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HEAD ON doesn’t look entirely straightforward, but he’s open to improvement over fences in this conditional jockeys’ event following his winning debut over the larger obstacles over the same course and distance last month. He was visored on that occasion, as he was when running his best race over hurdles the time before and wore a tongue tie for the first time.
Despite a bad mistake, and his rider dropping his whip between the last two fences, Head On stayed on for a length win over Hoot At Midnight with Mr Jim – who reopposes here – back in third. That looks solid form and the Ian Williams-trained five-year-old looks capable of following up.
The second division of the conditional jockeys’ handicap chase can go to the mare BLEUE AWAY. She makes her chasing debut here for Anthony Honeyball having been an easy winner of both of her starts in points early in her career. While she failed to win over hurdles, she ran much her best race last time when second in a mares’ handicap, also at Worcester, in May.
She benefited from a positive ride from Ben Godfrey, who’s in the saddle again here, and it was only approaching the final 100 yards that she was collared by the winner Getaway Lucy and beaten a length-and-three-quarters.
Emma Lavelle saddles two of the five runners in this novices’ handicap chase and she can win it with top weight JEMIMA P. She has a fine strike-rate since going over fences, winning three of her five starts in chases, including when turning what looked a competitive contest on paper into a very one-sided affair over this same course and distance in May.
A positive ride brought out the best in her there and she followed up with another easy success from the front at Ffos Las later the same month. If Jemima P returns from her break in anything like the same form, she should prove very hard to catch.
This 2m handicap chase is worth nearly £11,000 to the winner and the prize can go to Fergal O’Brien’s progressive seven-year-old BATHIVA. He has made into a useful chaser since joining his current yard and has won four of his last five starts in all – including both outings this term.
After holding on in a tight three-way finish at Uttoxeter in June, he followed up against some of the same rivals over today’s course and distance last month when produced to lead at the last for a length-and-a-quarter win over Carolines Charm. A strong-travelling type who’s held up, Bathiva is likely to go on progressing for a while yet.
Ian Williams and conditional Liam Harrison, who team up in the opener, have prospects of a double on the card as FIFRELET looks the one to beat in the bumper. He made a winning debut on virtually unraceable ground in a similar event at Warwick back in December 2019, but was then off the track until last month when returning over today’s course and distance.
Despite that absence, he ran to a similar level on much better ground, going down by half a length to Operation Manna after staying on to lead in the final 100 yards. That was a pleasing return and he’d have good claims if backing that up.
A case can be made for a few in this quite competitive staying handicap hurdle, but Nigel Hawke’s SOME DETAIL gets the nod. He finished seventh behind the likes of Envoi Allen and Thyme Hill in the Champion Bumper in 2019, but it took him a while to register a first win over jumps. That eventually came at Market Rasen in June, when benefiting from a step back up in trip and the refitting of headgear.
He seemed better than ever when beaten a length-and-a-quarter behind First Account over 2-and-a-half miles at Perth last time, finishing a long way clear of the rest. However, he’s essentially a thorough stayer and the return to nearly three miles here looks more like his optimum trip.
The largest field of the day contests this maiden hurdle, but few make much appeal and it looks a good opportunity for LUTTRELL LAD to make a winning debut over hurdles for Philip Hobbs. He looks a bright prospect for the season ahead judged on his useful bumper form.
After a promising debut at Stratford, he went on to win his next two starts at Market Rasen and Taunton before finishing a creditable fourth behind Knappers Hill in the Grade 2 bumper at Aintree. Luttrell Lad can be quite a keen sort and he wears a hood again (he wore it for the first time at Aintree), but he can take this on the way to better things.
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