Connections of Allmankind insist victory in the Fitzdares Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon on Sunday would sit “right up there” alongside his two Grade One triumphs.
The five year old will bid to secure the fifth Grade Two success of his career, which would also be trainer Dan Skelton and jockey Harry Skelton’s first win in the two and a half mile feature race of the season at the Cambridgeshire track.
Finishing third on his comeback appearance over hurdles at Chepstow in October, the son of Sea The Moon showed the benefit of that outing when defying top-weight in the Grade Two Jewson Monet’s Garden Old Roan Limited Handicap Chase at Aintree later in the same month.
Having provided connections with a special day this weekend 12 months ago with a spectacular round of jumping to land the Grade One Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown Park, hopes are high he can put in another bold effort.
Allmankind is owned by the Gredley Family and was homebred by their Stetchworth and Middle Park Studs just outside Newmarket.
Tim Gredley, joint-owner, said: “I’ll be completely honest, the Skelton boys did a brilliant job with him to get him to win off top-weight at Aintree.
“He surprised me, I have to be honest, as there was a lot going against him there but I think he reminded everybody how tough he was.
“The second horse, Itchy Feet, has run well since, while both Midnight Shadow (third) and Faninon D’Estruval (fourth) have both won since. I’m very excited.
“Two and a half miles is his gig. I think he jumps better at a slightly slower tempo as it gives him a bit more time at his fences, whereas against those two-mile horses that have a bit more scope it puts his jumping under a bit more pressure.
“I think with Master Tommytucker in there I’m not sure we will get much rope out in front as he will take us on, so we might have to take a lead, but I will leave up that up to Harry (Skelton).
“He has definitely grown up and although he is a bit keen he still seems more settled and jumps better and is much more rideable.
“It will be nice to go and watch him at one of our local tracks on Sunday. He has won a Grade One at Chepstow over hurdles but winning at Sandown last year was very special. This will be up there with those victories here if he wins this.
“They said a couple of days after Aintree he was fresh and well so he should be right up there on Sunday.”
Allmankind, who also scored at Grade One level in the 2019 Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow, has started to establish himself as a force over fences but his switch to jumping was in some ways a last roll of the dice according to Gredley.
He added: “Everybody knew we were taking a punt going over jumps as he was bred to be a stayer on the Flat.
“When he was at Michael Bell’s we knew he had a lot of ability. He always did great bits of work but let himself down at the races.
“I remember when he won at Chelmsford he bolted to the start under Silvestre (de Sousa).
“I said to dad just before he ran in a handicap at the July Course, ‘let’s see how he gets on as he’s too good to sell but why don’t we give him a try hurdling?’ and that gave us something to think about. It was an experiment but luckily it has all worked out.”
Looking beyond this weekend it could be that all roads lead back to Aintree for Allmankind with the Grade One Melling Chase earmarked as a potential long term target opposed to tackling the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
Gredley added: “There is a feeling that he is better on a flat track and Aintree is more likely to be his end of season target rather than Cheltenham.
“If he is fit and well and Cheltenham fits in we will have a look, but we will take that approach rather than work around going to Cheltenham.”
Meanwhile Kim Bailey is confident his stable stalwart First Flow will have no problems seeing out the two and a half miles on his first start over the trip.
Despite finishing sixth in both the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and the Champion Chase at Punchestown, the talented nine year old did provide Bailey with his first Grade One winner since Master Oats’ 1995 Cheltenham Gold Cup triumph in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot in January.
Bailey said: “This was not the original plan but he needs to run as he was trained for this weekend. I didn’t want to run him on the watered ground at Sandown so I’m hoping the ground will be softer at Huntingdon.
“We need to find if he does get two and a half miles and if he does it opens up another window of opportunity which is great.
“I think he will get the trip but his jockey (David Bass) doesn’t think he will get it. He has run over two miles three at Ascot before which gives a bit of hope.
“He is an older horse now but he is in a good place at home and he has done lots of schooling. He loves Ascot but we have to find out if he loves Huntingdon.”
Having teamed up with trainer Venetia Williams to claim the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury last weekend with Cloudy Glen, jockey Charlie Deutsch hopes Funambule Sivola can provide the pair with further big-race success on his seasonal return.
Winning four of his first six outings over fences last season, the progressive six year old only found the mighty Shishkin too strong on his Grade One debut in the Maghull Novices’ Chase at Aintree on his final start of the campaign.
Deutsch said: “He is stepping back in trip but he has run over it and I think he will handle it fine. It is a flat track at Huntingdon as well so that should help him see it out.
“I schooled him on Thursday and he jumped well. We are all happy with him. He went through the ranks last season.
“He got better and better and Venetia found the perfect races for him. He took on Shishkin at Aintree to see how he handled it and he nearly won.
“I felt like I was going quite quick that day and Shishkin was off the bridle. There was a moment coming to the last where I thought I would beat him.
“Although I winged that fence Shishkin just found that little bit more but it was still a great feeling.
“You are never certain how far they will go and he definitely surprised me that day at Aintree.”
Keeper Hill has plenty of work to do on official ratings, but trainer Warren Greatrex reports the 10 year old to be in good order ahead of his return to fences having been campaigned over hurdles on his final three starts last season.
He said: “Keeper Hill seems in good form at home. This is a tough ask for him but it is a nice place to start him off. I’m sure he will improve for the outing.”
Tomorrow’s line-up is completed by Master Tommytucker (Paul Nicholls/Harry Cobden) and Eldorado Allen (Colin Tizzard/Brendan Powell).
Fitzdares Peterborough Chase, Fitzdares odds: 6-5 Allmankind; 4-1 Master Tommytucker; 5-1 Eldorado Allen, First Flow; 6-1 Funambule Sivola; 40-1 Keeper Hill