There will be a distinctly North West feel to Challenger Series Finals Day at Haydock Park tomorrow with no fewer than five Cumbrian trainers making the short trip south to try and scoop the outstanding prize money on offer.
Leading that Cumbrian charge is Eden-based Nicky Richards with two/three runners across the card. Richards has spoken out in support of the Challenger Series as an excellent way of bolstering the middle-tier of Jump racing.
Nicky Richards said: “I take my hat off to them as the middle tier needs a real lift across the board so this is a good start. You’ve got to keep your eye on the races through the season as it’s a great opportunity for that kind of horse. There’s excellent prize money across the board and it would be great if we could win one.
“Conquer Gold should have a real good chance in the Mares Chase and I like Caius Marcius in the Two Mile Hurdle Final as well.
“I had a couple more lined up and entered who were ground dependent but hopefully we’ll have a chance of landing one of the Finals.”
Siblings set to do battle in Two Mile Hurdle Final
Also representing Cumbria will be the brother and sister pairing Kenneth Slack and Dianne Sayer who will go head to head in the Two Mile Hurdle Final.
Hilton-based Slack has the exciting Tonto’s Spirit with three pound claimer Colm McCormack taking the ride. The five-year-old has won his last two starts, including a qualifier at Carlisle. Formerly on the Flat with Michael Dods his record over hurdles is three wins from five starts and he is a well fancied 7/1 chance.
Attempting to beat him to the prize money pot will be his sister Dianne Sayer – who is based in Hackthorpe, Cumbria and saddles Weapon Of Choice who will have the services of seven pound claimer Lorcan Murtagh on board.
Sayer also has Cooking Fat in the Stayers Hurdle Final. The six-year-old has enjoyed an excellent season – winning at Wetherby and Catterick, the later of which was a qualifier for the Final. Will Kennedy is booked to ride.
Moffatt and Haynes complete Cumbrian charge
Jonathan Haynes is another Cumbrian seeking the riches at Haydock Park and the Low Row based train has Beyondtemptation in the Mares Hurdle Final, who will have Dale Irving on board. Beyondtempation was the winner of a Newcastle qualifier in February and also finished third in another qualifier at Sedgefield in November.