By Brian Hughes
I’m at Newcastle on Friday for six rides.
Empire De Maulde, a winner of four AQPS races in France, ran in two hurdles here at the start of the year, finishing fourth on debut beaten by four and a half lengths.
He has been off the track for nine months and needs to step up to get the better of Weather Front and Remember The Days.
Cousin Oscar, a dual hurdles winner, ran well for me at the end of October finishing fourth, beaten by seven lengths.
He is back in trip on his return to chasing and has Chozen to beat in this three-runner event.
The latter won well on chasing debut at Southwell 22 days ago but the 9-pound penalty may just swing it in favour of my horse.
Brave Spartacus, a winner of ten under rules, faces two opponents in the veterans’ chase.
He put up a good performance at Wetherby thirteen days ago and with a little help from the handicapper may be able to get his nose in front today.
He is on a lower mark than when I won on him last year.
Jet Master, who ran well in the race last year, is the main threat.
Ruby Two, a bumper winner, finished fourth on her hurdling debut at Perth in late September.
She probably needed the run after a four months break and is hopefully ready to get into contention today.
Rococo Style, unseated by a loose horse last day, had previously finished third at Market Rasen on hurdling debut and may be the main challenger.
Expresstime, still a maiden after four runs under rules, returns after a six months break in the three-runner mares’ chase.
Despite two Points seconds she has been largely disappointing under rules and needs to improve to get the better of the Scudamore pair.
Dawnieriver, second at Uttoxeter two weeks ago, looks the form choice.
Wilhelm Vonvenster makes his racecourse debut in the concluding bumper.
He is well related and is a first stable runner for Rich Ricci.
The Richards yard has a fifty per cent strike rate with bumper runners at Newcastle and I hope this really nice horse continues that impressive strike rate.
I am looking forward to the ride with Just Call Me Al the main rival.