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  • Ian Ender

WE UNLEASH SOME OF THE BIG GUNS.

It's a big day for us on Saturday at Wetherby when some of our potential big hitters return for the new jump season. The ground at the time of writing is good to soft, good in places, but some rain is expected in the area.

First up at 12.15.pm, is the exciting prospect Grand Du Nord who won at the third time of asking in bumper company at Hexham when last seen in April. He makes his hurdles debut in the extended two miles and three furlongs race for novices, with Conor O'Farrell riding him for the first time. Grand Du Nord slipped and unseated his rider before the start on his racecourse debut at Newcastle last November, and in the circumstances did very well to finish fourth. Back at Newcastle in a jumpers bumper in February he pulled too hard, and eventually paid the price when weakening from two out, but on his latest start back on turf at Hexham in April he got his act together when keeping on strongly for a four lengths win.

Our Grade 1 winning hurdler Cornerstone Lad has his third start over fences at 12.50.pm, in Limited Handicap chase over one mile and seven furlongs where he will carry top weight. In two starts over fences last season he finished a respectable runner up on both occasions, jumping with fluency, but not getting anywhere near the best of his hurdles form, but that is reflected in his opening chase handicap mark of 147. He warmed up on the flat at Redcar 11 days ago when running as well as he ever has done on the level, when finishing a close fourth Any rain will be a bonus, but if the ground drys out too much he will not run, Conor O'Farrell will be in the saddle for the first time.

We are doubly represented at 1.25.pm, in a 0-135 handicap hurdle over the extended two miles and three furlongs, with Alain Cawley retaining the ride on Perfect Man who was purchased at the Doncaster sales back in May, and raced at Cartmel a week later, running respectively, and finishing seventh on ground that he would have found far too fast. He is the winner of seven of his 31 hurdle races to date, and there should be more to come in due course.

We are also represented in the race by the returning Desaray Girl, who will have the assistance of Conor O'Farrell for the first time. Desaray Girl was a Listed winner back in December 2019 when winning at Haydock, and earning an official mark of 133, but she has struggled to run to that mark since, which has seen her drop to 115. She did show glimpses of her best form on occasions last season, and she is still lightly raced, her form suggests that soft ground brings out the best in her.

It's welcome back to Schiehallion Munro at 2.0.pm, in the 0-140 Class 3 handicap chase over two miles and three furlongs, with Conor O'Farrell riding him for the first time. Schiehallion Munro failed to build on his novice season last term, but did run some solid races in defeat, finishing runner up on three occasions from marks slightly higher than what he starts out from now. This is his trip, and he seems equally effective on good, or soft ground, he can go well fresh, but he is bound to come on for this first start since April.

We round our day off at 2.35.pm, with the return of the very promising Rory And Me who has been off the track for almost a year. Rory And Me is a big late developing horse so in the circumstances he did very well to win two bumpers, and finish placed three times on the flat in maiden, and handicap company. It was at Wetherby last November where he made his hurdles debut when finishing a staying on second under Alain Cawley who is once again in the saddle. This is probably a better race than the one he contested on hurdles debut, but he is open to any amount of improvement.

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, Middleham Park Racing & S Nicols, Mrs B M Lofthouse, M H O G, Resdev, Tennant, Lynch, Sharpe And Boston, and Richard Howard & Ben Howard.

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