Norton trainer fancied to notch hat-trick at Wetherby

King Of The Wolds, unbeaten in two outings over fences, heads to Wetherby this afternoon with good prospects of completing a hat-trick of wins in the feature race on the card.

The William Hill Castleford Handicap Chase is the target of the Malcolm Jefferson-trained gelding, who will again have the services of Brian Hughes as he drops back to the minimum distance of two miles.

A winner over hurdles at this venue last season, King Of The Wolds had always looked like an embryo chaser and has taken to the larger obstacles like the proverbial duck to water this winter.

He has chalked up victories at Sedgefield and Fakenham and a feature of those performances was his spring-heeled jumping.

That ability will stand him in excellent stead as he changes trip and, although this is by far and away the toughest test he has faced, King Of The Wolds is napped to come up trumps.

Indian Castle is expected to take another step up the fencing ladder by completing a hat-trick of wins in the William Hill Novices’ Chase.

Trainer Donald McCain has a high opinion of Indian Castle, whose latest success over the major obstacles was achieved on this course. He jumps for fun and is a strong galloper. He may have enough firepower to keep the useful Many Clouds at bay in this three-runner contest.

In the opening mares’ William Hill Novices’ Hurdle, Flementime is selected to have the edge over Tim Easterby’s Run Ructions Run.

Trained by Martin Keighley, Flementime returned from a lengthy absence to chase home the high-class Legacy Gold at Uttoxeter.

If she can reproduce that form, she will be a tough nut to crack.

Pearl Castle (1.45), an interesting newcomer from the John Quinn yard and Mick Hammond’s Stickleback (3.25) are also worthy of attention on the second day of action at Wetherby.

At Kempton, the star attraction is the brilliant Sprinter Sacre, who makes his eagerly-awaited return to action in the William Hill Desert Orchid Chase.

Nicky Henderson’s remarkable gelding is ten-from-ten over fences and has looked head-and-shoulders over his rivals in the last two seasons.

Not quite right in pre-race tests earlier this month when he was pulled out of the Tingle Creek Chase, Sprinter Sacre is subject to favourable reports as he prepares to thrill the Kempton crowds. If he produces anything like his best form, Barry Geraghty’s mount will not be troubled to add to his incredible record.

Paul Nicholls looks likely to make his mark on the card. The former champion trainer can score with the well-regarded Vicenzo Mio in the opening novices’ hurdle and also Dodging Bullets, who lines up in the Grade 2 William Hill Novices’ Chase.

A smart hurdler, Dodging Bullets has won both his races over fences this season and his latest success at Cheltenham was achieved in this grade.

He looks an exciting prospect and he promises to give Daryl Jacob a good ride.

The likeable Bally Legend (3.05) and Three Kingdoms (3.40), winner of two of his three starts this season, are two others to note.

RACING selections

Wetherby today
12.15 Flementime, 12.45 Retrieve, 1.15 Indian Castle, 1.45 Pearl Castle, 2.15 King Of The Wolds (NAP), 2.50 Crushed Ice, 3.25 Stickleback.

Kempton today
1.00 Vicenzo Mio, 1.30 Dodging Bullets, 2.00 Utopie Des Bordes, 2.30 Sprinter Sacre, 3.05 Bally Legend, 3.40 Three Kingdoms.

Today’s other meetings: Leicester, Southwell and Wolverhampton.

Tomorrow’s meetings: Catterick, Chepstow, Lingfield and Newbury.

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