Jockey Aidan Coleman makes the long trek from this Midlands base to Musselburgh tomorrow for just one ride and the hint should be taken.
With the Cheltenham Festival due to open in three days, our top jumps riders usually look after themselves, but Coleman, who is stable jockey for Herefordshire trainer Venetia Williams, clearly feels he needs to renew his partnership with Knockgraffon.
He steered the gelding to victory over two-and-a-half miles of this track on New Year’s Day and obviously thinks that a 3lb hike in the ratings won’t be enough to stop a follow-up over the same trip in the Watch RacingTV Now Handicap Chase (3.05).
The nine-year-old has two hurdle wins and three chase victories on his CV and has actually won at the big Hogmanay fixture here for the past two years, so clearly likes the East Lothian circuit.
His latest success came after a seven-month break during which he had wind surgery which clearly worked a treat as he was always with the leaders before taking command on the run to the final obstacle.He concedes weight to his three rivals, all of whom are winners this term and all have winning form on this course, so it won’t be easy. But Coleman obviously expects a repeat performance – and so do I.
Indian Opera has won two of her past three races and can call the tune again in the Introducing RacingTV Handicap Hurdle (3.35) in which she can concede weight all round.
The mare opened her winning account in runaway style here in January, sprinting into a lead of 30 lengths from the start to come home unchallenged. Similar tactics were tried at Doncaster, but the drop back in trip and step up to Grade 2 company was too much.
She collared at the third from home and finished a well beaten fifth, but bounced back to win at Catterick where she was ridden with much more restraint.
Her trainer, Ian Jardine, can initiate a double with Golden Wolf in the opening Follow RacingTV on Twitter Maiden Hurdle (2.00).
The gelding scored once and was runner-up on seven occasions on the flat, but there are jumping winners in his pedigree and he hails from the family of champion stayer Yeats. He showed promise when runner-up on his hurdling bow on this track ten days ago when his jumping was less than fluent. There were no serious errors though and it was more a case of inexperience. With that effort under is belt, he should go well here.
Wishful Dreaming was runner-up over hurdles at Newcastle and Wetherby in January before switching to fences and registering a game success at Doncaster.
He was outpointed only on the run-in when third at Leicester in his latest test, but looked set to score until his stamina ran out on the stiff uphill finish. The drop back in trip and much flatter track should play to his strengths in the Join RacngTV Now Chase (2.30).
Selections: 2.00 Golden Wolf; 2.30 Wishful Dreaming; 3.05 Knockgraffon; 3.35 Indian Opera.