The loss of the Harkaway Club meeting just after Christmas resulted in a delayed start to the West Midland season which finally gets underway at Chaddesley Corbett on Saturday afternoon. Local owners, trainers and jockeys will be keen to chalk up points, as some bid to retain individual Championships, while others are attempting to win for the first time.
The meeting starts with a 2-1/2 mile Maiden at noon and that could see a clash between two stables who traditionally do well in these types of events. Fran Nimmo and Charlie Poste’s Ettington stable use these races as a shop window for their horses, as does Bridgnorth trainer Phil Rowley.
Falloway Dubreau made his debut for Nimmo last year and was prominent for a long way before finishing second at Buckfastleigh last March so the stable has some reliable form to go on, but that cannot be said of their two newcomers Kenyan Cowboy and Kinondo Kwetu. Their fitness and ability have to be taken on trust and time will tell whether their lack of experience is detrimental.
Jason Warner’s Ahead of the Game has shown some ability but will probably have to settle for a minor placing, while Glory and Honour is making its racecourse debut. Saquon represents Tom Weston’s Hindlip yard. He has been entered at several meetings already this season and it should be a pointer to his chances if he makes the line-up.
Phil Rowley always does well at this venue and should strike with My Bobby Dazzler. He looked very novicey when beaten on his debut twelve months ago but showed much better form when chasing home the Fran Nimmo trained Fedelta at Larkhill. She has a valuable insight into her horse’s chances in this race as she will be aware of where Fedelta comes in the stables pecking order.
Sheriffhales based Caroline Robinson may have to temporarily hand over her secretarial duties at this meeting if her Cheltenham hope The Dellercheckout runs in the Ladies Open. Nothing is certain but on known form this should be a cake walk for the 7-year-old who is undefeated to two races this season. He will have to concede weight to his rivals but it is difficult seeing anything else getting within striking distance.
In his absence the race has a much more open look about it with Hidden Charmer, His Excellency, Itstimeforapint and Ni Sin E Mo Ainm all showing similar levels of form. Tb Broke Her proved consistent last season has Hannah Lewis’s assistance so they make the short list.
The Dellercheckout got the better of Don Bersy at Barbury and that was the latter’s only defeat in three outings. His latest success came at Thorpe Lodge with Sam Brown guiding him to victory in the Novice Riders and the Herefordshire trained gelding is taken to add to his score at this meeting.
Don Bersy is a relentless galloper but tardiness at the start has caused problems in the past but he will be difficult to beat if getting off on an equal footing with his rivals. Ballykan has finished runner up twice this season but cannot seem to get his head in front. Doc Carver looks a danger if he makes the journey up from Wales, while Drumhart carries the colours of well-known Worcestershire owner Pat Tollit.
With question marks against several rivals Kaki de La Pree gets the chance to atone for his defeat at Bangor. He proved at Ffos Las that he likes to come off a strong pace and that is bound to be the case if Don Bersy makes the running.
The 2-1/2 mile Restricted should go the way of Don Bersy’s stablemate Family Man. After a workmanlike success at Barbury he was narrowly beaten at Cocklebarrow after losing ground at the start.
On paper there is not much between all fourteen entries which brings Chief Sittingbull who was beaten a length at Bangor and Taboo who ploughed through the mud to win at Ffos Las onto the short list.
Sam Jukes Dymock stables has been in fine form in recent weeks and R Bren ran a big race until weakening in the closing stages at Larkhill and this course is more likely to play to her strengths. Christine Banks Round Robin was back to his normal consistence self at Bangor and might sneak into a place while Jack Wallace’s John B’s may also figure in the shakeup.
The Intermediate provides a chance for Miss Seagreen to return to the winners enclosure. She was well beaten by Chameron at Larkhill but as always, was putting in her best work at the finish. Jukes will need to keep her much closer to the leaders on this course because the downhill run into the home straight plays into the hands of the pace setters rather than the chasing pack who often struggle to make up the deficit.
Buffalo Sabre finished behind Miss Seagreen at Larkhill and also at Bitterley but cannot be left completely out of the equation. Easythingsarebest could be fancied on his best form, a remark that also applies to the Pip Hooley trained Emtidaad.
Magheral Express pulled up at Buckfastleigh but had run well up until that point, while Stay out of Court may be found out by the lack of a recent outing. Risky Gold held on in a tight finish at Cocklebarrow and will be difficult to catch if given too much rope.
Big Georgie (James Ridley – Kinnersley) and Chasforgold (Sam Jukes – Dymock) are two local favourites who always give a good account of themselves but they look up against it in the Men’s Open, with Ballyboker Breeze and Salvatore the two main protagonists.
The former is a model of consistency and has struck up a good partnership with Zac Baker, while Salvatore finished just behind Shantou Flyer and Green Winter at Larkhill and race fitness just tips the scales in his favour.
Dragonfruit, Falloway Dubreau, Lilith and Wykham will be vying for favouritism in the 3-mile Maiden, and all are potential winners but whether it will be at this meeting remains to be seen.
Mark Wall returned to the saddle after a couple of years absence to partner I’m Fine at Cocklebarrow. He is bound to have benefitted from that experience and there would be some very emotional scenes in the winners enclosure if he prevailed as he carries the colours of the “This One’s for you Kev Partnership”, run in the memory of Wall’s great friend Kevin Malpass who died suddenly during the summer.
It may not be on this occasion however, as Organised Solution stepped up on his performance at Larkhill to get within a length of the winner Goldenbrave at Bangor and a repeat of that performance would carry him to victory.