1.30 – LWC Signature Stakes Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
El Hageb Rose sparked a mighty surprise when winning over course and distance at 100/1 in November and he makes the short trip from Paddy Butler’s East Chiltington base for this 0-110 contest. He won’t go off at such lengthy odds this time but looks up against it after disappointing at Fontwell last-time-out. Second behind El Hageb Rose at Plumpton was Beafort West, but he has also struggled since (well-beaten fifth at Fontwell before being pulled up at Catterick) and is difficult to fancy. Shot Boii won three on the bounce before finishing fourth at Ffos Las last time and should be competitive off his mark of 102 for David Pipe.
Selection: Shot Boii
2.00 – Ellis Wines 201 Year Stakes Handicap Chase
En Coeur came from miles back to win here on Sussex National Day under Michael Nolan but struggled at Fontwell next time out. He usually puts his best foot forward at Plumpton however (all four of his career wins have come here) and many will be fancying him to notch a fifth course success. Fellow course-and-distance winner Fairway Freddy carries topweight and has been hit and miss this season. His two most recent efforts would be concerning, having been beaten 40 and 52 lengths, but he could bounce back after a 68-day break.
Selection: En Coeur
2.30 – Strong Flavours Catering Maiden Hurdle
Klitschko has placed on both hurdle starts in his career, including when second to runaway Newbury winner Jupiter Du Gite (half brother to Editeur Du Gite) last time out, and trainer Alan King will fancy him to land a knock-out blow in this. There are some smart horses in opposition though, and Diamond Egg makes his hurdles debut for Chris Gordon after winning a bumper at Huntingdon in May. The form of that race hasn’t turned out great, but the start before he finished a nose behind Kaleb (now rated 127 over hurdles) and was thrown into a Listed contest at Cheltenham on debut, so the stable must think a lot of him. Mardoof finished just behind Poncho (a winner here at our last meeting) on his previous start and a repeat of that effort will put him right in the mix.
3.00 – Tie The Knot Wedding Catering Novices’ Handicap Chase
The £23,000 in prize-money for our feature contest has ensured a competitive line-up and among them is Lord Baddesley, who won over hurdles here in October. He wasn’t beaten far over the larger obstacles in a nice race at Kempton on Boxing Day and he sneaks into this off a mark of 125 (5lb lower than his chase mark) which should ensure he is competitive for the in-form Chris Gordon yard. The Alastair Ralph-trained Tap Tap Boom won here in November before following up at Ludlow. He unseated his rider early on at Leicester when last seen and there may still be juice left in his mark of 125. Gloire D’athon has been off the track since completing a hat-trick of wins at Sandown on December 2nd but will enjoy this ground and looks to have a solid chance.
Selection: Lord Baddesley
3.30 – Placesetting Equipment Hire Handicap Hurdle
Le Patron was just touched off on his British debut here in December and will look to go one better in this for Gary Moore. Thirtyfourstitches won that contest but was pulled up at Fakenham on New Year’s Day and it’s tricky to pinpoint his chances given in his last six runs he’s won and been pulled up three times apiece. Full Of Light has been inconsistent since winning here last December but will be right in the mix if he can put his best foot forward. However preference is for Prince Imperial, who was last seen finishing third to exciting prospect Hansard on Sussex National Day and will be winning a jumps race before long, having previously shown some useful form on the flat, and is a worthy favourite in this off his opening handicap mark of 112.
Selection: Prince Imperial
4.00 – IEP Financial Mares’ Handicap Hurdle
Eventful won this contest last year off a 5lb lower mark. She won well at Southwell in November before disappointing at Taunton last month and she’ll have to bounce back well from that to retain her crown. Well Vicky is a very interesting participant if she lines up, having won at Hereford on February 5th before winning again at Bangor on Friday. She has got a hefty 14lb penalty to carry for those two wins, but looked well ahead of the handicapper on both occasions. Teasing Georgia put in a nice effort last-time-out when finishing a close third in a similar contest at Catterick and shouldn’t be far away if she can run a similar effort in this, while Paddy’s Fancy – who won on hurdles debut back in November on good to firm ground – gets 12lb from her rivals as a four-year-old and may be able to capitalise on her opening handicap mark of 100 for Oliver Greenall & Josh Guerriero.
Selection: Paddy’s Fancy