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Jake Exelby previews the Bicester & Whaddon Chase fixture at Edgcote this weekend

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Given that the Bicester with Whaddon Chase point-to-point has been postponed by a fortnight from its original scheduled date, organisers will be pleased with a total entry of 103 horses across the seven races, which start at 2.00pm. Clerk of the Course Graham Tawell reported on Monday morning that the going is Good, Good to Soft in places.

Centrepiece of the card is the Equine Bio Genie Edgcote Gold Cup Mixed Open Race, over the extended distance of three miles five furlongs with £1,000 total prize money and £500 to the winner. 11 have been entered, including evergreen Shantou Flyer, sixth in the Cheltenham Foxhunters, the super-consistent Go Go Geronimo and Encounter A Giant, winner of last year’s Lady Dudley Cup. Also worthy of mention are last time out winners Boss Man Fred – for Max Comley – and Perfect Pirate, and Gran Paradiso, who ran well on his seasonal debut and whose stable is in good form.

Kelly Morgan would not commit to plans for Go Go Geronimo, who is also entered at Sheriff Hutton, saying, “It depends on the ground. He likes proper good going. Although it doesn’t have to be rattling, I’d rather not run him on soft. I’m also not convinced about the longer trip.”

Novice races are usually competitive events and 16 entries have been received for the Barwood Novice Riders Race, which is a PPORA Level 1 Conditions Race. Five have already visited the winners enclosure this year, two of whom – Olive Nicholls’ All Loved Up and Beyond Redemption – also ran well at Lockinge recently. Runwiththetide, 15-year-old Sametegal and The Composeur all scored on their seasonal debut but have disappointed since.

Rider Hugh Lillingston said of All Loved Up, "We felt that her run at Lockinge (second to Southfield Theatre) was a step forward from her win at Larkhill, despite her being beaten. She has done well since then and hasn’t missed a beat. On ratings, it looks like it should be a competitive race but some of the protagonists may have questionmarks about the trip and we know we will stay. I'm really looking forward to getting her out on the racecourse again".

Station Yard Racing’s Russian Diamond will be a first ride for 25-year-old Flora Lindsay, and Charlie Poste said of the horse, “He ran well at Larkhill and should be suited by the drying conditions.” Kelly Morgan may well run both of hers, admitting, “I’ve got quite a few left to run so they may have to take each other on.” Asked about jockey bookings, she explained, “I don’t have a novice rider myself this season so wanted to book the best for Francesco Du Clos and Ed Vaughan is exceptional for a novice. Runwiththetide has been slightly frustrating but goes well for a female jockey. I’ve watched Aimee Jones ride a few times and been impressed with her.”

The TJ Sunderland Restricted Race – over two miles five furlongs – has 19 entries, the joint-highest of the day, and looks another hard to call event. Three share joint-top rating – Dawn Ball’s Well P, a good second on both his last two starts and who may find this easier than the Members race, Phillippa Taylor’s Ultra Viers, who has form in Hunter Chases, and Chabichou Dupoitou, who has been consistent until disappointing last time. Seasonal debutant Marton Abbey has a chance on last season’s form, while Julie Wadland’s Bushtucker Park, Olly Bowd’s Imperial Pride and Soldier Unknown are all stepping up on a last time out Maiden success.

Alan Hill, trainer of the latter, confirmed, “I’m keen to run him. He’s one from one since coming from Ireland, the stiff 2m5f will suit and he’s come out of Paxford well. The better ground should help. I’ll also run Serenisa with Walter Barnett. She was in season last time.” Culverwell is a pointing debutant for Station Yard Racing, who has come from Martin Keighley, Charlie Poste saying, “The owners – an enthusiastic syndicate run by Katie Frisby – are new to the yard. He’s been going nicely at home, and we’ve been waiting for the better ground for him.”

Gina Ellis said of her Tiger’s Song (also entered at Overton on Saturday), “She’s always been talented, but incredibly fragile.” (The mare has run just six times in seven campaigns). She’s had two foals but lost the second, so we put her back in training and she ran well last time considering she’d been off for three years.”

The card opens with the Towcester Vets Hunt Members Race, which has attracted ten entries and – on paper at least – looks tailormade for Station Yard Racing’s Trevada, already twice a winner this season. However, there are several contenders, including 2023 Paxford winner Rizzardo for Phillippa Taylor and Richard Harper’s pointing newcomer Wee Willie Nail, who won a Gowran Park hurdle in September 2022.

Local trainer Ben Case runs two and his son Charlie gave me the lowdown, saying, “My brother George rides Wisecracker – as always – and Kilbrew Boy will be a first ride for Charlie Hewitt, who works for the yard and is a good friend of mine. Trevada will be hard to beat, but I like to think Kilbrew Boy will go well, and Charlie rides him every day and knows him well.” Alan Hill’s Knight Bachelor will give another rider their debut, in this case Luci Lloyd. The trainer said, “She’s been Master of the Bicester for several years and it’s always been her ambition to ride in her Members race. She’s been riding out here since October and he’s a good horse for teaching novices.”

Trevada was confirmed a runner, Charlie Poste telling me of his charge, “He’s been fantastic this year, ran well in defeat last time at High Easter, where it was a bit quick for him. We’ve decided he prefers softer ground. We’ll also run Nasee with one of our novice riders.”

The card features three Maiden races, including the Tattersalls Jockey Club Sales Young Horse Maiden Series Race, for four- and five-year-olds only over the shorter trip of two miles five furlongs, to encourage youngsters – some of whom will go on to star in the professional arena – to race against their peers. It has attracted an impressive 19 entries – ten of whom are unraced – representing some of the leading trainers in the country. Of the entries, one belongs to a pop princess and one to a royal princess! Former Spice Girl Geri Horner owns Mi Chico Latino (named after one of her songs), while Zara Tindall owns A Little Something. With so little form to go on, advice would be to take your pick of the paddock and watch the market. Of those who have run, the best form has been shown by Hopping Mad Wife, a close second at Kimble earlier in the month, and Wake Up Hadley, third on the same card in a similar race to this.

Bradley Gibbs has entered four and will definitely run one, but admitted, “I couldn’t tell you at this stage which of them it while be,” but Gina Ellis’ Soldier’s Leap is an intended runner. “She’s a homebred, owned by my uncle Angus,” confirmed Gina. “We trained his half-sister Ingeborg Zilling to win at Barbury Castle and I rode his dam, which makes me feel old! He’s a handy sort, who’s shown speed at home, and (her brother) Jack Andrews will ride.” Another probable runner is Peace Pact – one of two entries for Station Yard racing. Charlie Poste told me, “He’s been ready to run for a while and has an interesting pedigree, with a flat page. He’s a lovely scopey horse, who does everything nicely at home.”

The Spratt Endicott Maiden Race for six-year-olds and upwards and over the full three-mile trip, has 15 entries and – as so often in this type of race – the dilemma is whether to stick with recent form or take a chance on a promising newcomer from a top yard. Barrington John and Station Yard Racing’s Tinker Two fit the latter bill, while Imperial Cloud (whose in-form trainer took the prestigious Lady Dudley Cup last weekend), Our John, James Luck’s Sound Of Music and Tim Underwood’s Windgap Hill have all shown useful placed form this season. Validation is an interesting newcomer to British points, having been a runner-up in Ireland last spring.

Six-year-old Tinker Two is likely to start, with Charlie Poste noting, “His owner-breeder Peter Taylor’s a long-standing supporter of pointing. He’s got a future but will benefit from the run.” They may also run Capparattin, whose jockey Charlie Case told me, “Edgcote should suit him perfectly and more rain would also help. It all happened a bit quickly for him at High Easter last time.” Seven-year-old Barrington John is bred in the purple, being out of Welsh National winner L’Aventure. Trainer Bradley Gibbs advised him a probable runner, as is his half-sister L’Aventara in the closing Mares Maiden, saying, “She’s a nice filly with a good page.”

That race, the latest in the series of Jockey Club Mares Maidens is the third Maiden on the card, is sponsored by Walnut Hill Vets and has 13 entries. Six are also entered in one of the other maidens and four – including L’Aventara – are making their debut, so it will definitely pay to wait until runners are declared before finalizing your selection. The best form this season has been shown by dual runner-up Iconic Rock and Gina Ellis’ Schiapars Magern, who shaped well on her Kimble debut.

Gina Ellis will take the mount herself on the latter and admitted, “She’s still quite raw and it took a circuit for her to really start jumping, but she warmed to the task, kept on well and should improve for the run.” Kelly Morgan is inclining towards this race rather than the young horse maiden for Just Our Milly, although is not sure about the longer trip. “She’s not very big,” said her trainer, “And we’ve been getting her confidence back since she took a tumble at Higham – we want her jumping to be 110%. Her ultimate target is the end of season bumper at Stratford.”

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