The Flame set to continue hot form at Stratford

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IT’S a big day for members of the Inspire Racing Club this weekend as they sponsor five of the seven races at Stratford’s Riverside Sunday Raceday, writes David Hucker.

Inspire Racing have eight horses spread amongst four trainers, including Zamalight with Wilmcote-based Olly Murphy and all members will be admitted free and get to meet their trainers and sponsored jockeys.

The club has one horse entered in the shape of the Adrian Wintle trained Rocket Ronnie in the Zoe’s Place Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, ironically one of the races it doesn’t sponsor.

He should run well, but preference is for Jonjo O’Neill’s The Flame, who benefitted from a wind operation to score on his return at Southwell last Sunday and could follow up even with a 7lb penalty.

Racing gets underway at 2.00pm with the Inspire Racing Club Novices’ Hurdle over two and three-quarter miles. Although the race attracted 17 entries, just four have been declared and this could go to Merry Milan, who got off the mark under Rules at the second attempt at Bangor in April.

Trainer Nicky Martin and jockey Matt Griffiths were on the mark with Colonel Custard at Newton Abbot on Wednesday and the stable could be one to keep an eye on this season, although Merry Milan will face a stiff challenge from the Donald McCain trained Henry’s Joy on official ratings.

By contrast, all bar one of the 11 entries stand their ground in the feature £10,000 Inspire Insurance Services Handicap Chase, including course winner Modeligo, who disappointed at Warwick two weeks ago, but could be worth another chance here.

Geni Johnson was a 50-1 shot when running on to be third at Newton Abbot, her only form in four runs since joining Alexandra Dunn’s Somerset stable. A reproduction of that run would see her in with a chance in the Ford Allen Mares’ Novices’ Selling Hurdle, but preference is for Miss Adventure, who was pulled up last time, but has the better overall record and will be ridden by champion jockey Richard Johnson.

Bodega, trained by Ian Williams, was having his first race in over a year when unplaced at Huntingdon a week ago, but could be the answer to the long-distance handicap hurdle, although Join The Clan has steadily dropped down the handicap and his mark of 120 could see him competitive after a break.

Having unseated his rider and then pulled up, recent form is not encouraging for the chances of Destiny’s Gold in the novices’ handicap chase, but these were competitive contests with large fields and, if he takes to jumping the bigger obstacles, could win for the stable of Dr Richard Newland.

The concluding National Hunt Flat Race looks an open affair, in which the betting might be the best guide, although the defeat of Nicky Henderson’s Alph in a similar race at Ludlow last Sunday at odds of 4-11 showed that the market is not infallible.

Upper Lambourn trainer Warren Greatrex does well in this type of event and had three to choose from, relying on newcomer The Wolf, who could be another winner for Johnson, who currently lags behind early leader Harry Skelton in this year’s table.

  • Stratford have announced that they are re-launching a Racing Club which will own a horse to be trained by Charlie Longsdon near Over Norton. Membership will be a limited to 20 shares, although multiple shares may be purchased if demand allows.

The club will purchase a horse through a leading bloodstock agent at upcoming sales or privately by end of May. There will be regular updates including entries, schooling and work mornings, arranged stable visits and mornings on the gallops.

The club will be managed by the racecourse and will cost £1,750 a share, payable in advance, for six months training fees and other racing costs from June to November. Anyone interested should hurry, as the offer closes at the end of racing on Sunday.