NINE RUNNERS ON DAY TWO OF WETHERBY'S XMAS MEETING.
The rain has continued to come down, and I think we can confidentially expect very testing conditions on Monday where the going at the time of writing is soft, heavy in places.
First up at 11.50.am, in the 0-120 mares only handicap chase over three miles is Raddle And Hum who will be ridden by her regular pilot Becky Smith, who was onboard when Raddle And Hum made her chase debut at Musselburgh three weeks ago when finishing third. She was a winner at Market Rasen back in June from a 1lb lower than now, so if seeing out the trip on the forecast ground she will be competitive.
Rory And Me who goes to post at 12.25.pm, in the two miles novice hurdle under Alain Cawley, will face at least two highly promising rivals, but Rory And Me is also progressive as he showed when finishing third at Newcastle 16 days ago. This flat bred performer who has been placed on the level from a mark of 74, and is also a dual bumper winner, will face ground this testing for the first time.
The ex French four year old Hideo makes his stable and British debut at 1.0.pm, in the Limited handicap chase over two miles and three furlongs, with Emma Smith-Chaston taking off 7lb. Hideo who runs from a mark of 130 is 13lb out of the weights, but this is a good introduction as he faces only four rivals. His form over hurdles, and fences in France was good, but it did tail off on his last couple of starts.
We are doubly represented at 1.35.pm, in the juvenile hurdle over two miles. The ex French Piecederesistance was sent off at odds on for his hurdles debut at Sedgefield 53 days ago, where he was travelling well until making a bad mistake at the sixth flight, so in the circumstances he did well to still finish third. It's not always easy to weigh up the French form, but I suspect he would have been the best of these who raced on the flat, and he will certainly act in the underfoot conditions. Conor O'Farrell who rode him on debut retains the ride.
We are also represented in the race by the Frankel gelding Uccello who has struggled with this discipline in two starts so far, he will once again be partnered by Becky Smith. After some indifferent jumps Uccello unseated at the fourth at Wetherby in November, and then at Catterick 13 days ago he did make some progress when completing to finish a distant 10th. Hopefully after another improved run this time, the handicapper will give him his first mark.
Our stable star Cornerstone Lad will try to emulate his illustrious stablemate Just Cameron when contesting the days big race 'The Castleford Chase' at 2.15.pm, over one mile and seven furlongs, with Conor O'Farrell retaining the ride. Cornerstone Lad was badly hampered and lost all chance at Newcastle when last seen 18 days ago, but prior to that he showed he retains all of his old enthusiasm when finishing second over this course and distance. Cornerstone Lad loves heavy ground, and that could just be enough to help things swing his way this time.
We send two to post at 2.45.pm, in the 0-100 conditional jockeys handicap hurdle. Kildrum will be partnered by Emma Smith-Chaston, who is on board for the first time. Kildrum was a nine lengths second at Hexham on soft ground back in March, and he would have been closer but for a bad blunder at the last. He pulled up on his seasonal debut back at that track 19 days ago, and can now run from a 4lb lower mark than when he was runner up.
We also run Howzat Hiris in the same event with Jack Hogan able to claim 7lb. Howzat Hiris will make her handicap debut from a mark of 82, having shown very little in her three novice hurdle runs to date. Prior to that she raced three times in bumper company, with a 10 and a half lengths fifth finish at Sedgefield back in March offering hope for this handicap debut.
Our final runner of the day is Countess Olivia in the two miles bumper at 3.20.pm, with Alain Cawley in the saddle. Countess Olivia will be making her third start having made her debut when finishing down the field in a juniors fillies bumper back in December 2020. She didn't reappear until 24 days ago at Sedgefield when finishing 10th of the 11 starters, when still looking very green, she will gain more valuable experience here.
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Good luck to the connections., Miss Rebecca Dennis, Richard Howard & Ben Howard, Two Nicks And a Mick, Ryder Sugden, Red & Whites, Mrs B M Lofthouse, T M Clarke, Sticky Wicket Racing, and John Sidebottom & Mrs Kate Sidebottom.