Black Night to the rescue?
Although no horse in training has Strangles, indeed, all racehorses trained in Jersey have now tested free from the infection, the effect of the single confirmed incident on local racing has been profound. Sunday’s racecard, which promised so much, has suffered multiple withdrawals.
No fewer than six UK trainers had horses entered for the Jersey Bullet fixture including two, Seamus Mullins and Johnny Farrelly, who would have been first- time raiders. None of the six has declared a runner. It seems they have been deterred by the one local incident of Strangles, although the disease is not uncommon in the United Kingdom.
Similarly, neither champion trainer Christa Gilbert nor Tony Le Brocq will be represented. The Regulator required that the Gilbert horses were withdrawn due to one animal in her yard having been found to have antibodies for Strangles, but importantly not the disease, while the Race Club had previously asked Tony Le Brocq to withdraw because one of his horses had earlier shown similar signs of antibodies, but has now tested clear.
This leaves a decidedly lopsided look to the programme, with Alyson Malzard represented by no fewer than 16 of the 29 declared runners. Karl Kukk, James Moon and Angie Corson will provide the rest.
The meeting has a sprint handicap as the main event, hence The Bullet after which the fixture has been named. Of six declared runners, Malzard provides four and Kukk the other pair. Al Sail, Fruit Salad and Limelite all boast reasonable form in the UK, but have yet to show what they might be capable of at Les Landes.
The card opens with a desperately poor handicap hurdle with just three of ten entered standing their ground. James Moon runs two with Alyson Malzard’s runner, Beyond Measure, like to start at prohibitively short odds.
The most competitive race is the fourth, a handicap over the extended mile which sees Jersey’s best horse, Black Night, trying to give 9 lb to Ice Royal and no less than 23 lb upwards to the other six runners, four of them out of the handicap on official ratings.
Although the UK-based trainers are staying away, among jockeys Les Landes regular Mattie Batchelor will be making the journey along with Paddy Aspell, Jersey-born, Newmarket based Tim Clark and Stephen Cummins. The last named is apprenticed to Richard Hughes at Upper Lambourn and earned praise from Angie Corson for his ride on Rainbow Charlie at the last meeting. He resumes the partnership on Sunday.