Brian Hughes continues on the warpath at Catterick tomorrow, a track at which he has a 38% (5/13) strike rate this season. The rider is well on his way to a second Jockeys’ Championship title having opened up a seemingly unassailable 57 winner lead at the top of the standings and you can preview his six rides below, with an offer to also Join QuinnBet Today and Claim Up To £25 As A Free Bet Offer + 10 Free Spins.
GREDIN (12:40 Catterick) SP
Hughes’ first ride comes in the opener, in which the Donald McCain trained GREDIN is his mount in a three-mile novice hurdle.
The six-year-old was second in a point-to-point at Tipperary in April, which came over this trip. He also scored on his rules debut over 2m 4f, beating a next time out winner in Operation Overlord at Carlisle.
However, under a winners’ penalty, he struggled to back that up when only fifth at Doncaster, but the combination of the slightly shorter trip and quicker ground possibly combined against him.
He is now stepped significantly up in trip and still carries a penalty, but there are others, including two-time winner Starsky, who carry similar or greater punishments this time. Based on his point and rules form to date, he could well be a decent stayer of the trip for a more inexperienced horse.
VELKERA (1:10 Catterick) 12/1
Some horses simply don’t kick on from their performances in point-to-points and VELKERA is a perfect example.
In her one race between the sticks, she defeated two-time rules winner Wouldubewell, with Grade 3 novice hurdle winner Sayce Gold back in fourth. That is extremely strong form.
There was even promise on her novice hurdling bow, in which she finished third at Market Rasen in 2019. However, on RPRs, that form is 28lb superior to anything she has achieved since.
There is hope for a victory yet though. Her best effort since came last time out at Kelso on a sounder surface upped in trip, with similar enough conditions possible at Catterick. She may just want a serious stamin test and a mark of 84 is incredibly lowly.
SPIDER’S BITE (1:40 Catterick) 10/1
Rated 132 when at his best with Henry Daly, the ten-year-old SPIDER’S BITE has begun to lose his way for Adam Nicol.
He has dropped 17lb in the handicap since joining his new yard, although the latest 5lb drop has come after his best effort yet for the yard, when far better than the bare result at Musselburgh.
He was fifth in that race having been prominent or led for much of the race, only fading out of it late. His prior form clearly shows he stays three miles if on a going day, so it just depends if the handicapper has now been generous enough.
The slight concern is that almost all of his best form has come on a right-handed track, so the anti-clockwise orientation here is likely a negative.
A DIFFERENT KIND (2:10 Catterick) SP
Like a few in his yard this season, A DIFFERENT KIND is on a substantial winning streak.
Stablemate Minella Trump racked up a sequence of seven straight victories between May and November and this five-year-old’s own run of wins began in September and now stands at four after a narrow success at Haydock.
The first two came at odds-on in bumpers, while he obliterated his field on debut over hurdles in mid-November. He conceded 5lb to Venetia Williams’ Green Book, who has won twice since and is now rated 130.
Though Jonjo O’Neills’ Any Givin Sunday stands in opposition with a victory of his own, a double penalty may not stop McCain’s charge winning once again, with his trainer having been excellent at plotting campaigns for his runners this term.
CLASSIC ESCAPE (2:40 Catterick) 8/1
The North Yorkshire Grand National is the feature race on the card at Catterick on Thursday, with Hughes aboard CLASSIC ESCAPE for Phil Kirby.
A rare horse who improved for moving to Britain from Ireland in recent years, his rating rose from 100 with Denis Gerard Hogan to 122 with Dr Richard Newland, for whom he revelled in marathon trips.
However, his three runs since returning this season have been underwhelming, though the last two have come over hurdles. As a result of his only race over fences so far this season he has been dropped 7lb to a mark of 115, just 3lb above his last winning mark and 7lb below that which he finished second off in the Scottish Borders National at Kelso.
A change of scenery with Kirby may have done him the world of good and he is dangerous under the champion jockey.
KENSINGTON ART (3:40 Catterick) 11/1
All of KENSINGTON ART’s victories prior to this season had come between July and September, but a win at Kempton in November gave hope that he is able to maintain his form over the winter.
Nevertheless, that win came on good ground with 3lb claimer Theo Gillard to help. Hughes did ride Kensington Art to one of his best efforts at Hexham in August when second in a novice hurdle too.
A softer surface was not to his benefit at this track a few days after Christmas, but he is stepped back in trip and he handled softer ground on the flat. There is nobody better he could have back on board as he attempts to get a first winter success.
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