All eyes on county trainers

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THE Northants stables of Caroline Bailey and Alex Hales are running into a hot streak of form ahead of Thursday’s Towcester fixture when the seven race card is due to get underway at 1.40pm.

Both Bailey’s Holdenby North Lodge stables and the Trafford Bridge base of Hales at Edgcote saddled winners and placed runners from raiding parties sent to Fakenham on Sunday.

Bailey’s impressive chaser Three Chords followed up his recent Leicester victory by scoring by a length and three-quarters from Bench Warrent, while Mater Mater, Prince Des Marais and Break The Chain all occupied second spot.

On top of that, the Baileys have also had Empire Builder and Donald Will Do in the frame in the last eight days.

Husband Gerald Bailey said: “It was a good day for us at Fakenham although I suppose we could have had four winners!”

All of this augurs well for the prospects of Bailey’s Bit Of A Clown in the opening 2m novices’ hurdle, when the five year-old could face Newton Tonic from the Hales camp.

The Bailey five year-old runner showed the first indication he possesses some of the ability of his namesake, the Tocky McKie chaser who won six races at Towcester between 1991-93, when gaining a third place at odds of 100/1 behind Non Dom from the Hughie Morrison yard at Leicester on his last outing.

Hales had his second winner in a week when Farewellatmidnight benefited from the first flight departure of 1/10 shot Line Freedom to score in a novices’ hurdle at Fakenham. This came after the success of Antonius Caesar in a handicap chase at Leicester last Tuesday, and Newton Tonic, who already has Towcester form to his name, looks likely to take on Bit Of A Clown.

Newton Tonic looked like winning his bumper on his racecourse debut only to tire in the final furlong and a half coming up the hill in November, when fourth to Max Laurie. The latter individual, trained by Michael Banks, is also entered on Thursday. Newton Tonic was also third to Pret A Thou only 11 days ago on only his second run over hurdles.

Hales’s Antonius Caesar could be asked to defy a 7lbs penalty in the Ladbrokes.com Handicap Chase at 3.10pm. However, he might have his work cut out to defy both Atherstone Hill, last week’s Towcester chase winner for Robin Dickin who has now sent out winners at the track at the last two meetings.

Atherstone Hill runs in the colours of the Colin & Co Partnership and Dickin said: “I think a few of the Towcester regulars were surprised to hear the shouts of ‘Come on Colin!”

Also pitching in the chase is the Peter Pritchard-trained Woodlands Genpower, the 13 year-old who missed the recent Sunday fixture. All of his four Towcester wins have come in January but as horses rarely get given diaries for Christmas, it’s unlikely he will know the clock will have ticked on to February 3!

Meanwhile, the Hales-trained Bobbisox, who has been placed at Towcester in the past, is set to put her best foot forward in the Ladbrokes.com Mares’ Maiden Hurdle.

The action is due to get underway at 1.40pm on Thursday when the admission is free.