1 Perth Festival Preview

Hobson’s Choice For Racegoers As 3-Day Perth Festival Gets Underway

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Richard Hobson is aiming to win the feature race over fences on the opening day of the Perth festival for the second year running.

As the 30th year of the three-day extravaganza gets underway, the Cheltenham trainer is represented by spring-heeled grey Valadom in the £20,000 Phil Nelson Handicap Chase, a race he won 12 months ago with Allysson Monterg.

Hobson said: “He likes good ground and has been to the track twice before when finishing second over hurdles last September and fourth in the Perth Gold Cup in 2017. This will be his third run since wind surgery.”

The near three-mile event has attracted eight declarations including Red Giant, trained by Jennie Candlish and partnered by recent Scottish Grand National-winning jockey Sean Quinlan. Also in the line-up is Special Prep, trained in Northumberland by Pauline Robson and the winner of two of his three starts this year.

At £30,000, the Listed EBF Stallions Gold Castle ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle is the most valuable race of the day and Nigel Twiston-Davies, a near neighbour of Hobson, is also gunning after a repeat success. The Gloucestershire handler, who struck last year with Calett Mad, saddles well-named Kingofthecotswolds ridden by his son Sam. Highest rated runners - both on BHA marks of 138 - are Coolanly and Go Another One trained respectively by Fergal O’Brien and John McConnell.

On a seven-race card boasting runners from Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales the curtain-raising Heidsieck Monopole ‘The Party Has Started’ Maiden Hurdle sees Gordon Elliott’s first runner of the festival in the shape of Braid Blue, one of three rides for triple champion jump jockey Richard Johnson. Elliot, who recently landed his third Grand National with Tiger Roll, has three other runners and expects to be well represented on Thursday and Friday at the venue where Arresting gave him his first ever success as a trainer in 2006.

His 171 strikes at Britain’s most northerly racecourse have amassed him just under £6,000 shy of £1m and Elliott said: “I have always loved having runners at Perth and, to be honest, a lot of my owners like coming over too.”