Wetherby Races,Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd November 2018, Charlie Hall Chase Meeting. 

Yorkshire may be proudly known as the “White Rose” county and be definitely white but for the many locals who made their way up the A1 to Wetherby it was a case of being Definitly Red as the Brian Ellison trained 9yo under Danny Cook took victory in the Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase in what proved to be an incident packed contest despite only four facing the starter. 

Straight from flag fall Double Shuffle headed for the stage exit very quickly as he fell at the first fence and caused many groans from the crowd who had parted with the hard earned, two fences later and the favourite Black Corton met the first ditch on the wrong stride which caused him to promptly crash through the birch and send Bryony Frost right up his neck after she had gone up out of the saddle losing both irons in the process and somehow defying gravity in a way that even Sir Isacc Newton would have ripped up his workings out and begun from scratch. 

The recovery back in the saddle drew gasps from the crowd then a respectful round of applause for getting back on board and carrying on in a sight that has to be seen to be believed. 

Back to the race and Definitly Red put in a professional display here, connections are eyeing up a return to Aintree next month for the Many Clouds Chase where he could meet his old rival from last year Cloudy Dreams then a crack at the Coltswold Chase at Cheltenham in January, he is just short of Gold Cup class but a reliable type as ever. 

Black Corton might have been closer had that mistake not cost him any impetus which it most certainly did, potentially he has been ear marked for the big staying handicap at Newbury in early December but should he make another mistake like that then it could be worth going down the staying hurdle route if his jumping gets affected again, Virgilio back in third was always in last but ran on and might be a National horse. 

Definitly Red

Saturdays other feature races included the Grade 2 West Yorkshire Hurdle for the stayers over three miles and Nautical Nitwit was one of three horses to give Richmond trainer Philip Kirby a treble on the day as he coped with the step up in grade easily, the defections of Wholestone and Clyne could well have helped but he could only beat what was in the race and easily held off Old Guard by over a length and a bit, he will have to cope with a step up in grade after this. 

Lady Buttons kicked off the treble with a nice win in the mares’ hurdle over 2m, back over timber after finishing off her season at Aintree in the Maghull Novices’ on National day, she may mix hurdles and fences this season and taking this Listed contest will boost her black type value and while she may be outclassed in the big mares race at the Festival she should pay her way as the months go by. 

Lady Buttons

Friday was a far quieter day at the A1 venue but still contained some useful looking races. 

The feature Listed Handicap Chase over 2m4f went the way of the Skelton’s with Born Surivior who returned from a summer break to take this nice little prize ahead of last years winner Guitar Pete, connections are eyeing a go over the National fences next month in the Sefton before going back to Aintree in April for the Topham where he will try to stop Ultragold from getting the hat trick of wins in that race. 

Last week Doncaster held the last big race for juveniles with the Futurity but for the jumping brigade the first big juvenile race came in the form of the Listed Wensleydale Hurdle and the two tone green silks of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede were carried past the post first with Cracker Factory who disposed of market rival Born Survivor quite easily in the end coming home seven lengths clear, still improving over jumps this horse sets the standard at the moment and could appear at the Open meeting in a fortnights time unless Alan King decided son a return to Yorkshire in December for the Summit Hurdle on the run in to Christmas. 

Cracker Factory

One horse whose ahead of the handicapper at the moment is the Dr Newland trained Storm Rising who followed up last weekends Cheltenham win with minimum fuss, going in off the same mark of 123 he is due for a hefty rise in the weights but at the moment he looks in fine fettle. 

Novice Stars

Of the novice races a couple stood out. 

The 3m Novice Chase on Friday saw the Kim Bailey trained Rocky’s Treasure win nicely ahead of Poetic Rhythm who just like his debut at Chepstow lost some of his shoes, Rocky’s Treasure is shaping into a nice staying type at the moment and probably won’t be heading the RSA market but he has lots of scope about him and did a fine job giving plenty of weight to his rival. 

Novice Chasers pass the stands

Jamie Snowden has a nice type on his hands in Thistle Do Nicely who easily took the 2m Novice Hurdle on the Saturday, he is certainly going the right way over timber and this 4yo will probably be aimed at a better race after this. 

Thistle Do Nicely

In all fairness this was a fair meeting, the ground did affect the field sizes but still brought some competitive action on the track. 

Till next time Goodbye. 

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Aintree Races,Sunday 28th October 2018, Countryside Day

B.F. And F were most certainly BFF’s at Aintree on Sunday as the jockey who lit up the racecourse wherever she went last season,Bryony Frost, teamed up with the Paul Nicholls trained Frodon to put in a bold display of front running to land the seasons first big race of the core National Hunt season the Grade 2 Monet’s Garden Old Roan Chase. 

Run on good ground in beautiful autumnal sunshine, the Mildmay course at Aintree is always a course to produce thrills and spills and this was no exception as the main market protagonists all came to the fore at the business end but Frodon had runner up Javert and the third placed Cloudy Dream both held in behind and neither could get past on the run in. 

This was Frodon’s fifth win in Graded company and he’s an absolute model of consistency at this level, a next possible race could come in the Bet Victor at Cheltenham unless a crack at bigger company at Ascot the week after, 2m5f is his best trip at the moment but it’s not to say a step up to three miles will occur at some point as he’s only a 6yo. 

Javert ran a fine race in behind for second and this lightly raced sort will be placed to good effect while Cloudy Dream continues to frustrate on his first start for Donald McCain, he jumped a bit in and out at times but finished ok and could be better upped in trip with a return back here in December for the Many Clouds Chase an almost cast iron possibility but for now he remains one to back with caution.  

Frodon

Elsewhere on a decent looking card Henry Daly and Richard Johnson gave Trevor Hemmings the opening winner of the day with Stoney Mountain opening his account in the 2m4f Maiden Hurdle, in a race which may well work out nicely he managed to fend off Aye Aye Charlie who started odds on but is still awaiting that elusive first win over hurdles, Stoney Mountain is a progressive type who should scale bigger heights. 

Stoney Mountain

Emma Lavelle had a nice winner on the day with Paisley Park who came back from his summer break and routed a decent looking field in the feature 2m4f Hurdle race, keeping good novice form last season he made good use of his mark of 140, it is worth nothing the two flights up the straight were bypassed here but that’s not to say he wouldn’t have won anyway, a step in grade looks likely now and maybe a pop at the Ascot Hurdle may be the answer but there is a conditions hurdle back here in a fortnight over the same course and distance that may be the next race for him.  

In the 3m1f Handicap Chase for the senior citizens, Exitas came home pretty easily to continue his good form that has kept him in good stead this season, having his third start in October he landed this very readily like he was a horse half his age, trainer Phil Middleton might just be eyeing up a crack at the Badger Ales after this and it wouldn’t be a bad idea as he’d be a more than lovely chance in that. 

Lastly in the 3m1f Novices’ Handicap Chase we had a very appropriate winner on Lamb National as the mare Molly The Dolly made a winning debut over fences as she scooted home in impressive style holding off the attentions of Traditional Dancer towards the end, rated 127 she looks a step ahead of her mark and can improve throughout the season over staying trips. 

So the jumps season is now up and running properly and Aintree as per usual put on a good show on its annual Countryside Day with a good heart crown in attendance. 

This upcoming weekend the roadshow moves from Merseyside and heads across the M62 and up the A1 to Wetherby for the two day Charlie Hall Chase meeting. 

Till then,Goodbye. 

Carlisle Races,Thursday 18th October 2018, Smarkers Grand Jumps Season Opener. 

Main Stand

Morrissey from The Smiths may well have sung about panic being on the streets of Carlisle followed by Dublin,Dundee and Humberside but the bookmakers who decided to ply their trade at Carlisle racecourse today were definitely panicking when the the third Nigel Twiston-Davies trained winner of the afternoon went in to give him and his son Sam, three winners in a row as the popular course near the Durdar are of the city flung its gates open in beautiful autumnal weather to kick off the 2018-19 jumps season. 

Two of those three came on both divisions of the 2m1f Novice Hurdle, first up the very useful bumper horse Good Boy Bobby took division one and won with plenty in hand than the two lengths would suggest, he will shape up even more when upped in trip and is one for future reference, this was quickly followed up in the second division with Al Dancer waltzing to victory as he put in a very good performance beating a very good sort in Windsor Avenue trained by Brian Ellison. 

Good Boy Bobby

Al Dancer

Al Dancer looked like an easier course would suit but going around the stiff undulations of Carlisle will certainly have made him learn plenty about jumping. 

Before taking these two races the stable scored in a decent quality Novice Handicap Chase over 2m which had plenty of nice looking types in it and it was Luckofthedraw who sat back from off the pace to land the spoils to kick start the three timer, this 5yo like most of the field was a bit novicey but he will make a nice chaser and looked very much as if further will suit him as the season goes on and should hold his own against better company. 

Out into the country

The finish of the afternoon came in the longest race of the day, a 3m Chase which also acted as a qualifier for the Challenger Staying Chase final and champion jockey Richard Johnston showed the hunger was still as strong as ever as he delivered a power packed finish on the Tim Vaughan trained Looksnowtlikebrian to come from another county to land the contest, fresh from his summer break he shapes every inch like a stayer and this 7yo could be aimed at a satellite national before too long. 

Looksnowtlikebrian

Ruth Jefferson unveiled a nice type in the concluding bumper as the mare Mega Yates romped home on debut with some style, costing £60,000 this Irish point winner should have a good future when switched back to obstacles. 

Fine weather and some decent early season types all made for a splendid afternoon for those who made the trek far and wide up to Carlisle then, chucked in with the added bonus of the Lamb National albeit no bookies prices up on that race meant that the crowd got plenty of excitement on the day. 

Next up on here will definitely be the two Charlie Hall Chase festival with a comprehensive review of both days in two weeks time. 

Till then Goodbye. 

Haydock Park,Saturday 29th September 2018, Smarkets Real Ale Day-Summer Finale

In the last throws of the Great British Summer the bands were playing of both brass on the entrance and the oompah one which wandered the various enclosures to accompany the real ales from the local area and across the country as the final Saturday of Haydock’s flat season drew to a near close. 

While many enjoyed a good pint from breweries such as the Manchester based JW Lees and Joseph Holt whilst enjoying the Bavarian stylings of classics such as “Sweet Caroline” and “Don’t Stop Moving” which sounded somewhat slightly different than the original versions, the ones who came for the racing were treated to a decent backend card and despite no Group races on the day it was more an afternoon to kick back with the pressure off. 

Trainer John Gosden may well be getting his French phrasebook out for ParisLongchamp this upcoming weekend but on a busy Saturday he still found time to bag a couple of Haydock winners, both of which were very impressive. 

First up was the 2yo Novice Stakes for Fillies over 1m with Sparkle Roll who clearly learnt plenty from her first run over course and distance last time out as she romped away with this contest under Nicky Mackay, a half sister to last years shock Derby winner Wings Of Eagles she will hopefully make into an even better filly at 3 when upped in trip next season, she finished over three lengths ahead of the main market leader Chartered. 

Sparkle Roll

The second Gosden winner came in the 1m6f handicap as the 3yo Surya who was raised 8lb after landing a similar event back here in July when England were in the World Cup Quarter Final, the winner put in another good shift as he grounded out another win off 92 to continue his upward curve easily holding Dominating by a couple of lengths, still on the upgrade as a stayer he has an entry in the Long Distance Cup at Ascot on Champions Day which might result in taking on his more well known stable mate Stradivarius should he turn up for his seasonal swansong but Surya has quietly crept up in the staying division and should do even better at 4. 

Surya

Clive Cox gained a bit of compensation after Harry Angel got swamped up in the Haydock Sprint Cup mud last time out as Dark Power got the verdict from judge Fraser Perratt who needed the ruler and magnifying glass to sort out the finish of the 6f handicap with both Dark Power and Lord Oberon separated by a neck and at the same time being on opposite sides of the course, recently Dark Power was 8th in the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon but needs ground with some juice in it, a possible target could be one of the big Autumn sprints around York or Doncaster as the season draws to its conclusion. 

The form of the Great St Wilfrid received another boost half an hour earlier as Dakota Gold showed he is far better at 5f than 6 as he went from gate to wire like a dragster to land the feature 5f handicap under Connor Beasley, he beat some useful yardsticks in this race and looks likely to be kept to this trip in future with his gun-ho style of bursting out as quick as you like and trying to last home. 

Finally the most visually impressive winner of the day came in the 2yo Novice event over 1m for the boys with the Ed Walker trained Cap Francais who had to concede 6lbs to nine of his rivals but routed a fair looking bunch of competitors in some style, this Frankel colt is one to keep in the notebooks and trackers for the moment, connections have suggested the Listed Silver Tankard at Pontefract in a few weeks which would be a more manageable target than the Futurity at Doncaster but should neither be contested than a winter thinking over what could potentially happen next season will be the order of the day. 

So another flat season draws to a close, from Wetherby at the beginning of May to Haydock at the end of September it has been a decent adventure. 

Main highlight was without a doubt seeing Roaring Lion and Kew Gardens at York last month, it’s seeing horses of that quality that makes this sport so special. 

All being well in October the jumping will step up a gear with many visits to some lovely courses from the top level to the gaff tracks, Bring it on!

Till next time, Goodbye. 

Haydock Park,32 Red Sprint Cup Day,Saturday 8th September 2018

That old saying of “If at first you don’t succeed,try and try again” proved to be more than accurate in the case of much loved sprinter The Tin Man has he felled a top quality field which certainly weren’t trees in the Group 1 Haydock Sprint Cup to give trainer James Fanshawe his second win in the big race and jockey Oisin Murphy his first win in what has been a season the young man will never want to end given the amount of big race wins he has been on this year. 

Ran on ground so heavy and with rain that made it the day more akin to the winter season than the summer one The Tin Man ploughed through the Haydock mud and left last years victor Harry Angel in his wake and the line just came in time from the fast finishing duo of Brando and Gustav Klimt who were bearing down on him at the line to scoop up the pot. 

Normally a lot better at Ascot, The Tin Man who has been third and second in this race over the years finally got his reward and now all roads will lead to Berkshire on October 20th to try and land the Champions Sprint for a second time and off this he will take all the beating. 

The Tin Man

For many the big disappointment was Harry Angel who led early but approaching the last furlong a mix of the ground and petrol tank became to slowly empty and came home back in sixth place, he was a bit fractious in the stalls again as happened at Royal Ascot, he will no doubt have another go on the big Ascot race but should he show another poor showing then it’s possible that retirement may be on the cards so not to damage his stallion fee. 

Brando ran a solid race back in second and is a solid yardstick while Aidan O’Brien will be pleased no doubt with Gustav Kilmt showing a good run back in third and he might be worth a pop at the Foret at ParisLongchamp at the Arc meeting at 7f but for now the Haydock Sprint is still one of the few Group Ones that has yet to be claimed by the supreme of Ballydoyle. 

In the solid supporting races the Superior Mile formed part of a double for the Andrew Balding yard, Andrew was up in the North East as he was taking part in the Great North Run over the slightly longer trip of 13 and a bit miles but for his wife Anna Lisa she was no doubt wishing she had got the train up to Wigan then jumped on the 320 bus service to St Helens as she and trainer Richard Hannon were caught up in a nasty accident before racing as the plane that brought them in skidded on landing which resulted in hitting another plane and damaging its wing but thankfully everyone got out safely. 

The first winner came with that old stalwart Here Comes When under Oisin Murphy who showed in the Haydock heavy that experience can often beat youth as he easily disposed of the 3yo Regal Reality, Last seasons Sussex Stakes winner he has struggled this term but the ground finally came his way to land this Group 3 prize. 

Here Comes When could find himself being lined up for a pop at the QEII Stakes on Champions Day especially if the conditions are the same as how Saturday was and that would be no problem as it usually is damp come October. 

Here Comes When

The second leg came in the finale a fillies’ handicap over 1m2f in which Lorellina racked up her third win on the bounce to supplement wins at Chester and Salisbury and gave Oisin Murphy his third winning ride of the afternoon.  

For the 2yo we had the Listed Ascendant Stakes also over a mile and despite the absence of Beatboxer the crowd were still treated to a quality contest and Tom Dascombe made sure that at least one big prize stayed in the area as Great Scot picked up more black type following a recent third at Deauville in a 1m Listed event to hold at bay the highly regarded Floating Artist back in second, staying on nicely he looks to have a solid career ahead of him over middle distances next term.  

So despite the weather being largely awful it certainly proved to be an interesting last day at work for outgoing Haydock boss Jason Fildes who heads off to pastures new at Highclere, like many I wish him all the best in his new venture and no doubt he will pop his head round the door at times and I also wish new boss Dickon White the best of luck as he takes the reins of the good ship Haydock Park. 

Racing wise here we will be back at the end of the month for what could possibly be the flat finale of 2018, till then Goodbye 

York Races,Ebor Festival Day 1,Juddmonte International Day,Wednesday 22nd August 2018

On the Knavesmire the famous Knavesmire a lion sleeps tonight!

No not that lion of which the song that has had many covers with the Tight Fit version being one of the more popular ones but the Qatar Racing owned Roaring Lion who has come to the top of the tree in the 3yo Colt division as he became the horse who finally broke John Gosden’s maiden tag in one of the most prestigious,famous and now officially the best 1m2f race in Europe by running away with the 2018 Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes with the sort of style and grace that one would expect from a top class middle distance performer. 

Eight went to post in a race that finally brought together the best of the 3yo generation and the older mob and after a summer of ducking and diving from both of them the generations finally came too under the muggy grey York skies on the opening day of this ever popular northern flat festival. 

They went a decent clip from the moment the starter pressed the green button and as expected the field came down the stands’ side in line for home, Roaring Lion who was on the inside going down the back had clear daylight with four furlongs to go and from then Oisin Murphy simply waited till the right moment and both jockey and horse ran clear by around four lengths from short priced favourite Poets Word who under pressure down the straight but stayed on for second over what is probably an inadequate trip for him now. 

For many the real star of the race was the David Menuisier trained Thundering Blue who continued his love affair with this place by getting third spot at 50-1 with 2000 Guineas winner back in fourth. 

Roaring Lion has come of age since the Derby by following up his win last month in the Eclipse, all eyes may probably be aimed at the Champion Stakes in October but a visit over the Irish Sea for the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown which should suit him far more. 

Roaring Lion

The day’s other two pattern races were first up the Group 3 Acome Stakes over 7f in which Phoenix Of Spain gave Lambourn trainer Charlie Hills a second success in the race as the grey landed what looked a reasonable looking contest as he came from last to first under Jamie Spencer finding a golden highway down the stands’ side just like in the opening sprint handicap and in the International to brush off the highly regarded Watan back in second place, at the moment he looks to be going the right way and could return to Yorkshire next month at Doncaster for the Champagne Stakes over 7f to continue his upward curve. 

Classic Clues came in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur over 1m4f in which eight of the nine declared held an entry in the St Leger with the only one not in Cross Corner who misses out on a technical issue due to having no testicles!

In the end what looked a top notch renewal found its way to the Charlie Appleby yard with Old Persian under the steerage of James Doyle putting in a tough afternoon at the coalface as he just held off the staying on Cross Counter to put his St Leger credentials on the line, Kew Gardens back in third ran a very eye catching race and despite the O’Brien horses not quite being at the top just yet he could have a say in the final classic of the season just over three and a half weeks time. 

Cross Counter is potentially heading down under to Australia for a go at the Melbourne Cup and the way he ran on in this race he could have a say in the result but obviously anything can happen between now and November.

It’s fair to say York showed why this meeting is always popular among racing fans and people of the north who along with the Grand National and St Leger meetings treasure it like its a priceless heirloom for which no amount of money could prize it away. 

Star of the show for sure was Roaring Lion and he is certainly the one they all have to get past now in the 10f division. 

Next up will be Sprint Cup Day at Haydock Park, till then goodbye.  

Haydock Park,Saturday 11th August 2018, Smarkets Rose Of Lancaster Stakes Day. 

Ladies Day at Haydock Park brought about the usual suspects like a Style Contest with a good array of prizes and a post racing DJ set by Vernon Kay who was taking a break from hosting the Formula E series on Channel 5 and the many very average ITV quiz shows which for some reason seem to get stopped quicker than a chaser in heavy ground for a fair and reasonable card that comes inbetween the gap that fills up the schedule between Glorious Goodwood and the York Ebor meeting. 

The afternoons feature race was a tight looking renewal of the Group 3 Rose Of Lancaster Stakes with the seven runners rated from 101 to 109 it was the lowest rated who came out blooming at Haydock on Ladies Day as course specialist Teodoro pulverised the others with a dominant display of front running to land the 10f contest in brutal style to take the prize from Lancashire to Cheshire. 

Fourth in the Old Newton Cup just thirty five days ago he showed much improvement to land this under jockey Richard Kingscote for Tom Dascombe to beat a decent field and set himself up for a crack at some major prizes later in the autumn no doubt. 

In doing so he had a nice three length advantage over runner up Brorocco who himself is a reliable yardstick at this level but Teodoro was simply too good this afternoon, the winner actually came here for this as opposed to the Ebor but depending on the weather he might end up in Yorkshire in a few days time. 

Teodoro

Haydock’s other pattern contest was the Listed Dick Hern Stakes for the filly and mare brigade over 1m which brought a classic winner of 2017 into the Haydock winners enclosure as Unforgettable Filly in the colours of Dr Ali Ridha bounced right back to her best to land the spoils as she romped to an eight length win ahead of New Day Dawn in impressive style here, she showed signs of a revival at Ascot two weeks ago and the headgear looks to have worked the oracle with her now, a crack in higher company will now be the next step for her. 

Unforgettable Filly

Mister Belvedere from the Darlington based yard of Michael Dods completed the big race double as he landed the Ladies’ Trophy race over 1m4f, two starts back Mister Belvedere won the Queen Mother’s Cup at York and while this one had no champagne or the cash prize bonus to the winning rider as in recent years it’s still a big race and Paula Muir who was in the saddle today just got the verdict from the judge in a real thrilling finish from Birds Of Prey under Megan Nicholls but in the end it was a case of the butler getting the better of the avians!

Finally the Dascombe,Kingscote combination landed a double with the opening race a 3yo handicap over 1m being landed by No I’m Easy who appreciated being moved back up to a mile from a lowering mark of 75 to get the better of Ayutthaya by half a length, this was his first since landed a 2yo contest last year, he won this in the colours of The Groundhog Day Partnership and given his form so far this season even Punxsutawney Phil probably wouldn’t have given him a shout but he hopefully should be able to kick on now and no doubt the owners will be more than happy to relive this day over and over again!

All in all some decent racing but in a week and a half time we pop over the border to York for the first day of the Ebor meeting, till then goodbye.