Phil Kirby’s Royal Entourage targets a victory treble at Catterick

First published in Sport Gazette & Herald: Photograph of the Author by , Racing journalist

Royal Entourage, winner of his last two races, heads to Catterick this afternoon and is fancied to complete a hat-trick for North Yorkshire trainer Phil Kirby.

Based at Castleton on the North York Moors, Kirby is a pretty shrewd handler, as he is showing with Royal Entourage.

He placed the seven-year-old to win at Musselburgh and then found another good opportunity for him at Southwell last week when the gelding won with plenty to spare.

That second success was gained in a conditional jockeys’ race, which means that Royal Entourage escapes a penalty in today’s Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation Handicap Hurdle.

This is no cakewalk, with recent course winners Flora’s Pride and Andy Vic in the line up, as well as David Pipe’s Clever Dick, another who has scored within the last couple of weeks. But Royal Entourage is a winner without a penalty and he is fancied to have the edge.

Middleham trainer Micky Hammond won with Dawn Ride at Newcastle yesterday and he can follow up with Franks A Million in the Boundary Mill Maiden Chase.

The five-year-old, a bumper winner on his debut, shaped well over hurdles to finish second to Koup De Kanon here a couple of months ago. He makes his chasing debut today and looks the type to progress over the major obstacles. Wilson Renwick has the ride.

Bubbly Breeze, with no wins in 13 starts, hardly has the type of profile which will have punters stampeding to back him. But Pauline Robson’s seven-year-old is not without a chance in the JP Morgan Novices’ Handicap Chase.

He finished second, beaten by only a neck, to Bishophill Jack at Wetherby on his latest start. A reproduction of that form would put him firmly in the mix again.

Countess Comet (3.20), winner of her only hurdles start to date on this course in January, and Diligent (5.20), a Doncaster debut winner, are two others to note.

At Southwell tomorrow, Norton trainer Brian Ellison, who is preparing to saddle as many as eight runners at next week’s Cheltenham Festival, can win the the opening selling race with Overrule.

The gelding was a winner on this course a fortnight ago in the hands of Barry McHugh, who takes the mount again tomorrow.

He should be hard to beat for a trainer who has fighting chances at Cheltenham with the likes of Stormy Weather, Ultimate and Royal Opera.

Myboyalfie can score for Norton jockey Freddie Tylicki in the FreeBetting.co.uk Handicap over seven furlongs.

Trained by John Jenkins, who is giving Tylicki plenty of rides on the all-weather, Myboyalfie won his final race on turf last season at Chepstow in September.

He made a fine reappearance on this course four weeks ago when winning in good style. A 6lb rise may not be enough to stop him in his tracks and he is napped to oblige once more.

Pelican Rock (3.25), runner-up on his last two starts, is fancied to make it third time lucky, while recent course winner Favorite Girl (5.30) has every chance of scoring again for Michael Appleby, who trains on the course.

Racing selections

Catterick (today)

2.20 Marino Prince, 2.50 Franks A Million, 3.20 Countess Comet, 3.50 Bubbly Breeze, 4.20 Royal Entourage, 4.50 Mister Kay Bee, 5.20 Diligent.

Today’s other meetings

Fontwell, Kempton and Lingfield.

Southwell (tomorrow)

2.20 Overrule, 2.50 Gracie’s Gift, 3.25 Pelican Rock, 3.55 Handsome King, 4.30 Myboyalfie (NAP), 5.00 Mottley Crewe, 5.30 Favorite Girl.

Tomorrow’s other meetings

Carlisle, Wincanton and Wolverhampton.

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