The cold spell continues, which means Catterick is doubtful for Wednesday, with an inspection planned for Tuesday morning, as the ground is currently frozen.
If it gets the go ahead then the first of our five runners will be Justforjames in the veterans handicap chase at 12.55.pm. Justforjames goes well at Catterick having won over this trip of three miles and one furlong in February 2019, and made a pleasing return at this track 68 days ago, when finishing third, on his first start in nearly 10 months. Unfortunately the handicapper hasn't seen fit to lighten his load, as he still runs from a 6lb higher mark than that last win. With amateur jockeys not allowed to ride at the moment, his regular pilot Becky Smith has been replaced by Billy Garritty, who rides the horse for the first time.
Not What It Seems attempts hurdles for the second time at 1.30.pm.He got no further than the third jump at Catterick in December, when unseating Joe Colliver, who rides him again this time.Prior to that, he had made the perfect start for us when winning a bumper at Sedgefield. He is sure to have been well schooled in the interim, but this does look a slightly above average novice hurdle for the track.
Square Viviani returns to the track, 377 days after his last run when winning at Market Rasen back in January, he would surely have run again, but became one of those horses who missed out because of the lock-down.He took a while to find his feet after arriving from France with a mark of 117, but he is now the winner of two of his last three races, and rated 100. He is entitled to need this first run back, with his regular rider Billy Garritty once again in the saddle.
Our elderly lady, the 11 year old Russian Royale has her 74th start, and 42nd race over hurdles in the 3.50.pm. She has always been best on a sounder surface, but can act in heavy, and now finds herself being able to run off a career low mark of just 78, aided by our conditional jockey Aiden Macdonald able to claim a further 10lb. Whether she can still get competitive under these conditions is open to question, but she was second in this corresponding race last year, from a 7lb higher mark.
In the bumper at 4.25.pm we welcome a new face to the team, when the five year old gelding Mister McArthur makes his racecourse debut in the famous silks previously worn by the Cheltenham Festival winner Mister McGoldrick, and our very own, and much missed Becky The Thatcher. Mister McArthur is the eighth racecourse representative of his dam Arctic Queen, who only raced on three occasions, starting out life being trained by Andrew Balding back in 2003. His sire is the top class middle distance performer Phoenix Reach, the winner of three Group One races, he also has three full brothers, and a full sister who have won nine races between them.
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Good luck to the connections, J4J Partnership, Ryder Sugden, Raypasha, and Mcgoldrick Racing.