Hatcher is our first runner on Saturday in the Listed two-mile handicap chase (13:15). He’s returning from a bit of a break and races off a mark of 145.
I think the handicapper still has a bit of a hold on him, but he’s fresh and well and that should stand him in good stead. Hopefully the ground isn’t too soft for him as the better the surface, the better his chance.
The following race (13:50) looks very competitive and we run Sail Away. We’ve been trying to keep him away from bad ground over the winter and hopefully he’ll get a bit better ground here, like he got at Aintree in the autumn.
Three miles on this track should be perfect for him. The owners always have lots of runners here and are very keen to support the meeting, so this horse fits in well for this contest. Hopefully he can run very well.
West Cork goes in the Scottish Champion Hurdle (14:25). It was a good run to finish fourth in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham and he seems to have come out of that race fine.
This meeting is a bit earlier this year, so it’s quite close to Cheltenham and we won’t know what effect his run there has had on him until the finishing stages of this race. He hasn’t had a busy winter though, so that’s a help. If he shows no ill effects from his run last time, I expect him to go very well.
Ashtown Lad runs in the Scottish Grand National (15:35). We’ve had this race in mind for him for quite a while. While he was no match for Ahoy Senor last time at Wetherby, he still ran a nice race. He now steps back into a handicap, and I’d like to think he has a nice chance.
He ran very well last season in a big field handicap hurdle at Aintree off just five pounds lower and he’s definitely a better chaser than a hurdler. We don’t know if he’ll stay this trip, but there’s no reason to think he won’t as he doesn’t race keenly and is an efficient jumper. We’ve been very happy with him at home and if he gets a bit of luck, hopefully he can put up a good performance.
We’ve four runners at Newbury on Saturday.
Frere D’Armes runs in the two-mile-two-furlong handicap hurdle (13:35). He’s been quite busy, and he was a bit disappointing on his third run at Kempton last time. That might have come a bit quickly for him and you can put a line through that, as he’s better than he showed there. He’s been freshened up since then and should have a good chance on ground that will suit him.
Three of ours go in the Grade Two mares’ novices’ hurdle (14:45). It’s important for these mares to try and get some black type and this race has been targeted by a lot of trainers.
Bridget rides Runwiththetide. We’ve had this race in mind for a long time for her, she’s had a break through the winter and hopefully the ground is good for her, as she’ll enjoy that. I think she’s got a good chance.
Walk In Clover will appreciate this step up in trip to two-and-a-half miles. Gentle Connections is a bit out of the handicap, but Tristan Durrell takes off a valuable seven pounds, which will help.