We send five up to Hexham, where the going is currently good to soft, good in places, and two down to Pontefract, where the ground is currently considered good to soft.
Bandit D'Ainay is first up at 2.15.pm, in a 0-100 handicap chase, over the extended one mile and seven furlongs, with Emma Smith-Chaston riding him for only the second time. Bandit D'Ainay who is now 12 years old has run his two best races for us at Hexham, including finishing second to his stablemate Roxyfet over this course and distance just over a year ago, from an 11lb higher mark than now. He was a respectable third at Hexham last time, but this race is more competitive.
We are doubly represented at 3.25.pm, in the 0-100 handicap chase over three miles. Square Viviani who is also well into the veteran stage, was an 18 lengths winner over this course and distance from a 16lb higher mark than now, but that was three and a half years ago, and since then his form has been in steady decline. His two most recent starts have both been in point to points, where he has finished third and fourth. He will be ridden for the first time by Joshua Thompson, who can claim 10lb off his back.
Our other representative in the race is Along Long Story, who was a winner of a Hunters Chase when trained in Ireland. He has raced on three occasions for us since arriving at the yard late last year, and has failed to fire so far, which has seen his mark fall by 12lb. He will wear the visor for the first time, with Conor O'Farrell retaining the ride.
The ex French Halpha Soleil who was the winner of two French National Hunt flat races, has his fourth start for us, when moving in to handicap company for the first time. Halpha Soleil has run well on two of his three starts for us, and wouldn't have to improve that much to get involved here. The race is a 0-105 handicap hurdle, over two and a half miles, with Conor O'Farrell retaining the ride, at 4.0.pm.
Touch Of A Dragon who receives all the weight allowances, will have her third start in bumper company over two miles, at 5.07.pm, with Josh Thompson taking off 10lb, on top of the 7lb sex allowance, and 8lb weight for age. Touch Of A Dragon has finished third in both of her previous runs, and should be involved at the business end again, in what looks a very competitive event.
Over at Pontefract the classy Piecederesistance returns from a 143 day break to contest the 0-100 Class 2 handicap over 10 furlongs, at 3.0.pm, with Aiden Brookes on board for the first time. Piecederesistance ran his best race last term when winning over course and distance from a 2lb lower mark than now, and the ground should hold no fears, as he has placed form in France on a soft surface.
Visite Officielle ran her best races in staying events at Pontefract last season, particularly when finishing a close up fourth in October, from 4lb higher than now. On her return to the flat two weeks ago she was third at Redcar, showing resolution under pressure, with Aiden Brookes who retains the ride, also in the saddle that day. She goes to post for the 0-65 handicap at 4.10.pm, over the extended two miles and five furlongs, which is the second longest flat race in the calendar.
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Good luck to the connections, The Golden Cuckoo, Ryder And Alex Sugden, The Chronicles, T I S Partnership, Resdev, J Kaye & D Lees, and The Oakwood Nobels.