Late afternoon, early evening or twilight could all be accurate ways of describing this week’s Towcester card as action gets underway at the Northamptonshire track at 4.45pm today (Thursday).
The month of May is a busy time for Towcester, with meetings hemmed into a 22-day slot, three of them being evening fixtures allowing race goers and optimistic punters alike to sample a burst of profitable sunshine as well as a unique and vibrant atmosphere.
Following today’s card which kicks off with the Haygain Hay Steamers Clean Healthy Forage Handicap Hurdle, there are meetings on successive Mondays on May 12 and 19. The latter is an afternoon card which arrives four days before the Ladies Night (May 23) after which National Hunt racing at Towcester takes a break until October.
County focus could be sharpest today in the 2m handicap hurdle at 7.05pm when the Anna Brooks-trained Drombeg West has the type of encouraging form likely to make her a key player following a success at Towcester on February 23 and then at Huntingdon 17 days later.
However, the handicapper has taken a dim view of those exploits which have seen the Westerner mare rise from a mark of 73 to 95 which will undoubtedly mean a career-best performance is required to score again under Andrew Tinkler.
Another plausible alternative with recent course form could be the Michael Chapman-trained Epee Celeste. Although it has been a long time since Chapman, a director at Grimsby Town, has operated in Northamptonshire (he once trained at Clipston), his owners are Hinwick-based Susan and Stephen Richards.
Epee Celeste was a winner at Towcester as recently as Easter Sunday when the eight-year-old French bred chestnut mare scored a four-and-a-half length win from Fine Moment under jockey Joe Cornwall.
Northants interest in the handicap hurdle does not end there as Ginger Fizz could go to post under Kielan Woods, the mare having recently scored at Chepstow and been an honorable second at Wetherby.
However, the Case team might have an even likelier sort in the concluding 2m Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race at 8.10pm in the form of Warwick winner Midnight Jazz.
The 3m handicap chase on the card is a conditional jockeys’ event and it might pay to have close look at the credentials of west country raider Tara Tavey if the mare goes to post as her trainer Kevin Bishop has enjoyed success here in the past.