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Racing ready to resume at Stratford

Sam Linley, head groundsman at Stratford Racecourse, pictured surveying the course before the first meeting after the resumption. Photo: Mark Williamson.
Sam Linley, head groundsman at Stratford Racecourse, pictured surveying the course before the first meeting after the resumption. Photo: Mark Williamson.

THIS Wednesday is a red-letter day in the Stratford racing calendar as jump racing returns after a break of four months with the course having been allocated four meetings in the initial summer jumping fixture list, writes David Hucker.

Stratford has not raced since its season opener on 9th March and manager Ilona Barnett is looking forward to the return, saying “We are delighted to be back racing; the course is in pristine order and it is something we have been preparing for since lockdown started in March.”

All four fixtures will be held in midweek, with Wednesday's meeting followed by Tuesday, 21st July, Thursday, 6th August (evening) and Wednesday, 19th August. The meetings will be behind closed doors, with no crowds, but with all races broadcast live on Racing TV.

As part of the BHA's plans to reduce the risk of incident and injury on the resumption of jump racing, field sizes have been restricted to 12 runners per race and jockeys must have ridden at least 40 winners under Rules.

New race conditions will allow for novices that have won since the beginning of February to retain their novice status until 30th November.

Wilmcote trainer Olly Murphy kicked off the new jumps season in good style, scoring with all four of his runners at Southwell last week, and he made six entries across the card.

He runs Beau Sancy in the opening Download The Low6 App Novices' Hurdle over two and three-quarter miles, which kicks off the action at 12.15pm.

A mid-race faller over fences on his last outing at Kelso back in November, Beau Sancy reverts to hurdles here and looks to have Huntingdon winner Dagueneau to beat.

Next up is the most-valuable race of the day, the £9,700 A Winner Everytime At Low6 Novices' Chase over two miles and a furlong, the first of four to be run over the bigger obstacles.

Point-to-point winner Longhouse Sale won his first seven races under Rules for Alcester trainer Dan Skelton, before his form tailed off and he underwent wind surgery. He weakened into fifth when making his first appearance in the colours of the Rio Gold Racing Club in a Wolverhampton Jumpers' Bumper in February, but was rated at 141 at his best.

A course winner over hurdles, Seddon has not been seen out for over a year but, provided he can overcome that absence, looks an exciting chasing prospect for the McNeill Family and should be the one to beat.

The Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Mares' Novices' Hurdle has been divided into two and Dorset trainer Harry Fry could take the first division with the consistent Pogo I Am. He saddles Gaot for owner JP McManus in the second and this ex-French filly was well-backed on her English debut at Wetherby, only to drop back quickly after bleeding from the nose.

Ten line up for the Play Low6 Picks At low6.com Novices' Handicap Chase over two miles and five furlongs and this looks a good opportunity for Nineohtwooneoh to follow up his win at Southwell last week at the expense of Dan Skelton's chasing debutant Simply Loveleh, a course winner over hurdles a year ago.

Wisecracker runs from a 6lb higher rating than when scoring at Hereford on his last run, but could still take the RSA Get Involved Join A Syndicate Handicap Chase. Bryony Frost has the ride again and Ben Case's runner may have most to fear from Thomas Blossom, whom he beat by seven lengths that day, but is 9lbs better off at the weights this time.

Welsh trainer Evan Williams had five entries in the Huge Pool Prizes At Low6 Handicap Hurdle and relies on bottom-weight Giga White, a seven furlong winner on the flat two years ago, but still looking for a first jumps success after four attempts.

Solstalla's last win was over the course in October 2018, resulting in a handicap mark of 108, but David Weston's mare has dropped back to a level of 99 and could go well at rewarding odds.

A case can be made for all ten runners in the Social Betting At Low6 Handicap Chase, where course winner Cut The Corner looks potentially well-handicapped from a mark of 117 and Evita Du Mesnil could show improved form for a step up in trip in the longest race of the day, the Sports Betting Reborn At Low6Handicap Hurdle over three and a quarter miles.

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