WITH Storm Babet about to breeze in, let’s hope everything goes to plan for Wetherby’s season-opener on Wednesday. We’ve also got runners declared for Carlisle on Thursday, so fingers crossed Mother Nature deals both tracks a kind hand as we’re itching to get going now the jumps season is starting to pick up the pace.
First up for us is SLANELOUGH (2.25) in the 1m7f handicap chase. He’s 11 now and is the old boy of this seven-runner field. I suspect he’ll also find this trip on good ground a bit on the sharp side for him these days, but it should help to put an edge on him for next time. We’re following a similar plan to last year, where Slaney started out over 2m at Ayr and then stepped up to win over 2m4f next time out at Newcastle. Let’s hope the plan works again.
Here he is schooling with Fete Champetre, who is set to reappear at Carlisle on Thursday.
We’re without a runner in the feature Bobby Renton Chase, but FIRTH OF FORTH (4.40) lines up in the 3m handicap hurdle. Things just weren’t working out for him last winter, so I was delighted to see him come back from a break and run his best race yet when second to Hoganville in a handicap at Kelso in May. He was doing all of his best work late on there over the extended 2m6f, hopefully the extra yardage of this race will suit him even better.
It’s a competitive affair for a 0-120, with plenty of southern raiders headed by the hat-trick-seeking Sea The Clouds for Jamie Snowden, while Miss Milano won three mares’ novice handicap on the spin for Nicky Richards last season. We’ll see how things shape up and our lad is also in Carlisle tomorrow. Either way, I’m looking forward to getting him back on the track after that much-improved effort at Kelso last time. This was him getting a pipe opener up our gallops on a crisp and beautifully clear Northumberland morning yesterday.
Craig Nichol rides both horses, and we wish him and connections a safe and, hopefully successful, day.