Racing returns to Yorkshire today with a seven-race card at Doncaster, and Norton trainer Malcolm Jefferson may have cause to be extra pleased if Sun Cloud can repeat his recent win at Wetherby.
A slow-maturing individual, the five-year-old had proved a bit too keen for his own good last season when he was kept to shorter distances in an aid to get him to settle. His first run back this season saw him incur an injury which required 12 staples in a hind leg, but he came good last time out when upped to a fraction over three miles for the first time.
Sun Cloud won by seven lengths at Wetherby and left the impression there was more to come from him. He will need to step up again today to defy a 10lb rise in his rating, but he looks a progressive horse and Ryan Mania again has the mount in the Cadburys Flake 99 Handicap Hurdle.
Mania has good prospects of also winning on Forward Flight for his main employer, Bingley trainer Sue Smith, in the Atteys Solicitors Novices’ Hurdle.
JP McManus is the owner of Forward Flight, having stepped in early last season to secure the gelding after he’d shown promise on his debut. He went on to win a bumper at Sedgefield and then finished third on his hurdling bow at Huntingdon in April. He looks the type to come into his own this season.
Denis O’Regan, who has come in for the ride on John Quinn’s Triumph Hurdle winner Countrywide Flame in tomorrow’s Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle, can make his presence felt at Doncaster aboard Rick in the Kelly’s Scooping Ice Cream Novices’ Chase.
Trained at Newmarket by John Ferguson, who has built up a strong jumping team, Rick, a 140-rated hurdler, was narrowly denied by No Companion on his chasing debut at Hexham early last month. He should be all the better for that experience and has the right credentials to make the grade over fences.
Ferguson also has a solid chance in the Allied Massarellas Bentley Cash & Carry National Hunt Flat race with Red Devil Boys.
The five-year-old finished a creditable runner-up on his only start in a similar event last season on this course. Jack Quinlan has the mount.
Tom George and Paddy Brennan are enjoying a fine run and the trainer-jockey combination have double chances with Be Definite and Celtic Intrigue.
Be Definite (1.55) came good at Stratford on his reappearance four weeks ago, winning by seven lengths after his principal pursuer came to grief at the final fence. He looks weighted to follow up.
Celtic Intrigue (2.30) has had precious little racing in the last year, but he showed he retains a fair bit of ability when runner-up at Bangor a couple of weeks ago.
At Wolverhampton tomorrow evening, Sheriff Hutton trainer Mick Easterby has every chance of striking with Pertemps Networks in the 32Red Handicap.
Easterby has a great record on this course and Pertemps Networks also likes this venue, having gained a brace of track victories. He ran well here to finish third recently.
York-based jockey Robert Winston can win the first division of the 32Red.com Handicap on Qauan, trained by Alan Swinbank. The three-year-old, who has been slow to come to hand, showed a good attitude to win at Southwell last time out. If he can reproduce that form on this faster surface, he ought to go well.
Also worth looking out for are Linda Stubbs’ Midnight Dream (6.20), narrowly beaten here three weeks ago, and the Ollie Pears-trained Pass Muster (7.20), who has been running well on this course lately and who is overdue a winning turn.
• Tomorrow’s major meetings at Newbury and Newcastle will be previewed in tomorrow’s paper, which will also include the Saturday nap.
12.20 Forward Flight, 12.50 Rick, 1.20 Sun Cloud, 1.55 Be Definite, 2.30 Celtic Intrigue, 3.05 Honest John, 3.35 Red Devil Boys.
Today’s other meetings: Musselburgh, Newbury and Wolverhampton.
5.50 Jermatt, 6.20 Midnight Dream, 6.50 Pertemps Networks, 7.20 Pass Muster, 7.50 Percythepinto, 8.20 Tanawar, 8.50 Quan, 9.20 Jonnie Skull.
Tomorrow’s other meetings: Newbury, Newcastle and Towcester.