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Gracious John out to carry on as flagbearer for David Evans

Gracious John (right) was victorious at Newbury last April
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Gracious John was the standout star for David Evans in 2018 and his stable are hoping he can continue to do the business in the Class 2 handicap sprint at Chelmsford (5.55) on Thursday.

The six-year-old was a Listed winner at Lingfield last year and has placed on his two most recent starts, both of which were also on the all-weather.

It will be his first run at the Essex track since February 2016, when he experienced some difficulty, but assistant trainer Emma Evans believes that he is now much more mature and should have a good chance.

She said: “He’s been very well and been running well. He hasn’t been to Chelmsford since he went very wide a couple of years ago and had an awful run round. We think he’s grown up a lot since then.”

David Evans had two winners over the New Year period

The feature sprint boasts a prize pot of £20,000, and everything looks to be falling nicely for Gracious John.

Evans added: “He’s got Adam Kirby on him, he has a good draw and it’s his favoured trip so hopefully he’ll go close. He’s coming into form now and the horses are absolutely flying for us at the moment so it looks good.”

Verne Castle looks to be the main danger, having won his last two races at Chelmsford for Michael Wigham, while the 11-year-old Tropics also has course form worth noting, winning three of his previous five runs here.

Noel Williams going Flat-out in France

Predominantly a jumps trainer, it is always eye-catching when Noel Williams has a runner on the Flat, and even more so when he happens to be running in France.

Williams ran five horses on the Flat a total of 14 times in Britain last year, but just three days into 2019 he is sending recent recruit Pure Country over to Deauville to compete in a 1m4½f conditions race.

The four-year-old went off at 66-1 at Kempton in October but ended up finishing third and only two lengths behind winner Silver River, and Williams is hoping the son of Frankel can build on that form.

He said: “It’s a bit of an experiment going out there. He ran such a nice race first time out for us at Kempton that we thought it might be worth trying to win in France as the prize-money is so much better and he’s eligible for the French premium.”

Noel Williams is sending Pure Country across the Channel in search of victory

It's a different game for The Meter

The Meter returns to Chelmsford for the first time since her shock 150-1 win for trainer Mohamed Moubarak in October, but arrives under a much different narrative.

Stepping up to a mile in the Class 4 novice stakes (4.10), the three-year-old is forecast to go off favourite and it will be interesting to see whether jockey Darragh Keenan will be able to replicate the magic that led to her previous victory.

Moubarak, who also owns the filly, had four winners in 2018 and will be looking to get the year off to the best possible start here.

Win number one the target for Carol Vorderman

Carol Vorderman was a spectator at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day but on Thursday shifts to owner status at Ludlow – where racing is subject to a 6.45am inspection – with Subway Surf set to tackle the bumper (3.25) for the Surf On The Turf syndicate.

The former Countdown star tweeted her excitement for the occasion on Wednesday, declaring that she owns “about a leg” of the horse trained by “the lovely” Kim Bailey, with the five-year-old set to make her rules debut after winning a point-to-point contest last year.

Bailey said: “I saw Carol at Cheltenham and she was very excited about it. She won’t be at Ludlow unfortunately as she’s a very busy woman, but hopefully Subway Surf can put in a good performance.”

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He?s got Adam Kirby on him, he has a good draw and it?s his favoured trip so hopefully he?ll go close
E.W. Terms