JUST two points separate Alex Edwards and Sam Jukes at the top of the West Midland Area Riders Championship so this weekend’s Wheatland Point-to-Point event at Chaddesley Corbett is crucial to their chances of landing the title for the first time.
Edwards is based with Phil Rowley’s stable near Bridgnorth, while Jukes trains and rides Clive Bennett’s horses from their Gloucestershire base.
Edwards has scored two hat-tricks at Chaddesley this season and it is not beyond the realms of possibility for lightening striking three times and not twice.
These old adversaries could face one another in the two-and-a-half mile Restricted when the meeting gets underway at 2pm on Saturday.
The cards are definitely in Edwards favour in this contest as Macs Gift has earnt a rating far in excess of many of his rivals.
Edwards has also partnered Following Mama and Henry Howard for Diana Ralph so has reserves to call upon when running plans become clearer.
Jukes relies on The Well Road.
He may be one of the lesser lights of his stable but might well run into a place and that will help him maintain contact with his rival.
Keen Eye has finished in the runners up spot twice recently and frustratingly for connections may have to settle for that position again while runners from David Brace’s Bridgend stable have always to be feared which brings Dunraven Doc into the picture.
The Rowley/Edwards partnership seems to hold all the aces in the two-and-a-half mile Maiden with Article Fifty, Gadrose and Serosevsky featuring amongst the entries.
The first two are making their racecourse debuts, whereas the latter showed a great deal of promise by finishing in the runners up spot at Eyton on Severn and is sure to have benefitted from that experience.
It will not be all plain sailing for the local stable if Jack Barber brings Shoreline up from his Dorset base, while Gentleman Farmer was beaten just two heads on his racecourse debut and is another for the short list.
The Edwards/Jukes battle continues in the Mixed Open where Edward’s governor Phil Rowley has multiple entries including Hazel Hill, Now Ben, One More Tune and Temple Grandin, and any one of them would be a worthy winner.
Jukes has just one shot at the bullseye and that is with Stone who was successful at the Berkeley last weekend.
He could make a quick reappearance as the owners are keen to support Jukes Title aspirations.
Despite the overall quality in this race they may all have to play second fiddle to Arthurs Secret who has a deceptive style of running.
He has won six consecutive races since joining Martin Weston’s Hindlip yard and it is difficult seeing any of his rivals preventing him adding to that tally.
The Edwards/Jukes battle is on the card in the ten-year-old and upwards Conditions race where the former can call upon Temple Grandin while Jukes relies on Uppertown Hawk.
Flicka’s Witness, Grove Pride and Sir Du Bearn will ensure the principals do not have matters all their own way.
Rowleys stable will be keen to maximise their chances at this meeting so Serosevsky could sidestep his engagement earlier in the afternoon and line up for the three-mile Maiden.
Others to note in this contest include Where You Proposed and Gentleman Farmer.
Festival Dawn ran a promising race at the previous meeting before inexperience told in the closing stages but given normal progression you would expect him to take a hand in the finish.
The stable has a useful second string in Pat the Pigeon who benefitted from the application of blinkers on his latest run and is sure to make his presence felt.
The Novice Riders has attracted some useful performers in this type of race.
Flying Eagle sets the standard but Allerton always runs well on this course, while Black Banjo is sure to appreciate the conditions that normally prevail at this stage of the season.
Ice Cool Benny, Man from Seville, One More Tune and Perfectly Willing are others that will be vying for favouritism, but American Legend just gets the vote.
He was useful performer under Rules and recently made his debut between the flags.
Although that victory came in a Members Race against moderate opposition there was much to like about his performance that day and he cannot be left out of calculations.