Malcolm Jefferson heads to Kelso today with bright prospects of completing a double with a brace of in-form horses.
Firth Of The Clyde and The Panama Kid are both seeking to pull off a hat-trick of wins over fences after a purple patch for the North Yorkshire stable in the last couple of months.
Firth Of The Clyde, in his first season over the major obstacles, has won his last two starts at Wetherby and Market Rasen in the style of a horse who is really starting to get his act together as a chaser.
Life is getting tougher for him, however. He has scored off marks of 120 and 127 and is now up a further 7lb to 134 for the Kelso Annual Members Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase. But Firth Of The Clyde is a horse on the upgrade and, in the hands of Brian Hughes, he can oblige once more.
Jack Teal, who has yet to ride a winner under Rules, but who has been successful in the point-to-point field, has the mount on The Panama Kid in the Amateur Jockeys’ Association Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase.
The ten-year-old has won at Catterick and Doncaster on his last two outings and is in terrific form. This looks a tougher contest than he’s been winning, but he should go well again and, hopefully, provide Malton-born Teal with a success to savour.
The Timeform Morebattle Hurdle, one of the feature races on the card, had promised to host appearances by such horses as Champion Hurdle hopes My Tent Or Yours and Melodic Rendezvous but neither of them have been declared which may leave the door open to Duke Of Navan to take the spoils for the second successive year.
Nicky Richards’ talented gelding is twice a winner on this course and should now be cherry-ripe after two outings this season, both in Grade 1 company which took him out of his comfort zone.
Doyly Carte, a Listed race winner last season, makes plenty of appeal off bottom weight but Duke Of Navan is narrowly preferred in the hands of Brian Harding and carries the nap vote.
All eyes will be on Long Run in the Ivan Straker Memorial Chase.
A winner of more than £1.5 million in prize money and with a Cheltenham Gold Cup and two King George VI Chase victories among his most notable wins, Long Run boasts an enviable record.
He has, nevertheless, looked only a shadow of his former self in three outings this season. This race is very much a crossroads in his career. Even though his rivals include the admirable Knockara Beau, Long Run meets him on 15lb better terms than he would in a handicap. This Grand National entry needs to win to keep alive hopes of a career revival.
Rainbow Peak, who looked in need of the outing when only fourth at Catterick on his hurdling debut a couple of months ago, has since scored nicely at Doncaster.
This former high-class Flat performer, now with John Ferguson, should prove hard to beat in the opening David Merry Farrier Novices’ Hurdle.
On the Flat at Kempton’s twilight meeting, a note should be made of Rutherglen, who, after chalking a hat-trick of wins over hurdles, switches to the level in the Cheltenham 2014 NRFB At BetVictor.com Handicap.
Norton trainer John Quinn has opted to diversify with his talented hurdler and has handed the mount to his apprentice Joe Doyle. Fit and clearly well after his recent exploits, he should go well before being prepared for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham next month.
Others to note are the promising Bishop Of Ruscombe (6.10), and Severiano (6.40), who made an encouraging return to action last month.
1.55 Rainbow Peak, 2.25 Firth Of The Clyde, 2.55 The Panama Kid, 3.25 Duke Of Navan (NAP), 3.55 Long Run, 4.25 Harbour Court, 4.55 Knocklayde Express.
5.10 Vhujon, 5.40 Fab Lolly, 6.10 Bishop Of Ruscombe, 6.40 Severiano, 7.10 Graylyn Ruby, 7.40 Rutherglen, 8.10 Bubbly Bailey.
Today’s other meeting: Leicester.
Tomorrow’s meetings: Fakenham, Lingfield, Sandown and Wolverhampton.