Carlisle Races, Raceday,Wednesday 30th October 2013

Haydock Parks 2013-14 National Hunt season began in earnest today but with a difference,this meeting was relocated up the M6 to Carlisle due to drainage issues at Haydock and in order to make sure the course was fit and ready for the two day meeting next month.

A fair crowd was in attendance including a fair few annual members who happily made the trip up on what was a cold (it’s always cold in Carlisle) and eventually wet afternoons jumping action.

Today was the second day of a busy period for me following on from Aintree last Saturday and with Wetherby coming up this weekend and some Rugby League World Cup next week I am being kept on my toes very fairly indeed,still always nice to get out from work for the day!

1.10 The Compare Bookmakers with Juvenile Hurdle,Class 4,2m1f,9 flights,3yo.

This race like all the hurdlers and the bumper were run on the flat track to preserve the Wooten course for other hurdles races during this busy period for the course.

Only seven but it was an easy win for the David Pipe trained filly Azza,always in command she stood off at a few but took the prize like a professional should do on her British debut having won at Auteuil 54 days ago,she looks classy and the next step could be a Listed 3yo fillies hurdle at Aintree in December that L’Unique won last year, Runner up was Most Honourable who should win soon and seems to be learning the game while the rest were very average.

1.40 The Bookmakers On Your Mobile At Novices Handicap Chase,Class 4,2m4f,16 Fences,(0-110).

Plenty in this with a lot to prove in what was an average contest at best and it was a 621 comeback for the Nigel Twiston Davies trained Hollow Blue Sky who jumped well on his Chase debut to beat The Nephew who was gaining ground on the run to just hold on by half a length.

A quality training performance here but he will be vulnerable next time out while The Nephew will be better over three miles in time.

2.10 The Get Free Bets With Novices Hurdle Class 4,2m1f,9 flights,4yo+

An easy win for top bumper horse The Liquidator to give Messrs Pipe and Scudamore a double on the card here as he scored with a bloodless eleven length victory over Knightly Escapade with an improved run by Quick Brew back filling the bronze prize.

Spookydooky and Vinstar back in fourth and fifth will both be better when sent handicapping and upped in distance.

The Liquidator was a winner at the Punchestown Festival in their big bumper so was a real class act here on his hurdling debut,he can build up a sequence and be a top novice hurdler as the season goes on.

2.40 The Live Football Scores With Handicap Chase,Class 3,3m110yds,19 fences,4yo+,(0-125).

A real incident packed event here as nine set off and only four completed as one pulled up and the other four fell or unseated out in the country.

It was a dour performance by Papamoa the bottom weight under Lucy Alexander to give the Nick Alexander yard another win following their success with Rossini’s Dancer at Aintree last Saturday,he was driven out and held off My Boy Paddy by half a length and he in turn will strip fitter for this.

Papamoa certainly stays well enough and could easily find improvement to have a crack at one of the many various satellite nationals during the winter.

3.15 The Handicap Hurdle,Class 4,2m4f,11 flights,4yo+ (0-120).

A decent race on paper with some improving types on show that was win effortlessly by handicapping debutant Big Casino who came in under odd number one spot to win by 3.5 lengths from Talkin Sence in second and Ballyben third,always travelling well he was not hard presses here.

They were well strung out across Cumbria here but Big Casino will certainly get a hike in the weights off this but could follow up if turned out again quickly before he gets reassessed by the handicapper.

3.50 The Donate To Eden Valley Hospice Novices Limited Handicap Chase,Class 3,2m,11 fences,4yo+(0-125)

It’s a long way from Llancarfan to Carlisle and Evan Williams will be delighted that Definite Dream won on his chasing debut here and he had to battle as runner up Firth Of The Clyde gave him a real fight on the run in to just hang on with a length to spare,He jumped well and only six will be better in time over further,Kykate was third and 2m4f is more his trip.

This could prove to be a useful race for its level,a few ran below par but can be excused for their next races.

4.20 The Junior Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race,Class 5,1m6f,3yo.

A race that was run in almost near darkness thanks to Dermo’s Dream dumping Diarmuid O’Regan at the start and going for a wander,thankfully he went a furlong before the ground staff managed to turn him and he began taking the mickey out his jockey by moving from one place to the next before finally order was restores and O’Regan was able to reunite.

Non of these 3yo had ran a race in public of any kind,not even on the flat so paddock watching was essential for a race like this.

Fortunately it was easy peasy for Hurricane Hollow,trained in Carluke by Keith Dalgleish and ridden by Wilson Renwick,held up on what was a very slow pace in the gloom he made significant headway after halfway and when asked moved away from the rest of the field in simple fashion by 9 lengths from Lebanna one of a couple of Tim Easterby runners who acquitted herself well to suggest a run in a mares bumper would be better and long time leader Gone Forever will be another one to have learned a great deal.

Hurricane Hollow stayed the trip well but what will happen with him will be notable to see,Another bumper is sure to be on the cards but wether or not he gets sent hurdling or goes in middle distance maidens on the flat is another question to be answered.

Some good racing then,Carlisle is a real test for National Hunt horses,you have to jump and stay really well here.

Saturday coming up is the Norths big curtain raise Charlie Hall Chase Day at Wetherby with the West Yorkshire Hurdle as a lovely warm up to it.

Below,Nice view down the straight.


Aintree Races,Old Roan Chase Day,Saturday 26th October 2013

Aintree,so often the place where hopes and dreams can be made and broken in a matter of seconds,home of the most famous of all steeplechases The Grand National but today was one of those rare meetings where the racing is only done on the Mildmay track which is a real specialist for horse and jockey as it seems much tougher than it looks to win on.

The first Graded event of the new season,well technically it’s the Swinton Hurdle down the A580 at sister course Haydock but for those of us who keep to the old styles of the season then it’s here at Aintree where the first big race comes up.

It was the tenth running of this 2m4f steeplechase first run in 2004 on a seven race card which over the years this now two day fixture has produced plenty winners at the big festivals so this is a proper “Future Champions” day in many respects.

October and November are always informative months for jumping fans,lots of untapped potential in the novice hurdles and fences to spot and note down as the big meeting come up thick and fast.

On to the racing then and as alluded to it was a seven race card with some competitive handicaps mixed in with a few novice events and the weather was a real mix of sun which thankfully stayed under cloud for the back end as the card as it meant that all obstacles could be jumped without any of them bypassed as occurred last year.

1.55 Betfred Goals Galore Handicap Hurdle,Class 2,2m1f,9 flights,4yo+ (0-150).

A very good contest on paper with plenty of potential improvers in it,indeed it ended up a case of business as usual for Karinga Dancer trained by Harry Fry who gained some compensation after Rock on Ruby’s thrashing by The New One at Kempton last Sunday by winning the £12,512 pot and making it four wins on the bounce,held up in the early stages of the race he made good progress down the back and found a gap up the inside to lead over the last flight to pull away from Bygones of Brid who ran a gallant race while Ifbutandwhynot was in third.

This was a useful performance from an improving type and will be in for a good hike from his rating of 135,it’s possible a trip to Cheltenham for the Greatwood could be on the cards unless they switch him to fences,Bygones of Brid was well in on his hurdle rating but will always find another one to good,he’s 10 now but runs a solid race while the third ran well and will benefit from the outing.

2.30 Betfred Mobile Sports Veterans Chase,Class 2,3m1f,19 fences,10yo+ (0-145).

A cracking finish to this battle of the old warriors,seven went to post with six of them being 10 and the other one 11,Fruity O’Rooney who was sent off favourite made the early running until getting headed at the cross fence then back peddled turning in for home,Hey Big Spender who travelled well but couldn’t pick up as they came to the second last which left a battle between Pigeon Island and Jamsie Hall as they went over the last fence and on the run in it was Irish raider Jamsie Hall who hung on by a neck from Pigeon Island in a pulsating typical Aintree finish on the Mildmay course.

I like these Veterans Chases,they keep the same type of horse together who are susceptible to younger legs getting the better of them nowadays, it’s only a pity this wasn’t over the big greens here,that would make the race even more interesting.

3.05 Betfred Monet’s Garden Old Roan Chase,Grade 2,2m4f,16 Fences,4yo+ Ltd Hcap.

A wide open renewal for this contest with eleven runners going to post,former winners at the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals in this race which was the first Graded even of the new season,

Astracad made it a really good gallop from the tapes going up with Mr Moonshine and a few of them were making mistakes in the early stages as Sam Twiston Davies took no prisoners,the complexion changed as they came to the cross fence which was four out as Walkon unseated Choc Thornton who in turn cannoned into Wishful Thinking.

Walkon wasn’t affected,he just met the fence on a bad stride and went through it,so turning for home Astracad and Mr Moonshine were still at it hammer and tongues until Mr Moonshine weakened after two out then Conquisto under the A.P. McCoy drive led over the final fence and was driven out to beat Astracad with Viva Colonia staying on into third spot

Conquisto is certainly improving and the 2m4f trip seems ideal for him now,he will more than likely end up at Cheltenham for the Paddy Power Gold Cup next month and he will run his usual sound race,Astracad needs dropping a few pounds but will probably go up after this while Viva Colonia could find a bit of improvement in him.

Wishful Thinking and Edgardo Sol never really featured,Wishful Thinking put in a few sloppy errors and could never pick up where as Edgardo Sol doesn’t seem to get 2m4f and a return to 2m will be more to his liking for now.

3.40 Betfred Mobile Lotto Handicap Chase,Class 3,2m4f,16 fences,4yo+ (0-135).

A reasonable contest at best here,Saved by John made most of the running despite making a couple of errors on the way round and was headed inside the last furlong and overhauled by eventual winner Rossini’s Dancer from the Nick Alexander stable to go on to a 2.25 length victory,Carlito Brigante ran a fair race in third on his first start for Karen McLintock and he could pick up a nice race somewhere during the season.

The winner was follow up from a recent win at Hexham and could come back here for the Grand Sefton over the big greens in December but it will all depend now on how the handicapper treats him after this.

4.15 Betfred Mobile Casino Novices Handicap Hurdle,Class 4,3m110yds,13 flights,4yo+ (0-117)

A couple of non runners reduced the quality to this race somewhat for me but inevitably the cream rose to the top at the business end here,Milano Magic made all the running under Lucy Alexander until his stamina left him in the last furlong but who else than A.P. got his second win of the day under Josies Orders for Jonjo O’Neill who appreciated the step up to 3m after being 7/15 in a recent Uttoxeter race over 2m4f,Sin Bin back in second spot has ability and can win a race like this sooner than later.

4.50 Betfred Bingo Novices Chaze,Class 3,2m4f,16 fences,4yo+

A solid and professional performance by Shutthefrontdoor to give Jonjo a quick double and A.P. a nice treble on the day.

Held up early behind long time leader Beeves he was cruising on the steel coming to the second last fence and stayed on after the last to win by half a length,the trip was not ideal for him though and he will be better suited going over three miles and he can only improve this season,Beeves ran a credible race and has plenty left in him while Yesyoucan who was in fourth and last will have learnt from this and will be better when sent handicapping.

5.20 Betfred “Racings Biggest Supporter” Maiden Hurdle,2m110yds,9 flights,4yo+

A race to keep an eye on here without doubt in my view,at least half the field have plenty of potential for improvement and the form should work out in the next few weeks.

The talking horse was Regal Encore who was sent off 8/15f and he travelled well this runner up in the festival bumper but was tapped for speed by eventual winner Garde La Victoire a winner of a junior bumper at Exeter last season on his one and only start for Philip Hobbs.

This was a good and eyecatching performance here,he jumped ok in the main but will have learnt so much from this while Regal Encore ran ok but will be better off being upped to 2m4f and allowed to be more prominent in his racing,Pulpitarian in third was a winner of three races in his flat careering the USA but Aintree is much different to Arlington and Laurel Park and will be more than capable of picking up a small race at the likes of Ayr or Musselburgh.

So a fair afternoon here at the home of the Grand National,the next big meeting here is the Becher Chase on Saturday 7th December which features two races over the big fences which are always worth watching and on probable soft ground will make it a stamina sapping day.

For myself and the blog here I shall be at Carlisle on Wednesday for a transferred meeting from Haydock then on Saturday it’s Wetherby for the Charlie Hall Chase and West Yorkshire Hurdle,both Grade Two events over 3m1f with some real top notch horses guaranteed to line up then the first delve into the 2013 Rugby League World Cup with Tonga v Cook Islands in Leigh.

Below,Monet’s Garden parading at Aintree.


Below,Looking down from the stands.


Cheltenham Races,Saturday 19th October 2013

Day two of The Showcase meeting at Cheltenham on what began as a lovely bright autumnal afternoon here at Prestbury Park on a card which was another mixture of big field handicaps and some tasty looking novice events with a wide open bumper to close proceedings.

This time last year I was at Ascot purely to see Excelebration and of course the mighty and amazing Frankel in the flesh for what for me was to be the only time but I am so pleased that I did as it made 2012 an even more wonderful year sporting wise for me personally.

Another seven race card for punters today with the feature races being the 4yo hurdle which had a nice look about it and the Showcase Trophy which is a very competitive 3m steeplechase.

It’s fair to say being at Cheltenham is as world away from Ascot,while at the Royal course it’s very much smart suits and dresses mixed in with bowler hats where as here at Cheltenham it’s a case of tweed jackets,funny coloured trousers and a respect of the bravery of national hunt racings horses and jockeys.

2.00 The Jools Holland Here On 9th November Novices Hurdle,Class 3,3m1f110yds,13 flights,(4yo+)

A mixed bag of ten in this opener,seven of which were improving staying novices and three experienced steeplechasers using this to open their season all under light weights as they were eligible to enter this contest.

The race itself went to recent Fontwell scorer Kings Palace who put them to the sword on the second circuit having taken the lead after the third flight on the first,he is a horse with a bright future ahead of him and stayed the extended 3m1f trip with effortless ease handing an 18 length thrashing to Creepy who is a fair sort himself but comprehensively beaten while the eye catcher for me was Monbeg Dude in third, way over priced at 25-1 for this he will come on a ton for this run and those long distance chases will be his target with the Welsh National being the main one but could come back here for a 3m3f Chase on Paddy Power day.

2.35 The Equs Fine Dining At The Festival Handicap Chase,Class 2,2m4f,14 fences,(4yo+) (0-152).

A wide open looking contest and a good few of these will have used it as a warm up for next months PP Gold Cup over the same course and distance albeit today the round course was used due to firm ground on the chute.

A fine waiting ride was the order of the day as Johns Spirit given a peach of a ride by Richie McLernon to lead after two out and comfortably beat Rob Conti who was second for the fifth successive time in a row, Tarktak on his first start for Victor Dartnall kept on for fourth,he needs dropping a few more pounds but is capable of winning a race soon and showed he retains some of his old ability.

Eastern Meteor went off favourite but made a few mistakes and even Noel Fehily lost an iron during the race,he never travelled well and pulled up coming down on the hill to three out but he can be forgiven for this for the moment.

Johns Spirit probably will be back next month no doubt and only a 6yo he has improvement in him and could even get three miles in time.

3.10 The Mastersons Holding Hurdle Race,Class 2,2m 8flights,(4yo)

Only six went to post chasing the first prize of £14250 but it was a cracking finish with just a neck separating first and second with first spot going to Sametegal who just managed to fend off Irish raider Bayan to give Paul Nicholls another winner here at the meeting,giving away weight including 6lbs to last weeks Chepstow winner Handazan who made the early pace but was being pushed along after they began the descent downhill,Sametegal travelled well but had to fight when Bayan got to his quarters and showed true grit to get the prize.

Bayan ran a cracking race in defeat,he has come on leaps and bounds winning his last three races and while Our Connor is the big 4yo hurdler at the moment he can pick some more nice races but will be better on the more flatter tracks I think.

3.45 The Showcase Trophy,Class 2,3m110yds 19 fences,(4yo+) (0-145)

Sixteen may have gone to post here but it was a bloodless victory for Balthazar King who made all the running under Richard Johnson to hand Tour Des Champs a 7 length thrashing and left many of this field toiling and even though fifteen of them got round,Connectivity pulled up, they were strung right out across Gloucestershire.

This was a hat trick of wins in this race for Balthazar King and no doubt the Cross Country here next month will be the next time he pops in for a run after which he will probably be rested for a while as he came into this race having win another Cross Country at Craon in France forty one days ago.

Of the placed horses the one who caught my attention was Bradley back in fifth,making his seasonal reappearance he kept on through beaten horses and will suite by longer distances and this run will have blown the cobwebs off him for the season ahead.

After this race the heavens opened and gave Cheltenham an almighty lashing of rain which sent many including myself running for cover,being a northerner I adopted the “When in Rome” policy so I turned into a “Southern Softy” and legged it to the betting shop,fortunately it meant I could have a bet on Farhh winning the Champion Stakes at Ascot,a cracking race it was too and I was delighted for Saeed Bin Suroor,after a turbulent and interesting year for Godolphin it was good to see Saeed showing just how good he is with the training of a talented and fragile horse

4.25 The Go Racing With McPhersonRacing.Co.Uk Handicap Hurdle,Class 3,2m5f 11 flights,(4yo+) (0-134)

This race was run as the rain continued to fall upon Cheltenham in a race won by Thomas Crapper (Don’t want to know what is nickname is at home) from fair novice Silver Eagle just 0.75 lengths back in second place while Princely Player kept on in third after his recent Fontwell win.

Just how strong the form is I’m not sure but Silver Eagle will be a lot better when sent back over three miles.

Mickie who had some good novice form last season was fourth when falling at the last but got up and will be better suited to more sharper courses and if more improvement is found with her she may be back here in March for the Mares Hurdle.

5.00 The Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Novices Chase,Class 2,2m 13 fences,(4yo+)

A small field but a race full of incident,to being with Mr Watson (no relation) set off in front and was very keen early doors building up a good lead after the first five fences,however he began to slow down going down the back and was dumped towards the rear as joint favourites Dark Lover and last weekends Chepstow winner Balder Succes overtook.

Coming into the straight Balder Succes had a three length lead from Dark Lover as the came to the second last fence then it all changes, Balder Success fell which gave the victory to Dark Lover on his chasing debut.

The Cockney Mackem also fell at two out and this brought the screens up from the officials, I had backed Dark Lover but it felt like a hollow victory to me,I stayed in the stands and kept my eyes on what was going on at the second last, I noticed Sam Twiston Davies walking back and he had a smile on him so all seemed that he wasn’t panicked with what happened and moments later the screens came down and the cheers erupted as The Cockney Mackem was safely up and led away back to the stables.

5.30 The Have Your Christmas Parties Here Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race,Class 4,2m (4,5,6,yo)

Probably the best bumper I’ve ever seen with eighteen runners providing a mixture of winning bumper form and previous winners in Points who cost a good amount to buy at the sales.

It payed to go with previous winning form in this as A.P. got the victory on Carningli trained by Rebecca Curtis and followed up his April win at Ffos Las with a strong performance here.

Chase The Wind made it three second on the bounce and has a future while 4yo Vazaro Delafayette who cost £160,000 after winning his only start in a maiden point at Larkhill ran credible race in third and it won’t be long before he’s over hurdles,maybe the fixed brushes at Haydock will suit him.

This is a hot bumper to keep an eye on for the future and all being well many future winners will come out of it.

So two lovely days down in the Cotswolds to see jump racing at its ancestral home,some good horses for the future have certainly been spotted along with a mixture of some old favourites showing they still have what it takes.

After a busy flat season by my standards anyway it’s always good to see horses leaping over timber and birch.

Going racing at Cheltenham is always an amazing experience,even if you are not really into jumps racing you must visit this place just once to see the appreciation,love and respect it has in those who go their,when The Cockney Mackem got up the cheers he received was a loving warm touch by the crowd,sure I may have backed the winner but for me cheering Dark Lover just felt wrong,in many ways it was sort of like when a footballer scores for his new club at the ground of his old one and be refuses to celebrate, not a perfect analogy but I hope you get the picture.

Next up is Aintree this Saturday for the Monet’s Garden Old Roan Chase, the first Graded race of the season.

Below,Sametegal after winning.


Kings Palace winner of the first.


Somewhere there’s a pot of gold.


Having a lunch break.


Cheltenham Races,Friday 18th October 2013

Jumping is back!

Yes the return of what some and indeed I call “proper” racing returned today at Prestbury Park for the two day Showcase meeting,this is the equivalent of the Craven meeting on the flat at Newmarket and for many people it’s the chance to see some good quality jumps racing at the place where it matters the most.

Today had a seven race card with a mixture of four novice events coupled in with some typical tricky and competitive Cheltenham handicaps.

The place also had a new day of term feel about it,before racing meeting up with friends old and new chatting about how the summer had been but now all in gear for the upcoming months ahead as attention now turned to all things jumps wise.

Racing was on the old course but the chute was not in use due to the ground being firm so it meant that 2m5f hurdles jumped eleven flight not ten and in the 2m4f chases they jumped fourteen fences and not sixteen.

2.10 The Neptune Investment Management Novices Hurdle,Class 2,2m5f,11 flights (4yo+)

Just six went to post but all of the field have something to offer as the season progresses,the early pace was solid but steady being set by Clondaw Draft until getting headed after jumping the second last and they were all in a heap turning for home until Saint Roque took the lead over the final flight and powered on up the run in to hold off A.P. on Rum and Butter while the early pace setter Clondaw Daft finished an honourable third with debutant Pure Science who will have learnt plenty in that race was fourth.

Definitely a race to keep an eye on here,Saint Roque made this four on the bounce and is still improving while Pure Science will be worth keeping an eye on as he now knows a bit more about the jumping game.

2.40 The Cheltenham Annual Members Novices Chase,Class 2,2m4f,14 fences (4yo+)

Only two went to post chasing the first prize of £9500 which was a tad disappointing given the amount of moaning you hear in racing about prize money.

Anyway this was much deserved win for Third Intention who made all and held off odds on favourite Rebel Fitz by 1.25 lengths, Rebel Fitz didn’t jump fluently while the winner who always found one too good in the big graded chases last season so was effectively a second season chaser masquerading in novice company, he will be aimed at the main 2m4f chases I expect and this win will do his confidence a world of good.

3.15 The Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Series Qualifier,Class 2,3m,12 flights (4yo+)

Twenty went to post here in the new look to this series as only the first eight home will be allowed to enter the series final at the festival in March which will only help make the qualifying races much more competitive and better to watch.

The field was a mixture of chasers and improving staying hurdlers and it was Trackmate who mugged Benbane Head on the line under a fine ride by Liam Treadwell with So Fine 3rd,On The Bridge 4th and Up For An Oscar 5th.

This was another win in a big field for Trackmate having won at Aintree back in May and a hike in the weights should occur,no doubt connections will be eyeing up the final but their will be more races during the season and anything can happen,Benbane Head is a likeable type and always runs a solid race.

3.50 The Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Novices Chase,Class 2,3m110 yds 19 fences (5yo+)

A fair novices event but not a high quality one,Pantxoa set out to make the running and was going ok when joined by Twirling Magnet with three to go and stayed on well up he hill to hold off Pantxoa by 4.5 lengths under the A.P. drive while According to Trev ran a gallant race staying on and will be suited over further on time.

Twirling Magnet probably won’t be the best chaser in the O’Neill yard as they have much better horses quality wise but he will be better for the win here and handicaps will ideal for him.

4.25 The Jack Dee Here on October 31st Maiden Hurdle,Class 3,2m110yds 8 flights (4yo+)

An all the way win for Lac Fontana here who jumped out under Daryl Jacob and made all the running to easily land the spoils from Germany Calling who was 4.5 lengths in second place and a much improved run by Apollo Eleven back in third

Lac Fontana had the better form here,third in a Grade Two at Kempton before being in mid division in the Triumph at the festival and looks set for a good season,he could return here at The Open although the 4yo hurdle at Haydock could also come under consideration while Germany Calling will come on for the run and Apollo Eleven will be suited by 2m4f and handicaps in due course.

5.00 The Fine & Country North Cotswold Amateur Riders Handicap Chase,3m110yds 19 fences (4yo+) (0-125)

Possibly the most exciting finish of the season so far,Rockshandy and Dammam set the early pace together then Dammam dropped back through the field and Handy Andy kept Rockshandy company until coming down the hill as the race approached the business end of the contest then as they took three out Rockshandy fell which left Handy Andy alone but he began to get lonely then Oscar Davy and Freddo got involved as the three of them turned for home, Oscar Davy was all set to take the lead as the jumped the last fence but he fell and again Handy Andy was infront by six lengths but again he felt lonely and began to wander then from almost another county last years winner Hunters Lodge picked up and flew up the hill under Mr J Bargary who until today had never ridden a winner at Cheltenham to win by 0.75 lengths from the staying on Five Star Wilsham.

It was a race like this that makes you love jumps racing,thankfully the fallers were all ok but it’s a race finish that is typical of Cheltenham, it’s never over till the horse has gone over that winning line.

5.30 The Rewards4Racing Reward Your Passion Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle,Class 3,2m110yds 8 flights (4yo+) (0-140).

A chance for the new jockeys to have their own unofficial Champion Hurdle here over the same course and distance,well the apprentices on the flat have a Derby at Epsom so why not here.

Anyway it was Nicky Henderson who took this with First In The Queue,a 6yo carrying top weight he was very impressive under Jeremiah McGrath (3) and has been fairly busy in the summer winning a race at Aintree in June and been placed on his following three starts, he could be turned out again at Aintree next Saturday or wait and see if he gets in the Greatwood in November.

Canadian Diamond back in second looks held by the handicapper and the third Foxcub who went off favourite will be better for going up in trip.

Day one all done and it was great to be back over the sticks here.

Some exciting racing over the months to come and today was a real appetiser with the finish to the amateur riders event being the one event that really got the crowd all excited.

Day two next with Showcase Saturday and another day in the Cotswolds to enjoy.

Below,looking out to Cleeve Hill.


Below,Arriving at work!


Atherton LR v Formby,NWCL First Division,Saturday 12th October 2013

An intriguing contest on paper between the clubs in sixth and eighth in this nineteen team league,Both clubs were holding their form quite well as last seasons champions Formby came across from Merseyside to visit Crilly Park.

Of course I say champions but Formby did not get promotion as their ground Altcar Road does not meet the current specifications so for the next two years they are playing in Burscough while the builders are in.

For those not familiar with Atherton LR the name Crilly Park is after named after former Chairman Jack Crilly and not after a former priest in Ireland!

A crowd of 60 turned up today for this encounter on International weekend and for those who follow clubs in the Championship and the ridiculously expensive sideshow that is the Premiership run by television without any thought or care to the fans this was another chance in the footballing calendar to see what many people say is “Real Football”

In the end it was always the away side that were going to take the points,the first half was almost total domination by Formby who controlled the game and spent most of it camped in the LR half even though they were playing up the slope.

The first goal came after just nine minutes when Formby striker John Prescott (not that one!) met a lovely cross from a corner to head the ball past LR keeper Danny Lowton to make it 1-0 to the Squirrels.

Formby continued to control the game so much that it was twenty seven minutes when LR got their first chance on goal when Matty Bowland on loan from FC United shot from outside the box but it was well over the sticks.

After a well saved shot from Formby’s midfielder Paul Speed just after the half hour mark it was Prescott’s second goal on the counter attack and a through ball from Luke Holden made it 2-0 then a few minutes later the first sub of the game came as Paul Speed sustained a knee injury and had to be replaced by Johnathan Swotton.

Just before the break LR had only their second and ultimately best chance when a Craig Dickenson cross was just past the reach of Gareth Shaw.

Half time Atherton LR 0 Formby 2

Second half came after the usual check on the scores in the clubhouse and a visit to the loo it was time for the the next forty five minutes of action to commence.

LR came out with a bit more bite in the second half with Bowland having an easy shot saved in the opening exchanges however a few minutes later the game was put beyond their reach as Francis Smith took a chance shot about forty yards or quite close to halfway which went high and over Danny Lowton and into the back of the net to make it 3-0 to the visitors.

Then later on came something which I’ve never seen in my years of watching football,A Formby player went down after a tackle and after the usual responses by one of small group of about three or four home fans to get up and stop being a softy I heard one of the Formby joint manager shout down to where the noise came from “Are you lot all effing backward around here” (cleaned it up a bit).

This prompted one of the people to come down and remonstrate and have a bit of an argument about what was said,the Formby boss was certainly using a few choice words which was not nice to hear with ladies and young children present in the ground but the officials managed to keep the kettle from going past boiling point.

Back to the match and LR pulled a goal back from sub Mark Adams just before the hour mark but after that it was the away team who took the points despite a spirited come back from LR.

Full Time Atherton LR 1 Formby 3.

Three points then for the Squirrels but it’s fair to say Mike Clegg the LR boss will be one going Nuts after this (spot the pun),Formby though are a classy side and should be in the shake up come the business end of the season, LR though are still in the hunt.

LR are much better than this despite the defeat,some of the last passes were well covered by the Formby defence and they did their homework on the opposition,Crilly Park is not the easiest ground for clubs to play at,the slope certainly makes teams work on the pitch and fitness and not peaking too soon is essential at this venue.

Despite the score line this was not a classic match,but then again to don’t come to matches at this level and expect to see an El Classico.

Must give special mention to the refreshments taken before the game,the pies where of a good size and tasted lovely with a very peppery taste although I would advise taking your time when consuming them so not to cause hiccups! plus the tea was quite nice too.

Non League Football is one of the great bastions of amateur sport,the Corinthian spirit rings bright here in the North West Counties League which over the past few years have developed something of a cult following among football fans, £5 admission for adults and you get a nice afternoon match and have a nice convivial day out.

So after this past fortnight of reporting from the world of Non League football it is back to the racing for the next few weeks,upcoming will be the Showcase meeting from Cheltenham then Aintree for the Old Roan Chase,Midweek jumps from Carlisle the the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby before the first or my two Rugby League World Cup matches.

Below,The refs warm up as a train enroute to Wigan passes by Crilly Park.


Pitch,Main Stand and the Clubhouse.


Match action.


Droylsden v Matlock Town,Evo Stick Premier Division,Saturday 5th October 2013

A day of sporting pleasure for fans in and around Manchester today with something for everyone on all budgets to indulge themselves in on a nice autumn day which began warm but slowly got a bit chilly come tea time.

Today was a real mix with Premiership football at the blue half of the City while down at The Theatre of Dreams it was the Super League Grand Final between Wigan and Warrington while local clubs Altrincham,Droylsden,Stockport,Bury and Abbey Hey were all in action.

After much deliberation I decided to get the tram across to Droylsden for the visit of Matlock Town,I did originally plan on getting the train to Atherton but I missed my train as I was helping a student lady who was in Manchester for a gig and was lost looking for the venue so I happily helped her to her destination and waited until her friend turned up so she was not waiting on her own in a place she knew nothing about,Always important to help someone and do a good turn.

At the start of play the home side were stuck at the bottom of the table with just two points off their first eleven matches while Matlock were in tenth and in a respectable position.

Matlock are known as The Gladiators,quick research into this shows no reason by why although the town is more well known among fans of Peak Practice as some scenes were filmed their and some well known Matlockers,Matlockonians (i dont know what people from Matlock are called!) include former Blue Peter host Simon Groom and fans of Peep Show will know the name of comedian Isy Suttie who also hails from the Derbyshire town also the HQ of the Youth Hostel Association is in the town too!.

The three points went quite comfortably to the away side from Derbyshire here who were always in command and look like they will be in the hunt for promotion come the business end of the season.

In the first half they set their stall out early with some good movement of play from Matlock winger Lavell White getting some good runs into the box only finding the Bloods keeper Daniel Tabener the irremovable object who kept to the philosophy of thou shalt not pass saving some good shots and being a good presence between the sticks.

The main striker and top scorer Matlock’s Darryl Thomas finally broke the deadlock on 21 minutes when converting a penalty after a shoulder charge from the Droylsden defence.

Droylsden struggled to threaten after that with their best chance coming from Dylan Moloney who shot from outside the box after half and hour but the power was poor and Matlock goalie Jon Kennedy had a simple save to do.

Matlock had more chances but they simply could not find a way through in open play and should have been at least four up as half time came.

HT Droylsden 0 Matlock Town 1

Second half commenced after a fair cup of tea and really average hot dog (think I shall stick the pies next time) and a tough day for striker Darryl Thomas continued,it’s fiat to say he was suffering from B.D.S. or Barn Door Syndrome to give it it’s full title as he had chances aplenty but could not get them Inbetween the posts during open play but took advantage from another penalty on 49 minutes after a pass through to Danny Holland brought about a foul which was easily converted by Thomas.

The home side made a couple of changed and this brought the Droylsden goal from Dylan Moloney on 63 minutes as a lovely through ball from captain Adnan Ahmed sent him into the box where he went past the defence and rounded keeper Jon Kennedy to slot home and was this the sign of a comeback worthy of Lazarus?

The answer was a resounding no as Matlock came back from that blip as substitute Corey Gregory who replaced Thomas scored on his first attempt on goal after slotting home an easy chance to make it 3-1 to Matlock then in injury time Danny Holland made it a 4-1 win after breaking Droylsden’s offside trap to simply pass through the keeper to collect the points for the Gladiators.

FT Droylsden 1 Matlock Town 4. Att 108.

A fair game of football,Matlock deserved the three points and move up to sixth in the league on twenty point along with five other clubs so this could be a tight division this season.

Droylsden are struggling but they keep battling on and keep fighting but they are going to be in for an even tougher season as the weeks progress,the place is a nice one to watch non league football and it has a lovely clubhouse with some nicely priced food and drink for the fans to tuck into.

Below,Quite unfortunate which letters fell off!


The Matlock Massive make the noise!


Match action.


Full Time.