Cheltenham Festival runner-up Venetia Williams will be aiming to go one better in the big race at Carlisle’s Sunday meeting.
Trainer Williams and jockey Charlie Deutsch were pipped as Bryony Frost became the first female jockey to ride a top-level Grade One festival winner on Frodon. Their entry, Aso, was a 33-1 outsider but led the field in this week’s Ryanair Chase before being headed 160 yards from home.
Herefordshire-based Williams and Deutsch have Houblon Des Obeaux in the £30,000 Aglionby Veterans’ Handicap Chase at Carlisle.
The three-miler is a leg of the Veterans’ Chase Series and the 12-year-old is early favourite having won the final of the 2018 series only in January. Last year’s Grand National faller drew clear from the 17-strong Sandown field four out to claim the £62,000 first prize.
Williams, whose Jurys Out was a handicap hurdle winner at Carlisle’s last meeting, is enjoying a 17% win average this season, compared to 13% over the last five years.
Competition will come from Anthony Honeyball’s Jepeck, a handicap chase winner at Ffos Las in heavy going last November. Rock On Fruity for Ben Haslam has twice won at Newcastle this season and Nicky Richards’ Takingrisks was a three-mile winner at Ayr in November.
Grand National winning trainer Sue Smith is well-represented on the day’s six-race card. The West Yorkshire-based handler has four wins from 23 outings at the course this season, second behind Nigel Twiston-Davies.
In the afternoon’s opening novices’ hurdle, Smith’s Hill Sixteen will be up against Williams’ Cloudy Glen.
The former was a winner last time out at Carlisle in a February novices’ hurdle. Danny Cook took him to the front before the last and he stayed on well. Hill Sixteen has not been out of the places in his five races since moving to Smith’s yard this season.
Cloudy Glen has two wins out of three at the distance this season. Tom Lacey’s JohnBB was a maiden hurdle winner at Ayr in January.
Elsewhere on the card, Dorking Cock will be looking to follow up February’s two victories in four days in a 2m 1f novices’ handicap hurdle. Lacey’s horse, with Stan Sheppard on board as he will be here, won at Sandown before repeating the trick at Carlisle over similar distance.
Smith’s Informateur was fourth at Carlisle in a February handicap hurdle when favourite after winning at Sedgefield in November.
Donald McCain, Linda Russell and Micky Hammond all have runners in a 2m 1f handicap hurdle. McCain’s Wazowski has form from a win at Sedgefield this month and has run twice at this track, the best a third in October.
Lisa Harrison’s Instingtive should know his way round, notching up his sixth run at the course this season. At the last meeting he was a handicap chase runner up over slightly longer distance.
The afternoon closes with the Cocklakes Open Hunters’ Chase where Road To Riches will be fancied having been runner-up in his first race for new trainer David Christie at Carlisle’s last meeting.
Sunday is a family race day. As well as the on-track action there will be ‘horsing around’ arts and crafts where visitors can design their own racing colours, giant garden games including Jenga, Connect 4, Limbo, Kerplunk and Downfall plus fussball and table tennis tables.
Tickets for Sunday March 17 are £15 for adults (in advance) or £18 (on the day). Under-18s free entry when accompanied by an adult.
Gates open 12.15pm, first race is 2.15pm and last race 5pm.