Latest News

Sheppard and Hitchings should land Lady Dudley Cup

19-April-2024 18:20
in General
by Andrew King

Enthusiastic owners Clive and Joan Hitchings are based only a few miles from Chaddesley Corbett Rracecourse and have long wanted a horse good enough to land the prestigious Lady Dudley Cup which takes centre stage on the seven race-card at the Worcestershire venue on Saturday.

And their wish may have been granted in the shape of Grace A Vous Enki, who bids to extend his unbeaten sequence to six victories following a handful of wins around Larkhill over the winter months under the tutelage of Ledbury trainer Nicky Sheppard.

All the eight-year-old's successes to date between the flags have been on the right-handed Wiltshire circuit despite his tendency to jump left at some fences ever since his winning run started back in December, so a switch to a left-handed track should play to his strengths.

He obviously gets on well with rider James King and strictly on the formbook he should take all the beating with the drying ground holding no terrors as he seems to act on most underfoot conditions.

As far as dangers go the most obvious looks to be Quintin's Man, who was pulled up in the Foxhunters at Cheltenham last month but he holds an entry at Flete Park and connections may choose to stay closer to home.

D'Jango disappointed at Cotley last Sunday while Forest Chimes may well take his chance in the Members contest later on the card so perhaps Deise Aba may prove the one who gives Grace A Vous Enki most to think about.

The Hitchings/Sheppard axis also hold a strong hand in the Ladies Open with Ihandaya who will be looking to build on recent verdicts at Didmarton and Larkhill but this represents his sternest test to date with the Gina Ellis-trained pair - Captain Biggles and Tigerbythetail - entered.

Both Ellis horses hold engagements elsewhere over the weekend but it would be interesting if Captain Biggles turned up as he has been lightly campaigned this term and remains a relatively fresh horse.

The card opens with a Maiden for 4&5yo and, as usual with this type of race, many of the usual suspects have entries and the betting moves in the pre-race market may provide some valuable clues for punters.

Of those with previous jumping experience Mister Carson, one of the duo representing the Ellis team along with Rocket Rufus, showed enough when runner-up at Larkhill to suggest one of these races should be well within his compass.

While it is also worth noting the Francesca Poste-trained pair - Peace Pact and Vadavvero - along with Gallonray and Pluto's Gate, who are trained by the very shrewd Bradley Gibbs.

And keep a special eye on the Eamon Donnabhain-trained Old Cowboy, who was the subject of plenty of support on his Larkhill debut, and not beaten that far. He is sure to derive benefit for the experience.

Gina Ellis also appears to have the answer to the Conditions (Level 2) contest as I'm Spellbound seems to have a fairly straight-forward task in making amends for a last fence fall when clear last time - as long as his confidence has not been dented.

The Jockey Club Mares Maiden is an interesting conundrum and is best treated with a degree of caution but debutante Silver Sunrise, who is related to winners, would not have to be out of the ordinary to figure at the finish.

It's a similar picture in the Maiden Conditions affair which looks competitive on paper but fiendishly difficult to sort out as plenty of those entered have chances on one line of form or another.

Money From America keeps threatening to win but was disappointing last time and it may well be left to the triumverate of Bellamy's Boy, Spaghetti Pete and Catchim to fight it out for the spoils.

As mentioned above Forest Chimes may well go for the Members contest which concludes the card in a bid to follow up last year's comfortable victory in the race for owner Diane Williams. If that is the case he will take all the beating again.

Clerk of the course Jim Squires said at the time of writing (Tuesday): "We are soft and good to soft in places but with a drying week I expect it will be closer to good ground with a few good to soft places by Saturday, The course is being topped and harrowed which will also help matters."

Event details








4m SE Cheltenham, nr junction of A40 and A436 (Exit 11A, M5)


Buy your tickets now

Our Sponsors