While most of us enjoy a few days break over the Holiday period, spare a thought for the organisers of next Tuesdays Harkaway Club fixture at Chaddesley Corbett, will be anxiously waiting to respond (if that proves necessary) to the outcome of the government’s deliberations in the next stage of their fight against Covid.
The past few weeks has seen an improvement in the number of entries and runners at each meeting and that trend continues with this fixture which has attracted a healthy total of 155 entries for its seven-race programme, although the Restricted is in danger of division, with 25 entries and a safety factor of 16.
This meeting stages the first race of nine Ladies races commemorating the life of popular amateur jockey Lorna Brook, who was tragically killed in a riding accident at Taunton last spring, and culminates in a Final at this venue on June 2nd.
This event is a fitting tribute to Brooke and has attracted an entry which should provide a race of the highest quality.
Fifteen of the twenty six entries have a rating of over 100 and it is suggested that few races will be able to match that statistic for the remainder of the season. It is interesting that Ballykan who has shown consistent form between the flags will struggle to make his presence felt, while Hawkhurst who has already chalked up three wins this season is unlikely to improve on that record.
Maitree Express and Silsol also fall into the “struggling” category, when matched against the likes of Dubai Quest, Red Indian, Tango de Juilley, Samtegal and The Dellercheckout.
The former has won his last five races and will be ridden by regular partner Gina Andrews, while Red Indian won two races in impressive fashion before finishing down the field in the Cheltenham Foxhunters.
Samtegal has useful form under Rules for Paul Nicholls, but is up against the Flora Guy ridden Tango de Juilley and Immy Robinson on The Dellercheckout. The former gave a spectacular performance when spreadeagling a large field at Ffos Las but will that tactic succeed in this company. The Dellercheckout beat a useful yardstick in Miss Seagreen at Knightwick and is the optimistic choice in a contest that is difficult to predict.
The Men’s Open has also attracted a top-quality entry including last year’s Cheltenham hero Porlock Bay and it will need a useful horse to lower his colours, but one that is capable of doing so is last year’s Dudley Cup winner Premier Magic, although the formbook says that requires a significant amount of improvement.
Phil Rowley could saddle Irish import Complete Sizing in what would be a baptism of fire, while his stablemate Salvatore was beaten by Porlock Bay at Cheltenham and was comprehensively beaten by Cousin Pascal at Revesby Park on his seasonal debut.
Trio for Rio and inform Tommie O’Brien showed their rivals a clean pair of heels at Knightwick recently and will need to step up on that effort to make their mark in this company.
Cheshire trainer Joe O’Shea holds a strong hand in the 2-1/2 mile Restricted which opens proceedings at 10-30 a.m., with Alfoski, Envious Editor and Willywonga all potential runners. Alfoski was the impressive winner of a Revesby Park Maiden earlier in the season and is more than capable of winning a race of this type based on that performance, while Envious Editor may have stamina issues so this course may help his cause.
Willywonga got better as last season progressed and with further improvement expected the scales might tip in his favour. Fier Jaguen, Latenightfumble and Goldenbrave put their reputations on the line against O’Shea’s selection.
4 and 5 year old Maiden races have attracted a lot of interest so far this year but are potential minefields for punters who have to rely on the market for guidance. Those with limited experience include Fabstroke, Stellar Stream and Theultimatepackage, while Tom Ellis matches newcomers, Elkevenrift amd I’mnottalkintoyou against Phil Rowley’s Galassian.
Bradley Gibbs teams up with Not Bad Are You, while Don Constable will be hoping to unleash another Ahoy Senor in the shape of Yes and Yes.
The Veteran Conditions Races are also proving extremely popular and based on recent form the Sam Loxton trained Virak should start a short-priced favourite. Gabrial the Great and Golden Tobouggan will ensure he does not have things all his own way, will cases can be made for Mr Love, Mr Snuffles and Optimised but No Limitations gets the vote.
Virak also holds an entry in the PPORA Club Members, but would have to concede weight to most of his rivals as would Fifty Shades who has to carry a 10 lb penalty.
Doc Carver has a course success to his credit and that is a point in his favour, while the rest are much of a muchness.
The days concluding race, the 3-mile Maiden sees Clive Boultbee Broooks runner Felicie Du Maquis come into the race in good form. His two runs have yielded two second places and on both occasions he was unfortunate to come up against a superior opponent.
It is interesting to see how he fares now that connections have now stepped him up to 3-miles but that is a chance worth taking against Francesco du Clos, Pyleight Court and Shamilan.