The last meeting of the year at Haydock,the last meeting in the north of 2013 and the last event to be blogged my myself as the countdown to 2014 slowly makes it’s way towards us.
A seven race card here today on typical wintery National Hunt racing conditions that began cold with rain but ended as the afternoon wore on with much more sunnier ones.
After the past few days of top class action the quality here was competitive if somewhat a little bit below par and a small crowd turned up,many no doubt probably put off by the mornings weather,It does take a lot to spend a few hours stood outside in awful weather but racing fans like myself are a mixture of brave,foolhardy and plain bloody daft but it’s because of the action out on the track that we do it,after all where else would you rather be? No doubt the Barmy Army England Cricket fans may be liking the weather over in Australia but at least going racing I’ve been having a few more winners than them.
So onto the review then, today the first fence in the back straight was omitted due to the ground which went Heavy all round after the third race,it was testing but they seemed to be getting through if ok,a mix of three steeplechases,two hurdles and two fixed brush hurdles gave a real mix for everyone today.
12.20 The Apollobet Online Games And Casino C/J Hurdle,Class 4,3m,12 flights,4yo+,(0-115)
A mixed bag in this race including the evergreen 15yo Sphinx making his belated seasonal return but it was top weight Moscow Presents who prevailed in the conditions to win only his second career win,taking over from four out her was four lengths in front over the last and hung on from the fast finishing American Life with Cloudingstar back in third.
This was not a strong race,the winner benefited from going up in distance,the conditions probably did not suit but he worked hard,American Life probably wants further so maybe hurdles around Sedgefield,Fontwell and Stratford would suit him all over 3m3f.
12.50 The Apollobet In Play Betting Veterans Handicap Chase,Class 2,2m5f,16 fences,10yo+,(0-145)
Some popular rogues in this event,the talking horse was Baby Run,13yo and lightly raced all his career today was only his 26th race,former winner of the Aintree and Cheltenham Foxhunters he also won the 2m novice hurdle on this card back in 2004!
Today though was his final race as he was retired,coming in fourth he set the early pace until getting headed down the far side,he weakened so Sam Twiston Davies nursed him around in his own time to finish.
At the business end it was a never say die ride from Killian Moore (5) on Kilcrea Asla who was in third over the last as Gansey and Charingworth fought out a battle in the rain,they were out on their feet on the run in as the winner went through the pair like a hot knife through butter in the final 110 yards to record a 1.5 length victory, this was deserved for him as he was a runner up in this back in 2011 when only 10!
Lucky Sunny on his first start for Venetia Williams was pulled up with four to jump,Gauvain made some errors early which he at his age he should know better but he did complete in his own time to pick up fifth place money and The Knoxs skidded on landing over the fourth and was promptly pulled up
1.25 The EBF Stallions Apollobet Free Download App “National Hunt” Novices Hurdle (Qualifier) Class 4,2m,9 flight,4-6yo.
Just eight in this but it was the cream that easily rose to the top at the business end, it was the two market protagonists Desoto County who won the 2m bumper here last month and Goohar who ran in a junior bumper here in 2012.
It was Goohar who just got the better of Desoto County on the run in,originally with Luca Cumani he never ran on the flat and was picked up cheaply for the Henry Daly team and has been brought along nicely,this was his third start over hurdles so now will be eligible for handicaps,the final of this series at Sandown could be considered as that is often run on testing ground but he is a lovely young horse for the Daly yard and is one to watch.
Desoto County created a good impression when winning last month before being beaten under a penalty at Bangor a few weeks ago,he will have learned from this and should win his next race.
Highpower ran a much better race under AP and will now probably go handicapping after this,probably up to 2m4f,he is a half brother to Alberta’s Run and can improve.
1.55 The Last Fling Chase,Class 2,3m4f,20 fences,4yo+,(0-145).
Named in memory of The Last Fling a former winner of the now defunct Edward Hanmer Chase,Peter Marsh and National Trial (all in the same season) this was a real stamina sapping contest with a fair prize,ideal for those who weren’t to keen on the endurance test of the Welsh National last Saturday.
Sadly in the race we had two fatalities in Beamazed who cut out the early running and Monsieur Cadou, they were pulled up at the second and fourth fences in the home straight which meant only two were jumped on the final circuit,my commiserations to all of those connected.
At the business end it was back to form for Across The Bay who was all out under Jason Maguire after the last to split up the battle between Pete The Feat and outsider Wellforth.
This was a much better performace from Across The Bay who won the Rendlesham here back in February, he will have the Grand National as his main target and winning here of 143 he was 7lb lower than his rating when he ran in the Aintree marathon,it is likely he will come back here for the Rendlesham again before April.
Wellforth could find if hard to win after this tough run,Pete The Feat is ideal for a Satelitte National somewhere,maybe the Midlands or the Scottish could be up his street.
2.30 The Apollobet Best Odds Guaranteed “Fixed Brush” Novices Hurdle,Class 4,2m4f,10 flights,4,5,6,7yo.
Just a field of five but it was a mere stroll in the park for Urban Hymn who went one better than his second here last time out over C/D, a former Point and Bumper winner he is progressing along nicely and won nicely making all the running to record a twenty length victory over Algernon Pazham who got second after Howaboutnow crashed out at the last flight.
It will be interesting to see where Urban Hymn ends up after this,The River Don over 3m at Doncaster may come under consideration or dropping down to 2m for the Rossington Main here in a few weeks time,also the Leamington at Warwick over 2m5f must all come under consideration but he is a more than useful horse to note down.
3.05 The Nick Carter 30th Birthday Novices Limited Handicap Chase,Class 3,2m4f,14 fences,4yo+,(0-125).
Just the six in this race in which they were stretched out quite early on, their was a bit of support for Saints And Sinners,with Mick Easterby close to handing the license over many thought this was the last chance of a typical gamble from the old rouge but he was getting outpaced down the back straight and had no chance from there.
It was a typical McCoy ride here to get the prize on favourite Bobcatbilly,a winner first time out this season at Ludlow before coming third back the same place in a much classier contest he was all out over the last to fight off the attentions of top weight Supreme Asset to win by 2.75 lengths.
He jumped well and winning here off 114 this lightly raced 7yo is in good heart and can expect to be in the 120s after this, Supreme Asset has kept good company this season,he found the step up in trip to his liking and can be found a small race somewhere before to long.
3.35 The Apollobet Free £50 Bets “Fixed Brush” Handicap Hurdle,Class 4,2m4f,4yo+,(0-120)
This was a qualifier for the JC Grassroots Jumps Series final to be run here on Easter Saturday, they hacked along here in the early stages and turning for home all seven had a chance to be in the shake up.
In a battle to the line after the last hurdle it was No No Bingo who was 11th in the Chase final of this series back in April who landed the win on his seasonal reappearance to just hang on grimly from The Jugopolist by half a length with Basford Bob and Teochew only a neck and half a length back in third or fourth.
Sole Survivor ran an eye catching race back in fifth,he travelled well before struggling to pick up on the run in but he is a well built horse and will have a much better future when sent chasing over 3m or so.
Some tough races today,the heavy ground always makes it a war of attrition at Haydock, the retirement of Baby Run was good to see but sad to see was the two fatalities on the course,National Hunt racing can be exciting but it can also have it’s wretched moments that pull at the heartstrings and really get to you that nothing else can.
Racing wise my next meeting will be Warwick on the 11th for the Classic Chase and Leamington Hurdle before that this Saturday a couple of events are on the shortlist,just depends how the weather goes!
So the last blog review of 2013 then,it’s been very enjoyable to do and I shall be carrying on in 2014 covering not just horse racing but other sports too, I’m going to be sticking with the multi sports idea so to keep it interesting.
May I wish you all a Happy 2014 and thank you for taking the time to read this.