[N]ewmarket-based Sir Mark Prescott will be hoping to send some winners north as Carlisle looks forward to two bumper days of racing.
The Durdar track hosts seven races on Thursday evening and eight more the following afternoon for its popular FeelGood Friday meet with live music from a top Beatles tribute act following the racing.
Sir Mark has three hopes making the 540-mile round trip and will want to add to his impressive start to the month. The Heath House Stables has already saddled winners at Lingfield and Bath and will be looking for more returns from Klass Action, Early Edition and Ferrier.
The latter two, in the Novice Auction Stakes and Handicap Stakes, are likely to be well-fancied and all start with Luke Morris in the saddle. He was also at the reins for those early June winners.
The course welcomes back Mark Johnston, who is already up to £1.5m in prize money this year and sits second in the flat trainers’ championship.
He will be hoping to add to his singular success at Carlisle’s opening flat season meeting in May with Aclimatise. Seductive Moment will have Franny Norton on board, also in the Novice Auction Stakes.
Last year’s top trainer at Carlisle, Richard Fahey, has two runners in the five-furlong Carleton Fillies Novice Stakes opener with Illusions likely to be favoured over Keska. Fahey also has Royal Connoisseur in the last race of the day, where Iain Jardine’s Yes You and Tony Carroll’s Baltic Prince will be among those watched.
Daniel Tudhope, currently second in the flat jockeys’ championship, will be hoping to get his afternoon off to a great start with well-backed options in each of the first three races – Michael Bell’s Stage Play, Archie Watson’s Nate The Great and Mutadaffeq for David O’Meara, three times a winner last year over similar distances.
In that race he’ll be up against a homegrown favourite in Keith Dalgleish’s Starplex, owned by Gordon Park and bred just half a mile from the track. The bay gelding was a winner at Thirsk in April.
And Tudhope will also be well fancied when he takes charge of Angels in Friday’s biggest prize race, the Fillies Handicap over five furlongs. Tim Easterby’s three-year-old bay has won on her last two outings at Pontefract and Ripon over a slightly longer distance.
Challengers will include William Haggas’ Perfect Thought, racing for the first time since winning in November and Andrew Balding’s Foxtrot Lady, who led home last time out at Chester.
Elsewhere on the card, the Handicap for four-year-olds over 1m 6f will offer a chance to the duo of trainer Michael Dods and jockey Paul Mulrennan with Davy’s Dilemma. The gelding was good enough to be placed on his return at Doncaster last month after being a winner at Hamilton Park on his 2017 finale.
In the same race PJ McDonald, a triple winner last time out at Carlisle, partners Mark Johnston’s Dominating.
McDonald will then be one of four trying to land the 1m 3f Handicap for three-year-olds. His chance is Johnston’s Lucky Deal with Richard Fahey’s Sempre Presto a strong candidate.
In a two-day meeting with 143 declared runners and riders, Mulrennan will be among the busiest of participants with a scheduled 11 rides. Among Friday’s other contests he’s again paired with a Dods’ horse, Ramsbottom in the Novice Stakes.
Molly Dingwall, Carlisle Racecourse’s General Manager, said: “Our two-day meeting is always a highlight of the calendar and this week is no exception.
“We’ve got a terrific line-up of horses, with many of the UK’s in-form trainers and jockeys competing. Added to that we’ve got live music after racing on Friday to end on a high after two days of great entertainment.”
Gates open on Thursday at 4.05pm. First race is at 6.05pm and the last race at 9.20pm.
FeelGood Friday gates open at 11.30am, first race is at 1.30pm and the last at 5pm followed by live music from The Mersey Beatles.
Adult tickets are £15 (in advance) or £18 (on the day). Under 18s free entry when accompanied by an adult.