London Anniversary Games,Sunday 28th July 2013

The third day of this three day meeting which was to celebrate one year since the 2012 Olympic Games were held in the city of London and the crowds flocked in their thousands to Stratford to have a final fling in the beautiful looking Olympic stadium before the place gets reworked to become the new home of West Ham United, all is not lost though because in 2015 the stadium will host five matches in the Rugby World Cup then in 2017 the World Athletics Championships will be held here as the track will be kept as one of the provisos of the legacy project. 

 
Today it was the return of the Paralympic athletes to have their day in the sun with top class draws such as Hannah Cockcroft,Jonnie Peacock and David Weir coming to give the full house crowd an afternoon to remember, while nothing can ever topple Super Thursday when those three athletes all won on the same night,this afternoon was a chance to say thank you and for them to have another chance to race in front of an adoring and appreciative crowd. 
 
Below,myself outside the Olympic Stadium. 
 
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Before the Paralympics if you asked anyone to name the most famous person who uses a wheelchair to be seen on C4 then like me you would think Brian Potter the licensee of Bolton’s Phoenix Club,indeed when it was announced that C4 had won the rights to show the 2012 Paralympics many people were surprised including myself but C4 went all out with the popular “That Paralympic Show” which was a regular Saturday afternoon show before the games and during the wonderful ten days of competition a more alternative nightly show called “The Last Leg” which was always good fun to watch and showed things from a different angle plus the inclusion of Lexi was the biggest help to all those watching on the television when it came to demystifying all the classifications in the events. 
 
This afternoon the action was on the track and field and here are the classifications so you know what means what when reading. 
 
T and F means Track or Field event.
 
11-13 A visual impairment. 
20 Intellectual impairment 
31-38 Co-ordination problems including cerebral palsy
40-46 A loss of limb or impairment 
51-58 Wheelchair track athletes. 
 
The classification is essential as it creates a level playing field for all athletes. 
 
The highlights of the meeting for the crowd began at 3.15 when Hannah Cockcroft flew home in the Women’s  100m  T33-34 for wheelchair athletes, this was a a case of ref stop the contest, as soon as the gun went then Hannah just went for it as she always does and nobody could get close to her, The Halifax Bullet is riding on the crest of a wave at the moment and for good measure the winning time of 17.80 broke the stadium record and no prizes for who held it before!  
 
Below Hannah Cockroft hits the line in first place. 
 
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After her race it was the Men’s  100m  T36 up next and a British victory again this time for Graeme Ballard with fellow Brit Ben Rushgrove behind him in second place, Ballard has an amazing electrifying pace at 34 and he ran a cracking race. 
 
Australia then got something very rare in Britain this year and that was Gold in Men’s T46 100m with Gabriel Cole hanging on from the fast finishing Ola Abidogun in a winning time of 11.02, Cole got bronze in 2012 and this will be a nice bit of redemption for him. 
 
One of the real class acts came up soon after with the Men’s  800m T36/37 which featured Paul Blake who won at Lyon in the World IPC during the week and Ireland’s Michael McKillop who won the Gold at the Paralympics although he is more a T38 grade and this showed given the way he destroyed this field, going to the front after 200m he was never going to be overtaken and won has he liked in a time of 1.58.65s, Paul Blake was third with his time of 2.07.63 but  in all honesty that was a good performance as like McKillop both have Cerebral Palsy but the Irishmans is not as severe. 
 
Three Team GB girls lined up in the seven runner Women’s 100m T37 race and Bethany Woodward ran the best coming home in second behind German runner Maria Seifert who won breaking the national record of 14.08 while Woodward got a PB of 14.34. 
 
For me the performance of the day came later on with an outstanding piece of running by Richard Whitehead, a double amputee he runs with gold prosthetic blades on the track and he went in the Mens 200m T42, his style of running may be unusual to see at first but when he hits top speed it’s an amazing sight to behold on the track, in this race he began slowly but coming in off the turn he picked up and was flying down the straight from early pace setter Scott Reardon who was still in the lead with 40m to go but Whitehead took dead aim and it was all over bar the shouting. 
 
Below,Richard Whitehead salutes the crowd. 
 
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Libby Clegg then followed later with a win in the Women’s 100m T12 final, only three went to the start in this race and it was victory for Clegg who was the only runner in this race who has a guide, The guides have a huge job when running alongside,a lot of trust is essential and the bond is very important  as both must know each other to get the best results on the track, Libby Clegg won with a time of 12.18 with Hanika Kolnikova of Slovakia in second place of 12.42. 
 
Then we come to what for many was the two signature events on the card,first up was the Men’s 100m T43-44 race which featured Jonnie Peacock and Alan Oliveira going head to head down the famous Tarmac in Stratford, Today though sadly the Peacock didn’t plume and it was Oliveira from Brazil who took the bragging rights for the 2016 Olympic hosts in a time of 10.57 which was a new world record while early leader Richard Brown who came second also broke the record for his classification in this race. Peacock was third but ran an honest race and he was simply outclassed on the day but more will come. 
 
So onto the last track event of the day the Men’s Mile T54 which was a wheelchair race that featured David Weir, Gold medallist in 2012 in the 800m,1500m,5000m and Marathon he was expected to win this and indeed he was true his form as being the banker of the day with a devastating performance over this trip, The early pace was set by German Marc Schuh until after the first lap then he gave way to Mexican athlete Fernandez Sanchez Nava but coming into the straight after 700m done it was the Weirwolf who went to the front and simply put the race to bed and went clear to the roars of the Stratford faithful on this sunny afternoon in London, It was quite simply for me as stunning to see as Frankel at Ascot and Sprinter Sacre at Aintree, You always know class when you see it and David Weir is one of the best wheelchair racers around at the moment. 
 
Below,The Mens Mile T54 begins. 
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Below,David Weir comes home in first place. 
 
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It wasn’t just the track though that took centre stage because the field events also occurred, in the Men’s Discus F44 Britains Dan Graves with a winning throw of 57.42m 
 
The Women’s Long Jump F42/44 Steff Reid could only finish fourth in total but was second of the three F44 classes in this competition. 
 
The Womens Club Throw F32/51 went to Canada’s Becky Richter with a best distance of 14.70m which was well ahead of Josie Pearson whose main effort came in at 13.49. 
 
The Mens Javelin F57/58 only had four in it but the top prize went to Claudiney Batista Dos Santos who got a winning distance of 42.42m 
 
TeamGB did get another gold in the field with Aled Davies in the Mens Shot Put F42 with a winning throw of 14.31m which was over a meter clear of the runner up Darko Kralj. 
 
Today was an excellent afternoon of sport down in Stratford, an area that is slowly being regenerated and in a few years time when West Ham have moved in then new homes,offices and hotels pop up this will be an area of huge national importance. 
 
One thing that nobody can deny about this is that the competitiveness element of the Para Athletics is just as tight as traditional athletics, the competitors certainly don’t want any patronising nonsense with phrases like “Aren’t you brave” or “Oh look at you on that track” when being spoke to, The competition is as fierce as anything with with no quarter given but sportsmanship is upheld at all times.  
 
I can honestly say that this was a wonderful day of action and one of those “I was there” occasions that you can look back on and smile at. 
 
The Olympic flame may have been extinguished but the city of London seems to have kept an ember from it somewhere and it slowly burns in the hearts of the people who want to make a positive impact on their lives. 
 
Below,My view from the stands. 
 
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Ripon,Saturday 20th July,2013

The opening day of the Go Racing in Yorkshire Summer Festival began at what is dubbed Yorkshires Garden Racecourse of Ripon in North Yorkshire.

Indeed if you are a lover of all things equine and horticulture then this is the place for you,the gardeners here deserve recognition for the hard work that goes in to making this a real traditional feel of a racecourse, the place has that sense of occasion about it like a social event or garden party with a bandstand that has the Ripon City Band playing tunes Inbetween races and before racing as the crowds enjoy their pre race luncheon and study the form before the racing begins. 

It’s often said that York is the Ascot of the North and if that’s the case then in my view Ripon is the Goodwood of the North, the racing calendar here shows some good races with its two signature events being the 2YO Trophy on the August Bank Holiday and the famous Great St Wilfrid Handicap also in August which is the traditional pre cursor the the Ebor Meeting.

Below some of the flowers and arrangements including the Band Stand. 

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ImageFirst race was a 6f 2yo Seller which was a poor looking race on paper and favourite backers got off to a good start as Lady Captain just held on by a head to beat Elualla and her previous experience helped and Jamie Spencer did a good job to get her in front where it mattered,the track didn’t suit her and at the auction no bids were received. 

Second race on the card was a 5f 2yo EBF Maiden in which the cream came to the top as Complicit for Paul Cole under Graham Lee hung on by a neck from Genuine Quality and Jamie Spencer and while the rest of the field were all much of a muchness these two have a reasonable touch of quality about them,The winning ride was much deserved as Complicit was anything but being loaded up as he was on edge at the start and the handlers had a hard time getting him in then Lee lost an iron after the start but he cajoled Complicit and this was a quality piece of riding. 

Third up was the first race on the round course a 1m Handicap for 3yo+ (66-85) which brought the double up for Paul Cole as Silverheels followed up from his recent Kempton second to land the spoils under useful 3lb claimer Ashley Morgan,he was keen early but settled down and did a professional job to hold off the fast finishing No Dominion with Flashlight in third spot, Silverheels is a tough sort and seems better over 1m while the runner up is better at this trip too and should win soon. 

The feature race was the Fourth which was The Ripon Bell-Ringer Handicap for 3yo (85-93 over 1m4f, only five went to post but it was a good looking event on paper, one thing which happens in this race is that straight after the start the official bell ringer of Ripon rings the bell and does the usual shouting nonsense for a a few seconds before getting off the track, back to the race and the early pace was set by Contradict who seemed lit up and went on after 3f and was soon clear before getting headed 3f out and weakened out of it, it was Salutation who took the lead and went on to win readily for Mark Johnston’s inform yard and jockey Joe Fanning, the winner has been very busy of late but is keeping his form, he won here off 85 and could possibly be Melrose bound here as he looks a stayer in the making. 

Fifth race was a 1m2f Handicap for 3yo+ (66-85) and another Mark Johnston winner here as Mushaakis stayed on stoutly to beat Its My Time by 2.75 lengths, rated 81 he is another improving 3yo and is still improving while Its My Time will be much better back at 1m, as for the rest of the field a lot of them are needed their ratings to go down a bit. 

Race Six was a 1m4f Handicap for 3yo+ (58-77) and it was the two 3yo who shared first and second here as trainer Paul Cole got his third winner of the afternoon with Kuantan One who got his second win of the season from Wadacre Sarko who was 1.5 lengths in the runner up spot, the first time blinkers certainly helped his concentration and this trip seems his ideal distance, Wadacre Sarko was chasing a hat trick here and is probably not finished with yet. 

The last race was a 6f Maiden Handicap for 3yo (51-70), not a good quality contrast it has to be said but it was Ruth Carr who trained the winner with Abraham Monro the bottom weight who ran on strongly to fend off Imperial Spirit and the favourite Rufoof who was back on third, this was the winners second start for Ruth Carr and she has a great knack of getting horses who can struggle into form and getting wins so expect more to come from this winner before the seasons out. 

A nice pleasant and somewhat more cooler afternoon here in Ripon, a good crowd turned out to see some fair but competitive racing at what is one of the best looking courses in Yorkshire. 
After a couple of nice days racing here it is a change of sport next Sunday as I am off to watch the Para Athletics at the Olympic Stadium which is the third day of the London Anniversary Games the last event before the builders come in to convert it to a Football,Rugby and Athletics event.

I am very much looking forward to it, seeing the heroes of 2012 such as Jonnie Peacock,David Weir,Steff Reid and Hannah Cockroft take to the track to a warm and amazing reception from a full house crowd. 

Until then thank you for reading and hope to keep you entertained. 

Pontefract,Red Shirt Night,Friday 19th July,2013

This meeting is a standing dish on the northern racing scene which has been organised by former trainer Jack Berry for many years and is also part of the fund raising to help build a house in Malton that helps injured jockeys and former ones with rehabilitation similar to Oaksey House in Lambourn.

Tonight was a competitive if somewhat tricky six race card at the course whose motto is “Real racing for real people”

First race was a 6f Maiden Auction Stakes for 2yo over 6f and the red hot favourite Treaty of Paris did what was needed to follow up from an unlucky Salisbury second,he has an entry in the Gimcrack next month and should give a good account of himself in that race,the eye catcher for me was Aeolus of Ed McMahon who was a bit green but finished fifth,he will have learnt from this and will be winning soon.

Second race was a 1m4f 3yo Fillies Handicap (66-85)only five in this and it was a fourth win of the season for Special Meaning who in typical Mark Johnstone fashion made all and held off Java Rose by 3.75 lengths with Playbill back in third, Special Meaning continues to improve and at the moment shows no signs of stopping while Playbill is proving to be a costly to follow type.

Third up was the feature event a 5f Handicap for 3yo+ (76-95), a decent field for this which brought a back to form win for Another Wise Kid who made good headway over 1f out to take the £7284 prize for trainer Paul Midgley with Singeur in second and the veteran 9yo Oldjoesaid in third, This was a fair race but the favourite Captain Dunne ran flat and struggled and needs a decent drop in the weights.

The Fourth race was the Colstrope Cup over 1m for 3yo (66-85) and another all the way win for the still unexposed Henry The Aviator who made all under Silvestre de Souza for the Mark Johnstone yard with Ready and Bold Prediction filling in second and third positions. The winner like in the second race has got plenty improvement left and could be picking up a bigger prize before the seasons out and is a very likeable sort.

Fifth race was a Maiden Handicap over 1m2f for 3yo+ (51-70) and this was a very poor contest, the drama was at the start as favourite Peter’s Friend twice threw off jockey Paul Mulrennan but he got back on and probably wished he hadn’t bothered as the horse came in seventh of the eight runners, The race went to Arlecchino who was probably fortunate to win a race as bad as this,Qibtee came second and improved a bit now going into a handicap and could pick up a win somewhere.

Last race was a 6f Handicap for 3yo+ (56-75 and it was cheers all round for Adams Ale who hacked up at 16-1 with Holy Angel second, Adams Ale was recording his second win of the season since landing a Redcar race in May, he’s one of these typical sprint handicappers who wins in turn and it gave Paul Midgley his second win of the day.

A nice evenings racing,quite warm but it cooled down a bit later on which was very welcome by the crowd.

Tomorrow it’s Ripon and the first day of the Yorkshire Summer Racing festival whose feature race is the Ripon Bell-Ringer Handicap.

Haydock Park,Lancashire Oaks and Old Newton Cup Day,Saturday 6th July 2013

A gorgeous sunny afternoon here at Haydock,so warm that before racing I purchased a new Panama hat to make up for the one that got swiped from my head last year when being passed by a minibus full of ejits who don’t deserve to be allowed on a racecourse and really should know to behave in modern society. 

 
Anyway rant over,today saw the 216th running of what is one of Haydocks signature flat handicaps of the season and always a useful contest to watch with traditionally big fields over the tricky 1m4f course here at Haydock. 
 
Below a collection of some of the various Old Newton Cups. 
 
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Today was also featuring the Lancashire Oaks which is now a Group Two race and this race has been run at Haydock since its inception in 1978 apart from the 2007 running which was run at Newmarket by Turbo Linn after Haydock was waterlogged.  
 
Seven races on the card for the huge crowd here today who were welcomed by the Haydock Band who were knocking a few tunes out to entertain racegoers as they made there way in. 
 
Below the Haydock Band. 
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1.45 The Casino at bet365.com Handicap Stakes,5f,3yo 66-85
 
Only six went to post in what was a very competitive handicap and the victory went to Smart Daisy K who led in the last half furlong to record a 1.75 length win from Holley Shiftwell in second and Dusty Storm in third. 
 
This looked a useful race and expect some winners to come out of it as it has the look of a race that will throw up future winners during the season. 
 
2.20 The bet365.com Conditions Stakes,6f,3yo+
 
Just the six in what was a real mixed bag of horses,most of the field looked out of form and in need of a confidence boost to kick start their 2013 campaign. 
 
It was a strong drive from Kieren Fallon which got Louis the Pious up on the line to deny Masamah who made almost of all the running by a short head after a photo finish which the judge sorted out.  
 
The finish was a bit reminiscent of the 2012 National in that the winner only led once in the race and that was bang on the line. 
 
Hard to know what to make of this contest to be honest so the form should be treated with caution but the winner deserved his day in the sun and this is probably about his level. 
 
2.55 The bet365 Lancashire Oaks,1m4f,3yo+,Group 2
 
An ok but not high quality renewal of this years running of the Lancashire Oaks, the bookies had priced up unlucky Royal Ascot runner Albasharah as the favourite. 
 
It turned out to be a bookies benefit as 20-1 shot Emirates Queen won for trainer Luca Cumani who normally does better in the Lancashire Oaks to hold off Pinnacle Stakes winner Moment in Time in second by 0.75 lengths with Albasharah in third. 
 
Wannbe Loved made most of the running before fading in the last furlong while the only 3yo in the contest Banoffee struggled at the business end but maybe back in 3yo company she could do better although it really is hard to see where her next win will come from. 
 
Albasharah ran a lot better than her run at Royal Ascot as today she was able to run her true race with no blockages but I think a return to 1m2f will suit her much better and its quite possible the Nassau at Goodwood could be on the cards. 
 
3.30 The bet365.com Old Newton Cup,1m4f,4yo+
 
The full declared field of 17 set off in this years renewal and it looked fairly wide open on paper and it was a raid by Yorkshire as the Mark Johnston trained Star Lahib stayed on to get the better of Tepmokea by 0.75 lengths with Fennel Bay in third spot. 
 
The favourite for this was recent Royal Ascot winner Opinion who was staying on at the end in fifth which he dead heated with Franciscan the recent Cumberland Plate runner up,Opinion could well be Ebor bound and he looks like he wants a bit further while Franciscan was being pushed along after halfway. 
 
Star Lahib is a tough filly and no doubt she will be aimed at getting some black type before the seasons out and she should be capable of that while Tepmokea runs to a consistent level but at 7 won’t be improving that much I’d think. 
 
4.05 The Mobile Bet at bet365.com Nursery,7f,2yo
 
The second nursery of the season which went to Culdaff who justified favouritism who beat Lily Rules by 1 length with top weight Tanseeb in third. 
 
As this was a nursery its hard to equate the form and value of this race, These aren’t the best two year olds around I think but they are also not the worst, time will tell as the season develops. 
 
4.40 The bet365 Handicap Stakes,7f,3yo+,86-105
 
A good high quality handicap here with the the 3yo Ashaadd regaining the winning thread back over 7f which is his best trip being as he didn’t stay 1m on his previous run but went in here of a rating of 95 so now a step up to pattern company will be expected and trainer Roger Varian carrying on from his much missed old boss Michael Jarvis in having good quality winners at Haydock. 
 
Mabbait ran a seasons best in second but this 7yo has not won since 2010 while May’s Silver Bowl winner Shebebi ran a lot better than when in the Britannia at Royal Ascot and has still got more improvement in him. 
 
Below Ashaadd having a well earned drink 
 
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5.15 The bet365.com Handicap Stakes,1m2f,81-100
 
Only three went to post for this race which had £12660 to the winner (I won’t moan about people who moan about prize money) 
 
Broughton made the running before getting overtaken by eventual winner Red Avenger at the 2f marker who went on to score by 3 lengths while Grandorio brought up the rear and showed that his recent 12lb rise after winning at York was probably a bit harsh. 
 
Red Avenger found this much easier than his recent runs in the Silver Bowl here and in the Britannia at Royal Ascot, small fields suit him and he benefitted going up in trip which may be the making of him. 
 
Two good days of racing then which saw some good racing and decent crowds benefitting from the sun which always brings the crowds out. 
 
Next up for me is a two day Yorkshire tour taking in Friday evening racing at Pontefract and Saturday afternoon at Ripon then after that its off to the Olympic Stadium for the Para Athletics. 
 

Haydock Park,July Festival Day Two,Friday 5th July 2013

Ladies night at Haydock which brought its usual mixture of outfits that look classy to those which clearly should have never been bought in the first place and refunds should be issued at once. 

 
Tommo was on duty tonight with his roving around the course chatting to the ladies and giving out prizes from losing betting scripts, Yours truly won myself a £10 voucher from a well known clothing store,as I don’t get paid to advertise I won’t but if you need a clue the store is an anagram of the word Lataman! 
 
Six races on what was a lovely sunny evening here with a different sort of crowd than a normal fixture but it added a nice bit of atmosphere which is always needed at any sporting event. 
 
First race was a 5f H’cap for 4yo+ (56-75) for apprentice jockeys and today’s running went to the 4yo Chunky Diamond for the Ruth Carr stable who bounced back to form after a string of poor performances to fend off Wild Sauce by 3 lengths, The winner drifted in the last furlong but the victory was never in doubt, this was a poor race though and the form should be treated with caution. 
 
Below,Apprentice jockeys before getting mounted for the first. 
 
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Second race was the first Nursery of the season over 6f for 2yo that went the way of Woodland Girl trained by Richard Fahey and ridden by Patrick Mathers who just hung on by a neck from Bounty Hunter with Centre Haafhd back in third spot, Hard to know what to make of this race but these aren’t the best 2yo around so I’d be a bit wary when looking back at this race. 
 
Third up was a 1m4f H’cap for 4yo+ (66-85) and two well fancied horses here Continuum and Semeen were both royaly stuffed here by Chancery,a useful ex bumper horse who once got beat by The New One at Cheltenham in a junior bumper back on New Years Day 2012 and this was only his second run in a handicap and he seems happier back at 1m4f and can improve off this race and I’d love to see him back here in September for the Old Borough Cup. 
 
Continuum has still got lots of improvement and like Semeen both should not be written off just yet at this stage of their careers. 
 
The Fourth race was a 2yo Maiden over 7f and given as its summer it was an ironic win for the Godolphin trained Snow Squall on his debut start and being the stables second string wore the white cap and hung on by 0.75 lengths from Peak Royale who led with 1f to go but soon lost it with Diplomatic Force staying on and will be much better suited by further in time, The disappointment of the race was Stars Over The Sea who missed the break and was soon twelve lengths down but he will have his day in time. 
 
Fifth race of the night was a 3yo Maiden over 1m, only four but a tight heat on paper with Disco Inferno going off the 8/13 favourite but value backers were rewarded as Godolphin got their second winner of the night with debutant Mulakim to give Harry Bentley his second winner of the night and he looks a fair sort who will improve from this race, Disco Inferno could be one of those expensive to follow horses but is worth chancing when he gets a handicap rating after his third run. 
 
Special praise should go to jockey Paddy Aspell for his tender handling in the parade ring of Court Life who was very green and the way he was half mounted and patting his side to keep him calm was an amazing piece of horsemanship to watch 
 
Below Paddy Aspell on Court Life before racing. 
 
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Final race was a 1m2f H’cap for 3yo (66-85) which saw Double Discount follow up his win here back in June with another victory from the fast finishing Velox who was slow out of the gate by a couple of lengths and only went down by half a length with Playbill back in third. 
 
There could be a few winners to come out of this race in time,The winner is clearly useful and will probably be stepped up in grade while Velox stayed the 1m2f trip quite well while Playbill was a bit one paced and may be suited by further in time. 
 
Day two of this meeting done then and tomorrow is another one of Haydocks feature Saturday meetings with the Group Two Lancashire Oaks and its oldest race The Old Newton Cup being the feature races both over 1m4f with some good quality supporting races on the card too. 
 
As its a feature race the review will be in the more bigger style as seen in other reviews.