All roads lead to Wincanton Racecourse tomorrow with the grade two Betway Kingwell Hurdle taking centre stage. Six runners are set to face the starter in an historic race that since 1961 has attracted the best two mile hurdlers in the business - Bula, Lanzarote, Kribensis, See You Then, Desert Orchid - much loved racehorses that have lit up their era with their lightning speed and athleticism.
Dan Skelton will saddle Ch’Tibello who was narrowly beaten in the race 12 months ago by Yanworth. His last outing was at Haydock in January in the Champion Hurdle trial when he was beaten half a length by The New One.
Call Me Lord will represent Nicky Henderson who has said it is a “fact-finding” mission for the five-year-old who followed up multiple wins in France with a brace of handicaps in the UK. Depending how he fairs against better company will dictate whether he runs in the Champion Hurdle or the County Hurdle at the Festival.
Elgin, whose trainer Alan King saddled Yanworth to win the race last year, has won a valuable handicap hurdle at Ascot and Cheltenham’s Greatwood Hurdle and is said to be ‘firing on all cylinders at home.’
The prolific juvenile Cliffs of Dover flies he flag for Paul Nicholls with the field completed by the Nick Williams-trained Flying Tiger and Claire Dyson's rank outsider Cap’N.
The seven-race card gets underway at 1.40pm with a highly competitive two miles five furlongs Betway Handicap Hurdle. The 18 runners including Ruby Russett who makes her handicap debut. She’s been absent for a year, but she’s trained by Colin Tizzard whose horses have bubbled back to form in recent weeks, while the Nick Mitchell-trained Fully Les Buxy, an easy winner at Plumpton at the beginning of January before finishing down the field at the same venue two weeks later, also comes into the reckoning.
In the two mile Betway Handicap Chase, Sea Wall, successful over hurdles at the course last time out, returns to fences and his consistency in both codes marks him out as a horse to follow, while Beau Bay, who looked impressive when winning on heavy at Uttoxeter last week, will be bidding to follow up wth another 8lbs on his back.
The staying handicap chase (Read Harry Fry on Betway Blog Handicap Chase) looks another opportunity for Goring One to add to his tally having won twice this season. He’ll act on the ground and ran well when third over course and distance last month.
The Warren Greatrex-trained Savoy Court was given a 10lb rise for his impressive course and distant last month and with the yard in good form, he’ll be on plenty of short lists in the two miles five furlongs handicap hurdle (Read Richard Johnson on Betway Handicap Hurdle).
With Native Robin in fine heart at the moment, the Betway Handicap Chase for the Harry Dufossee Memorial Cup looks the perfect opportunity for the Jeremy Scott-trained eight-year-old to add to his tally. He’s won on heavy ground at Warwick and Fontwell and although eight pounds higher than his last win, he has conditions to suit.
The two mile Betway National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle concludes the card and Sao, a winner in Compiegne on soft ground last year, can make his debut for Paul Nicholls a winning one.
The first of the seven races gets under way at 1.40pm with gates opening at 11.30am.