We’re back over the jumps at Doncaster on Friday afternoon with a seven-race programme, which is the first of ten National Hunt fixtures over the winter months before the William Hill Lincoln at the end of March.
The entries for this opening meeting look strong, with big-name trainers such as Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson boasting multiple entries.
The opening novice chase contains Close Touch, owned by The Queen, whose only defeat to date came here at Doncaster behind the very smart African Gold last season, but then arguably improved again to win the EBF Novice Handicap Hurdle Final at Sandown under a big weight.
He is clearly very talented and could develop into one of the leading fancies for either the Jewson or RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival come March.
The second race on Friday is a novice hurdle over two miles, which brings together a couple of fascinating runners from the big yards.
Electrolyser, from the Nicky Henderson team, was formerly a very useful Flat performer and Fascino Rustico for Paul Nicholls, who was bought for £310,000 by owner John Hales after a Carlisle bumper win when trained by Ronald O’Leary, before being beaten in a couple of Cheltenham bumpers.
The John Hales famous red, yellow and white colours are best associated with the likes of Al Ferof, Neptune Collonges and further back One Man.
Electrolyser did have a try hurdling back at Taunton in February, but he pulled up so has a bit to prove at present as to whether hurdles best suit him.
Devon Drum from the Paul Webber yard is definitely a threat to all in that race as would any of the John Ferguson horses be if they are declared, with three entered at the moment.
Both Mijhaar and Nabmibian were classy runners on the Flat and would prove interesting contenders, pending their inclusion after Thursday’s declaration stage.
With our first jumps meeting of the new season kicking off, we’ve launched a new National Hunt Annual Membership, which is available at £120 and is a season ticket to all jump racing fixtures on Town Moor in 2013 and 2014.
It also allows exclusive access into the members-only facilities here.
The membership also includes access to all National Hunt racing meetings across the Arena Racing Company Group.
Jumps highlights at Doncaster include the Skybet Chase in January and the William Hill Grimthorpe Chase in March.
Badge holders will get even more value, with Doncaster Racecourse hosting two new jumps fixtures in 2014.