a phenomenal strike-rate by any means - but does have ability and will handle the ground.
She won a qualifier for this #35,000 prize at Sedgefield last time out, being given a patient ride at the rear of the field through the early stages before easing her way into it.
There was a bit to like about her attitude from the final flight, as Question Of Faith put down a strong challenge only to find Nathan Moscrop and Champagne To Go not for passing, and if anything going away again at the end.
This race has been the target, and it will be a surprise if she does not give a good account on a track that should play to her strengths - because she stays well and gets further than two and a half miles.
An added bonus is her under-rated stable continues to go well.
There are further finals of the Northern Lights series on the card, with Iolani not out of it on this stiffer circuit in the two-mile feature and Rivabodiva looking a solid pick in the stayers’ event.
It is a particularly good afternoon at the Cumbrian venue, with the Smarkets Betting Exchange Houghton Mares’ Chase also of note.
It has attracted a select field of just four, among whom Peter Bowen’s Welsh Grand National entry Rons Dream stands out.
The drought, which has broken elsewhere in the country, persists in the East Midlands - and has left Leicester staging an all-hurdles card, sadly including a walkover, because of the firm ground.