Stratford racegoers are set to witness a fine spectacle in an informative Charlotte Cole Memorial Beginners’ Chase – which includes Black Op and Lisnagar Oscar.
Black Op goes back chasing on Thursday after an aborted attempt last season, which saw him finish third at Exeter and Cheltenham behind smart sorts Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation.
Jumping errors were prevalent, which meant Tom George sent him back hurdling, but he was no match in that discipline for the imperious Paisley Park on a couple of occasions.
Lisnagar Oscar was a Grade Two novice winner over timber, and was not disgraced at Cheltenham and Aintree.
He was then narrowly beaten by Ardlethen first time out this season on his chasing debut at Chepstow – where a slow jump at the last cost him dearly.
His trainer Rebecca Curtis said: “We are dropping in trip a little, but there’s no reason why really.
“He seems to be good on flattish tracks like that. It’s over two-five – he won at two-three over hurdles, so he’s not short on pace.
“It was this race or Exeter – and Exeter can be a real slog over three miles, so we don’t mind dropping back.
“He did almost everything right at Chepstow but just got in tight to the last. You couldn’t fault him really.
“His jumping has been a lot sharper at home since then, so hopefully he’ll go well.”
Down The Highway has a bit to find on the ratings with both Black Op and Lisnagar Oscar.
But Emma Lavelle is happy to take her chance with the six-year-old, who won one of his four hurdles outings and has also scored in point-to-point company.
She said: “It is a competitive race, but you have to start somewhere – and Stratford is a nice track to start them on.
“There’s five decent horses in there, and sometimes it’s nice to run in a race like that – when there’s not a lot of runners, and natural ability will probably mean they go a decent gallop.
“He ran well first time last year, and the fact we went to a Grade Two at Sandown is a reflection of what a nice horse he is.
“But it all went pear-shaped there – and then he went to Chepstow, where he wasn’t too far behind Lisnagar Oscar at all.
“At Haydock, he was almost too keen over three miles. But I think that will be his distance, and chasing will be his job – I’d expect him to improve for the run, though.”