It’s not the first time he has ridden here, but the first since he became champion in the 2019/20 season, toppling Richard Johnson from his lofty perch. And last year he fought a titanic battle with Harry Skelton to retain the title, losing out only in the dying days of the season. He will fight to win back the crown this season and has ridden 25 winners to Skelton’s 14, but the season is young and it will be a long haul to April 2022.
Brian Hughes will ride Jamacho in the La Verte Rue Associates Handicap Hurdle on Friday evening. Jamacho will be the first Jersey runner for Charlie Longsdon and having had a satisfactory run at Stratford in mid-June he will take some beating even with top weight.
Hughes will not be the only champ in the race. Reigning local leading rider Freddy Tett is back and will renew his partnership with Bowl Imperior. The pair won the corresponding race in 2019. With no acceptors from Neil Mulholland the field is completed by the sponsor’s Bal Amie, Ormskirk and Rainbow Charlie. The first of these ran well to be second to Molliana last time and will be staying on strongly at the finish.
Bowl Imperior’s owner, Geoff Summers, sponsors the Millbrook 2021 Jersey Guineas, the main event on the card. It’s the first conditions race of the season with the geldings giving 3lb to mares and 10lb to those yet to win a race. Wolf Hunter was a revelation in 2019 when he carried practically everything before him at distances from seven furlongs to a mile and a half. A warm-up run at Windsor didn’t go to plan, but will have knocked off some of the ring rust and if the real Wolf Hunter shows up even the apparently unstoppable Molliana will know she’s been in a race, despite her allowance. Ice Royal and Hard to Handel both ran really well in defeat last time and will be fitter, while Sky Patrol has some improving to do. The newcomer is Deverell, bought by James Moon out of John Gosden’s yard. Set some stiff tasks in France and Goodwood, the local competition won’t be so tough, but he is probably best watched on his local debut.
Jersey will say hello to a couple of apprentice jockeys hoping to make their way up the ranks. Keelan Baker has just three public rides to his name, at Carlisle, Pontefract and Chester. Rhiain Ingram has had rather more opportunities with 35 winners already to her credit. This will be their first time riding at CoinShares Les Landes.
Full preview, selections and race card in Thursday's JEP.