A new first for Les Landes

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Now a successful trainer based at Ingmanthorpe, North Yorkshire, Guest will bring a six horsepower team with him as well as a group of family and friends. It will be his first visit to Les Landes.

He said this week: ‘We’ve always fancied coming and been thinking about it for a long time. Usually racing in Jersey falls at a particularly busy time for us, so we’re very pleased to have found a suitable opportunity’.

Richard Guest had a formidable record as a jockey over the big Aintree fences; he finished fifth in the Grand National on Into The Red, on whom he also won the Becher Chase, and second on Romany King before winning the great race on Red Marauder in 2001. In effect he also trained the winner because although the record shows the trainer as the owner, Norman Mason, Richard was his assistant and had prepared Red Marauder for the race.

Earlier he had a long and successful partnership with the late Toby Balding for whom he won the Champion Hurdle in 1989 on Beech Road. Balding had been a regular raider at Les Landes, but he was based in the south. The Guest horsebox will have to travel 270 miles from near Wetherby to the ferry for Jersey.

He added: ‘My wife and kids are coming and we’re arriving a few days early and will make a mini-holiday of it. I have some friends who are coming too so it will be a nice break and if we manage to pick up a bit of prize money, that will be a bonus”.

What might be the one to collect that bonus? ‘Well, Craggaknock is a very decent sort and we’re hopeful he will run well in the hurdle” said Guest, adding ‘But we hope they all run their races and come back safe and sound.’

Craggaknock is a five times winner on the flat and over hurdles; he hasn’t won since 2016, but was a good second at Wetherby in January and had a warm-up on the all-weather at Chelmsford last month.

The raiding party from the UK will be augmented by runners from the stables of George Baker and Natalie Lloyd-Beavis, both regulars at Les Landes.

After the disappointment of the cancellation of the Easter meeting, Sunday’s card looks set to start the season with a bang. For the first time in a very long time a race is over-subscribed. The last race on the card, a nine furlong handicap, has drawn 15 declared runners.

With the safety limit set at 14, the bottom weight Frankki M is the reserve and will only run is another runner is withdrawn.

A big crowd is expected as the Race Club has made admission free for the day.

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