We send four up to Newcastle for their jumps meeting, where the going is currently good, good to soft in places, and we also make the long trip down to Chelmsford, where we run two on the all weather Polytrack, which is currently riding as standard.
At Newcastle Split The Bill has his fifth start, and second over hurdles at 2.10.pm, in a novice hurdle over the extended two miles, with Craig Nicol retaining the ride. Split The Bill has shown a modicum of ability in his three bumper starts, but on his hurdles debut at Newcastle 16 days ago he didn't jump with fluency, and will have to brush things up in that department if he is to get involved here.
Contre Ordre has dropped a massive 18lb in three starts since arriving from France, where he was the winner of five races. In his three starts for us he has failed to get competitive, but he is being given a chance by the handicapper. He goes to post for the 2.45.pm, a 0-110 handicap chase over two miles, with Conor O'Farrell back in the saddle.
Next up at 3.20.pm, is the six year old mare Howzat Hiris who runs in a 0-105 mares only handicap hurdle over the extended two miles and seven furlongs, where she will be partnered by Joshua Thompson for the first time. Howzat Hiris made a promising reappearance at Hexham in November, but took a backwards step at Catterick on New Years Day when last seen. She was seen at her best at Wetherby last March in soft ground when finishing third, so any rain would be a plus.
Penpal returns from a 286 day break, and has had a wind operation since last seen at Market Rasen in May. He is another ex French recruit who arrived with an inflated handicap mark, which has now come down considerably. Penpal is now a very well handicapped horse, and if the operation has the desired effect he would be one to keep an eye on. He runs in the 4.30.pm, a 0-105 handicap hurdle over the extended two miles, with Becky Smith on board for the first time.
We make a rare excursion down to Chelmsford, where Western Melody goes to post for the 7.00.pm, a 0-50 Classified Stakes over a mile, with Aiden Brookes retaining the ride. Not for the first time Western Melody has once again been very unlucky with the draw, and life is not going to be easy with having to come out of stall 14 in a maximum field of 15.
Odd Venture has his first start for us at 8.30.pm, in a 0-50 Classified Stakes over 10 furlongs, with Aiden Brookes taking the ride. Odd Venture had his golden period back in the spring and summer of 2021 when winning at Cork, and then finishing second at Sligo, but his recent form isn't inspiring, including a spell over hurdles. He arrives in the UK with a mark of just 32, and we will know more about him after this.
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Good luck to the connections, J N Swinbank, Graeme Newton, Sticky Wicket Racing, The Golden Cuckoo, The Rat Pack Racing Club, and Oakwood Racing.