Rebecca Menzies hopes her improving chaser Scottish Accent can back up his victory at Carlisle two weeks ago with more of the same tomorrow (Thursday 11th March), ahead of a tilt at the Northern Lights Middle Distance Chase Series Final at the Cumbria track at the end of the month.
The eight year old got off the mark over fences at the sixth attempt in good style over course and distance last month and will be aiming to build on that tomorrow in the Every Race Live On Racing TV Handicap Chase.
Scottish Accent had shaped well on several previous occasions and Menzies is hopeful that he can seal a place in the series final.
She said: “He’s been great. He was probably unlucky not to win before then and had some good place form over the last two seasons. We’ve always had the Northern Lights Final as a target for him, so tomorrow we hope that will enable him to be qualified for that – so hopefully if he runs well we’ll be back at Carlisle at the end of the month.”
Scottish Accent jumped particularly well at the track last month and Menzies added: “It’s probably been my fault a couple of times this year, as I was trying to make him a three miler and he was probably crying out for two and a half miles. So dropping him back in trip and swapping the visor for a set of cheekpieces just did the trick.
“He’s not an ungenuine horse, he just needs to keep his concentration and I reached for the visor probably too quickly. With the cheekpieces back on he did the job nicely.”
Menzies also runs recent recruit Cloucerna in the same race and is already eyeing up a future engagement at Carlisle with him. She said: “He’s been good, but I think he’ll need the run and the plan for him is to go back to Carlisle at the beginning of April for a 0-105 novices’ handicap chase, which is his main target.”
Thursday’s seven-race card is a competitive one and it could be a good day for Carlisle regular Sue Smith, who has two well-fancied runners on the card.
Smith has sent 137 runners to the Cumbria track over the past five years, with only the slightly closer tracks of Wetherby and Sedgefield having welcomes more of her horses in the same period.
Tomorrow her runners include Burrows Diamond in the second race, the Join Racing TV Now Mares' Novices' Handicap Hurdle. The six year old is still a maiden after five runs over hurdles on these shores, but she shaped well when fourth over course and distance in November, and was in the process of putting in her best effort to date when departing at the final flight while in second place at Newcastle last month.
And Smith is hopeful that her mare can build on that here, at a track where she has shown ability in the past. She said: “She’s great and is absolutely A1 after her fall.
“That run was a big step in the right direction and Ryan (Mania) knows her quite well, so he’ll ride her accordingly. She’s been quite consistent around Carlisle, and hopefully she can go one better this time.”
Later on the card, Smith also sends Captain Moirette, who is well fancied for the third race, the Introducing Racing TV Novices' Handicap Chase. Like Burrows Diamond, the nine year old was a faller on his most recent start last week, but Smith has reported him to have come out of that well and is happy for him to take his chance in this open-looking affair.
She said: “He didn’t complete at Catterick, which was a soft fall and he had no ill effects from it, so we thought we’d have a go in this. He’s in very good form and seems to be within himself. He’s just got to get his jumping right. If we can get that together, I’m sure he’ll come back to the same form that he did over hurdles.”
A less frequent visitor to Carlisle is the Leicestershire-based Laura Morgan, whose runners at the track are in single figures. However, the yard is in flying form, sending out a hugely impressive five winners from their last eight runners and Morgan will have two contenders on Thursday’s card, including the veteran Skipping On in the Eden Handicap Chase.
The 12 year old has a fine record at Carlisle, winning once and placing twice in his earlier years, and shaped well for a long way when a battling fifth over course and distance last month.
Morgan is hopeful that the likeable veteran can hold his own at one of his favourite tracks once again. She said: “Skipping On is an old boy now and has been an absolute legend, he’s just a bit old in the tooth now!
“He ran really well there last time and he loves Carlisle’s stiff finish – the same way as he used to love Towcester – and we go with solid each way chances. He seems in great form at home and blew out really well this morning, so fingers crossed.”
Morgan also sends recent recruit Bioverdia in the Join Racing TV Now Mares' Novices' Handicap Hurdle, and she feels will show her best form later in the year.
She said: “She was a bit disappointing at Catterick last time, but I think she just hates heavy ground. All of her form for Gordon (Elliott) was on good ground, so the plan is to build up to going summer jumping with her.”