A busy Bank Holiday Monday lies ahead with nine fixtures scheduled and near perfect underfoot conditions predicted as the recent inclement weather has hopefully been consigned the past. Paxford’s annual meeting, the second of three in the Cotswolds, has attracted a healthy 72 entries in the circumstances and the going is currently “soft,good to soft in places” but with a mainly dry week ahead that assessment will be updated on later in the week.
The Mixed Open over 2m4f takes centre stage on the six-race card which gets under way at 1pm and the Luke Harvey-owned and trained Notre Pari stands out following his second to the very smart Fier Jaguen at Ston Easton last month. Harvey has also entered the nine-year-old at Cothelstone on the same afternoon but confided that Paxford was his preferred engagement as long as the ground does not dry out significantly.
The ITV and Sky Sports Racing pundit said:” The horse is very well in himself at present and his recent work has been pleasing which leads me to think that the two-and-a-half miles on offer at Paxford will very much suit him.I have put him in at Cothelstone but that is a safety net really as he needs a run and it’s nice to have an alternative. Anyway, I understand the beer tent at Paxford is up there with the best so that was the deciding factor!”
Raven’s Tower, trained by Ben Pauling and owned by his wife Sophie, is an obvious danger to Harvey’s charge as he comes into the race on the back of two victories at Cocklebarrow and Badbury Rings this term. However, at the age of 13 he is probably a little more exposed than Notre Pari, who looked an above average performer under Rules a couple of seasons back but seemingly lost his way.
Pauling has also entered the evergreen gelding in the Conditions (Level 3) contest for Novice Riders and the Conditions (Level 3) race which brings down the curtain on the meeting. If settling for the latter engagement, Ravens Tower would have an obvious chance of completing a hat-trick of recent wins as this course appears to suit horses racing up with the pace.
One of the dream stories of the current season has proved to be Tara Storm, who has already notched wins at Didmarton, Cocklebarrow and Chaddesley Corbett for his rider Eve Hobbs. So impressive has he been that there have reportedly been offers to buy the seven-year-old but the Hobbs family have stood their ground and steadfastly declared that the horse is definitely not for sale.
Which is readily understandable as his young rider has described him as the horse of a lifetime and if he took in the Members contest which opens the card he would be very hard to beat once again. He also holds an entry in the penultimate Conditions race and whichever his chosen engagement it is likely prove a springboard to something better towards the end of the current season.
If Tara Storm’s connections plump for the Members instead of this race that could leave the way open for Shoal Bay to follow up his all the way romp at Shelfield Park just over three weeks ago on his pointing debut. He was well ridden by the relatively inexperienced Oliver Boyden on that occasion and the youngster is likely to be in the saddle once again.
Even with a 10lb penalty it is hard to see beyond Grageelagh Girl in the Conditions (Level 2) affair as she and regular partner Fern O’Brien look set to notch another success together.
The Five Years Old And Upwards Maiden has drawn the biggest entry of the day with 20 horses hoping to find the winner's circle for the first time and, not surprisingly, has a very open look on paper at this stage.
Lockdown Ludo has had a few chances in the past and connections will be hoping the drying ground can play to his strengths. He would be a tentative selection to drop his maiden tag.