BARON Alco dominated the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday, making all the running to scoop the £90,000 first prize.

He had looked all over the winner of the John Ayres Memorial Chase at Chepstow’s Jump Season Opener last month, only to be beaten in a desperate finish by Charbel. Far from being a setback, as it turned out it may have put him just right for the bigger prize. He was one of three Cheltenham winners that day who had run at Chepstow’s big October meeting.

Robert Stephens’ Balkinstown made the long journey from Penhow to Plumpton worthwhile by winning the final race there on Monday. Turning into the home straight his pilot Craig Dowson was confident enough to look behind him. The horse took the lead between the last two and from there was just doing enough. He was value for more than the length and three quarters he won by, and might be able to follow up. Though his record of 2-39 under Rules (plus 1-8 in point-to-points) doesn’t inspire confidence, he did nothing wrong here and appeared not to take too much out of himself.

Teenage Welsh jockey James Bowen has been nominated in two categories for this week’s inaugural Welsh Horse Racing Awards at Chepstow racecourse tomorrow evening.

The 17-year-old rider, who won the 2017 Coral Welsh Grand National on Raz De Maree, has been nominated for the Jockey of the Year award and in the Rising Star category.

James’ brother Sean is also in the final four for Jockey of the Year along with Adam Wedge and the Bargoed-born flat rider David Probert.

This year has been Probert’s best in terms of prize money earned (nearly £1.25 million) and he has ridden 89 winners so far, making it his third best by that measure. And that was after missing January and February, when he rode in India and Qatar. In the latter he established himself as the regular pilot for Tip Two Win, on whom he finished second in the 2,000 Guineas.

Probert was joint champion apprentice in 2008. He’s done commendably to build on that with between 60 and 107 winners in every year since. Quite a few leading apprentices fail to make the transition to being a successful jockey, when they are no longer able to claim weight allowances. For example, in 2005 Hayley Turner finished joint top of the apprentice table with Saleem Golam with 44 victories apiece. Turner went on to find fame and fortune but Golam never again rode as many winners in a season and retired last year.

Today’s meeting at Chepstow attracted 237 entries originally and big fields will be the order of the day, which is in aid of the armed forces charity SSAFA.

The first race is the Angela Nettlefold Memorial Handicap Hurdle. The late Mrs Nettlefold cared for her husband Michael for over 60 years after he lost both hands and an eye during a WW2 bomb disposal training exercise. When they first met, Michael’s party trick was to light his cigarette by striking a match with one of the steel hooks that served as hands. After they died, their son Julian set up a charity named after his mother, specifically to provide support for the carers of disabled services personnel. He began sponsoring this race in 2015, choosing Chepstow ahead of other racecourses nearer the family home in Wiltshire.