High hopes for Skelton at second comeback meeting
STRATFORD Racecourse stages its second behind-closed-doors meeting of the month tomorrow, Tuesday and it could prove to be a good day at the office for Alcester trainer Dan Skelton, writes David Hucker.
Skelton is again setting the pace at the top of the trainers championship table, followed by Paul Nicholls.
Last season, whilst Skelton's tally of 119 winners was the best in the country, he finished third in the final table, which is determined on prize money won, as Nicky Henderson pipped Nicholls to the title.
Hatcher's win at Southwell on Sunday took Skelton's brother Harry to the top of a tightly-packed jockeys table and the two team up with Etamine Du Cochet, a first fence faller at Bangor-on-Dee last week, in the Every Race Live On Racing TV Handicap Chase.
Course winner Atlantic Storm, trained not far away at Tanworth-in-Arden, will benefit from his run at Southwell at the beginning of the month and veteran Cut The Corner, who was hampered by a faller last time, is not out of it.
Scorched Earth could be another winner for the Skeltons in a tricky-looking Racing TV Profits Returned To Racing Handicap Hurdle, although course winner Some Day Soon should run well despite his big weight, and they could round off a good afternoon with Bonnie Golightly in the concluding Watch racingtv.com Mares' Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.
The nine-race card gets underway at 12.50pm with the Join Racing TV Juvenile Hurdle over two miles and half a furlong for three-year-olds that have not won more than three hurdle races.
The field is headed by dual-scorer Hiconic, who has to carry a 14lb penalty for her wins, but could still be the one to beat. She finished last over Lingfield's all-weather track in June, but jumping hurdles seems to have given her a new lease of life.
All the other runners are making their first appearance over hurdles, including Bannister, who finished fourth on his flat debut at Windsor last October, and Pink Jazz, a winner in Ireland for Gordon Elliott, who was beaten by the minimum margin of a nose on his debut run for Sean Curran in March.
Trainer Alan King has chosen Kings Creek, unplaced in all five runs on the flat, from his two entries
Highlight of the day is the Class 3 Watch On Racing TV Novices' Chase in which Leoncavallo, six times a winner over hurdles, makes his second appearance over fences.
Formerly trained by Dr Richard Newland, he is now with David Pipe and was beaten just a nose on his first run for the stable on the flat at Sandown Park last month, which should put him spot on for this.
Dr Newland runs Yccs Portocervo from his two entries, but the one who could give Leoncavallo most to do is Haul Away, who has not raced since May last year, but was progressing as a hurdler, achieving a handicap mark of 135.
Courtandbould could finish only third went sent off favourite on his seasonal debut at Market Rasen, but looks to have a good chance in the RSA Syndicates You Can Trust Novices' Hurdle, although Gaot, third here at the last meeting, will attract plenty of support.
The Watch Racing Replays At racingtv.com Handicap Hurdle has been split into two divisions, both of which look far from easy to unravel, but Jamacho, jointly owned by the Stratford Racecourse Syndicate, could overcome a 10lb rise in the weights for his win over the course last time in the second.
Since winning with his first five runners of the season, Wilmcote trainer Olly Murphy had failed to hit the target again until Enemy Coast Ahead scored at Southwell on Sunday, ending a 23-runner losing sequence. His Mistercobar could add another to his tally in the Get Daily Tips At racingtv.com Handicap Chase.