A SMALLER number of entries than expected will line-up for this weekend’s much-anticipated Lady Dudley Cup meeting at the Worcestershire point-to-point at Chaddesley Corbett.
West Wales trainer Michael Bowen who took this year’s Aintree Foxhunters with Dineur will be hoping to add this prestigious race to his expanding CV on Saturday, thus following in the footsteps of his father Peter who trained Brunico to win this race back in 1993.
Bowen has Sir de Bearn who looks a better prospect than stablemate Universal Soldier, but both of them are beatable with their opponents including What A Laugh who won the race when it was last run in 2015.
Twelve of the fifteen entries for the big race have a rating of more than 100 and these include several from the Bridgnorth stable of Phil Rowley who has four entries: Temple Grandin, Barel of Laughs, Grandturgeon and Hazel Hill.
The former finished a close third in the Cheltenham Foxhunters, a level of form which eclipses that of most of his rivals, while stablemate Grandturgeon was surprisingly beaten by Iberico at Maisemore.
Temple Grandin does not look out of place in the line-up, while Templebraden has yet to reach the dizzy heights he attained 12 months ago.
Wild Bill has moved stables recently but may struggle in this company, a remark that also applies to Brody Bleu.
As usual the Members race could turn into a commentator’s nightmare with a bulk of the runners likely to be wearing the royal blue and cerise hoop colours associated with Pat Tollit and her daughters Christine Banks and Angela Rucker.
Josephine Banks has a choice of mounts from Well Mett or Invisible Man, her sister Abi could land the spoils with Cut the Corner while their aunty Angela Rucker relies on Minella Friend.
The finish of the Confined race should be fought out by Chasforgold and In the Hold, two of the area’s most promising young horses.
Chasforgold was surprisingly beaten at Maisemore while In the Hold jumped much better than he had done previously when scoring at the Ludlow.
This could be a cat and mouse contest where race tactics may be crucial to the result.
Presenting William likes the prevailing conditions but may just lack the scope of the two main protagonists in this contest.
The Ladies Open is dominated by runners from the Banks, Rucker and Tollit families.
Horsham Lad parted company with Phine Banks at Mollington last week but that was a most unusual occurrence.
Get It On, Cut the Corner, Invisible Man and Vasco du Mee are not without chances with preference given for the latter.
Just four horses have been entered for the Maiden.
Round Robin has been placed numerous times in Maidens and has to get his head in front eventually – this may provide him with his best chance.
Where You Proposed is progressing in the right direction but probably needs a little more time while Freaky Freeda finished in third spot at Clifton on Dunsmore recently which gives him a chance here.
The Restricted should concern Following Mama and Kings Watch.
The former won a short Maiden at Bangor before finishing third at the same venue whereas Kings Watch was successful at Bitterley.
Megabuck’s has failed to show any form between the flags this year but it would be very disappointing if he could not win a race of this calibre.
Wild Ginger finished runner up at Siddington recently and that form would be good enough to land the concluding Maiden for Jonjo O’Neill junior.
His opponents are likely to include Born to Succeed who needs to settle judging by his efforts earlier in the season.
Festival Dawn (Axelle Wall), Walking Wicket (Tom Weston) and Dramatic Pause (Phil Rowley) all come from good stables and are capable of winning despite their inexperience.