By Chris Dixon
Sam England has gained a reputation for being able to revitalise horses she has picked up from other stables over the past couple of years and after an encouraging first start in the care of the West Yorkshire-based handler at Hexham 10 days ago, Western Jo looks worth supporting in the opening handicap hurdle at Uttoxeter (1.40).
A dual winner for Philip Hobbs, Western Jo is without a win since 2013 but he’s not run in many races as weak as this one and looks to have been found a good opportunity to capitalise on a falling handicap mark.
Another horse who shaped with encouragement on his first start for a new stable last time is Black Kettle (Uttoxeter 4.40) who was narrowly unable to peg back the front running My Renaissance at Sedgefield on his debut for Rebecca Menzies.
The fact he has yet to get his head in front is a worry but he hasn’t had too many goes at the minimum trip despite his style suggesting it may prove his optimum and his new trainer, who has a knack of getting the best out of her horses, looks to have found a race in which he should have every chance of shedding his maiden status.
Get Ready Freddy is the obvious danger after a sequence of good efforts since joining Dan Skelton but his price is that bit shorter and I will go for the longer priced one in a race that lacks depth.
Gary Moore has won three of the previous seven renewals of the juvenile hurdle on today’s card at Plumpton (3.20) and saddles Lord E in an attempt to enhance that record.
Having taken well to hurdling at the first time of asking at Fontwell he has every chance of doing just that but most of his rivals produced a higher standard of form than him on the Flat and it may pay to look elsewhere.
Jumping Jack gained the highest mark on the Flat but didn’t race beyond a mile and is by a speed influence in Sir Prancealot so may struggle for stamina, while Born Legend will need to settle better if he is to give himself a chance of seeing a race out over jumps.
One who certainly should get home is High Wells, who has been in good form on the level of late, with a win at Bath followed by a close second to an in-form horse at Musselburgh last time and looks a likely type to take to take to hurdling for a stable that have already sent out a dual juvenile hurdle winner (Plato’s Kode) this season.
Phil Middleton has his horses in excellent form, with his last three runners all hitting the target and one of those recent winners, Holly Bush Henry, looks capable of following up in the Plumpton 3.50.
He travelled sweetly when sporting blinkers for the first time as he capitalised on a falling mark at Worcester last time and remains well treated under a 7lb penalty for that success. A contested pace should suit and though the trip is an unknown, he saw the race out well enough last time to suggest it will be within his compass.
Chris Dixon’s Sunday selections:
3.20 Plumpton: High Wells at a general 7-2
4.40 Uttoxeter: Black Kettle at a general 7-2