The lack of rain is frustrating for everyone in racing at the moment. There are always lots of entries at the entry stage, but we’re seeing small fields because you just can’t run the winter horses on this ground.

Lalor was supposed to run at Uttoxeter today, but couldn’t because it was too quick. It’s more frustrating than anything else.

The rain will come and I’m sure in a couple of months we’ll be praying for some dry weather. Whatever you have, you seem to be wanting something else.

Ascot on Saturday

I have three rides at Ascot on Saturday and first up is Sternrubin  in the novices’ handicap chase (1.50pm).

I was happy with the way he jumped at Exeter, although he went a bit right at some of the fences and he’s a bit of a character these days.

He has run really well at Ascot in the past, both over hurdles and fences, so we know he likes the course and he’s versatile when it comes to ground.

It’s a small field but you couldn’t rule any of them out. I think he goes there with a decent chance.

Kings Lad  has been in great form this year, winning three of his last four. The handicap chase (3.35pm) will be the first time I’ve ridden him, but he certainly seems to be going the right way.

I know he’s an 11-year-old, but when they’re in form it’s worth following them and the Tizzard horses have been running really well.

My final ride of the day is Ben Buie  for Martin Keighley in the bumper (4.05pm). He’s making his debut so we’ll know more about him afterwards, although he’s by Presenting so the ground should be perfect for him.

Charlie Hall Chase

Because of the lack of rain, this year’s Charlie Hall Chase doesn’t look the strongest of renewals.

Double Shuffle was second in the King George and if he could bounce back to that form he’d obviously go very close.

Paul Nicholls has a great record in the race and he relies on Black Corton, who improved incredibly throughout last season.

If he can find a bit more improvement, he can go very close as he will love the good ground.


Carlisle on Sunday

It will be a busy afternoon at Carlisle on Sunday and let’s hope they get some of the rain that they are forecast on Saturday.

First up is Jammin Masters for Warren Greatrex in the novices’ limited handicap chase (1.30pm). He ran in a few hunter chases in Ireland before he was bought last year.

He’s won over hurdles a couple of times this year, but should appreciate going back over fences. He’s very straightforward and enjoys soft ground. If the rain arrives, he should put up a good show.

Looksnowtlikebrian (2.40pm) won at Carlisle last month and it’s a case of the softer the better for him really.

He’s suited by stiff tracks and stayed on strongly to win last time so the step up in trip shouldn’t be a problem.

Tim Vaughan's horses are in good form and I think this one is another with a decent chance.

I’m looking forward to Petticoat Tails in the handicap hurdle (3.10pm). She’s a nice mare who improved last season and ran well in some good races.

She had a few issues at the start of last season but I schooled her on Friday morning and she seemed in very good order.

I think she’s at the right end of the handicap and is a mare that can really improve this year. I’d be confident about her running a big race, I hope there’s a lot more to come.

Thomas Patrick goes in the Colin Parker Memorial (3.45pm), which has been won by some very good horses in recent years.

This is definitely shorter than his ideal trip, but Tom Lacey is very keen to start him off somewhere and the stiff track will suit.

He loves soft ground, so we’re hoping for plenty of rain and if he could run well in this on good-to-soft then we’d have to seriously consider Newbury next.

He improved so much throughout last season and this looks like a nice starting race for him.

My final ride of the day is Lossiemouth, also for Tom, in the bumper (4.15pm). He likes the horse and says he goes nicely at home, but you never know what you’re taking on.

We hope he’ll run a good race, although we’ll know a lot more about him afterwards.


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