Jump racing has had a week off, but the good news is that it returns at Hexham on Saturday evening, where we have declared three runners on ground currently described as good, good to soft in places. We also have two runners in the afternoon at Thirsk on what is the biggest day of their season, Hunt Cup day, where the ground is currently described as good, good to firm in places.
Both of our runners at Thirsk go to post for the 4.35.pm, a 0-70 handicap over one mile. Carnival Zain arrived from racing in France last season with a mark of 77, and although running creditably on more than one occasion he generally struggled, but in two starts since returning this season he has looked a different horse, after finishing second at Newcastle off a mark of 64, he improved on that run with a win off 66 at Catterick over seven furlongs 24 days ago. He has drawn well, and this step up to a mile will be in his favour, but he has never run on ground with the word firm in the description, he will be partnered by Silvestre De Sousa for the first time.
Our other runner in the race sees the return of our dual York winner Irv, who will have his regular pilot Graham Lee in the saddle. Irv will start his new campaign off an all time low mark of 60, having not looked totally in love with the game on his latter starts last term. If the break has reignited him then he is now a very well handicapped horse, having finished second on seasonal debut 22 months ago off a mark 22lb higher than now. The ground will be no problem, and he has been lucky with the draw in stall 1.
Hexham kick off the new jumps season in the North of England, where our first runner of the new season will be High Noon in the 6.20.pm, a three miles handicap chase for horses rated 0-120, where he will once again be partnered by Emma Smith-Chaston. High Noon who does most of his racing on good ground does also have winning form on good to soft, so the surface shouldn't be a problem. He made his seasonal debut at his favourite track Market Rasen last time, running with great promise, and only giving best approaching the last, when lack of a recent run took it's toll. That race was over two miles, which is on the short side for him, but this three miles could well stretch his stamina, as his best form has come over two and a half miles.
Monaghan Boy will make his debut over hurdles at 6.50.pm, in a two miles novices hurdle, where he will once again be partnered by Alain Cawley. Monaghan Boy has raced in four bumpers to date, and although he has yet to reach a place he has shown that the ability is there to win races by finishing close up behind the placed horses on all of his starts. If he is going to get off the mark here, then he will have to better the form he has shown so far.
Our final runner of the day is the ex Irish Larry Looby who showed very little under rules in 14 starts in Ireland. His debut for us at Carlisle in February saw him pull up, but he took a big step forward at Hexham 33 days ago when last seen, when finishing third over three miles. He goes to post for the 8.20.pm, a 0-100 handicap chase over two and a half miles, with Alain Cawley retaining the ride. This race is of better quality than his last start, but we will have to wait and see if this step down in trip will help or hinder.
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Good luck to the connections, Newroc & Partner, Irvine Lynch, Nick Pietrzyk And Partner, The Golden Cuckoo, and Mr & Mrs D Lees & D Pollitt.