FOR a change, the young Welsh riding star James Bowen didn’t ride a high-profile winner at the weekend.

He did, however, get second place on Shantou Flyer in a televised £75,000 chase at Cheltenham. That’s no mean achievement for a 16 year old, but it was completely overlooked because the winner, Frodon, was ridden by the season’s other headline-grabbing conditional, Bryony Frost.

Bowen was invited over to Ireland to ride a couple of horses for Gordon Elliott at Gowran Park last Thursday, but that didn’t work out very happily.

After finishing sixth on Out Sam the vet found the horse had been marked by the whip. Bowen was apparently told to make himself available for a stewards’ inquiry and not to leave the track, but he had departed by the time the stewards were ready. The Irish racing authorities will be investigating further and he may have to incur a fine or a ban.

There haven’t been many runners from local stables in the last week. Unless you have horses to run on the all-weather or on heavy ground, which seems to have been ever-present this winter, opportunities are limited.

Chepstow race this Friday. We should see several of the top jockeys in action, including the champion Richard Johnson, seeing as the only other jump meeting is at distant Catterick.

Although we won’t know who’ll be running until Thursday, the initial entries can indicate some horses that we should look out for.

Johnson has been associated with Philip Hobbs’ stable for many years. That yard is having a quiet season by their standards, though a Hereford bumper winner on Monday may signal a turning point.

They have the two top-rated entries, Rolling Dylan and Duke Des Champs, in the three mile novice chase. On form both of them have a stone in hand over their rivals, one of which is the Bowens’ Souriyan. He was second at Chepstow last time out, but the stable hasn’t sent out a winner for six weeks.

The best horse in the three mile novice hurdle, according to official ratings, is the Warren Greatrex-trained Rock My Style. Johnson won on him over half a mile less at Hereford two weeks ago and the partnership could be reunited on Friday.

The yard had a purple patch a few weeks ago, but with no winners since the 20th there’s a chance they may have passed their peak.

Bill And Barn dead-heated over course and distance in December and has since ran well upped in class in a novice chase. It’s interesting to see that his trainer Paul Nicholls has entered him in a hurdle.

In the two and a half mile chase, Evan Williams’ progressive Market Road is only two pounds higher after his latest win, his third in his last five races.

Bernard Llewellyn’s Hansupfordetroit could run in this or the three mile chase. He will like the conditions but he is probably too high in the weights.

The evergreen Paddy The Oscar will be a popular choice in the three miler.

The first of seven races is due to get under way at 1.10 and an afternoon at the races would be a good way to start the weekend early.

Tickets are as little as £15 if booked in advance.