Lucy Alexander has come a long way since she spent a summer a couple of years ago working for North Yorkshire trainer Kevin Ryan and riding as an amateur. Now she is widely considered to be jumping’s equivalent of Flat jockey Hayley Turner and it is easy to see why.
Alexander rode 38 winners last season, the best score ever achieved by a female rider under National Hunt rules, and she is already up to 28 winners – the latest at Ayr yesterday on Tipsy Dara – in the current term.
This afternoon, she heads to Musselburgh to be reunited with Isla Pearl Fisher, trained by her father Nick, who runs in the featured £12,000 Scottish Racing Kilmany Cup Handicap Chase.
The 10-year-old was a winner on this course last month when just getting the better of Blenheim Brook. He has been raised 6lb for that success, but he remains on a competitive mark and is fancied to strike again in this three-miler.
Donald McCain can get punters off to the right note by winning both divisions of the 32Red.com Maiden Hurdle.
The Cheshire trainer saddles Veloce, a three-times winner on the Flat for Ralph Beckett, in the opening leg and he will surely be hard to beat. He found only the useful Poet too strong on his hurdling debut at Newbury and looks to have less on his plate this time.
Half an hour later, McCain runs Abbey Storm, an interesting addition to his powerful string. Previously trained in Ireland by Paul Cashman, who placed him to win a point-to-point and finish second in a bumper, the seven-year-old is not to be underestimated.
Sleep In First was clearly expected to do well at Sedgefield recently when he was backed down to favouritism but had to settle for third place on his first outing for James Ewart.
It would be far too early to give up on Sleep In First, who is selected to promote himself to the number one berth in the 32Red.com Handicap Chase.
The 32Red.com Beginners’ Chase is the target for Viva Colonia, who has joined Brian Ellison’s yard after a fruitful spell with David O’Meara.
A smart hurdler who elevated his rating to 139, Viva Colonia was well beaten on his chasing debut at Wetherby last month, but is worth another chance with Danny Cook in the saddle.
Peter Niven saddles Uncut Stone in the 32Red.com Handicap Hurdle and the five-year-old should go well under Wilson Renwick.
On his latest start, on his handicap debut, Uncut Stone finished a creditable second over this course and distance. He is capable of further improvement.
At Lingfield tomorrow, Wordismybond is napped to resume winning ways in the bluesq.com Handicap in the hands of Jamie Spencer.
Peter Makin’s charge has been contesting longer trips and finished fifth at Lingfield over a mile on his latest start. He should appreciate this drop down to seven furlongs.
Fantasy Fighter should go well in the first leg of the Blue Square Sprint Series (qualifier) over six furlongs.
A horse who shines over this course and distance, the eight-year-old was a respectable fourth at Lingfield last month. He looks on the threshold of returning to winning form.
12.40 Veloce, 1.10 Abbey Storm, 1.40 Sleep In First, 2.10 Viva Colonia, 2.40 Uncut Stone, 3.10 Isla Pearl Fisher, 3.40 Brijomi Queen.
Today’s other meetings: Lingfield and Wolverhampton.
11.50 Daniel Thomas, 12.20 Gertrude Versed, 12.50 Golden Flower, 1.25 Fantasy Fighter, 2.00 Catalinas Diamond, 2.35 Piscean, 3.10 Rugosa, 3.45 Wordismybond (NAP).
Tomorrow’s other meetings: Chepstow, Newcastle, Sandown and Wincanton.