Haydock Park, Saturday 21st May 2022, Cazoo Temple Stakes Day

It’s definitely fair to say that at about 3.47pm yesterday The Queen was far more smiley than last Sunday when she had to put up with Alan Titchmarsh fawning over her in desperation for a knighthood in ITV’S tribute show to her after her star sprinter King’s Lynn just hung on to take the feature Group 2 Temple Stakes under David Probert which formed the third of a big race treble for the jockey.

For trainer Andrew Balding this was the second winner of the afternoon and one who is now almost certainly to be Royal Ascot bound for a crack at the King’s Stand Stakes.

In a strong looking renewal plenty had chances and King’s Lynn looked to have the race in the bag but Twighlight Calls began to hit top stride and was closing the gap but King’s Lynn managed to hang on as they went past the red and white lollipop.

Both the front pair should square off again at Ascot and the undulating nature should suit the runner up a bit more than the winner although no doubt any American raiders will have a say in it too.

Favourite Winter Power ran ok to begin with but flattened out in the last two furlongs but she will strip fitter for the run but it’s highly likely that the Nunthorpe will be her main target this season.

In the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes for 3yo over 6f saw El Caballo continue his massive climb up the ranks as he made it four from four this season to follow up his win in last month’s 3yo AW Championship race.

This race had plenty of potential improvers in it and the winner held off Flaming Rib who beat the Temple Stakes winner last time out at the Roodee so off that El Caballo could be the cock of the 3yo sprinters as the season progresses, he will probably take his chance in the Commonwealth Cup which will be as wide open as ever.

Flaming Rib will definitely get a nice race at some point as it now appears that sprinting is definitely his forte and he has plenty to offer in this division.

The afternoon’s two feature handicaps saw the continuing burgeoning career of the Clive Cox trained Whoputfiftyinyou landing the famous Silver Bowl, in a race full of plenty of unexposed 3yo horses the one they all had to beat was Mighty Ulysees who for many was the group horse in a handicap and it looked for all money that the bookies would be facing a hefty payout but Whoputfiftyinyou dug in down the outside and went by him towards the end to make it four from four.

He was stepping up in trip from having previously been campaigned at 6f and 7f,going off how he won this he should get a bit further, the next step would naturally be the ultra tricky Brittania at Royal Ascot although it would be no shock if he were to bypass it for something a little less difficult.

Mighty Ulysees’ odyssey won’t have been hampered by this result although he isn’t one to write off but he will need to bounce back as he does have a Royal Ascot entry in the St James’s Palace but that could prove to be a more tentative one.

In the Hell Nook Handicap over two miles, Valley Forge had to use every ounce of strength to land the spoils but did so in the style of an improving stayer.

Successful in last years Melrose at York he resumed the new season with a fair fifth over 1m6f at Newmarket and looked as though an extra couple of furlongs with suit and he looked to appreciate the new trip and if anything looked like even further with aid his cause, the staying division will be wide open when Stradivarius retires and Valley Forge would have as good a chance as any in picking the mantle up.

Next weekend we return to Haydock for the John O’Gaunt and the Pinnacle Stakes, Till then goodbye

Haydock Park, Saturday 7th May 2022, Pertemps Swinton Hurdle Day

N’Golo Scores In Swinton

The white rose was being firmly paraded around Haydock Park on Saturday on a stellar afternoon for the neighbours on the other side of the M62 as Ann Duffield and Gavin Sheehan teamed up to land the first big race of the new jumps season with N’Golo as the dashing grey formerly trained in Ireland by Willie Mullins bagged the Grade 3 Swinton Hurdle in supreme style.

In a fair renewal of this historic handicap the winner was always well to the fore and on the run in was always in command of victory, he has taken a bit of time to find his feet in British races and while he struggled at the top table in Ireland he should be able to do a bit more depending where he goes now as he also has a flat rating of 78 which could be exploited in middle distance races.

Severance ran an honest race back in second but just always seems to find one to good in his races, the wind surgery seems to have worked the oracle with him and could be one to keep onside next season.

Aldaary Blooms In Spring

On the flat the feature contest came straight after in the Listed Spring Trophy over seven furlongs which saw a fine seasonal reappearance by the William Haggas trained Aldaary who easily brushed aside a fair looking field with utter contempt under Jim Crowley.

He finished off his 2021 campaign at Ascot on Champions Day when he landed the Balmoral Handicap and now looks set for an even bigger jump up in company, he should be Royal Ascot bound but after the way he win here it would be no shock if a return trip for the John O’Gaunt Stakes in a fortnight would be on the cards.

Romeo On The Run

Sue Smith runners are always to be feared at Haydock even in spring as opposed to the depths of winter that regular visitors here are used to experiencing and today proved to be no exception as Romeo Brown jumped out to make all up in the longest race of the afternoon the three mile handicap hurdle.

In a very competitive race on paper this 8yo under his conditional rider Thimas Willmott who claimed 3lbs, made every post a winning one, he turned on the screw as they came into the home straight and simply could not be caught although Panic Attack from the Pipe yard stayed on itno second spot she simply could not reduce the defecit even on the long run in.

This was actually the first time Romeo Brown had finished a race here at Haydock, he ran twice here in December 2019 and fell both times and thankfully that memory is now a world away.

Brad Bags Sprint

Hugo Palmer continued his solid start from his new Cheshire base after being signed by Michael Owen to run Manor House Stables as Brad The Brief under David Egan took the 6f Conditions Stakes.

Already a previous course winner in 2020 when Haydock raced in lockdown he has been consistent enough and although he does struggle in higher grade races, he is at home in races like this and at Listed/G3 level.

Hard to know what future targets will be but possibilities could include visits to Ireland and France as the season progresses.

A fine day of mixed racing where the flat and jumping worlds come together for an afternoon of racing from 6f to 3m and other trips in between

This meeting is the only one left in the UK at the moment and while it’s a shame that the sport doesn’t have more compared to France and Ireland it is nice to experience the variety that they can offer.

Haydock Park, Saturday 23rd April 2022, Flat Season Opener

Boardman Cycles To Glory

The 6yo Boardman had to overcome a few traffic problems in running to land the feature Great Shevington Handicap under David Allan for Tim Ewsterby yesterday on an afternoon which heralded the return of flat racing to the north west.

Not ideally drawn in stall eight of the ten starters meant he was held up as they went round the turn before being angled out as they got to the flamme rouge from where he hit top stride to get up on the line to beat Alrehb his fellow market leader who was always up with the pace but got beat by the better horse on the day.

Going in off 90 means he’ll probably face a step up into pattern company and being a dual Haydock winner he could be back as many have done over the years here to have a crack at the Spring Trophy.

Doyle At The Double

Visually the most impressive performance of the afternoon came in the 3yo Novice race for fillies over a mile as Hollie Doyle bagged the first of her two winners on Nashwa from the Gosden yard.

Just the one start last October at Newmarket over 7f she was very well fancied in this race and drew away very comfortably to break her duck at the second time of asking, she has a nice look about her and holding an Oaks entry at Epsom and the French one at Chantilly means that the connections rate her highly indeed, she will easily get 10f going off this so it’ll be very interesting to see where she goes for her next run.


Her second winner of the afternoon came up in the Lathom Handicap over a mile as she partnered Excel Power home in a bold display of front running from the inside draw to the delight of the bookies as he landed the pot at 20-1.

He finished off last season winning on the sand at Chelmsford at the same price under the same jockey and should continue to pay his way once more as the season progresses, the horse and jockey combination continue to flourish as of his five wins Hollie has been in the saddle for four of them, it’s possible the handicapper might have his say after this though.

Excel Power

Comedy Has Last Laugh.

Lastly the toughest performance of the day came in the opening contest as Charlie Appleby continues his good run of things as New Comedy dug in under James Doyle to make it two wins from two starts this year.

Unraced as a two year old this already gelded son of Sea The Stars won on his course debut at Southwell back in January and had a real battle against Duty Bound who was one of two Gosden runners in the field in the last furlong but the Godolphin favourite just got up on the line in a real head bobber of a finish.

He shapes more like a stayer going off how he won this afternoon and has plenty of fight in him when taken on, like many who win a maiden or novice race it’s hard to know what his ceiling will be but you would imagine it could be a high rise building as opposed to a bungalow!

Haydock Park, Saturday 16th April 2022, Challenger Finals Day

Glorious spring sunshine gathered over Haydock Park for the traditional Easter Saturday raceday which featured the six finals for the popular Challenger series which is aimed at mid tier jump racing to give those horses a chance to earn some decent money for the season for their trainers.

As ever here a good holiday crowd turned out for the first time since 2019 and as the sun begins to set on the 2021/22 jumps season they gave the north west jump season a fond farewell as it sailed off into the sunset after the last race.

Challenger Finals Winners 2021/22

Mares’ Hurdle Final, 2m3f.

Cubswin, 8yo Bay Mare, Neil King, Jack Quinlan,

Owners, Mr D Caldwell and Mr K Lawrence

Middle Distance Chase Final, 2m4f

Corran Cross, 7yo Bay Gelding, Richard Bandey, Harry Bannister

Owner, Miss A.M. Reed

Two Mile Hurdle Final, 1m7f 144yds

Zabeel Champion, 5yo Bay Gelding, Jonjo O’Neill, Jonjo O’Neill JR

Owner, Martin Tedham and Wasdell Properties Ltd

Staying Chase Final, 3m1f 125yds

Musical Slave, 9yo Bay Gelding, Philip Hobbs, Tom O’Brien

Owner, JP McManus

Staying Hurdle Final, 3m

An Tailleur, 6yo Grey Gelding, Jonjo O’Neill, Jonjo O’Neill JR

Owner, Mr P Hickey

Mares’ Chase Final, 2m5f 127yds

Midnightreferendum, 9yo Bay Mare, Alan King, Tom Cannon

Owner, Robert Abrey, Ian Thurtle and David Gibbon

Another jumps season all done with and although it’s been limited as regards courses attended due to the current situation hence only reviews from three as opposed to more in recent years it’s been good to be back with the tweed and hedge hoppers.

Now we turn our attention to the flat with a visit back to Haydock this upcoming Saturday and you can follow my racing and other various sporting adventures on twitter at @wattyracing and on Instagram at neil_d_watson

Aintree Races, Thursday 7th April 2022, Grand National Festival Opening Day

In what seemed a lifetime ago and with a world that has experienced something it never thought it would do, crowds returned to Aintree for the Grand National Festival, the defining sporting event in Merseyside and the race which draws people in like no other.

2022 is a huge year for sport in the north west with Manchester and Leigh hosting games in the Women’s Euros in July then come autumn we will see Manchester,Leigh,Wigan,Warrington,Bolton and St Helens all hosting games in the Rugby League World Cup but to kick start the glorious year of sport we turn to Aintree.

Epatante In Aintree Hurdle Glory

Nicky Henderson loves Aintree winners and his fabulous mare Epatante gave him a fourth success in the Grade One Aintree Hurdle as she cruised home under Aidan Coleman to bag her third win of the season.

Having dead heated for the Fighting Fifth and winning the Christmas Hurdle this season she came here with a point to prove possibly having been beaten by Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle but she took the step up in trip with ease and beat a reasonably decent field in the process.

This will most likely have been her final run of the season unless connections fancy a trip over to Punchestown but it’s likely she will go the same route of Newcastle and Kempton before heading to Cheltenham once again and although she saw this trip out it might be a case that the long distance hurdle races might come under consideration too.


Clan Does It Again.

After being successful in the first three races last year as a part owner, the footballing legend that is Sir Alex Ferguson was able to relive a bit of that with a crowd this time as Clan Des Obeaux repeated his Betway Bowl win from last year.

In what looked good quality race, Clan Des Obeaux came here having been kept fresh from his February defeat in the Denman Chase at Newbury, he jumped nicely as ever in the first time blinkers and was sent on by Harry Cobden from third last despite ploughing through it and despite getting a bit tired on the run in he got to the line just in time from the fast finishing Conflated.

Clan Des Obeaux has been lighly raced this season but held his form pretty well, Punchestown may be the next stop for him before his summer break and a hattrick of Bowl attempts will no doubt be the plan of action for this top chaser.

Of the beaten horses Protektorat probably felt the affects of a hard race in the Gold Cup, he is still a young horse and has plenty of big days ahead of him, expect to see him in the Charlie Hall or Many Clouds Chases in the early part of the season.


Pass Scores In Hunters

Back in December racegoers saw Bridget Andrews ride a big race winner at Aintree and this afternoon they saw sister Gina do the same as she steered Latenightpass to victory in the Foxhunters’ Chase over the big greens.

Runner up last year behind 66-1 winner Cousin Pascal who tried to make it a repeat win but faded towards the end, Latenightpass had a real fight on after the last fence with Cap Tiger under David Maxwell but Gina Andrews kept her mount up to his work as he repelled the runner up by a lenght or so.

Always an interesting and entertaining race to watch and this was no exception, Latenightpass is a hardy sort and had two wins in points prior to this and all being well he should be back to defend his crown next year

Best Of The Rest

Arguably the most controversial moment of the day came in the G1 Anniversary Hurdle for 4yos when Knight Salute and Pied Piper passed the post in unison and despite the judge using more magnifying glasses than Lovejoy and Indiana Jones combined the result was a dead heat.

However that was not the end of things as the stewards called an inquiry and after questioning jockeys Paddy Brennan and Davy Russell they decided that interference had taken place and thus awarded the race outright to the Milton Harris trained Knight Salute who had previously been sighted behind Pied Piper in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham, he is rated 75 on the flat too which could mean the odd foray into some middle distance handicaps before going back hurdling in the autumn

Finally the opening Manifesto Novice Chase looked a fairly weak renewal on paper and went the way of the Alex Hales trained Millers Bank who finally seems to be going the right way over fences, after his debut chasing win at Huntingdon in October he then posted two U’s before chasing home Pic D’orhy home in the Pendil at Kempton, he is probably worth keeping an eye on in 2m4f handicap chases next term.

Despite the weather being a pain to begin with it turned out to be a glorious afternoon of jump racing at the home of the Grand National

Thursday is always a day for the racing purist and this afternoon showed exactly why, for those affiliated with the red half of Manchester would have been bouncing seeing Sir Alex collect the prize when Clan Des Obeaux went in and fans went crazy as Epatante hosed up in the Aintree Hurdle while the noise in the winners enclosure from everyone connected with Latenightpass showed what was missing from last years behind closed doors meeting.

Aintree has a special place in the hearts not just of racing fans in general but for the people of Liverpool also, a countryside sport in a port city is a very unusual combination but in this part of Merseyside it works and has been sorely missed by the loyal racegoers over the past two years.

Next up is the final jump meeting of our season with Challenger Finals Day at Haydock, till then it’s goodbye.

Warwick Races, Friday 25th February 2022, Budbrooke Cup Day

Cup Success For Guye

A decent sized crowd took advantage of the reduced £5 entry fee for Fiver Friday to cheer on Espoir De Guye home as he recovered from a very shaky start to land the £15,609 first prize feature race, The Feldon Dunsmore Budbrooke Cup.

Ducking away at the start he recovered under the kind steerage of jockey Charlie Deutsch and apart from an error at the fourth fence he gathered himself together to runaway a seven lenght victor from Alnadam back in second place.

It’s highly possible he will bypass Cheltenham but could be aimed for something like the Topham Trophy at Aintree over the National fences and provided he doesn’t make the same mistakes again he could have a say in the matter.

Espoir De Guye

Best Of The Rest

The Stuart Edmunds stable had a nice winner in the 2m3f EBF NH Novice Hurdle as Arizona Cardinal finally landed a touchdown under Sam Twiston-Davies, although probably not a strong race he held on nicely from runner up Hauraki Gulf to land the spoils by a neck.

Arizona Cardinal

Trainer Cynthia Woods who trains in Crowborough which is south of Royal Tunbridge Wells was very much unlike all the inhabitants who write to complain from being disgusted to the Daily Mail as she was over the moon as Glorious Lady got up under a power packed drive by Tabitha Worsley to bag the Mares’ Chase which was also a qualifier for the Challenger Mares’ Chase Final at Haydock on Easter Saturday, she will probably have a crack at the final but this win will hopefully help launch the Cynthia Woods stable who has only held a full licence since the start of the season.


Finally in the concluding mares’ bumper which looked pretty decent on paper saw Lutinebella finally break his duck at the fourth time asking under Paddy Brennan for Fergal O’Brien, she has acquitted herself well in both starts this season and now with the win under her belt could take in either another small bumper or have a crack at the Grade 2 Mares’ Bumper at Aintree but she should make into a nice hurdler next season

A short break from racing for a while now, Aintree will be the next port of call here although circumstances will depend on which days will be covered, Thursday will definitely be reviewed so stay tuned in April to see what occurs, till then enjoy Cheltenham and keep backing winners.

Haydock Park, Saturday 19th February 2022, William Hill Grand National Trial Day

Bear Has Necessities To Win Trial

In a race which had eleven brave horses set out over the marathon trip of three and a half miles only three lasted out to the bitter end as The Galloping Bear for new trainer Ben Clarke and jockey Ben Jones followed on from last months Surrey National win at Lingfield as they broke the hearts of fans of Bristol De Mai who tried do defy topweight by staying on powerfully to land the Grade 3 Grand National Trial.

Bristol De Mai tried to do his customary thing of making all and turning for home he had The Galloping Bear and Time To Get Up as the only ones still in contention which the crowd who braved the elements were warming up very much from this but on the approach to the last fence the petrol gauge slowly began to empty and from behind The Galloping Bear under his light weight of 10-7 began to overpower him and went on to score decisively, he is reportedly heading to Uttoxeter next month for the Midlands Grand National and in this form he will be hard to stop.

After the race the stewards enquired into the performances of four of the horses who pulled up, given the conditions were absolutely brutal and the jockeys showed themselves to be doing the right thing even though prize money was available from first to sixth place this seemed absolutely pointless.


Wholestone In Rendlesham Glory

One of the rides of the day came from Sam Twiston-Davies as he stuck religiously to the inside rain from flagfall to the chequered one as he steered the 11yo veteran Wholestone to glory in the Rendlesham Hurdle.

Absent from the track since falling here in November 2020 he came back fairly fresh as a daisy and reeled in long time leader Top Ville Ben on the run in with the pair a donkey’s yawn of a gap back to Third Wind who was tbe only one to complete the course with the rest of the field pulled up, his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has no plans for him at the moment although you wouldn’t be shocked if he had a go at the Liverpool Hurdle on Grand National Day.


Hillcrest Continues To Climb

Without a doubt the most visually impressive performance of the afternoon came late in the day as the Henry Daly trained Hillcrest showed no ill effects from his Cheltenham tumble three weeks ago as he beat some fair rivals to bag the Albert Bartlett Prestige Novices’ Hurdle.

Sharing pace setting duties with recent Sandown winner Green Book he began upping the tempo around the home turn from which the race was in the bag and he came home eight lengths ahead of the Nicky Richards trained Crystal Glory.

Carrying the colours of the late Trevor Hemmings he is a very exciting prospect and has improved so much since we saw him land his first hurdle back at Aintree in November, wherever he goes as regards the spring festivals he will attract many when he makes his chasing debut next season.


Best Of The Rest.

Porticello as expected bagged the Victor Ludorum Hurdle for the juvenile hurdlers, he will have a much tougher assignment should he go for the Triumph but this win will have given him a nice confidence booster going into it.

Finally the North West had good reason to celebrate the final race of the afternoon in the Walrus Hunter Chase over 2m6f as last seasons Aintree Foxhunters victor Cousin Pascal for the Nantwich based Joe O’Shea yard under Mr James King.

Second at Hereford on his recent start under rules after a couple of races between the flags which included a win at Revesby Park back in November you can fully expect all roads (presumably the A49, M6 and the M62) will now lead to Aintree for the defence of his Foxhunters crown although unlike last year he won’t be going off at 66s again.

He got a nice reception coming back in from the die hards who always love to see a locally trained Haydock winner wether it be over jumps or on the flat.

Cousin Pascal

Hopefully this upcoming Friday we shall be on our travels depending if the next named storm doesn’t get in the way as we shall be down in Shakespeare territory with a visit to Warwick races for the Budbrooke Cul raceday, fill

Haydock Park, Peter Marsh Chase Day, Saturday 22nd January 2022

Royale Glory In Marsh

Top weight of 11st 10lb proved to be no problem whatsoever for Royale Pagaille as he dug in to land back to back Peter Marsh Chases under Charlie Deutsch for trainer Venetia Williams to land a third course win at Haydock on what was a stellar afternoon for the winter game.

In a race full of Haydock specialists they did go a fair clip as would be expected for a race of this nature but under a patient waiting ride in ground that eased to soft throughout the day he picked his rivals off before sharing the lead at the final ditch from where he battled on and fot the better over Sam Brown by half a length in a race that really got at the heart strings.

The husband of winning owner Susan Ricci, Rich Ricci was very jovial in the winners enclosure and shared his delight with everyone showing his appreciation which went down nicely with the racegoers who surrounded the place after the race was over.

A visit to the Cheltenham Gold Cup again is highly likely and while he does have a bit to find from last year’s run where he finished lame it is possible that in a wide open year he would have as good a chance as any.

Oscar Performance For Tommy

Trophy success in Newcastle has been severely limited in recent years but for trainer Ann Hamilton and her husband Ian they could well be offered a chance to have a trophy parade at St James’s Park as Tommy’s Oscar became best gelding in a leading role as he breezed home in the G2 Champion Hurdle Trial.

In thriving form this season he was making this four wins on the bounce coming clear from the rest of the field under Danny McMenamin who timed his ride perfectly as he landed a big Saturday wih for himself and trainer Ann Hamilton.

Taking this off 156 he is almost certain to head straight to Cheltenham for the Champion Hurdle and despite the attentions of super mare Honeysuckle the Hamilton’s have nothing to lose by having a go.

JonBon Keeps The Faith

Odds on favorite JonBon gave punters a bad name amongst the bookies as the 2/5f easily obliged in workmanlike fashion to land the G2 Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle.

Up against some decent sorts in what looked a tight race on paper he travelled and jumped pretty well although he did have to be shaken up by Aidan Coleman when getting to the business end to land the spoils for trainer Nicky Henderson who no doubt was probably more relieved than anything as he continues his learning over timber on what was a big day for the trainer as Shishkin’s race at Ascot was still two very long hours  away.

He will head to the Supreme in what looks a hot race and the potential to be the best race of the whole Festival but he looks like he needs a bit further so it would be no surprise if he went up in trip either at Cheltenham or Aintree.

No Drama For Minella

It seems it isn’t a Haydock meeting without a Donald McCain winner and this afternoon proved just that as Minella Drama took the opening G2 Altcar Novices’ Chase in the style of an improving type.

Jumping well and kept right on the hare rail throughout under Brian Hughes he showed his appreciation for the step up in trip, last sighted when down the field in a big G1 Novice Chase at Sandown last month he foynd this company more to his liking and is making into a nice chaser.

He holds an entry in the 2m4f Novice Chase at Cheltenham but it would be no shock if he bypassed that in favour for a crack at the two big 2m4f Novice Chases at Ayr or Aintree instead, he will get three miles in time.

Sadly in the race Clondaw Castle took a fatal fall down the back straight,  Condolences to her owners and all connections at Ruth Jefferson’s.

Haydock Park, Thursday 30th December 2021, The Last Fling Chase Day.

Lion Feels The Love.

As the burning embers of the racing year slowly began to wilt they were suddenly ignited as Blaklion made it two wins on the bounce as he made the very damp crowd who turned out on a wet Thursday afternoon break into a huge cheer as the twelve year old turned the 3m4f Last Fling Chase into a procession.

Already a winner here over 3m1f in a golden oldies race he faced what was probably a slightly weaker field and the 5lb rise was never going to stop him as he had plenty waving the white flag in the last mile or so to come home by a huge 28 lenght margin with The Two Amigos and Beware The Bear the only other ones to complete.

Having not won since 2017 in a period which saw him switch stables from Nigel Twiston-Davies to Philip Kirkby and then on the move again to Dan Skelton, he is now back to his best and while he isn’t getting and younger as we all are, he is on thriving form, his owner Darren Yates has Aintree dreams once again where he was 5th last year, it’s just possible Haydock will feature on his build up for it so expect entries in the Peter Marsh and Grand National Trial both here in January and February.


Jungle Rumbles In The Mud

Donald McCain ended the year at Haydock with a couple of good winners on the day.

Jungle Jack made it two from two over timber as he won the 2m NH Novice Hurdle, following up from his Sedgefield win he had to dig in giving weight away to a few potential improvers and he is going the right way, one to keep an eye on for sure.

The other McCain winner came in the conclding bumper run in almost darkness as Forpaddytheplumber arrived on time to land the lucky last.

Placed in two Irish points he cost £26,000 and should have a decent career ahead of him and should make into a fair novice hurdler next season.

Extra Strong Mint

Jennie Candlish is always good at placing her horses well and she has a very good one in Mint Condition who went in nicely on his handicap debut and only his second start over fences as he took the 2m6f Novice Handicap Chase where he overpowered Ashtown Lad on the run in.

After an eye catching first race over fences here last time out over a furlong shorter he dug in after the last and stuck to the task nicely, a three time hurdle winner at Bangor and Wetherby last season he is going the right way as a chaser and looks to have more to offer.

Haydock Park, Saturday 18th December 2021, Virgin Bet Tommy Whittle Chase Day

After an enforced absence from last years meeting due to the Tier system which meant due to the boundary lines of Greater Manchester just ending before the gates at Haydock Park which meant entry was denied, your intrepid reporter was spending the last Saturday before Christmas watching Manchester League Football in Tyldesley, Thankfully it was back to normal (well normalish) this year as Tommy Whittle Chase Day became the traditional last meeting before Christmas yet again

Perfect Prescription For Doctor

Redemption at Christmas can often occur as Ebenezer Scrooge will most definitely testify and for Dr Richard Newland he had the same feelings as Enqarde romped home under Charlie Hammond to land the Tommy Whittle Chase after falling in the same race last year.

In what looked a competitive race on paper with sixteen runners facing the starter over the extended 3m1f trip they began to thin out like the Christmas gravy towards the business end and while many eyes were on Remastered who was looking for compensation after his crunching fall at Newbury in the Ladbrokes Trophy he couldn’t shrug off the attentions of Enqarde who was getting plenty weight and began to pull away from the last fence.

Enqarde does seem to like Haydock and may come back next month for the Peter Marsh and the National Trial in February, he will probably not head to Aintree this season so something like the Midlands National might be more up his street.

Remastered just found the extra couple of furlongs a bit far but had a nice race in him somewhere, something like the Premier Chase at Kelso might be more up his street and maybe he might benefit a bit more dropped down in trip and could be an ideal Topham horse.

Haute Estime In High Esteem

A real home nations battle in the Abram Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle saw the Salitre fly high over Haydock as the Lucinda Russell trained Haute Estime just hung on from the fast finishing Nina The Terrier to land this Listed event.

In what looked a fair but not spectacular looking race it looked set to be a Scottish-Welsh shootout as the winner had a real fight to over power the Evan Williams trained Current Mood who was still pitching in at the last but Hatue Estime showed real fight to get past her although Nina The Terrier was finally picking up speed in the last furlong and was unlucky not to mug the winner on the line.

The step up in trip seemed to suit her and this was a nice chance to pick up some black type, she should be aimed at more events at this level before going for a crack at the mares race at the Cheltenham Festival.

Haute Estime

Football Double On Merseyside

Former FA Cup winning manager Harry Redknapp wasn’t at Haydock but no doubt he celebrated back at home with a glass of something and a bowl of his favourite jam roly poly as Shakem Up’Arry put his Ffos Las fall firmly behind as he put in a quality round of jumping to break his chasing duck on just his second start over fences when he breezed up in the 2m handicap chase under Luca Morgan.

He was fairly good over hurdles but looks a natural over fences and will certainly build from this and is one to keep an eye on.

In the 2m3f handicap hurdle former Arsenal chairman Sir Chips Keswick had good reason to smile as Up For Parol benefited from a return to the smaller obstacles as he got the better of Stellar Magic in a proper grandstand finish where he eventually ran out a length and a half winner.

He didn’t seem to like the fences at Ffos Las and it looks like for the time being he’ll remain over timber and could be Lanzarotte bound in January although that would be the race at Kempton as opposed to a winter holiday.

Elsewhere Adrimel got his novice chase career back on the right track as he took full advantage of the 6lb he received in the 2m novice chase, he was a fluent hurdler last season and showed his class when he took the Leamington Novice Hurdle at Warwick in January, things didn’t go to plan at Exeter on his chasing debut but now he looks set to kick on from this and may return here in January for the G2 Altcar over 2m4f.

So the year of 2021 is almost at an end, and at the moment things are up in the air regarding life going on as normal due to the obvious but may i take this moment to wish you all a Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year too, touch wood we shall be back here on the 30th for The Last Fling raceday although that depends on the weather being kind and the L word not occuring from the government.

Till the next time, hopefully soon, Have a great Christmas and stay safe.