It's a busy day on Thursday with seven runners at two meetings, the going at Sedgefield will be testing as at the time of writing it is heavy, soft in places, and over at Southwell the Tapeta surface is standard to slow.
We have two runners at Southwell with The Retriever first up at 12.52.pm, in a 0-60 Apprentices handicap over seven furlongs, where he will be partnered by his regular jockey Aiden Brookes. The Retriever would have needed his first run back after a five months break in November, and did fare a little better at Wolverhampton in December, but he could never get competitive on his latest start at Southwell 16 days ago. He still remains 7lb above his last winning mark, and he also has the worst of the draw in stall 12.
Our other representative at Southwell is the unraced five year old mare Western Melody who goes to post for a seven furlongs novices stakes, with Aiden Brookes in the saddle. Western Melody is out of an unraced Piccolo mare who has produced two previous runners to date, including the 56 RPR six furlong winner Western Music. Western Melody's sire Sir Prancealot won the Flying Childers in his only season to race as a two year old, and has made a good start at stud.
Over at Sedgefield Kildrum has his second start over fences since joining us at 2.10.pm, in the 0-100 handicap chase over three miles and three furlongs, with Emma Smith-Chaston retaining the ride. Kildrum had previously run four times over fences when trained in Ireland, and jumped carefully at times at Carlisle 17 days ago. His best run since joining us was at Hexham in March of last year when finishing second from a mark 10lb higher than now, a repeat of that would see him well in the mix here.
Hideo arrived from France last December, and this five year old is taking time to acclimatise. He made no show in either of his first two starts for us at Wetherby, and Sedgefield, and he unfortunately fell at the first on his latest start at Market Rasen. On the plus side his handicap mark is falling fast, from an opening mark of 117, he can now race off 107. The race is at 3.30.pm, a 0-105 novices handicap chase over two miles and five furlongs, with Emma Smith-Chaston retaining the ride.
Square Viviani will certainly be at home in these testing conditions, as all of his previous seven wins have all come with soft or heavy in the description. His last win came in January 2020 from a 14lb higher mark than now, but in just five starts since he has failed to get competitive. He goes to post for the 4.05.pm, a 0-100 handicap hurdle over the marathon three miles and three furlongs with Emma Smith-Chaston retaining the ride. This will be his first start over hurdles since joining us in the spring of 2018, but he was a winner over timber at Pau in a four year old hurdle back in 2015.
We are doubly represented at 4.40.pm, in the 0-100 handicap chase over two miles and one furlong. Bandit D'Ainay arrived from France last autumn, and after two poor runs at Sedgefield in December, he gave us hope that he could win a race when finishing a respectable fourth to Knocknamona at Newcastle in January. On his return to Gosforth Park 23 days ago he wasn't in the same form, and trailed in a well beaten fifth. His mark has now slipped from an opening 103 to his current 89, and Alain Cawley who has ridden twice before is back in the saddle.
We are also represented in the race by the Sedgefield legend Roxyfet, who will have his 41st start at the track, as he goes in search of course win Number 10. In total Roxyfet has run on 108 occasions, and is the winner of 15 races, he will be partnered by Emma Smith-Chaston who has won on him three times previously at Sedgefield. Roxyfet ran at Leicester a week ago when finishing an eye catching fourth, staying on to be beaten by eight and a quarter lengths. He of course will love the ground, and is now back down to a very attractive mark of 84.
Good luck to the connection, RM&T Holdings Limited & Partners, The Rat Pack Racing Club, T M Clarke, Two Nicks and a Mick, Ryder Sugden, The Golden Cuckoo, and Samuel Sutton and Partners.