Saturday 21st April
David Higham Memorial Hunters’ Chase
Good, Good To Soft In Places
The prestigious Lady Dudley Cup takes place at Chaddesley Corbett on Saturday afternoon but last year’s winner, Surenaga, will instead line up in the David Higham Memorial Hunters’ Chase at Bangor.
The-ten-year-old has endured a downward spiral since his Dudley Cup success however, and will have to return to his best if he can successfully concede 12lbs to triple course and distance winner That’s Rhythm.
Surenaga once again is faced with a double penalty for his success in last year’s Royal Artillery Gold Cup and has not won for over twelve months. The latest disappointment was in a Point at Sandon two weeks ago when he was turned over by average Hunter Chaser Little Rocker in a three runner affair.
Pistolet Time looked a game sort when winning a Novice Hunter Chase at Kelso in May. He has been seen out twice this season, firstly when a remote third to My Flora at Chaddesley in February. The horse that finished just behind him in fourth has done nothing special since. His fall at Whittington last time out is not ideal before going back over regulation fences and that coupled with a concession of weight to most suggests he can be opposed.
Lough Cully is a new recruit to the British scene, having last been seen out in an Irish Point at Maralin last month. He has been a model of consistency, being placed on over half of his 28 starts but has only managed to win two (last being over three years ago). The fact that connections have parted with him hardly inspires and this is his belated rules bow aged 11.
Leading Man was once a highly regarded staying chaser and although taking the Champion Stayer’s Hunter Chase at Perth in 2010, that was his penultimate start and the twelve-year-old has not been seen out for nearly two years. He may just need this.
Idole First looked in good spirits but was a fortunate winner at Bitterley a fortnight ago. A useful hurdler/chaser in his prime, he landed the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in 2006. Rider Lucy Turner, who works for his former trainer Venetia Williams, takes to regulation fences for the first time.
It wasn’t too long ago when That’s Rhythm was rated around the 140 mark in chases. He was third at Hexham in a competitive Handicap when last seen under rules twelve months ago and appears to has enjoyed a transition into the hunting ranks. He saw off a fair sort in Menchikov without being extended at Garthorpe last month after seeing off Ravethebrave in similar fashion previously at Barbury when clocking the fastest time of the day.
One would suspect that this race has been targeted by connections as That’s Rhythm has won over course and distance three times (including on soft). However, rider Nick Wakefield is yet to be involved in a tight finish and was round the twelve-year-old’s neck at Charing (horse’s Point debut) in January before pulling up.
In receiving weight from his principal opponents, owner/rider Nick Wakefield has favourable conditions in which to score with his first ride under rules. That’s Rhythm is stepping back up in class after two confidence boosters but in what looks a quiet race without any in-form rivals, he should go close.
That’s Rhythm (1pt WIN)