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Season full of positives at Stratford Racecourse

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TODAY, Thursday, sees the final meeting of the 2021 season at Stratford which has enjoyed good weather and seen large crowds returning to the course after the interruptions of last year, writes David Hucker.

Feature race of the afternoon is the fourth, the Class 3 Charlie Longsdon Racing Handicap Chase over a distance just short of two-and-a-half miles, in which Alcester trainer Dan Skelton runs Cadzand and Knight In Dubai. A winner of three of his five hurdle races, Cadzand was sent off favourite for the ultra-competitive Betfair Hurdle at Newbury in March and makes his chasing debut this afternoon.

Skelton introduced a smart novice chaser at Cheltenham last Friday in the shape of Third Time Lucki and, with the stable beginning to pick up pace after a quiet summer, Cadzand, a winner of a point-to-point when trained by Tom Lacey, can add to his seasonal total here.

The eight-race card gets under way at 12.25pm with the Dan Flowers Wedding Party Mares’ Maiden Hurdle over two-and-three-quarter miles in which the consistent Aurelia Or looks to get off the mark on her fifth start over hurdles.

So Said I showed promise in bumpers and should come on for her hurdling debut at Newton Abbot in May, whilst point-to-point winner Sharp Shadow is an interesting newcomer for trainer Philip Hobbs.

Course winner Rob The Getaway sets the standard in the following Charlotte Cole Memorial Handicap Chase, although may lose out to Romanor, who has the benefit of race fitness on his side, having finished third to One Forty Seven at the last meeting.

Humaniste, withdrawn from a similar race at the last meeting, can come out best on his stable debut for Max Young in the Claire Dyson Equine Water Treadmill Conditional Jockeys’ Selling Hurdle. His Irish form puts him well clear on official ratings and has Liam Harrison in the saddle.

Huntingdon bumper winner Call Of The Wild makes his hurdles debut in the British Stallion Studs EBF “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle (Qualifier) and can maintain his unbeaten record for owner J P McManus.

He receives weight from Onemorefortheroad, twice a winner this year, and may have most to fear from Dan Skelton’s Lustleigh, a faller on his debut at Wetherby and well-beaten behind the useful Adagio at Warwick, but open to improvement after a lay-off.

A field of 12 lines up for the J.H. Rowe Memorial Handicap Chase and the lightly-raced over jumps Fort Denison can improve on his third behind Canastero over hurdles here earlier this month for trainer Venetia Williams. Zuckerberg has yet to win in this country, but ran well after a break last time out.

The Wildix Unified Communications Handicap Hurdle has been divided, with the consistent Costly Diamond taken to defy top weight in the first division.

Past course winner Scrutinise hasn’t been seen out since being pulled up at Plumpton in May, but is on a favourable handicap mark, and Dorisa Queen, who has been sent off at long odds in her three hurdle races to date, makes her debut for the Skelton stable.

The second division can also go to the top-weight in the shape of Ben Pauling’s Norley as racing comes to an end for the year.

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