Sandown’s penultimate race on Saturday is a thirty grand handicap chase (5.00), and the two that make most appeal are Generous Ransom and Horizontal Speed, who sit at the top of the weights in a competitive little heat. It is hard to split the tightly-matched pair but the former just edges the verdict.
Small can be beautiful as Sandown’s five-runner Gordon Richards Stakes (2.00) demonstrates so vividly on Friday with potential top-notch performers in Cannock Chase and Postponed among the handful of runners for an enthralling renewal of the Group 3 contest at the Esher course.
Surprise results proved the order of the day at Perth on Wednesday, but perhaps the well-regarded Foxtail Hill can buck that trend and justify the faith in which he is held by trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and land the handicap hurdle (3.20) at the rural Scottish venue.
Wednesday is the opening day of Perth’s well-subscribed three-day jumps festival, and the best is possibly saved until last when Silver Duke lines up in a handicap hurdle (5.40) over two miles for trainer, Jim Goldie. Given a pipe-opener on the level recently, Goldie’s dual-purpose performer looks the one to beat in a wide open heat.
Sometimes the little fish deserve the big fry, and jockey Catherine Walton’s never-say-die winning ride on Central Flame at Hexham yesterday saw punters go home happy as the gelding completed a fine hat-trick in a thrilling finish with his main rival, Tekthelot. The horse has been a credit to his shrewd connections.
The dubious delights of jumps racing at northerly Hexham are highlighted today and the locally-trained Central Flame is fancied to land the hat-trick for trainer, James Walton, in the handicap hurdle (3.10) over two and a half miles at the Northumbrian course.
Spring has signalled a welcome return to form for Malcolm Jefferson, with a superb Aintree festival winner in the shape of Cyrus Darius and judging by the general good form of his horses, the Malton-based trainer may well be in for another graded winner courtesy of the hat-trick seeking Oscar Rock, who holds strong claims in the Future Champion Novices’ Chase (2.00) on a difficult card at Ayr on Saturday.
In the opener at Fontwell (1.10) on Friday, Mr Dinosaur should do better with a run under his belt, and the former winning Irish pointer is fancied to get the verdict over Buckthorn Timothy, his only serious rival for the two and three-quarter mile novice contest.
I have always had a soft spot for trainer Nigel Hawke after he steered home Seagram to land the Grand National back in the mists of time, and the former Aintree-winning jockey is enjoying something of a purple patch with his small team of jumpers right now. Perhaps the hat-trick seeking Midnight Request can maintain the stable's momentum by landing a novices’ handicap chase (5.00) at Cheltenham on Thursday.
Cheltenham’s two-day April meeting swings into action on Wednesday with a series of wide open handicaps and maybe the Nicky Henderson-trained New Horizons can follow up his recent Kempton win and continue his upward progress by landing the 20-runner staying contest (4.25) at a sunny Prestbury Park.