Catching Pigeons: Road to riches
Colin Tizzard may not be out of the woods in terms of the virus that has made his season something of a stop-start affair, but he is still sending out a few winners and will fancy his chances of getting on the scoresheet if Wincanton can beat the weather.
- Related Content
With 12st 7lb to carry, some might be put off Jumps Road's prospects in such testing conditions in the Bathwick Tyres Poole Handicap Hurdle.
But on the back of the performance of his life behind The New One in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham last time out - an effort for which he was raised just 4lb in the weights - he is entitled to maximum respect.
Although he must, to some extent, have been flattered by the slowish early gallop there, he might even have finished closer but for being squeezed out against the rail when angling for a particularly brave run before the final flight - a manoeuvre which saw Zarkandar's jockey Daryl Jacob offer Brendan Powell some choice words of advice after the race.
Jumps Road should be fine with the soggy conditions but stablemate Flaming Charmer will relish them after getting tapped for toe on good ground at Newbury last time.
His five rivals in the Bathwick Tyres Yeovil Novice Handicap Chase won't be a pushover but he seems in cracking form at present and is expected to score.
William Buick prefers to go into hibernation in warmer climes during most of the winter months, but makes the odd appearance on the domestic front and he pops up at Lingfield to ride a couple for John Gosden.
As mentioned before on these pages, Gosden has a far bigger team than usual for the all-weather campaign and is lining up a few of his smarter performers for some of the big bucks on offer on Good Friday.
Joyful Friend and Anglo Irish are in the two divisions of the 32Red Maiden Stakes and could well both win, although the former carries marginally more confidence despite their relative form figures.
Talk of a defection to Godolphin seems to have been hushed in Newmarket for the time being, but there are still some who were less than impressed by Buick's efforts on The Fugue on a couple of occasions last year. The jockey starts the year with a bit of a point to prove but is good enough to silence the doubters.
Marco Botti is well represented with three runners in the feature race at Lingfield, the Coral.co.uk Handicap.
Both Halfsin and Grendisar have winning form on the all-weather and have chances in this competitive mile and a half event, but stable jockey Martin Harley rides arguably the most interesting runner on the whole card.
A Group Three winner and Group One runner-up in his native Brazil, Energia Eros is one of three members of the Botti team to arrive from South America and like compatriots, Edu Querido and Energia Davos, are stopping off here on their way to the Dubai Carnival.
If he can live up to the promise of Energia Davos, who finished a close fourth in a Listed race here a couple of weeks ago, he must go close.
Newmarket is alive with yearlings at present and it's been worth getting up on some of the cold, dark mornings to see the likes of Sir Michael Stoute and Roger Varian start to give their youngsters an education in racing.
Thankfully some of the trainers getting up on the very same cold, dark mornings are also starting to realise how dangerous it can be sending horses out when visibility is so poor and an increasingly popular and welcome trend is to attach reflective strips to the horses' rugs.
Trainers with horses who prefer better ground will be hoping Doncaster can uphold its tradition of providing a decent surface during the depths of winter and it is no surprise to see Nicky Henderson entering a hatful in the two novice hurdle events at the track next Wednesday.
Cocktails At Dawn and Tistory have both produced performances that mark above-average already this term, but note should also be made for the future of the unexposed Act Alone and Earth Amber, a useful stayer on the Flat, but yet to appear over timber.
Henderson has extra cause for celebration over the New Year when Khyber Kim took the novice riders' point-to-point at Cottenham under his daughter Camilla.
There can't be many Champion Hurdle runner-ups who find their way to racing between the flags, but nevertheless Khyber Kim looked to have a whale of a time in dotting up by 15 lengths and could give her willing pilot a lot of fun in the months ahead.