A bumper 102 horses have been declared across the card, with Charlie Longsdon’s Hammersly Lake, Harry Fry’s American and Colin Tizzard’s Sizing Codelco topping the weights for the feature race, the £35,000 Staffordshire Plate, a handicap run over three miles.
Having recently collected his third Stobart Champion Jockey Championship at Sandown Park, Richard Johnson is strong favourite to retain his crown. It will once again be no easy task, however, as Harry Skelton and Brian Hughes are both well fancied to push Johnson hard once again.
Similarly, reigning champion Nicky Henderson is well fancied to retain his Champion Trainer crown for the sixth time. Former champion Paul Nicholls, Irish champion Willie Mullins and Colin Tizzard are next in the betting at 3/1, 16/1 and 20/1 respectively.
The Staffordshire Plate was run for the first time in 2017, and thanks to support from bet365, sees a prize money boost of £10,000 to a total of £35,000 in 2018.
To commemorate the fixture’s position at the start of the jump season, the racecourse has commissioned a new trophy, which will be awarded for the first time in 2018.
Made by Stoke-on-Trent artist Jonathan Plant, Director of Moorland Pottery, the new Staffordshire Plate features the county crest along with scenes commemorating the industrial, sporting and cultural heritage of the region.