HORSES that ran with varying degrees of success on this course in December, will be attempting to repeat or improve on those performances during Sunday’s (February 7) Albrighton & Woodland fixture.
William and Angela Rucker’s Lienosus dead-heated for the Ladies Open at the last meeting but the Droitwich trained gelding faces much stiffer opposition on this occasion with almost half the field having the potential to carry home the spoils.
Ex-Champion Hurdle contender Khyber Kim has winning form over the course, while Stratford Stroller led over the last before being passed on the run in by Lienosus in December.
The 2011 Hennessy Gold Cup winner Carruthers ran well for a long way at Larkhill, while Cottage Oak is another for the short list.
Jane Williams Enville trained Swift Counsel holds his form well despite his advancing years, but preference is for stablemate Grandturgeon, while Awesome George looks set for another good season and this could be a first step in that direction.
Entries for the Restricted include Black Banjo (Nickie Sheppard – Eastnor) and Blackmill (Martin Weston – Hindlip) who defied the conditions to score impressive wins at the last meeting, although the former has subsequently blotted his copybook with a fall at Cocklebarrow a few weeks ago.
Detank’s connections had some misgivings about the horse’s stamina prior to his success at the same meeting but those were soon discarded after the horses impressive wins.
He is highly regarded and could prove the best of this winning trio.
Argentato and Big Fella Thanks both have course victories to their credit with Noel George’s mount recording a slightly faster time and they should make their presence felt in the Novice Riders.
Big Fella Thanks was surprisingly beaten in a two horse race at Wadebridge, but this course should play to his strengths.
Arthur’s Stone has form under Rules, while Premier Portrait was disqualified when his young rider omitted to weigh in as they attempted to win their third race of the season at Chipley Park.
Real Milan and Jack Jones are progressing in the right direction, while Supreme Danehill is one of several weekend mounts for Olympic Cyclist Victoria Pendleton.
Big Georgie revels when conditions are really testing but he is making the step up into Open Company.
Potential opponents in the Men’s Open include the Sheila Crow trained Connies Cross and John O’Sheas Executive Benefit.
Green Winter showed an impressive turn of foot when successful at Larkhill recently, the second leg of a double for Cradley trainer John Bryan which was initiated by Templebraden earlier in the afternoon and the latter is preferred to his stablemate.
Phil Rowley has his team in good form, a fact reflected in his five winners at this early stage of the season. Now Ben has provided two of those successes, but he is now facing more battled hardened campaigners.
However, the combination of a trainer in form and a horse’s career that is on an upward spiral tips the scales in his favour.
Young QC has made the frame in all three outings for Abberley trainer Zoe Hammond this season.
He is sure to give another good account of himself in the three-mile Maiden but others are preferred.
Gett Off My Cloud and Duke of Spain both have similar profiles to their opponent, but Tom Lacey is expected to unleash another of his un-raced youngsters called Pinnacle Peter, who is taken to prevail.
Joe O’Shea’s Lilbitluso has already built up a big reputation and that will be put on the line if he contests the Connolly’s Red Mills sponsored Intermediate over two and a half miles, although he does have entries at other meetings.
Soixante Six could benefit from his absence, while the Phil Rowley trained Stoleaway looked useful at Cocklebarrow.
The concluding two and a half mile Maiden provides chances for Bing Bang De Loire and Passage East, although The Ibbster showed good form on his last outing and will make them work hard for victory.