Haydock Park,Betfred Bowl and Temple Stakes Day,Saturday 25th May 2013

Quite a rarity today as my local course Haydock Park was bathed in beautiful sunshine for this Bank Holiday weekend Saturday meeting which was the third day of the May Festival here and a decent crowd turned up which was very good due to racing also being held in the North and North West at Chester,Cartmel and York today also. 

It was a marathon eight race card here on one of the signature big flat Saturday meetings at Haydock with the feature race being the Group Two Temple Stakes which was the first leg of the sprint division of the QIPCO British Champions Series over the flying 5f which attracted a good quality field of the speedsters. 
Also it is worth noting that this meeting today had 23 non runners,many due to the state of the ground which changed from Good to Firm to Firm after race one. 
2.10 The Betfred ‘Still Treble Odds’ Handicap 1m 4yo+ 66-80
A decent if trappy looking handicap on paper and certainly one that caused a bit of controversy. 
First of all the race went to the 8yo Albaqaa who held on by a head in what was a busy day for judge Di Clark as a few photos were called for during the day, Classic Colouri was back in second but was in the eyes of many the winner had jockey David Begin (5) not dropped his hands after mistaking the 1/2 furlong pole as the winning line which meant losing the race with Albaqqa benefitting from the riders lapse in error. 
I will happily go on record here and say I backed Classic Colouri so was very annoyed by what the jockey did but the thing with racing is you pay your money and take your chance with every race, the jockey got a 28 day ban for this so he will learn but people makes mistakes in life and lets face it if making mistakes was a sackable offence then everybody would be sacked after about an hour at work. 
2.40 The Betfred TV Handicap 1m4f 3yo 86-100 
Only five took part but plaudits must go to jockey Cathy Gannon here on her winning ride on Van Percy who came from an unlikely position with a furlong to go after being stuck behind long time leader Blue Wave to just get up on the line to deny him by a nose. 
This was a good looking race on paper and so it proved to be, the winner has a good record in the north as his only other win was a 1m maiden at Carlisle and was beaten by Red Runaway who finished fourth back at Chester 15 days ago. 
The winner will probably be aimed at Royal Ascot but will probably get further than the 1m4f trip and could be an ideal Melrose type while Blue Wave will be happier in smaller fields like this one today. 
Cathy Gannon below with myself after getting her prize from the presentation. 
3.15 The Betfred Silver Bowl 3yo Open Handicap
Five non runners made this just a 10 runner race but still a competitive race in what is always a good quality contest. 
After being unlucky in the previous race it was much better fortunes for the Mark Johnston  yard as bottom weight Shebebi made all the running to hold off the challenge of the hat trick seeking Newstead Abbey and Mocenigo in a finish the handicapper would have been proud of. 
Code of Honour who was well fancied was slow coming out of the stalls and was never really travelling but he is not one to write off and still has plenty to offer maybe on a surface with a bit of juice in it. 
The winner will no doubt be sent to the Brittania at Royal Ascot in which he will have a fair shout in what is always a tough handicap over that straight mile. 
3.50 The Betfred Temple Stakes 5f 3yo+ Group Two
Two former winners in Sole Power and Kingsgate Native plus top 2yo sprinter from 2012 Reckless Abandon were part of a star studded line up in this fast and furious contest which was the beginning of the sprint division of the British Champions Series. 
It was former winner Kingsgate Native who took this on the stands side group of runners to deny Swiss Spirit who was finishing with a real rattle at the end under William Buick who missed the start but made up plenty of ground and only lost out by a neck with the highly regarded 3yo Reckless Abandon back in third and red hot favourite Sole Power back in fourth no doubt to the delight of the bookies. 
Kingsgate Native has always been a quality horse but has struggled to hold his form at times and this showed as this win was his first in three years. 
The second Swiss Spirit seems to have found improvement for John Gosden and could well be joining Sole Power in the Kings Stand on Day One at Royal Ascot where no doubt a good contingent of sprinters from the UK and all over the world will be having a go at picking some serious dough up. 
Reckless Abandon ran a cracking race back in third for his first go at dining at the top table and it is highly likely he will end up in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes over 6f which will be his ideal trip in sprints and is one to keep an eye on. 
4.20 The Betfred Mobile Lotto Handicap Div 1 6f 4yo+ 71-85
A local winner here for Eric Alston as Chester Arostocrat took the first division of this contest just by holding off the challenge of Saloomy by 0.5 lengths with Taurus Twins running a PB for 2013 who deserves a win but the handicapper needs to drop a few more pounds to do so. 
The winner is a nice type and only 4 so can still improve off this although his rating of 74 will be going up very quickly. 
Back in fifth was the well fancied Polar Venture who is better than this run but has much better form and has indeed done all his winning on the Polytrack at Lingfield. 
4.55 The Betfred Mobile Lotto Handicap Div 2 6f 4yo+ 71-85
One for the bookies here as Bonnie Charlie won at odds of 33-1 to hold off the consistent Meandmyshadow by a short head with back in third the winner of this division as this race was split last year Mappin Time who ran a cracker off a 1lb lower mark than when winning this last year. 
This was a typical northern sprint handicap with the usual whose turn is it today look to it. 
5.30 The Betfred Mobile Casino Handicap 7f 4yo+ 76-90
A nice looking race here which went to Redvers from the Newmarket yard of Ed Vaughan on his second start of the season after running a credible fifth in the Victoria Cup at Ascot just two weeks ago, he met trouble in running but got out in time and booked himself a shot at the Royal Hunt Cup at the Royal Meeting should he get an entry for it. 
Back in second was Zacynthus who has good form over 7f and could be aimed for the Carlisle Bell over 1m which could be tailor made for him with Al Muheer in third who stayed on well but still needs dropping a bit in the weights to get his win. 
6.00 The Betfred ‘Bonus King Bingo’ Handicap 7f 3yo 81-95
Just the six in this and it was the first time hood which helped the Roger Charlton trained So Beloved get his first win of 2013 here to hold off Capo Rosso by 0.5 lengths. 
Held up off the pace he got involved after 2f out and did the job well and will be even better when he goes up to 1m which will suit him even better. 
The disappointment of the race was favourite Enobled who tried to follow up his recent Goodwood win but struggled to pick up when needed, he is not one to write off but will be better when upped to either 1m or 1m2f. 
So a really good days racing at Haydock, the crowd where treated to some exciting races with tight finishes which kept the judge busy and earning her money. 
After many months spent shivering at many jumps meetings with occasional trips to local football and rugby matches it was really nice to have the sun out and see racing in its more purer form on the flat. 
Next week is the Epsom Derby but for me I shall be spending Saturday with the jumpers at Hexham where the first 3yo Hurdle of the season will be run then its back to Haydock the following week for the John O’Gaunt Stakes then we change turf for water with an afternoon at the Rowing World Cup at Eton Dorney a couple of weeks later. 
Thank you for reading and please spread the word. 

Haydock Park,Swinton Hurdle & Spring Trophy Day,Sat 11th May 2013

Just three meetings in the calendar are mixed and this is the second one of the year as the flat and jumping codes unite to give racing fans a real mix of flat,hurdle and steeplechasing  at its best, Seven races on today’s Haydock card with four flat,two hurdles and one chase for the punters to get stuck into. 

Technically this was the first big race of the new jumps season and today’s card included horses that have won at Royal Ascot on the flat and at the Aintree and Punchestown festivals over the sticks. 
Another bonus for me was a chance photo opportunity with trainer Emma Lavelle who was probably surprised when I asked her for a photo with her but happily obliged when I told her she was in esteemed company of other ladies I have been photographed with.   
First race was the Long Distance Hurdle over 3m with a huge field of Twenty runners and twelve flights to be negotiated, Last month at Aintree a horse called Battle Group won twice in three days and he continued his new found form for Kevin Bishop with another victory here getting the better of Jetson on the run in, always well to the fore he remains in good heart but their are not to many options for him now unless connections decide to pop over to France or give Galway a go for the Plate. Jetson ran an honest race and was leading going over the last but found Battle Group to good but he has plenty of ability, Cross Kennon was back in third and he runs well in Haydock staying hurdles at big prices and I would keep an eye on him if he runs in the Fixed Brush Hurdle in November. 
Race Two was the first flat event and was a 1m2f Handicap for 4yo+ 71-85 with only six runners that went to Hanseatic from the John Gosden stable, after the stalls opened he got to the front and made all to hold off Muharrer by 3 lengths, The winner is only 4 and this was his third career start but he has fair ability and will improve the more he races, Not sure where he will end up but he is worth keeping an eye on. 
Third race of the day was a 6f Conditions event and for a field of six the judge had to get the magnifying glass out as four of them hit the line with old warrior Regal Parade getting the verdict after just getting his head on the lollipop to fend off Royal Rock by a nose, both the first and second are 9yo with the other four being 4yo and they were firmly put in their place by the old guard, In his pomp the winner won the Group One Sprint Cup here and won a fair handicap at York in October but he has struggled in his first few starts for Milton Bradley however he likes Haydock and this is about his level nowadays. 
The fourth was the feature jumps race the Swinton Hurdle over 2m with 8 flights, this race may not attract Champion Hurdle winners which is a shame as I’d love to see Hurricane Fly give weight away but sadly that will never happen. 
It was Wales who took this years renewal with the Evan Williams trained Barizan getting the prize,always prominent from flag fall and despite having a keen interest in knocking the top bar out of the hurdles he took up the running from the long time leader Ruler of All after jumping the third last and carried on to hold Mr Mole from the Paul Nicholls yard by 0.5 lengths at the finish with Local Hero back in third, This was a fair renewal but a few of these are probably in need of a summers break but Barizan will probably stay over hurdles next season whereas Mr Mole will know doubt be sent over fences next season and will make into a useful chaser when he comes back. 
Race Five was back on the level with the feature flat race the Listed Spring Trophy over 7f for 4yo+ which was Newmarket bound for the Roger Varian trained Eton Forever on his seasonal reappearance, held up off the pace set my Red Jazz he travelled to the front and led in the last furlong to hold off the challenge from Gregorian by a head in an exciting finish, Listed is about the winners level but he could he aimed at Group Two or Three races in the summer while Gregorian will be interesting to see when he goes back up to 1m and this race will have done him the power of good over what was his seasonal start. 
It was the last race for the jump jockeys for Race Six with a 2m4f Intermediate Handicap Chase and 15 fences which had a field of 15 runners face the starter and went to the Nick Gifford trained Fairy Rath who followed up his recent Ascot victory with a good jumping display to hang on from Conquisto who was 0.75 lengths back in second with Tony Star who was staying on back in third and pace setter Poole Master back in fourth, This was a competitive race and full of good sorts for next season in the good 2m4f Chases, the only sad point was Ulysee Collonges who broke down turning for home and sadly had to be euthanised and Heez A Cracker pulled up lame but walked back safely. 
Last race was a 1m Handicap for 3yo 76-95 which had some useful types in it even though it was only a field of seven, The victor in this was Hay Dude trained by Elaine Burke in Middleham he held on by a nose from Ak Mukhdam who was quite keen early on and could be better if equipped with blinkers but looks more likely to improve, again this was the third flat race which needed the judge to call the photo which was very unusual given the small fields for the flat races today. 
So a good mix of racing today, the next mixed meeting is in August at Ffos Las but the biggest mixed meeting is in the summer at Galway with the seven day festival which is run the same week as Glorious Goodwood. 
I’ve always said we should have more of these mixed race days as it gives the fans and owners,trainers and jockeys of both codes a chance to come under one roof for the afternoon to showcase the best that we have to offer. 
Next up for me in the coming weeks will be Haydock again in a fortnight for the Silver Bowl and Temple Stakes then in June a real mixed bag with jumping from Hexham,Flat racing at Haydock and an afternoon at the Rowing World Cup in Eton Dorney. 


Hamilton Park,Cancer Research UK Family Day,Sunday 5th May 2013

The first turf flat meeting of the year for me since my last one which was Ascot back in October on Champions Day when I saw Frankel for the only time in what was his last race before being retired and starting his new job of being a Stallion and from all reports he seems to have got the hang of it. 

This was also my first days racing since Ladies Day at Aintree and while we had no Sprinter Sacre or At Fishers Cross it was actually nice to going flat racing again. 
Today was Hamilton Park which is one of my favourite courses in Scotland, a nice leafy place with good facilities and a team that looks after everyone from owners,trainers,jockeys and racegoers in equal measures, Many a good manager from other British racecourses could learn a thing or two from this neat course. 
Eight races were on the card today with the two feature event being a nice little 5f race for 3yo and a fair quality 1m5f Handicap and both had good prize money on which resulted in some top stables sending horses up to do battle. 
Race One was the first division of a 6f H’cap for 4yo+ 56-60 which went to Nasharra for the father and daughter team of Kevin and jockey Amy Ryan who travelled well and scored by 1.75 lengths to Mandalay King, the winner is rated 66 and does have course form which is always valuable here, this was the poorer of the two divisions with the disappointment being the hat trick seeking Whisky Bravo who was being pushed along halfway and came last but its possible the handicapper may have him. 
Race Two was division two and a very impressive victory for Economic Crisis from the Alan Berry yard here,always prominent he went on to score by 2.5 lengths from Greenhead High who kept on well at the end but could live with the winners turn of foot,the eye catcher is this was Nant Saeson who was staying on but is much better suited to 7f. 
Race Three was the Claimer over 6f which only had four but the only two good horses in the race where involved right from when the gate opened, The eventual winner was Takealookatmenow who led from the start then got challenged and overtaken by Paradise Spectre who got headed close to the end and got beaten by a head, Their was no bid for the winner who is a lovely filly that is not afraid to battle. 
Fourth Race and this was the Tangerine Trees Conditions Stakes over 5f for 3yo and with the rating for these ranging from 83-101 it was a useful looking sprint. 
It was Richard Fahey and Tony Hamilton who teamed up for this years renewal with Polski Max who ran on like a useful sprinter to hold off Lucky Beggar by 0.75 lengths with the pretty decent Smoothtalkinracal back in third spot.  
Hard to know how the form will work out for this, Polski Max is in good heart and does prefer a softer surface so its possible some Group races in France may suit him,Lucky Beggar didn’t stay 7f last time and will be aimed at getting some Black Type later. 
Race Five was the longest on the card, the Buttonhook Handicap over 1m5f for 4yo+ 72-90 which is the longest distance run here at Hamilton, this was a competitive event and the pace was good from the outset with Narcissist setting the early fractions till 5f out when Bolivia took over but got swamped by five horses with 2f left and it was the 5yo O Ma Ld from the John Quinn stable who made it two from two this season with a gutsy battle at the end to deny The Tiger by 0.75 lengths with Mica Mika in third. 
The owner is from the North East and said he wants to run him in the Northumberland Plate which of course would be his ideal race but the horse probably won’t stay the 2m needed as he just got the extra furlong here on the flat, maybe the Ebor or Old Newton Cup would be more his race with another run in June being more likely. 
The Tiger stayed on well but will probably be raised a few pounds after this, he ran a good race but maybe hard to place after winning twice in succession last season. 
The Sixth Race was a 1m Maiden for 3-5yo and only a handful of this nine runner field had a chance, the winner was Maputo trained by Mark Johnston in Middleham who made all the running and stayed on really well to beat Pacific Heights by 3.25 lengths but could not live with the winner who has nice bit of quality about him and will probably be upped in trip to 1m2f and probably aimed at a good quality handicap.  
Disappointment of the race was favourite Frasers Hill, a 4yo he took a keen hold early on and travelled sweetly as the race got down to the business end but could not pick up when needed, he is costly to follow for his fans but in fairness he was giving the winner nine pounds at the weights and will probably be better in a handicap. 
Seventh contest was a 1m H’cap for 4yo+ 55-74 and anyone who follows the trend of backing the stable second string would have been greatly rewarded here as Coral Sands trained by Alan Swinbank beat Pravada Street at odds of 25-1, the stables main hope was hot favourite Eutropius who was over a length back in third, the winner has ran well here before so does have some liking for Hamilton. 
The finale was a 5f Handicap for 4yo+ 50-60 which had a bit of drama at the start as Distant Sun broke out of the stalls with Amy Ryan and was promptly withdrawn by the stewards and got a huge cheer from the crowd as you would expect, as for the race itself it was a well timed ride by useful apprentice Slade O’Hara (5) who got Two Turtle Doves up to lead inside the last half furlong by 0.75 lengths from Code Six who was an unlucky loser and will pick up a prize soon, this was a poor contest but the winning ride was very good. 
So the first turf flat meeting of the season was done and dusted, not quite the quality of Champions Day at Ascot but always good to go racing and see the smaller owners get their day in the sun and pick some prize money up. 
Hamilton is a very well run and efficient track, They take pride in their work and make you feel welcome at what is a friendly and relaxing place to go racing, as I eluded to before plenty other courses should come here and see what they do as its one of the top courses in the country bar none. 
Next up will be Swinton Hurdle day on Saturday from Haydock, a mixed card of Four Flat,Two Hurdles and One Steeplechase to look forward to so its something for everybody. 
Until then enjoy reading and hope you enjoy the reviews.