THE flat season is officially back on Wednesday, with an arguably anticlimactic seasonal opener at Catterick races.
Although the season usually starts with the prestigious Lincoln handicap at Doncaster, this season sees a fresh approach, and the top northern jockeys and trainers alike are out in force. It may not have the same buzz as the Lincoln, but there will hopefully still be a chance to pick a couple of nice priced winners.
One of the leading northern partnerships is trainer David ‘Dandy’ Nicholls and son Adrian Nicholls. They have two leading fancies on Wednesday, the first being the promising maiden SINADINOU. He seeks to lose his maiden tag at the third attempt in the 4.20 race and clearly has a lot going for him. He has been running on all weather tracks in a bid to get off the mark and, on breeding, the change to turf should suit. He has the highest official rating, and connections took the same race last year, so clearly know how to get a horse ready for the start of the season.
The Nicholls’ family could be celebrating a double at the track with their other runner, FREMEN, who runs in a claimer race, with son Adrian once again booked to be on board. He ran fantastically well in this type of race, as evidenced by eight victories from nine races during 2009/2010, thriving in the early part of last season, completing a hatrick when winning at Musslburgh in June. He had his first run in 139 days when finishing a tiring 5th at Southwell and with the help of that outing should run a very good race.
Wednesday may be the start of the flat season, but there is still some very good National Hunt racing on, and with upcoming festivals at Aintree and Punchestowns, not to mention Sandown and Galway, eyes are still peeled to spot trainers who are at the top of their game. A partnership having a very good year is Phillip Hobbs and Richard Johnson, Racing Post Trophy and Arkle winners, who have a runner, Balthazar King, in the 2.50 novice chase at Hereford races on Wednesday.
Since switching to novice chasing, Balthazar King has been extremely unlucky to encounter some very tough opposition. In his last three runs, he has come unstuck against Chicago Grey (National Hunt Chase Winner), Wayward Prince (one length third in the RSA Chase) and Time For Rupert (RSA Chase favourite). There looks to be nothing of that standard this time and, providing his jumping is up to scratch, he should prevail here.
Wednesday March 30
Balthazar King 3.10 Hereford
Fremen 3.50 Catterick
Sinadinou 4.20 Catterick