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.