An exciting novice chase at Warwick looks to be highlight of Friday’s racing action, where last season’s Supreme runner-up Thomas Darby makes his anticipated return to the track.
He’s a horse I’m personally a huge fan of; he still looked immensely green throughout last season and was evidently learning his trade on the job, even when beating all bar Klassical Dream at the Festival.
With more know-how and racecraft under his built, I’d hope his natural progression would see him develop into a Grade 1 level horse this season.
His biggest market rival is the Skelton’s big money point to point purchase, the mare Maire Banrigh, who won twice in 2018 before bolting up on her chase debut at Stratford.
A rival of Thomas Darby’s ability is a different kettle of fish though, and she’d need a clear career best to trouble Olly Murphy’s star.
Another expensive Skelton point purchase, West Cork, may have bumped into a good one in the shape of Jatiluwih on his rules debut at Wetherby and has an opportunity to make amends in the 1:15, though bumper winner Capac, a half brother to Champion Hurdler Brave Inca.
He’s not the only interesting youngster in the line up.
Up at Hexham, Nicky Richards unleashes dual bumper winner Ribble Valley for his first hurdles start in their first race of the day, though his opponent Banks O’ Houxty, not seen for four and half years since a winning bumper debut, is one of the most fascinating runners of the season so far.
In the last, I’d also expect Thomas MacDonagh, useful enough in bumpers last season, to build on his third at Warwick on hurdles debut last month and break his duck for Jamie Snowden and Page Fuller.
There’s also all weather action from Chelmsford City, Newcastle and under the Friday night lights at Dundalk, whilst Fontwell also host a National Hunt meeting.