Racing is set to return to Carlisle for the first time in 2021 on Tuesday.
Trainer Lucinda Russell says she is excited to send out Haute Estime in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.
The trainer believes four-year-old is “one of our bright stars for the future”, a claim supported by the four year old’s promising second behind the impressive Eileendover on debut at Wetherby in December.
She said: “We’re quite excited about Haute Estime. Her form is absolutely rock solid. We bought her as a two-year-old and I absolutely love her.
“If the ground is very heavy I might not run her. She’s by Walk In The Park and I think she’s one of our bright stars of the future so I want to look after her, but a mares’ race around Carlisle would suit her if the ground wasn’t too heavy.
“She was second to Eileendover, who’s probably one of the best Bumper mares this season and to be fair to Haute Estime she hadn’t done anything away from home so it was all pure ability that day, so she’s quite an exciting mare.”
Russell is also looking forward to seeing how Aurora Thunder fares over a shorter distance in the opening race, the racingtv.com Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.
The seven-year-old shaped well when fourth in a Pertemps Qualifier over 3m 1f here in December, travelling well for a long way before just running out of steam in the closing stages.
Now Russell believes the drop back to 2m 4f ought to help her mare, who already has one win at this trip under her belt at Ayr this season.
She said: “She ran a fantastic race there last time over three miles. She travelled absolutely brilliantly until the bottom of the hill and just didn’t get home.
“So we’re sort of hoping that dropping her back to 2m 4f will do the trick and if she’s in the same form she’ll have a very good chance. She’ll be a long price as well, you’d think, because of her last run, but I think 2m 4f round there would be ideal.”
Jockey Craig Nichol is a regular at the track, serving as a Jump Jockey ambassador for the course last year, and his potential rides include the Keith Dalgleish-trained Big Jim Dwyer in the sixth race on Tuesday’s card, the Racing Post GoNorth Weekend 20-22 March Handicap Hurdle.
He said: “It would be good to get back to Carlisle. It’s one of the nicest tracks in the country, and I’m looking forward to riding there again.
“I’ve ridden Big Jim Dwyer a few times. He’s now in handicap company and ran better at Musselburgh the last time I was on him (in December) over two-and-a-half miles.
He was a little bit disappointing last time out, but I think two miles on a stiff track like Carlisle should suit him.”
Nichol is also booked to ride the 11-year-old Smuggler’s Stash, who he feels will be suited by the 3m 2f trip in the fifth contest, the Racing Post GoNorth Weekend 20-22 March Handicap Chase.
He said: “Smuggler’s Stash likes it round Carlisle, and always runs consistently well there, whether that’s winning or running into a place.
“He’s an older horse now but he’s put a couple of good runs together this year and hopefully he produces another one on Tuesday over 3m 2f. We know he stays really well, so hopefully that will be ideal.”
Meanwhile, trainer Dianne Sayer had been hoping to run Frightened Rabbit at Carlisle last week until frost prompted an abandonment.
The nine-year-old has a good record at the track and, like Big Jim Dwyer, is set to run in the sixth race on the card.
She said: “He’s come on fine for his run at Musselburgh. That wouldn’t be a track that suits him, but it was the only opportunity we could find for him.
“He’s got a heart as thick as a lion, and what he doesn’t have in stature he makes up for in courage. That Carlisle hill can sort a lot of them out, and he will dig in.
“We do our best to turn up at Carlisle whenever we get the opportunity so it’ll be good to be there.
He is owned by Liz and Tony Harrison, who are local hoteliers and butchers.
“Normally when Carlisle is on there’s a minibus from both of their pubs, so they’ll all be watching little Rabbit at home!”
A precautionary inspection planned for 3pm tomorrow.