Popular North Yorkshire gelding Lease Lend, three times a winner at Wetherby, returns to his favourite course this afternoon with every chance of clinching the feature race.
Trained at Great Habton by Tim Easterby, the ten-year-old was absent from the racecourse last season, but he has returned in good form this term and has finished in the frame in all his four starts – all at Wetherby.
On his latest outing, Lease Lend failed by little more than a length to beat Drumshambo, a performance which suggested his winning turn is near. The £18,500 Ladies’ Evening – 30th May Handicap Chase is his target this afternoon and Lease Lend is fancied to take plenty of beating under Harry Haynes.
Easterby also has good chances of winning the Star Sports Cheltenham Preview Night – 4th March Novices’ Chase with Fourjacks, a Sedgefield hurdles winner last time and now set to switch to fences for the first time.
Fourjacks looks a useful recruit to the chasing ranks, but he’s a 125-rated hurdler and, in theory at least, he faces a tough test against the 139-rated Poole Master, trained by David Pipe and the mount of Tom Scudamore.
Poole Master chased home the high-class Real Milan (a winner again since) over fences at Carlisle, where he spoiled his chances by hanging and jumping out to his left. Pipe’s decision to switch Poole Master to a left-handed course today should be a positive and this well-regarded eight-year-old may have the edge over Fourjacks and Ballybriggan.
Pipe and Scudamore can also win the opening European Breeders’ Fund Novices’ Hurdle with Shotavodka.
The ex-Irish recruit just failed to beat Hi George at Doncaster last season in a bumper. He looks the type to make up into a decent hurdler.
Tony Coyle has done well with Billy Cuckoo, placing him to win twice this winter, including once on this course. Brian Toomey’s mount looks sure to go well again in the totepool Irish Day – Saturday 2nd February Handicap Chase, but preference is for nap selection Dashing George, another Scudamore mount.
Trained by Dr Richard Newland, the 11-year-old finished a good third at Sandown last time and may not have to improve much on that effort to come out on top this time.
Ifits A Fiddle was clearly expected to win on her debut at Towcester a couple of months ago. Tony McCoy was booked for the mount and she was backed down to favourite. Alas, she came up short by a neck.
Ifitsafiddle, trained by Richard Phillips, seeks compensation in the wetherbyracing.co.uk National Hunt Flat Race. Jason Maguire is in the saddle this time.
At Kelso tomorrow, Sheriff Hutton trainer Tim Walford saddles Fentara, a final-fence faller when in third place at Catterick on her latest start.
Daryl Jacob, in the saddle that day, rides in the British Stallion Studs/Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Mares’ Novices’ Chase.
The nap vote is awarded to Corrin Wood (1.50), a decisive winner at Carlisle last month, while trainer Donald McCain and jockey Jason Maguire, can also click with Newcastle winner Woodpole Academy (12.50) in the opening novices’ hurdle.
Emma Sayer, who rode her first winner over fences at Ayr recently on Sergeant Pink (2.20), bids to double her score on the gelding.
12.30 Shotavodka (NAP), 1.05 Poole Master, 1.40 Swiss Art, 2.15 Lease Lend, 2.50 Ubaltique, 3.25 Dashing George (NAP), 3.55 Ifits A Fiddle.
Today’s other meetings: Kempton, Lingfield and Warwick.
12.50 Woodpole Academy, 1.20 Fentara, 1.50 Corrin Wood (NAP), 2.20 Sergeant Pink, 2.50 Noble Scholar, 3.20 Dukeofchesterwood, 3.50 Penmore Mill.
Tomorrow’s other meetings: Fakenham and Wolverhampton.