Haydock Park, Saturday 16th February 2019, William Hill Grand National Trial Day

Robin Gets Verdict In Trial.

In beautiful spring sunshine the journey back to Dorset will have flown by for Christine Knowles and Wendy Carter as they returned back to Haydock to lead back into the winners enclosure their pride and joy, the talented but fragile Robinsfirth as he landed the famous William Hill Grand National Trial over a stamina sapping 3m4f

A real test with no quarter given from the word go as Bishops Road set a proper gallop until the younger legs went past him after the third last by which time in an incedent packed race which had two fallers, five unseated and four pulling up he was the last of only six to complete the course.

Just like in last months Peter Marsh he was held up under Sean Bowen and made his move after the last in which he came through the middle of Ramses De Teillee and Chef D’Oeuvre to pick up the pot by half a length.

He doesnt hold a National entry but connections are eyeing a crack at the 3m Chase on the opening day of the Festival and perhaps a go at the Scottish National at Ayr in April.

That winner was part of a treble for Sean Bowen who began the afternoon landing the Victor Ludorum on Quel Destin for Paul Nicholls, putting up an assured performance he will be off to try and bulldoze the field in the JCB Triumph next month although no horse that has won this race has gone on to land the big race in 50 years, he finished 6 lengths ahead of Capone who could be a Fred Winter type.

Bowen’s hat trick came in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle for staying noviced over 3m on the Rebecca Curtis trained Lisnagar Oscar who took what loooked a more than decent contest with plenty of good types on paper as he ran out a 10 length victor and looks set to head for the main race at Cheltenham and he will make a good chaser in time.

Scotland got the Saltire flying in Lancashire with the Sandy Thomson trained Shades Of Midnight making all to bag the Rendlesham Hurdle over 3m which saw the seasonal return of Yanworth too.

This was another race ran at a good tempo and after Shades saw off last season’s winner Donna’s Diamond after the second flight he was always in command and Henry Brooke kept him upto his work and honest up the straight, Sandy Thomson has plenty of choice for him now with possible races like the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree and even the Scottish National at Ayr for his stable star.

Yanworth was disappointing here as he was pulled up before the past flight, he did travel kindly but never picked up when asked, could either be he needed the run or simply isnt interested in the game anymore.

Finally after a tough time for the sport with equine flu one mare who over came a different type of itus, seconditius was Jester Jet who after five consecutive seconds this season finally landed a much deserved and heralded success in the transferred Listed Warwick Mares’ Hurdle as she just held on by a neck from If You Say Run.

Despite the news regarding what occured during the last race making the headlines this was a top class afternoon of jumping and for the crowd who came purely for the racing (it is a racecourse after all) they were treated to some exciting action on the track.

Next up on here after a quiet spell we head to Aintree for the Grand National meeting unless anything comes up inbetween

Till next time, Goodbye.

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Haydock Park,Saturday 20th January 2019,Peter Marsh Chase Day

No Panic For The Smiths!

Danny Cook proved to be The Yorkshire Panther at Haydock’s first meeting of the year as Wakanda dug deep to land the 2019 of the Peter Marsh Chase in a thrilling finish.

On paper it looked a wide open race and the fact that the first six home were separated by just over six lengths showed just that as four held chances coming to the last fence but under the Danny Cook drive, last years Great Yorkshire winner landed the Lancashire equivalent 51 weeks after, connections will have been delighted by this, no more so than Sue and Harvey Smith who were on holiday in Spain for some better weather and conditions.

A Grand National entry looks likely and a return to Haydock next month would be no shock unless the Eider or possibly something like the Kim Muir at Cheltenham come under consideration for this tough as teak 10yo chaser who had to keep up his work from the gallant second Robinsfirth who ran a grand race in defeat and looks like he has a big race in him somewhere

Wakanda

Elsewhere on a decent looking card Global Citizen landed the Grade 2 Champion Hurdle Trial for trainer Ben Pauling, only five turned up but they were all fairly evenly matched on ratings, Silver Streak was well supported but made a real hash at the third last which knocked his chance and had to be gathered up but Global Citizen was already in the ascendancy here and kept up his work to land the race nicely.

A crack at the big one in March will come next and should the ground remain on the quick side he would have a chance if the Christmas Hurdle defeat of Buveur D’air has left its mark on him.

Global Citizen

Before the race previous four time winner The New One paraded and looked as good as ever, now enjoying his retirement from the game he will always be loved by regulars here at a course where he is five wins from five starts.

The New One

Nicky Henderson looks to have a nice type in Mister Fisher who landed the Grade 2 Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle, a nice looking race it should throw a few winners in the future, with two wins at Kempton and now one here at Haydock it is clear that flat tracks suit him so its possible a trip back to Kempton for the Dovecote looks to be the next port of call and then bypassing Cheltenham in favour of the Top Novices’ at Aintree a more favourable route.

An eyecatcher in this was the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Muratello who stayed on in the manor of a horse who would love a test of stamina.

Mister Fisher

Finally the bookies were jumping for joy along with trainer Charlie Longsdon as 28-1 outsider of five, the mare Castafiore bagged the Grade 2 Altcar Novices’ Chase as she followed up her Boxing Day win at Wincanton, despite being rated 22lbs lower than the second lowest horse in the race she kept going and wasn’t stopping in front, a hefty hike up from 128 is on its way after this and she may find things a little tougher next time but she is clearly in good heart and this will certainly be a bonus for her paddock value in time.

A decent enough afternoon then, the highlight without doubt was Wakanda in the Peter Marsh but also the crowd have definitely seen a good one for the future in Mister Fisher who looks a very nice horse in the making.

Coming up in mid February we return back to Haydock where attentions switch from Cheltenham to all things Aintree with the Grand National Trial

Haydock Park,Sunday 30th December 2018, Last Fling Chase Day

On the run up to the festive period many people will have listening and singing along to Andy Williams but on a fair weather Sunday the praises of Hereford based Venetia Williams were sung by many as she saddled a nice double on the day to see out the 2019 year at Haydock.

The stables feature win came in the 2m5f Handicap Chase which saw the colours of Lady Bolton carried to victory in the shape of Didero Vallis under jockey Charlie Deutsch, who like many will be happy to see the back of 2018, in the style of a clearly improving type, this ex Willie Mullins horse was having his third start for the Williams yard making this two wins from three runs, up 3lbs after scoring at Carlisle off 127 there should be plenty more to come over this trip which looks to be his best for the time being.

Didero Vallis

Before that the Williams yard scored in the opening race for conditional jockeys over hurdles with handicap debutant Cloudy Glen who made all under Hugh Nugent (6) to score with plenty in hand to exploit his opening mark of 115, this was very impressive in what looked a competitive race on paper, he looks sure to pick more races up before the season is done with.

Cloudy Glen

Feature race of the afternoon was The Last Fling Chase over the stamina sapping 3m3f trip that went across the M62 to the Sam England stables in Guiseley as Chef D’Oeuvre delivered a sumptuous prize of £15,640 to the owners The Sandmoor Partnership as partner Jonathan England drove out the 7yo to a nice victory ahead of long time leader Back To The Thatch, the light weight of 10-4 helped in the tough conditions and connections are eyeing up a go at the Eider which could be a realistic target at this stage.

Chef D’Oeuvre

Scorpion Sid obliged in the novice chase over 2m3f for Jamie Snowden and Sam Twiston-Davies who made all to win very cosily in a race where only two finished, moving up in trip affer finding Kalashnikov too good at Warwick on his chasing debut he looks to have a fair chasing career ahead of him, next months Altcar might be under consideration but ultimately his main target could be the 2m4f Novice Handicap Chase at the Festival and looks a more easier option.

Scorpion Sid

Next up we head back to Haydock in three weeks time for the Peter Marsh Chase, weather permitting, so until then Happy New Year for 2019.

Haydock Park,Saturday 22nd December 2018, Smarkets Tommy Whittle Chase Day

It’s probably fair to assume that the driver of the stable lorry for the David Pipe yard felt the journey back down to the West Country was much quicker as they were driving home for Christmas from Haydock Park yesterday as Daklondike flew past Ballyarthur like one of Santa’s reindeer on double time to land the feature Tommy Whittle Chase on a pleasant if occasionally wet afternoon on Merseyside. 

A competitive looking race on paper and so it proved to be as Daklondike was hidden away in the early part but came on the premises up the straight and Tom Scudamore had to galvanise everything to land this popular Haydock steeplechase, he looks every inch a stayer and could easily get a Grand National entry although his rating would need a good increase from his winning mark today of 139, next months Peter Marsh back here or the Great Yorkshire at Doncaster would suit this horse down to the ground as he loves a decent paced race and he stays much further than this 2m7f trip. 

Daklondike


Frost is very unwelcome amongst fans of sports that take place on grass in the winter but one thing that has been a winters tale this season has been the winners coming by the way of Bryony Frost as she won her first ever race at Haydock on the Paul Nicholls trained Breslan D’as in the two mile novice chase as she galvanised her mount to overpower chasing debutant Whatswrongwithyou in a thrilling finish after the last fence, these two were separated by a pound on the ratings and so it showed at the business end. 

Both these two look like they are useful yardsticks but possibly not Arkle material, Breslan D’as has form over further and will relish a crack at 2m4f, the Dipper at Cheltenham may come to soon so a go at a nice handicap may be considered, Whatswrongwithyou will make a chaser and should land a novice before too long. 

Breslan D’as and Bryony Frost

Queenofhearts proved to be the ace in the pack in the Listed Mares’ Hurdle over 2m3f getting the better over Danse Idol who couldn’t quite waltz to victory going down by 1.5 lengths, this was a decent looking contest on paper with plenty of mares open to improvement but Queenofhearts had black type already on her form boom in the shape of the big Sandown bumper run in March, she seems to love a battle and a step up to Graded company looks on the cards after this. 

Finally the owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede are currently dreaming of a white Christmas at the moment with their beloved and much loved grey Bristol De Mai at Kempton on Boxing Day at the moment but the starter course came up nicely in the shape of Ballymoy who landed the feature 2m3f Handicap Hurdle pretty easily, stepping up in trip he looked to appreciate it under Sam Twiston-Davies who rode a double that afternoon for his dad and should be able to find more improvement over this distance before embarking on a chasing campaign next season. 

A fair pre Christmas meeting then with some good finishes to entertain the crowd who wisely avoided the hustle and bustle of the shopping centres. 

Providing the weather doesn’t affect anything we shall be back at Haydock next Sunday for The Last Fling Chase, until then may I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. 

Aintree Races,Saturday 8th December 2018, Becher Chase Day

Anyone with an ounce of sense will say that over Christmas the most miserable place to be is Walford of “Eastenders” fame but one Walford who certainly won’t be like that is Robert Walford as he saddled a famous victory over the big green foreboding monsters that make up the Grand National fences as a crowd of tough gritty northern stock and a fair few from other counties came out in the wind and rain to cheer him home in the 2018 running of the Becher Chase which for some reason was sponsorless!

Walk In The Mill in the colours of Baroness Harding like many of that afternoons winners had to put in the overtime to land a competitive renewal which featured some top class performers including a few course specialists and was being chased along from the Anchor Bridge crossing in which he duly found plenty to go past the field at the elbow and stayed on stoutly ahead of the running on Vieux Lion Rouge to score by over four lengths, connections have both eyes on the big day here in April in which he may not see the course again until Grand National day and this horse who was a reserve for last seasons race will almost certainly be guaranteed a place in the final 40. 

Vieux Lion Rouge ran a fine race in defeat and showed that these fences bring out the best in him, like the winner he should be back here and would have a good chance should conditions come up his way again while dual Topham winner Ultragold in third just failed to get the extra distance and although connections may be keen on the National he would be better suited to having a crack at getting the match-ball in the Topham again.
 

Walk In The Mill

 
Trainer Brian Ellison was made up with Definitly Red easily following up from his Charlie Hall success last month to land another Grade 2 Many Clouds Chase under Danny Cook, making all just like last year it turned into a routine win from Double Shuffle, The Gold Cup is the next nominated target so will avoid the big January and February trials with the Grand National and Bowl also on the shortlist. 

That race also saw the return of 2017 National hero One For Arthur who took an uncharacteristic fall at the third fence but got up and had a gentle jog round in his own time, he reportedly heads to either Wetherby or Haydock around Christmas time.
 

Definitly Red

 
Warriors Tale gave Paul Nicholls the other winner over the National fences as he landed the Grand Sefton over 2m5f, a competitive affair as usual for a race of this nature it paid to come from off the pace which he did and in the end dug in to overpower long time leader Brandon Hill, He did take part in last seasons National but clearly appreciated this shorter trip so all being well will be back to try his luck in the Topham in April, as for where he goes before that it’s possible a trip back up north for the Great Yorkshire at Doncaster next month will be on the agenda.
 

Sefton finishers.

Sue Smith continues her good run of form at the moment as Midnight Shadow showed he gets further as he took the 2m4f Handicap Hurdle in gritty fashion ahead of Ch’tibellow by half a length, Taking last seasons Scottish Champion Hurdle showed Midnight Shadow looked to have a good future in front of him and bounced back from a poor show in the Greatwood to show just what he can do to land this off 141, as for his next target he will surely have to move up in grade so possibly the Relkeel at Cheltenham in January may be on the shortlist.

 

Midnight Shadow

 
Finally the Irish tones of the late Peter O’Hehir could be heard echoing across the whole of Merseyside in an eventful opening race which brought back echoes of the 1967 Grand National albeit in a six runner novice hurdle. 

Former flat stayed The Grand Visir decided that hurdling wasn’t for him and duly dumped Tom Scudamore after pressing the ejector button on his behalf which in turn had a knock on effect as behind them favourite Eldorado Allen got caught in the wash and was brought down with behind those two Bonbonniere who had to dance his way through the mess and keep going. 

This left the Nicky Henderson trained Champagne Mystery with an uncontested lead, all over you think? Not a chance as heading into the turn away from the stands The Grand Visir crashed through the rails on his way back to the stables and spooked Champagne Mystery who ended up running off the course and getting himself a DQ!

It may not have been full on Foinavon but certainly a race that will be etched in Aintree’s history for quite a few years to come!

Fair to sat this was a Becher Chase Day that many will remember with close finishes and battle hardened performers showing their magic at this iconic venue in racing. 

All being well next time we will be at Haydock for the Tommy Whittle before Christmas, until then Goodbye 

Haydock Park,Wednesday 5th December 2018,Christmastime Raceday. 

It’s probably fair to suggest that local racing fans in the area near Haydock Park looked up towards Rivington Pike on Wednesday morning just to check that Donald Sutherland and Kate Bush couldn’t be spotted lugging up any heavy machinery as it rained all day in biblical proportions with the heavens pouring so much of the wet stuff that if the management of Leicester Racecourse had seen it then they would have sent every water collector from all the cricket and tennis grounds in the country to mop it up and transport it back to the East Midlands venue where it is very much needed. 

As it was racing took place with a seven race card that had some informative events that could bode well for the rest of the season with some decent entries from some of the sports top trainers of the winter game. 

Best performance of the afternoon came in the 2m Introductory Hurdle as Tom George was on course to see The Big Bite make it two from two over timber this season in very impressive style ahead of the decent enough Demopolis.

 

At the start nobody wanted to make the running which looked a bit unusual given the jockeys were on horseback in the pouring rain but eventually they set off but The Big Bite eventually came to the fore and looked visually impressive both on course and in the paddock, The Tolworth in the New Year would be ideal for him and he will eventually make a good chaser, Demopolis will have learnt plenty and can have his say in the novice hurdle market too.

 

The Big Bite

Nicky Henderson last saddled a novice chase winner at Haydock in the shape of Buveur D’Air a couple of seasons ago and whilst that career move went in a somewhat different direction Mr Whipped will certainly stick to fences as he easily landed the 2m4f Novice Chase pretty readily from Springtown Lake who made the early running and despite his best efforts found the 5lb penalty too much but lost nothing in defeat. 

Mr Whipped should be a good flag bearer for Seven Barrows in the novice chase section, last season he landed the Leamington Novice Hurdle at Warwick but doesn’t seem to act well at Cheltenham so maybe Aintree will be his main end of season target with a trip to Kempton for the Pendil in February in a race that should suit his style of racing as he clearly prefers flatter courses. 

The 2m7f Maiden Hurdle brought about a fair sort in the Kim Bailey trained Newtide who responded well after being headed and shuffled back around the home turn to pick up well and break his duck at the second time of asking, fourth over a shorter trip at Chepstow two weeks ago he appreciated the step up and should go forward now with even more to come when sent over the larger obstacles. 

Newtide


Finally the Trevor Hemmings colours were seen in the number one spot just as they were back on Betfair Day when Absolutely Dylan fought on tenaciously in the mud to bag the 2m7f Chase in pretty decent style under Danny Cook who himself will be looking forward very much so to Aintree this weekend, Making almost all which could be noticed from the stands as his colours were the only ones not mud splattered ,he had to be at his best to hold off Hills Of Dubai and Steps And Stairs in an exciting three way finish over the last. 

This 5yo is definitely on the upgrade here and a typical Sue Smith staying chaser who has got a big race in him somewhere, possibly an idea might be the Tommy Whittle back here where he could be thrown in on his potential unless one of those northern satellite nationals comes to the fore.

  

Absolutely Dylan

So despite some truly awful weather the crowd which braved the elements were treated to some good midweek action although things will ramp up a whole lot more down the East Lancs Road this upcoming Saturday with Becher Chase Day slowly approaching. 
Till then Goodbye. 

Haydock Park,Saturday 24th November 2018, Betfair Chase Day. 

The King

On paper it was billed as a two horse race, In the racing media it was billed as a two horse race but thankfully Bristol De Mai has got better things to do with his life during the week than to scroll through Twitter and read the views of the many opinions that were given on the 2018 Betfair Chase as he made his way up the M5 and the M6 on Saturday to keep his 100% Haydock Park record in tact as he stopped the potential Blitzkreig On Yickers between Might Bite and Native River in determined style to repeat his win from last year to take another Betfair Chase back to Naunton and the yard of Nigel Twiston-Davies.  
Run on ground that was Good,Good to Soft in places the fences had cause for concern before the race as the two preceding steeplechases during the afternoon had five runners that had come to grief but thankfully all got up safely. 
Back to the race and a fantastic five of top class jumpers lined up for the first Grade One of the season and on paper it certainly asked more questions than it answered with last seasons Betfair,King George and Gold Cup winners all lined up with an improving sort from last season and a former Stayers’ Hurdle and King George winner to make up the field. 
Bristol De Mai just loves Haydock and from flag fall he shared duties up front with Native River and coming in off the final turn under Daryl Jacob began to firmly turn the screw on his grey warrior as he forged on over the final jumps and had the field easily held in behind to score by 4 lengths from Native River who never gave up as is his wont in a race of this type, Thistlecrack followed next then Clan Des Obeaux and last was the favourite Might Bite.
 

Bristol De Mai

Plenty of different targets could lie ahead now for the field here now, Bristol De Mai will no doubt head to Kempton on Boxing Day and he has won right handed so it possible that will be the next port of call. 
Native River probably isn’t suited by the Kempton so he could be better off going over to Ireland for the big Grade One at their Christmas Festival at Leopardstown which would suit his style better, Stablemate Thistlecrack will head to the Sunbury venue on Boxing Day and he ran a decent race and will come on a tom for this, Clan Des Obeaux also ran with credit and easily has a big race in him. 
Without doubt the big disappointment was Might Bite who never really got into the race come the business end, he was a bit a bit twitchy in the preliminaries and was keen early on, he might be worth dropping back in trip off this run but hopefully he will bounce back on Boxing Day where the course is far more up his street than this one. 
In some of the supporting races Paisley Park followed on from his win down the East Lancs at Aintree last month as he flew home like a horse running in the Temple Stakes to bag the Grade 3 Staying Hurdle under Aidan Coleman for Emma Lavelle, in a race which was much smaller field size wise compared to normal this 6yo made up plenty of ground on the run in of over 300 yards to mug Shades Of Midnight who looked all over the winner to many, Paisley Park is apparently off to Ascot next month for a step up in grade to have a go at the Long Walk Hurdle but given Emma Lavelle having a pretty decent record here then the Rendlesham in February could come into consideration. 
Paul Nicholls always does well at this meeting and Grand Sancy picked up his third win of the campaign to land the Listed Newton Novices’ Hurdle, like the other hurdle winners today he sat from off the pace and finished like a train on the run in, this 4yo continues to improve and still looks to have bags of potential and will be even better when sent chasing.
 

Grand Sancy

 

Finally the talented and sometimes frustrating Vintage Clouds took the final race over the same course and distance as the Betfair albeit not up to the same quality but he boasts some top form in the big long distance handicap chases and will now find himself having a possible post Christmas trip outing to either the Rowland Meryck or the Welsh National and being from Sue Smith’s yard a visit back here in February for the National Trial then all roads will no doubt head to Aintree for a go at the Grand National. 

Vintage Clouds

 

Over 13,000 people rolled into the Lancashire venue which was awash with a sea of yellow from the many scarves being given out by the sponsors and hopefully they had an enjoyable afternoon in an atmosphere not felt at a jump meeting here for quite a while, hopefully they will return during the rest of the season. 
Next up we head back here for a midweek fixture in December then it’s off to Aintree for the Becher Chase and some excellent pre Christmas fare. 
Till we meet up again, Goodbye.