SUNDAY’S Family Day – the first of two of its most popular meetings – will mark the start of a busy couple of weeks for Stratford Racecourse, writes David Hucker.
Run in conjunction with Trinity Mirror newspapers, the course will feature a host of family entertainment including fairground rides, inflatables and laser tag. On the track, the seven-race card features the Happy Birthday George Wood Handicap Hurdle, run for The Stratford Summer Salver, for which there have been 16 entries.
Last year’s running went to Red Tornado, one of three winners on the afternoon for Alcester trainer Dan Skelton.
With no entries this time, the race could go to Skelton’s local rival Olly Murphy, whose hat-trick-seeking Adjutant tops the ratings along with Peruvien Bleu, who unseated Lizzie Kelly at Warwick last time. Just below them is Mystic Sky, who has contested Class 2 races on her last three starts.
Dr Richard Newland has entered two with Lovato, raised 3lbs for his win at Worcester, and Magna Cartor, whose winning run came to an end at Cartmel last time out.
The racing begins at 2.25pm with the Shakespeare Media Juvenile Hurdle, in which Donald McCain and Graeme McPherson have two entries each.
On flat ratings. McCain’s Two Blondes, rated at 86 after scoring over seven furlongs at Catterick last September, could be the one to be on. Another to catch the eye is Murphy’s What Will Be, who chased home hot favourite Whiskey And Water on his jumping debut at Market Rasen last month.
The Birmingham Mail Handicap Chase is over two-and-a-half miles for horses rated up to 100. McPherson has entered the 102-rated Alexander The Grey, who would have to race off top weight of 12-2. Kahdian has been a beaten favourite in his two starts for Murphy and is also entered in the closing handicap hurdle and Kilmoganny, who was runner-up to Impressive Duke at Market Rasen, would be looking to break his duck over jumps for trainer Katy Price.
Longest race of the afternoon is the Technicair Air Conditioning Handicap Chase over two-and-three-quarter miles in which Alexander The Grey would be racing within the handicap proper.
Robin Des People has had wind surgery since his debut run for Fergal O’Brien and former hunter chaser Bletchley Castle was a good winner over Phoenix Rock on his first run for David Loughnane.
Dan Skelton took last year’s running of the Bob Fenwick 80th Celebration “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle with Hatcher and he has three entries to choose from this time.
After winning a bumper so impressively at the last meeting, Vinnie’s Getaway would take a lot of beating if turning out again, with The Swagman, who is by the leading sire Galileo, another interesting contender if running.
The Coventry Telegraph Handicap Chase sees the third entry of the afternoon for Alexander The Grey and the second for Hidden Charmer, who has got close to winning on his last two starts. They could be up against Atlantic Storm, a winner at the last meeting for Tanworth-in-Arden trainer Rob Summers, just getting the better of Regulation, who jumped superbly for Bryony Frost and who would be better off at the weights this time for a three-quarters-of-a-length beating.
The final race, the Birmingham Live Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, has 29 entries, and looks like being a tricky contest, with the veteran Ladies Dancing likely to put up a bold show.