Dukedom, a John Gosden-trained ‘left-over’ from the 2021 turf season, which concluded last month, races for the first time on an all-weather course when he attempts to make it fifth time lucky and go one better in a thirteen-runner Novice Stakes over six furlongs of Chelmsford polytrack today.

It’s 55 days since this Dubawi colt, owned by Her Majesty, The Queen, achieved a career-best in a nursery, finishing two and three-quarters lengths behind Amor Vincit Omnia over seven furlongs of a ‘soft’ Haydock track; William Buick found Dukedom too keen, which possibly blunted his speed in the closing stages, and so this drop back in trip would seem to be ideal. On the time-handicap Rav Havlin’s mount is clear ‘best-in.’

No ‘cert’ by any means, progressive types Antiphon, Be Glorious and Aussie Banker are nigh guaranteed to be ‘on the premises’ but I’ll be disappointed if 78-rated Dukedom doesn’t finally make the winners’ enclosure.

Earlier on ‘good to soft’ Warwick thrice-raced Ian Williams-trained Saint Riquier represents a ‘stand out’ for the nine-runner Juvenile Hurdle over two miles on the back of a career-best effort in the ‘Triumph Trial’ at Cheltenham twenty-six days ago.

A 50/1 chance, and ridden for the first time by Sam Twiston-Davies, this Le Havre gelding improved ‘a ton’ and chased home Knight Salute to finish second (of 9) with several useful rivals toiling in rear; ‘next time’ was an obvious mental notebook insertion.

Three-year-old hurdlers are ‘my baby’ and until next April will figure prominently in this modus operandi, because median requirement comes from extensive data down the years; I know instinctively what’s needed and reckon Saint Riquier rates a solid each-way betting proposition under ‘Twisty’, one of the best NH jockeys I’ve seen.

Jockeyship is of paramount importance and at thirty experienced Sam is always a plus. Has there ever been a better finisher when the chips are down?

Half an hour later eighteen go to post for a two and a half miles Maiden Hurdle; it’s the most impossible race to solve imaginable but smacks of the quality we’ve come to expect at this particular Midlands venue; the instruction is, watch it, take notes and benefit from the future form because it’s sure to be a long-term winner!

Rest of the card looks tough but in comparison the Novices’ Hurdle over two miles of ‘good’ ground Taunton should see Paul Nicholls’s 126-rated Paso Doble run out an easy winner of a shallow dash round the popular right-handed circuit, under talented stable jockey Harry Cobden. If evens or better this will be a ‘professional special’ and an anchor for our trixie/patent.

The NH season is now in full swing.enjoy it.

Selections, Warwick, 12.20 Saint Riquier (e.w); Taunton, 1.00 Paso Doble; Chelmsford, 4.00 Dukedom (e.w). 

 Jeffrey Ross, horse-racing correspondent for WMN since 1983 when winning the most prestigious racing journalist award, Sporting Life Naps Table, before winning it a record number of six times collectively in the Racing Post, the current ‘trade’ paper, including 2019