Just two meetings remain for West Midlands partnerships to enhance their prospects of winning one of the Areas prestigious Championships which are presented during the Annual Awards Evening at Cheltenham Racecourse on the 29th June.
It is good to see so many people and horses still in contention and any points accrued during Saturday’s Wheatland meeting at Chaddesley Corbett are liable to prove crucial at this stage of the season.
Drumhart and You’re the Man are both involved in the battle to become the Leading Horse and both hold entries in the Novice Riders event. Pat Tollit’s runner has been a model of consistency throughout the season and won over the course at the last meeting, while the Jake Slatter trained, You’re the Man had his limitations exposed at Paxford and this venue may not play to his strengths.
Black Jack Rover, Gabrial the Great and Storm Lantern all have their supporters, while Vaillant Creek and Son of Suzie are consistent at their level, but will they be able to raise their game.
Phil Rowley and Alex Edwards face major challenges in their bids to retain their respective National Championships and Rowley will do well to overhaul Alan Hill and Tom Ellis as the season draws to a close.
Edwards is better placed in his quest to retain the Riders Championships as he started the weekend with a narrow lead over main Title rival Will Biddick.
The Bridgnorth based duo will be hoping to add to their tally with Lilith in the 2-1/2 mile Open Maiden. The 4-year-old lacks racecourse experience and his standing in the stables pecking order is unknown but as one of his stablemates was beaten at Cold Harbour a question mark has to be placed over his chances.
The opposition includes Pass Rusher who hails from Fran Nimmo’s and Charlie Poste yard near Stratford on Avon. They purchased the youngster in Ireland last spring and turned down a substantial profit when the horse was reoffered for sale 5 months later. It remains to be seen if victory in this contest helps potential clients meet their evaluation.
Rowley has a second string to his bow in the shape of The Odissey but he has an alternative engagement in the 3-mile Maiden later in the afternoon.
The locally trained Chief Sittingbull has been running on the flat but had some experience over hurdles prior to that, while Courtly Love and Signed and Sealed might run into a place.
The Mixed Open is a good standard for this stage of the season with entries including Ballyboker Breeze who finished in the runners up spot in The Lady Dudley Cup. He has to shoulder an 8 lb penalty for successes earlier in the year and that may limit his chances. That same remark also applies to Diamond King who won the Ladies Open on the same card, but in a much slower time.
Rowley and Edwards rely on Knight Bachelor who had his stamina limitations exposed at Knightwick and will be much more comfortable over this shorter trip. Port Melon has won a couple of races in the North West, but faces his biggest test of the year.
Bishops Road caused a major upset at Cheltenham last Friday but prior to that you would not have given much for his chances as stamina has always been his strong point but that theory was blown out of the water at Prestbury Park.
Apple of Our Eye has been running under Rules for Charlie Longsden but comes from a long list of winners bred by Chris and Fran Marriott, while Chasforgold came back to form at Woodford and could be another winner for Emma Alvis.
Ballyboker Breeze and Drumhart both have easier engagements in the 10-year-old and over Conditions and if one of them runs that puts the opposition at a major disadvantage. Stone is an interesting runner as he has not been seen out since the Ledbury meeting in 2018. At his age he cannot avoid to give any fitness advantage away too younger rivals.
As stated previously The Odissey looks to hold a favourites chance in the 3-mile Maiden. He looks a progressive sort, but the same cannot be said about Round Robin who has been placed 15 times already in his career and will need all of the cards to fall into place for him to be successful.
Fran Nimmo’s Pinot Noir and Jack Wallace’s Mahler Hill do not have racecourse experience, but given his connections the former looks an obvious choice but Mahler Hill receives a stone from his rival and that could be the deciding factor.