Tintern Abbey will attempt to continue trainer Alastair Ralph’s best-ever season by securing him a first success at Listed level in the Alan Swinbank Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race at Market Rasen tomorrow (Friday 21st January).
Having already surpassed his previous best seasonal tally of 17 winners, which was set in the 2019-20 campaign, the 36-year-old Shropshire based handler now hopes he can celebrate a landmark victory in the feature contest at the Lincolnshire track.
The extended 2m prize, which was first staged in 2018, is named in honour of the late dual-purpose trainer Alan Swinbank, who passed away aged 72 in 2017.
Tintern Abbey earned an immediate step up in class after making a winning debut for Ralph with a front-running success under conditional jockey Jay in a mares’ bumper at Ludlow last month.
Tidball is in the saddle again tomorrow and Ralph said: “The horses are running very well but we have improved the quality again this season. That has been seen on the racetrack which is very pleasing as we have already had our best season numerically.
“Tintern Abbey was very good at Ludlow but she had done some work with nice horses at home. She is only going to improve and this seemed a good option.
“I’m very much looking forward to the race as it was something we had in the back of our minds when we got her.
“Although it is a slightly different layout to Ludlow, I think she will be fine around the track at Market Rasen and I can’t see that being a problem.
“The ground is likely to be softer than it was a Ludlow but I think she will handle that as she has got the right action for it.”
Although Ralph was not surprised that Tintern Abbey made her first start in Britain a winning one he does admit to being slightly taken back by the manner of the success.
He added: “She took us a little bit by surprise the way she did it at Ludlow but she is a resolute galloper. She did it very impressively and that is probably what took us by surprise.
“She is very straightforward and she settled in well on joining us from Ireland but I like her stallion Mahler as he produces very hardy horses.”
With more than three months of the season still to go Ralph, who worked for the likes of Paul Nicholls and Dr Richard Newland before taking out a licence under his own name, hopes he can hit his target of training 30 winners by the end of the campaign.
The trainer concluded: “I had it in the back of my mind to reach 30 winners this season and we will keep pushing towards that.
“We have progressed all the way since I started out with just six horses when I first got my licence.
“The quality of our horses have improved and the owners have supported me all the way. It is great for the whole team who work so hard.”