We send a team of eight to Sedgefield on Friday where the going is currently soft, good to soft in places.
First up at 2.45.pm, is Not What It Seems in the extended two miles and three furlongs novices hurdle. Not What It Seems has run to a similar level over hurdles on four occasions over the past 12 months, but he did disappoint when stepping into handicap company last time. If he runs his race he shouldn't be too far away, but he does face three rivals who have all shown slightly better form, Emma Smith-Chaston rides him for the first time.
The four year old filly Bon Vitesse will face just four rivals at 3.20.pm, in the extended two miles mares only handicap hurdle, with Alain Cawley in the saddle for the first time. Bon Vitesse won on her hurdles debut at Wetherby in January, and then finished a respectable fifth under a penalty in better company at Carlisle in February. On her latest start at Catterick in March she was third, and once again ran her race. It appears on paper she has probably only got one serious rival this time, a horse with an official rating of just 1lb higher.
Onenightintown has been very busy of late, and this will be his fourth race in the last 39 days over fences. He looked a difficult ride last season, but has run with far more enthusiasm this term, which has included twice finishing runner up. This race would be more competitive than those two events, and he will have to run a personal best to win. The race is at 4.0.pm, a 0-105 handicap chase over two miles and one furlong, with Becky Smith back in the saddle.
We are doubly represented at 4.35.pm, in the 0-105 handicap hurdle over three miles and three furlongs. Great Raffles showed his first form over hurdles at Wetherby in February when finishing third, and duly backed that up at the same track in March when getting off the mark at the 13th attempt. This is a better race but Great Raffles could still be on the upgrade, with Alain Cawley retaining the ride.
Our other representative in the race is the ex French Hideo who has shown next to nothing in four runs over fences for us. This will be his first run back over hurdles since his first two runs as a three year old back in 2020, where he finished second on debut, and then third, with both runs coming at Auteuil. Hideo's long term future should be over fences, and this race will hopefully be a stepping stone to help him regain his confidence and zest for racing. He will once again have the assistance of Emma Smith-Chaston in the saddle.
We also have two runners at 5.08.pm, in the 0-100 handicap chase over three miles and three furlongs. Justforjames will once again be reunited with Becky Smith, who has won on him four times previously. At 13 years old this will probably be Justforjames' final season of racing, but he has shown he is no back number when twice finishing third at Catterick in December, and then again in January, but back at Catterick on his latest start 38 days ago he never got involved and was pulled up before the 13th.
Kildrum also goes to post for the 5.08.pm, with Emma Smith-Chaston back in the saddle. Kildrum was a good second at Hexham over hurdles back in March of last year, but has failed to match that form in his seven subsequent starts, including his last two runs over fences. When he was second at Hexham his mark was 83, and he can now race from his current rating of 68.
Penpal is our final runner of the day at 5.42.pm, in the extended two miles 0-100 handicap hurdle with Alain Cawley retaining the ride. The money came for Penpal on his penultimate start at Carlisle in February when he ran his best race in a long while when finishing a five and a quarter lengths fourth, but back at the same track on his latest start 19 days ago he never got involved, with the likelihood being that the ground would have been too fast, so a return to a softer surface will help.
To keep up to date with all the latest happenings at Oakwood Stables, Sharp Hill, and Curlew, click on 'NEWS' at www.mickyhammondracing.
Good luck to the connections, Ryder Sugden, The Golden Cuckoo, The Rat Pack Racing Club, Two Nicks And A Mick, J4J Partnership, and T M Clarke.