Catterick is our most local track, and we are very well represented there on Friday with seven declared runners, where the going at the time of writing is good,good to soft in places.
Our first runner is Maison D'Or in the 12.05.pm, in the three miles and one furlong handicap hurdle. Maison D'Or stays forever, and the further they go the better his chance.Over hurdles this is about as far as they race, and although he acts on good ground, any rain would help to make it more of a stamina test.This is the race he won last year, but it will be tougher this time, as he is 6lb higher, and Emma Smith-Chaston could claim 8lb last year, where as now she can only claim 6lb.
Emma also takes the ride on Iconic Hero in race three, at 1.13.pm.He made his stable debut at Sedgefield 10 days ago, when unfortunately falling at the 11th, when still well in touch. He had previously run under rules for the Dan Skelton yard, and although still a maiden, he has been placed off higher marks, the trip, and the ground will both suit.
We are mob handed in the novice hurdle at 2.23.pm.with four runners.The admirable Stormin Norman will carry a 6lb penalty for winning at Sedgefield just over six weeks ago, the runner up that day has since been out and finished second from a mark of 117, giving the form a boost. Stormin Norman steps up two furlongs in trip, and that is a big plus, along with his very willing attitude, regular rider Becky Smith will once again be on board.
The ex French five year old gelding Penpal makes his UK and stable debut. He was last seen at Pau in May when winning a claiming hurdle, his first success in six starts, the Racing Post gave him a very respectable 122 rating.He too will have to carry a 6lb penalty, on ground he will be unaccustomed to, having only raced on a soft surface to date, Alain Cawley will take the ride.
We are also represented by Farsideofthemoon who has raced twice for us so far, finishing eighth at Sedgefield in October, and then pulling up at the same track 15 days ago. His debut in a bumper for his previous trainer Gordon Elliott just over a year ago, when he finished a promising forth gives us hope that he will be seen in a better light once going handicapping, Joe Colliver takes over from Billy Garritty in the saddle.
Our quartet is completed by Who's The Guv'Nor, like Farsideofthe moon, he too showed promise on debut in a bumper, but then didn't race for the next 10 months, after which he had wind surgery. He made his hurdles debut in a tongue tie at Wetherby three weeks ago when failing to complete, Emma Smith-Chaston rides him for the first time.
Our final runner is Justforjames in the three miles and one furlong handicap chase at 2.58.pm, with his regular rider Becky Smith taking the ride. Justforjames probably would have won last season, but like so many others he had his season curtailed by lock down.He has needed his first run back for the previous three seasons, but he did win first time out after a long break back in 2016.
To keep up to date with all the latest happenings at Oakwood Stables, and Sharp Hill, click on 'NEWS' at www.mickyhammondracing.
Good luck to the connections, D Lees, The Rat Pack Racing Club, The Golden Cuckoo, The Monday Club, G R Orchard, Mr & Mrs I P Earnshaw, and J4J Partnership.