Cornerstone Lad will take on just one high class opponent in the 1.24.pm at Ayr, in a match on Monday, as both these quality horses have frightened away all the other opposition.
Cornerstone Lad made a satisfactory start to his chasing career at Haydock four weeks ago, when the big plus was how well he jumped for a horse making his chase debut. He had proved himself as a genuine Grade 1 performer on two occasions over hurdles last season, earning a Racing Post, and BHA rating of 159, and when finishing second on that chase debut, he appeared to run to around 140. For 95 percent of the equine population that would be a wonderful performance, but we will be hoping, and expecting a lot more from our stable star.
His sole opponent is the Nicky Henderson trained, and JP McManus owned Dame De Compagnie, who is one of the best mares in the country at the moment. Her last appearance was at the Cheltenham Festival in March when winning the Coral Cup handicap hurdle, off a mark of 140, by two and a quarter lengths
She has been raised to 148 for that effort, and with the 7lb sex allowance, she actually has the higher rating at the weights, with Cornerstone Lad now officially rated 154.
Cornerstone Lad has the advantage of experience over fences, and the two miles on bottomless ground is more likely to suit, in a race where he will more than likely try to make all of the running. With his two regular jockeys, Henry Brooke, and Billy Garritty both unavailable, we turn to the champion jockey Brian Hughes to do the steering. What we hope to learn from the race is, can Cornerstone Lad go right to the top over fences?
We are also represented by The Pine Martin, who goes to post at 3.35.pm, in the three miles 0-105 handicap hurdle, with Alain Cawley taking the ride.The Pine Martin had his season curtailed by the lock-down last March, so it was reasonable to expect him to need his first run back in December at Haydock. He is on a good looking mark of 80, but stamina could be an issue, as this will be his first try at the trip, in what will be very testing ground.
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Good luck o the connections, Mrs B M Lofthouse, and The Rat Pack Racing Club.