Hot Norton to plunder Ayr prize

Red Hand

NORTONTHORPELEGEND has strong claims of completing a hat-trick in the Handicap Chase at Ayr.

Trainer Rebecca Menzies has hit a rich vein of form since taking over the reins at John Wade’s stable in County Durham during the summer, recently reaching double figures for the campaign. This son of Midnight Legend signed off for Wade with a runner-up finish at Kelso in May and made a perfectly satisfactory start for his new trainer when third on his November reappearance at Wetherby.

That run was clearly not lost on him as he bolted up at Sedgefield 10 days later and ultimately had little trouble obliging under a penalty at Catterick. Having had three runs in as many weeks, Menzies has sensibly given Nortonthorpelegend a month off and he returns to competitive action from a career-high mark. However, he is lightly raced enough to improve further and another bold bid is anticipated.

Desert Cry might be the answer to the Racing UK Winter Season Ticket Handicap Hurdle. Donald McCain’s charge is not getting any younger, having just turned 11, but his impressive victory at Bangor at the start of December signalled a resurgence.

A few years ago Desert Cry was competing in Graded and fiercely competitive handicap chases off marks in the 150s, but a long losing run saw his rating slip. An encouraging seasonal debut at Haydock in November suggested his turn was near and he secured his long-awaited success in some style in Wrexham. The handicapper was impressed enough to hand the Bankhouse inmate a 10lb hike, but he is still feasibly treated on his revised perch of 135 and has run well at Ayr on a few occasions.

National Hunt fare also comes from Plumpton, where Laissez Dire is one of the more exciting horses on show in the two-mile-one-furlong novice chase. The youngster won twice and was not beaten far in good company in France, prompting owner JP McManus to snap him up for no doubt a sizeable fee.

He made his debut for Alan King and first start over fences at Catterick at the end of November and jumped the 135-rated Work In Progress silly on his way to an emphatic victory. That display suggests Laissez Dire is well above average and he should go in again before stepping up in class in the spring.

Vision Of Beauty will not have to improve much to open her account at the third attempt in the Maiden Fillies’ Stakes at Southwell. The French-bred filly looked badly in need of the experience on her Newcastle debut, but ran on with some promise late in the piece to finish third.

She knew more about her job at Wolverhampton next time, making much of the running before fading into third once more. Keith Dalgleish’s charge is clearly no star, but will not need to be to win what looks a particularly weak contest.


Nortonthorpelegend (2.30: Ayr)
Double: Laissez Dire (1.20: Plumpton)
Treble: Desert Cry (2.30: Ayr)
Yankee: Vision Of Beauty (2.10: Southwell)


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