WE START THE NEW YEAR WITH EIGHT RUNNERS.
Catterick stage their traditional New Years Day meeting where we have seven representatives on what will be soft ground. We also have a runner down at Southwell on their new Tapeta surface, where it is predicted to ride standard to slow.
First up is Sparkle In His Eye who makes his first visit to Southwell, where he contests the 0-60 handicap over one mile with his regular pilot Billy Garritty on board. Sparkle In His Eye has raced on five occasions since joining us in the autumn of last year, and after running well at Wolverhampton on his stable debut at Wolverhampton in May he suffered a shoulder injury. He appears to be running back in to form judged on his last two starts which were also at Wolverhampton, and the handicapper has now dropped him 9lb since that debut run back in May.
Catterick is our most local jumps track and we have had many New Years Day winners at the course over the years. At 1.0.pm, in the Randall Orchard Looking For 100 Winners 0-100 Handicap Hurdle we have four of the 14 declared runners. Late Date who will be ridden by Jack Hogan for the first time is the winner of four races, but badly lost his way over fences when pulling up on five consecutive occasions. His return to hurdles saw him regain some of his form when finishing second at Perth in August, but his last two starts have not been as promising, when on both occasions finishing down the field.
Great Raffles will once again be partnered by Alain Cawley. In seven starts since arriving from France in November 2020 he has yet to show any real ability. He also ran three times in France, being well beaten in two hurdles starts, and finishing sixth on his only flat start at Les Sables-d'Olonne.
Another ex French recruit is Balkotic who was the winner of a flat race at Craon in September 2020, and he was purchased after finishing third at Erbray in June of last year. He is yet to hit form for us having finished down the field on both starts at Sedgefield and Catterick since his arrival in the summer, he will be ridden by Craig Nichol.
Our quartet of runners in the 1.0.pm, is completed by Trimmers Lane who will be once again partnered by Emma Smith-Chaston. Trimmers Lane was a winner over fences at Wetherby on Boxing Day 2020, but after suffering a tendon injury he did not reappear until 20 days ago at Southwell, where after being prominent to three out a lack of a recent race took it's toll. Trimmers Lane will strip fitter this time, but in six previous attempts over hurdles he is yet to get competitive.
Trevelyn's Corn was once thought of as a Grade 1 performer in the making when trained by Paul Nicholls back in 2019, but after a series of problems they failed to get him back on the track, and he was purchased at the Doncaster sales in the autumn of last year. Trevelyn's Corn made his stable debut for us at Newcastle 23 days ago when jumping well on what was his chase debut, on his first start in 26 months, he weakened from four out to finish seventh, and the handicapper has dropped him 3lb to 117, Alain Cawley rides him for the first time.
The Very Thing has his third start over fences at 2.45.pm, in a 0-100 handicap chase over three miles and one furlong with his regular jockey Alain Cawley retaining the ride. The Very Thing ran his best race for us over hurdles at Wetherby in March 2020 when finishing second from a 22lb higher mark than now, but in nine starts since then he has struggled to recapture that form, including his latest two runs over fences.
Our final runner of the day is Ilaya who goes to post at 3.20.pm, in the one mile and seven furlong 0-105 handicap hurdle, where she will carry top weight in the hands of her regular jockey Becky Smith. Ilaya probably ran her best ever race over this course and distance nearly two years ago when finishing runner up under a double penalty in a novice hurdle. This was following on from a comfortable success at Newcastle where she won from a mark of 113. Since then she has failed to hit the same heights, but the handicapper continues to ease her, and she can now race from a mark of 105 in class 5 company.
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Good luck to the connections, Samuel Sutton, County Set Six & Partner, The Golden Cuckoo, Raypasha, Ian Ender, D Lees, and Derek Walpole.