Aintree Races,Saturday 11th November 2017,Aintree Community Raceday. 

Saturday afternoon and for fans of the flat they were all gathered on the Town Moor for the last hurrah before singing a rendition of Auld Lang Syne as the turf flatseason came to its natural close to send them into their winter hibernation until the spring but for fans of the winter game things began just to crank up a gear and for yours truly it was off to Aintree again for Community Raceday which had a good mix of races for people to get their teeth into. 

The afternoon proved to be a huge day in the career of promising young conditional jockey Mitchell Bastyan as he and his current five pound claim both came to good use as the Evan Williams trained 9yo landed the big 2m4f handicap chase at Aintree in some style seemingly coming from another county after being held up early doors he ran away very readily in the style of a horse seemingly back to his best, this was a very competitive looking race and On Tour has plenty of options it would seemingly appear with possible races the big December handicap at Cheltenham over 2m5f or possibly a return here for the Sefton over the famous green fences on the 9th of December. 

On Tour having a welcome drink

The Skelton brothers Dan and Harry got the afternoon off to a perfect start when they landed the first two races on the card. 

First up the dark blue jacket and cap of Sue Magnier passed the line in the opening 2m4f novice hurdle, now these colours are more likely to be spotted in plenty of races down the M53 at the Chester May Meeting but plenty jumpers have appeared too and Hear No Evil put in a fine professional display to win the race in nice style, placed in a couple of bumpers last season he looks like he will make a quality hurdler and is one to keep an eye on. 

Dan and Harry quickly got the double up in the next race when Captain Chaos used his previous chasing experience to good stead to easily land the 3m1f novice chase, despite diving at the second fence he put in an exemplary round of jumping and this should boost his confidence for the rest of the season, a faller in last seasons Towton at Wetherby it’s been mentioned by Dan Skelton that he could be heading back up to Yorkshire next February to gain compensation, he is certainly one for the big long distance chases when upped in grade, the biggest disappointment came from favourite Geordie Des Champs who put in a poor round but deserves another go. 

Captain Chaos

Just three turned out for the feature 2m4f hurdle which saw last seasons top staying hurdler Unknowhatimeanharry get some easy pickings under Barry Geraghty for trainer Harry Fry as he saw off the other two runners Value At Risk in second place and the third placed Top Notch, this will set him up nicely for a return to Newbury in the Long Distance then all the other big staying hurdle races before trying to go two places better in the stayers’ hurdle at the Cheltenham festival. 

A circuit to go!

Louis’ Van Pouch cleaned up in the Pertemps Qualifier over 3m for the Hobbs and Johnson partnership, in what looked on paper a more than useful staying hurdle Louis’ Vac Pouch showed much improvement for the step up in trip after his seasonal reappearance at Chepstow over shorter and now looks to be going the right way, he asserted his authority over handicap debutant Forza Milan and no doubt will be aimed at the final come March. 

Tom George left Aintree a very happy bunny after Baby King just got the nod in a photo for the 2m handicap chase ahead of Ut Majeur Aulmes, they didn’t go a helter skelter gallop like they normally do in the Red Rum Chase here in April but it was solid and he picked up nicely on the flat after the last fence to just pip his nose on the line. 

Finally the concluding bumper which was run in ever fading light only had four in it due to two non runners before hand and then Wimpole bolting on his way down and looking more likely that a maiden over 7f would suit him more than 2m, in the end the famous green and yellow colours of Trevor Hemmings got into the winners enclosure as debutant Welsby who might possibly have been named after the former ITV football presenter Elton Welsby came away readily under Ned Curtis (5) for the inform Nicky Henderson stable, he has a nice look about him and will be even better when sent hurdling. 

Welsby wins



Wattspots

Forza Milan, 5yo trained by Jonjo O’Neill showed much improvement to be second in the Pertemps Qualifer and has a good future ahead of him, one to notice if he gets laid out for the final. 

Spider’s Bite,5yo trained by Henry Daly was staying on third in the 2m 4f novice hurdle and looks like he will be even better when sent handicapping over 3m in the future. 

Gardefort,8yo trained by Venetia Williams was in the process of running a career best in the feature 2m4f chase when making a real horlicks at the final ditch which cost him but he travelled well and providing the handicapper doesn’t overreact he has a big race in him this season. 

Next up on here is the big Betfair Chase day at my local course Haydock in two weeks time and with the quality of runners entered already looking hot it could well be the race of the season!

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Aintree Races,Sunday 29th October 2017,Countryside Family Raceday

Experience got the better of youth in a pulsating finish to the 2017 Monet’s Garden Old Roan Chase which brought a battle of the greys to the Sunday crowd on Countryside Day at Aintree and the evergreen 10yo Smad Place showed that the enthusiasm is still in their as he fought off Cloudy Dreams to scoop up the £30128 first place money for the Alan King yard as the jumping season really came to life. 

In what looked a high quality renewal of this 2m4f contest they went a good clip as expected with lots of pace on and it showed that being prominent can often help on this tricky Mildmay course, Smad Place is expected to head to Newbury for what was formerly the Hennessy which he has won and ran credible races in before while Cloudy Dreams next stop is Cheltenham for the BetVictor Gold Cup and could prove to he a decent flag bearer for the northern scene unless connections wait a week and send him to Ascot for a Grade 2 Chase over 2m5f.  

The crowd really enjoyed this race and showed why jump racing continues to thrive in popularity and with races like this we look set for hopefully a great season. 

Smad Place

Smad Place


Ride of the day for many,myself included went to young 10lb conditional Charlotte Jones who now has a 100% strike rate at Aintree as she gave the 8yo mare Bon Chic an enterprising front running ride to land a wide open looking C/J Hurdle over 3m in her first ride at the home of the Grand National. 

It takes some bottle to jump out and try to make all especially in a large field but that’s exactly what she did and a decisive move after four out to kick on proved to be the icing on the cake and despite plenty trying to gang up on her they just could not get past and she clung on by a diminishing three parts of a length for the Jimmy Moffatt yard up in Cartmel, paying 33-1 at the bookies hopefully some of the owners and staff had a few quid on so they could afford a nice bit of grub at the local L’Enclume Restaurant just around the corner from the famous racecourse, Black Ivory plugged on for second place and he should gain compensation sooner rather than later. 

Charlotte Jones

Charlotte Jones


Nicky Henderson has his string in good heart at the moment and unveiled a nice type in On The Blind Side, a 5yo winner of his only point he took the 2m4f Maiden Hurdle and a useful looking race it looked on paper too, travelling well he did have some unwanted company in 80-1 outsider Another Stowaway who was quickly turned out after a first flight tumble at Worcester on Wednesday who ran a gallant second and Aye Aye Charlie back in third. 

On The Blind Size looks a decent recruit to the hurdling game and looks every inch a stayer in the making, he isn’t afraid to get his hooves dirty when he needs to fight, one to put on the tracking list for this season. 

On The Blind Side

On The Blind Side


A top quality renewal for the more senior staying chasers over 3m1f brought a real upturn for some and not so for others. 

The Romford Pele on his first start for Tom George took full advantage when long time leader and last seasons Grand National 5th Gas Line Boy tumbled to the floor and capsized at the third last when seemingly in command and having the race for the taking, this left The Romford Pele in the lead and had to use all his stamina and guts to fend off Bob Tucker which he easily did in the end under the guidance of Adrian Heskin, the old boy still showed he has plenty to offer and could be back in December here for a go over the big ones in the Becher which could be ideal as it probably will be for Gas Line Boy as all eyes will be firmly targeted towards the National again. 

The Romford Pele passes the line

The Romford Pele lands the old boys race


Bags Groove looks to be going places this season for Harry Fry and showed plenty of improvement after his recent seasonal blow out at Chepstow by justifying favouritism pretty easily in a competitive looking 2m4f Handicap Hurdle, a fair novice last season he made his mark of 132 look very workable and should be aimed at bigger things off this, he looks to be staying over timber for now and that could prove to be the best call. 

It’s not often you complain about the sun being out but the big yellow disc of fire got in the way as it often can do at this meeting which meant that of the intended 19 fences only 10 got jumped in the 3m1f Nov Hcap Chase with a run of 7f or so to the first and a near 6f run in mixed in with some tricky chicanes up the home straight, in the end Vintage Clouds finally got on the scoresheet over the bigger obstacles after a mixed first season where he ran credible without winning, he thrashed top weight Lovely Job by 18 lengths and could well be aimed at the big long distance chases with ultimately the National being a Trevor Hemmings owned horse. 

A nice looking mares bumper concluded the day’s racing and the stewards were in action as first past the post Grageelagh Girl under Alain Cawley got disqualified and placed second with first spot going to Posh Trish who originally lost out by a nose after the judge called a photo in a real grandstand finish, Posh Trish under Sam Twiston-Davies was buried mid pack but stayed on up the run in and got carried left by the new runner up before the stewards called an inquiry. 

Both were recruits from the pointing world and look like becoming even better when sent over hurdles, it looked a race full of decent types to keep an eye on. 

Wattspots

Aye Aye Charlie,5yo gelding trained by Fergal O’Brien was third in the 2m4f Maiden Hurdle, he looks one to follow when he gets a handicap mark. 

Three Musketeers,7yo gelding from Dan Skelton, plugging on under Bridget Andrews to be 5th in the feature 2m4f hurdle he will be better when upped back to three miles and has a nice race in him. 

Warwick Races,Thursday 5th October 2017,The Autumn Meeting. 

Alan King may be the current King of Barbury Castle but on this crisp autumnal afternoon in the Midlands he became the King of Warwick Castle as the stablebox left Warwick racecourse with a couple of very impressive winners as the National Hunt season slowly came back to life for your intrepid reporter. 

First off jockey Barry Geraghty made his flying visit a worthwhile one as he partnered the very lightly raced Herewego Herewego to a workmanlike victory in the opening novice hurdle over 2m, on paper it looked a decent event and should throw up a few winners in time, the winner travelled ok and despite making an error at the second last he ran on readily at the end to land it eased down towards the end to hold off Megabucks on his hurdling debut, this horse will get further and looks like 2m4f will suit him even further. 

Herewego Herewego
The second of the two winners from the King yard came with the chasing debut of last seasons Elite Hurdle winner Sceau Royal in a tidy looking 2m novice chase, Warwick is always a good test for a chaser and Sceau Royal handled his first public test pretty well, he got in close at a few of the fences but will have learned plenty from this come his next run which could come at Cheltenham in a few weeks time, he ran to a rating of 154 over hurdles but just fell a bit short of top quality in that sphere and has lots to offer over the larger obstacles, he breezed past runner up Ballyhill with a minimum of fuss under Daryl Jacob to land the race. 

Sceau Royal
Jonjo O’Neill picked up a couple of prizes in two of the handicaps, first up the 5yo Quarenta finally broke his duck over timber when landing a competitive looking 2m5f handicap hurdle, he seems to have a good relationship with jockey Aidan Coleman who has ridden him to be placed in his last three starts and this afternoon both had to be at their best to shake off the attentions of the second placed Sutter’s Mill and third places Resolution Bay who both made him run right up to the line, this workable mark of 119 and the drop down in trip of 2f looked to work the oracle and he should be easily able to build on this now for the season. 

O’Neill’s second winner of the afternoon came in the day’s most valuable prize, a very tight looking 3m chase which went the way of the Trevor Hemmings owned Beggars Cross, turning for home he had the small matter of Ballycross and Sego Success in his way but both made errors at the second last and final fence respectfully which gave Beggars Cross the key to the door which he readily opened, plenty to like off this performance but apparently he may avoid the winter part of the season as he is very much a spring horse so the late season staying chases will be his targets with an obvious one possibly being the Grimthorpe at Doncaster in March, Ballycross had ran a fine race before his mistake and he will be getting on the scoresheet at some point sooner rather than later. 

Former jockey now trainer Christian Williams left the track with a few extra pennies to pay the road toll to cross over the River Severn as The Welsh Paddies landed the 2m5f maiden hurdle, the race was thrown open a bit when short priced favourite Silver Kayf took a tumble after skidding on landing after jumping the third last, thankfully he got up and came home safely, fit off the back of a run at Uttoxeter three weeks ago The Welsh Paddies put that to good use and it will be of some interest to see what mark he gets off this win, only a 5yo he should make into a fair jumper. 

The afternoons proceedings concluded with a 2m hurdle for the filly and mare brigade which went the way of the Dave Roberts owned and trained 8yo mare Milan Of Crystal who saved the bookies a potential skinning by fending off the British debutant Undefined Beauty by a neck, Milan Of Crystal had to be at her toughest here and deserved this win after falling at Warwick last week, an 8yo mare winning off 89 this is her level but she is consistent and can go in again providing the right race is found, Undefined Beauty certainly showed a huge amount of improvement on her first start for Olly Murphy and it won’t be long before wins come her way. 

A enjoyable afternoon then in the lovely course that is Warwick and the star of the show without a doubt was Sceau Royal, he looks set for a useful campaign over the big fences and is one to follow. 

Next meeting coming up for yours truly will be the Old Roan Chase at Aintree in a few weeks time,always a good race, unless the calendar produces something else before hand. 

National Hunt Racing,it’s great to have you back!

Wattspots



Blazon,4yo g trained by Kim Bailey was fifth in the opening novice hurdle but was running on at the end, soon as he gets a handicap mark and is upped in trip the wins will come. 

Ballycross,6yo g trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies was third in the big three mile chase but looked to be holding the aces till making a horlicks at the second last which cost him all chance but still a young horse and has plenty to offer. 

Chester Races,Saturday 16th September 2018,32Red Autumn Festival. 

All eyes on the racing world might have been focused on the Town Moor this afternoon but on a week which brought plenty of rain to the north west which resulted in heavy going, you would be forgiven for thinking that the horses racing at Chester this afternoon would have arrived at the stables next to the River Dee by Noah’s Ark, thankfully the traditional horse box by road proved to be the more popular method of equine transportation.  

Away from the final classic in September  it was a case of dreams of Berkshire in October for trainer Andrew Balding and wife Anna-Lisa who was on duty this afternoon after Duretto battled to the line in enthralling finish for the Listed 32Red.Com Stand Cup over 1m4f on the heavy going at the Roodee. 

Last spotted when third back here at the May meeting in the Ormonde Stakes over a furlong further, Duretto had a slight setback after that race which kept him absent for 127 days but under former Grand National winning jockey Graham Lee he bounced back to get the better of Across Stars by half a length, It was a steady run race given the conditions but the winning rider got the hold up tactics spot on to take the £22,684 prize down to Kingsclere. 

Targets after this afternoon will probably be either the St Simon Stakes at Newbury which Duretto landed last year or a crack at the Long Distance Cup on Champions Day and given that Friday’s Doncaster Cup wasn’t the strongest renewal and the fact that the big race day at Ascot is often run in soft conditions due to its place in the calendar it would be the more logical race to have a go for. 

Duretto
Elsewhere the rest of the day’s racing was pretty average but the crowd which turned up were treated to some good finishes and plenty would have hit the historical city of Chester to sample the hospitality at the many bars,restaurants and nightclubs for the more stamina laden people in attendance with a few extra spends as the first six favourites went in,no doubt causing many a bookie to go on line and set up a GoFundMe account!

Best horses of the day for many experts of the turf would have been first of all Dan Troop when he took the 7f 127yd handicap under useful 7lb apprentice Conor Murtagh, this 3yo continues to climb the handicap ladder and put in a workmanlike performance here to go in off 90, Richard Fahey his trainer will be eyeing some big races for him in the autumn and could be a Lincoln type maybe for next spring providing he can continue his upward curve.  

Staffordshire is fairly local in regards to Chester and Jennie Candlish is more known for her jumpers in the heavy but Show Palace showed he is keeping his summer form into the changing of the seasons as he bolted up in the opening 5f handicap under Franny Norton, drawn in box 2 he picked up when needed and looks to have plenty more left in him. 

Another local winner came in the 6f Nursery for Tom Dascombe who saddled Porchy Party to claim the prize, already a winner at Carlisle this season he is versatile in the way he runs and can do it from the front or sit in behind as he had to do here despite being drawn bang on the inside. 

The 6f 2yo Novice event looked pretty ordinary on paper and the filly Shaya continued her liking for her new life being trained in Yorkshire by Roger Fell,having made her debut two starts back for former Godolphin chief Simon Crisford,she repealed the attentions of Gabrial The Saint to pick her first career win and given Franny Norton a double up on the afternoon,she can make up into a fair handicapper. 

Haydock Park,Saturday 12th August 2017,Betfred Rose Of Lancaster Stakes Day

The happy and the sad side of horse racing spawned over Saturday for trainer Mark Johnston. 

Saturday evening saw Dante winner Permian suffer a fatal injury at Arlington Park in Chicago but hours before that the Middleham maestro left the winners enclosure to his plane parked in the middle of the course with a beaming smile as Frankuus did his father,the legendary Frankel proud by making all to land the Group 3 Rose of Lancaster Stakes over 1m2f, sent straight to the front by Joe Fanning he dug deep when needed and kept Mount Logan at bay by 3/4 of a length. 

Frankuus is as game and consistent as they come, he certainly deserved his day in the sun and on the soft ground he was very much at home, an autumn campaign would suit him with races in France being more to his liking where he can dictate the fractions and boss it. 

Frankuus,2017 Rose Of Lancaster winner


Opening race of the afternoon on Ladies’ Day was a very competitive second running of the lady riders’ handicap over 1m4f in which a battle of the daughters of trainers came to the fore with Jenny Powell just getting the verdict by a nose on Azari to get the nod from Megan Nicholls on Zubayr, Azari was formerly with Paul Nicholls but got claimed by Tom Dascombe after winning at Wolverhampton in the summer and is clearly enjoying his new lease of life on the flat, Zubayr does have a big flat race in him and maybe a return here for the Old Borough Cup over 1m6f might suit even more before going back hurdling. 

Azari


Three races over 1m brought some visually impressive results for three different Newmarket trainers. 

First up El Cap took the open age handicap very cosily under Ted Durcan, this 3yo on his second handicap run made a good impression here off 90, breezing past long time leader Calder Prince he took the prize by some 3.5 lengths and is clearly capable of more and no doubt Sir Michael Stoute will be hopeful of getting some black type in the future. 

El Cap


Sea Of Grace had a confidence booster under Andrea Atzeni to land the Listed Dick Hern Stakes, runner up in the French 1000 Guineas and mid division in the Falmouth she will be sent back into Group company at some point and deserves more big race success.  

Sea Of Grace


The 3yo only handicap had Fire Brigade hose down all the opposition in style under an ultra cool ride by Danny Tudhope, he moved effortlessly past the field in the last two furlongs to land the prize, he holds entries at Salisbury and Wolverhampton during the week and could very well be turned out again albeit under a 6lb penalty. 

Sprint handicappers brough the day to a close, Russian Realm formerly a winner over 7f and 1m picked up his first win since April last year and his first in sprinting when holding on to land the 6f sprint, 10lb below his last winning run he appreciated the soft going. 

Jennie Candlish whose more used to saddling horses here in the winter months picked up the 5f dash as Show Palace gave Joe Fanning a double on the day as he carried an unbelievable top weight of 10st 1lb fairly easily, this 4yo is in a rich vein of form right now and the handicapper will need to put the lead weights off the local church to try and stop him. 

Hopefully next up on here will be our first football coverage of the season. 

Till then Goodbye. 

Haydock Park,Saturday 8th July 2017,Bet365 Lancashire Oaks Day. 

On the sunniest Saturday of the Haydock flat season so far over 15,000 people witnessed John Gosden equal the late Sir Henry Cecil as the winning most trainer of the Group 2 Lancashire Oaks with The Black Princess landing the spoils in a very competitive renewal of this highly prestigious contest to make it seven wins each  

Travelling behind runners she burst through in the last furlong or so and easily held favourite Abingdon back in second place, this was her first win over 1m4f and she clearly stays the trip really well so plenty options are open for her regarding distance so big end of season races at Chantilly and Ascot will be the main objectives with the next likely race being the Yorkshire Oaks to try a cross county double or a trip down to the more scenic Glorious Goodwood. 

The Black Princess,2017 Lancashire Oaks winner


The winning combination of Gosden and jockey Robert Tart landed a double on the day as they took the opening staying race over 1m6f with Zenon following up his maiden win at Chepstow in gutsy fashion, the extra two furlongs proved no problem for him and he can improve still after this contest as he looks like a future top quality horse in the staying division. 

Zenon


Haydock’s other big race on the card and the oldest race of all, the Old Newton Cup over 1m4f saw top weight Dylan Mouth finally land a race since the switch from Italy as he picked up this historic contest in some style finishing a couple of lengths or so from joint top weight Soldier In Action, Dylan Mouth brought no doubt some relief to trainer Marco Botti to finally get a win from him after posting mixed results and going in off 104 might not make things easy so a step up in grade will be needed, Solider In Action is very consistent as expected from Mark Johnston’s yard. 

Dylan Mouth,2017 Old Newton Cup winner


Finish of the day came in the 6f Conditions Stakes as Diamond Jublee form got a boost with Magical Memory just got up on the line to snatch victory from Kachy under a never say die ride from Andrea Atzeni, last years Abernant and Duke of York winner was a fine second at York first time out but flopped badly at Royal Ascot and this was a real confident booster for him, Saturday’s July Cup has been mooted but the way he ran on suggests a step up to 7f could be worth trying with at some point, Kachy didn’t quite last 6f with all his wins being over 5f but this was a highly credible run. 

A brace of handicaps finished the day off, Hart Stopper won for jockey Jamie Spencer and Man City supporting trainer Michael Bell gaining his second win of the season in a wide open 6f handicap,this consistent 3yo has plenty of improve ten still in him and could be ideal for the Great St Wilfrid, Hughie Morrison’s yard landed the 7f fillies’ handicap with Excellent Sounds following up her last time out win at Salisbury and the finale was a tight looking 3yo handicap over 1m2f saw Across Dubai land the spoils and he looks useful. 

An excellent afternoon which saw over 15,000 pour through the gates and they witnessed some quality sport on a high quality sporting summer. 

Haydock Park,Saturday 10th June 2017,Betway John O’Gaunt Stakes Day

One length and a half separated the first five in the eight runner feature Group 3 John O’Gaunt Stakes over 7f on a distinctly non summery June afternoon at Haydock Park but one horse had to get the prize and Absolutely So went one better after last months defeat in the Spring Trophy  in a race where they were spread right across the course, getting the better from Jallota by half a length this ever green 7yo remains in good heart and consistent at this level over 7f which clearly suits him more. 

Absolutley So


French raider Bateel showed her class to land a quality renewal of the Group 3 Pinnacle Stakes over 1m4f on her second start for trainer Francis-Henri Graffard, the trainer adopted the “When In Rome” method here so booked Richard Kingscote to do the steering which he did with aplomb as this 5yo mare cruised to victory, her main target will be the Filly and Mare race on Champions Day, Dubka back in second spot was happier on this softer surface too. 


The only success Newmarket had came courtesy of William Haggis who saddled two winners on the card, first up Pennsylvania Dutch came good in the 6f handicap for 3yo as he followed up his maiden win over course and distance back in September, still a bit green he pulled early and had to go around the houses to just get on top of Bellevarde and Fantasy Keeper, he can easily offer more and might be more effective at 7f. 

Haggis’ other win came in a very competitive 1m handicap in which bizarrely the field split into two off the final bend so it resembled a sprint race, in the end Al Shaqab Racing went home with the pot thanks to Pat Cosgrave on Zwayyan as they got the judges’ verdict in s thrilling photo with Ionization, the 4yo only having his second start of the season was clearly at home back at 1m on soft. 

Yorkshire trainers had more profitable journeys back across the M62 during the afternoon, David O’Meara has a real toughie in Reachforthestars who came back to Haydock after a fourth place here last month to land the opening 1m2f handicap for 3yo, up in trip she clearly benefitted from the extra 2f and looks like she will get further and no doubt plans to pick some black type up will be in the plan too. 

Handsome Dude landed a wide open 6f handicap which had a real “Whose Turn Is It Today” look about it and he needed all his strength and guile to just lead at the lollipop, it’s possible that trainer David Barron might target one of the big sprints at Newcastle in a few weeks at the Plate Festival as he won at the track in February. 

Finally Karl Burke looks to have a smart one in Mjjack as he breezed home in the 7f handicap for 3yo, a previous winner on his last run at Doncaster he made light of the 5lb raise from the handicapped who will probably react a bit more off this performance, Sir Reginald Brown back in second  was far better here than his recent York run. 

Next racing on here will be Lancashire Oaks Day in four weeks time, till next time goodbye. 

Wattspots. 

Abushamah,6yo gelding trained by Ruth Carr was third in the 1m handicap and is showing signs of a revival