Mark Walford, who last week took over the reins from his father Tim at their Sheriff Hutton establishment, heads to Doncaster today with a fighting chance of training his first winner.
Walford, a former successful amateur rider, saddles Fentara in the featured £10,000 Larkshill Engineering Handicap Chase and the nine-year-old is fancied to lift first prize on only her third start of the campaign.
A winner last season at Kelso and Hexham, Fentara pulled up on her reappearance at the end of November, but she fared much better three weeks ago at Newcastle when chasing home the in-form Tutchec.
That outing should have had fitness benefits for Fentara, who is a useful mare on her day and who will have the assistance of Peter Buchanan. Walford has so far had two runners, but he could well make it third time lucky this afternoon.
The Doncaster card starts with the Eventmasters Corporate Hospitality Novices’ Chase, which has attracted only two runners, but is not to be missed.
All eyes will be on Rock On Ruby, the 2012 Champion Hurdle winner, who made a winning debut over fences at Plumpton last month. He faces a smart rival in Mr Mole, who, although disappointing at Ascot last time out, had previously shown useful form to win at Warwick.
Rock On Ruby, trained by Harry Fry, will need to master the Paul Nicholls-trained Mr Mole if he is to reinforce his claims in the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham next month.
Nicky Henderson has an impressive strike-rate on this course and the Lambourn trainer has every chance of enhancing it.
Henderson boasts solid prospects with Vaniteux (1.50), Electrolyser (2.25) and One Conemara (3.35). Barry Geraghty rides the trio.
At Wolverhampton’s twilight meeting, North Yorkshire trainers have good prospects of making their presence felt with David O’Meara having every chance of completing a first and last race double with Dansili Dutch and Winterwell.
Dansili Dutch (5.00), who will be contesting the apprentices’ handicap under Jack Garritty, was twice a winner on this course in November. She ran well for a long way when fifth to Prime Exhibit here last month and is entitled to go close this time in a modest-looking contest.
Nap selection Winterwell (8.00) is of even more interest.
Danny Tudhope’s mount has yet to get her head in front, but she has finished second in three of her six starts, including when chasing home Crisis Averted in maiden company here last time. This run-of-the-mill handicap and an extra furlong may see her home in front.
Crisis Averted (7.00) goes for the six-furlong handicap after his course-and-distance success three weeks ago over Winterwell. That was the three-year-old’s public debut and he won despite showing obvious signs of inexperience. There is more to come from Crisis Averted, who will be again ridden by Lee Topliss.
The raiding party from North Yorkshire also includes Ollie Pears’ Lean On Pete (5.30), a course-and-distance winner last year, who finished third to Secular Society here recently on his first outing for six weeks.
1.20 Rock On Ruby, 1.50 Vaniteux, 2.25 Electrolyser, 3.00 Fentara, 3.35 One Conemara, 4.10 Elenika, 4.40 Torgamah Lad.
5.00 Dansili Dutch, 5.30 Lean On Pete, 6.00 Boogangoo, 6.30 Eva Clare, 7.00 Crisis Averted, 7.30 Very First Blade, 8.00 Winterwell (NAP).
Today’s other meeting: Huntingdon.
Tomorrow’s meetings: Bangor, Kempton, Newcastle and Wolverhampton.