Newcastle Races,Betfred Eider Chase Day,Saturday 22nd February 2014

A busy month of sport came to an end for me in the North East as the weather which at the beginning of the week threatened the possibility of this fixture going ahead, thankfully a mix of sun and some tough wind made things possible plus the excellent ground staff who moved rails and did everything they can which ensured the 2014 Eider Chase went ahead.

The Eider is the third longest steeplechase in the calendar and in this neck of the woods the second longest race behind the Great North Run, I bet if Mo Farah and Tirunesh Dibaba watched this race they would think they have the better of the races with the roads of Gateshead and South Shields probably seem to be much easier to negotiate rather than the gruelling 4m1f on normally Heavy going added in the mix more than two dozen fences to leap over.

This afternoon was a seven race card in tough conditions for both horse and rider with occasional long intervals as they passed the judge,out on the course the first hurdle in the back straight and the middle steeplechase fence were bypassed in all races due to ground conditions.

1.50 Betfred Racing Follow Us On Facebook Novices Chase,Class 2,3m,17 fences,5yo+

Just the four bit only three had a chance and it was a pre birthday gift for trainer Sue Smith as Pinerolo just got the better of Bucking The Trend in a driving finish from Ryan Mania by half a length,leading early he was headed down the back but rallied up the straight to get in front where it mattered,he is a typical Sue Smith horse and will be aimed at the big Northern staying chases next season,Bucking The Trend probably wants dropping down a bit while the short priced favourite Edmund Kean travelled and jumped ok before making a hash at the second last,he is better than this and one to keep an eye on next season in handicaps.

2.20 Betfred Win Gold Cup Tickets On Facebook Handicap Hurdle,Class 2,2m,8 flights,4yo+ (0-137)

A wide open looking handicap with plenty in with chances on paper,Kudu Country set the early pace until getting headed halfway then he faded,at the business end a few were in with a chance turning for home but it was Yorkist who bounced back to winning ways after his recent blip in the County Hurdle Trial at Musselburgh, raised 15lb so far he will go up again from his rating of 130 so he will have to run in the bigger contests, if he doesn’t go the Festival then I would imagine seeing him end up in the Scottish Champion Hurdle and even the Swinton at Haydock in May.

Mojolika was second and ran an honest race,Ubaltique was after a hat trick and travelled well until finding a lack of pace when needed,he will be better on an easier surface,Angelot Du Berlais came here after a recent spin at Wolverhampton,place in the pack in the Fred Winter last year he still remains open to improvement

2.55 Betfred Eider Chase,Class 2,4m1f,23 fences,5yo+ (0-150)

A total of sixteen set out for this,amazing none were taken out as seems to be the norm on big race Saturday handicaps on the telly!

This was a tough race,not as the one a few years ago when only two got round but it was still hard work for horse and jockey in this famous long distance steeplechase.

Relax for the inform Venetia Wiliiams stable was up with the early pace until getting headed going down the back on the final lap,he was soon passed by the pelaton and pulled up before the fifth last,at the business end we had five in with a chance as they turned for home Wyck Hill under Tom Scudamore led a 1-2 for JP McManus as he just got the better of Smoking Aces in a thrilling finish after the best part of four miles, Carrying 11-0 he benefited from his rest after a poor run in the Welsh National over Christmas, in the National he has 9-10 as his weight in at number 96 so it’s possible that Fairyhouse or Ayr would be the main options for him.

Smoking Aces ran a gallant race in defeat,he may head to Uttoxeter unless this run leaves a mark on him,Ballypatrick was held up early and plugged on,Safran De Cotte gave his best,Seven Woods was making up ground at the end and has a race in him,Junior is probably better off being retired unless he goes in Veterans Chases,Relax didn’t stay,Financial Climate never got going and Sun Cloud was going well until falling at the 15th.

Below, Wyck Hill comes back in.

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3.25 Betfred Goals Galore Novices Hurdle,Class 3,2m6f,11 flights,5yo+

Just three finished in an incident packed race which went the way of Riverside Theatre’s half brother The Ramblin Kid for Jason Maguire riding for Micky Hammond,an ex bumper horse for Charlie Swan in Ireland this was his second start in the UK after a fair third at Wetherby behind behind David Pipes well regarded Red Sherlock who won at Cheltenham on Trials Day, a tough horse he stayed on really well here and will be a decent chaser in time and could be next aimed at one of the spring festivals depending on what the handicapper says about it.

Ivy Gate was the runner up but looks like a horse who runs well in defeat,Panama Petrus is still a bit novicey at his hurdles and was soon waving the white flag, Getabuzz fell heavily at the third last but soon got up after being a bit winded,Romany Ryme also fell when tired.

3.55 Betfred Racing’s Biggest Supporter Novices’ Hurdle,Class 4,2m,8 flights,4yo+

An easy win and some good riding here by James Reveley who has ridden in France a fair few times and did what most jockeys in hurdles at Auteuil do and went down the outside going down the back for fresh ground and this paid off as Dark Dune put in a polished performance to gain a first win over hurdles on his fifth start, rated 113 he will be sent into handicaps now, Island Heights an ex pointer want 2m4f+ and will be found that soon, Ride The Range was a distant third and will be better when he gets a rating.

Lyric Street looked ok for a place until falling at the last,he likes to bowl along,maybe a little novice or handicap at Bangor or Cartmel will suit him.

4.30 Betfred TV Handicap Chase,Class 3,2m4f,15 fences,5yo+ (0-135).

A well timed ride by amateur Kit Alexander here on Wicklow Lad who came down the outside to lead over the final fence getting the better of 11yo Consigliere by 2.75 lengths with the mare Fentara the same distance back in third spot.

This was a decent enough race,the winner will be kept on the go no doubt as he always runs a solid race,Consigliere was going and jumping well and deserves a win soon,Fentara probably found this trip to short and she will be better over Three Miles which is her best trip.

Below, Wicklow Lad.

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5.00 Betfred Goals Galore Extra Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race,Class 6,2m,4,5,6yo

A one two here for ex pointers as Grove Silver quickened away under Sean Quinlan to give One For Arthur a 5 length thrashing,back in third was recent Wetherby debutant Pithivier.

A lot to like about the winner,trained by Jennie Candlish he would probably go to the Aintree bumper on National day unless he tried to defy a penalty in a normal one but I would keep an eye on him over hurdles next season this 5yo should have a bright future and could be the successor to stable stalwart Cross Kennon time.

One For Arthur trained by Lucinda Russell is another who is a stayer in the making,he will end up starting off next season over hurdles at places like Carlisle,Perth,Kelso and Hexham,he has a good future.

Pithivier probably was unsuited by the ground but is still learning the game.

A nice albeit cold afternoon at Newcastle then for the Eider Chase.

The conditions were very testing with the horses having to give everything to battle to the line,while not as gruesome as Haydock last week it was still hard work,thankfully all came home safe and sound.

Staying Chases are always the most difficult of races for any horse to win and today we saw a fine piece of riding by Tom Scudamore on Wyck Hill,I doubt he will get the chance to line up at Aintree being so far down,it is early days though but it’s good to see that potentially trainer David Bridgwater has two live contenders for the National and Gold Cup in Wyck Hill and The Giant Bolster.

After this I’ve no racing till mid March so hope to fill the gaps with some local non league football.

Haydock Park,Betfred Grand National Trial Day,Saturday 15th February 2014

All eyes were on Cheltenham and Aintree this afternoon at a very cold and an even wetter Haydock for a seven race card which featured a real mix of Graded events,competitive handicaps and the annual Hunter Chase.

The weather it has to be said was awful for a lot of the afternoon,a mix of cold temperatures and driving rain made one question ones sanity about wanting to stand outside for four hours or so but National Hunt fans are a mixture of loyal and plain stupid for doing such a thing, after all why pay your entrance money to just stay in the bar watching it on the tv when you can just do that at home!

Big race wise it was the Grand National Trial,a race which a good few winners of the Aintree marathon have taken part in over the years without actually winning it, a couple of years ago Neptune Collonges ran a gallant and hearty second behind Giles Cross before finishing his career with National victory when he just pipped Sunnyhillboy by a flared nostril in one of the most titanic finishes to a National you will ever see, Suny Bay back in 1997 hacked up here then could only finish second behind Lord Gyllene in the now infamous “Monday” National.

So seven races on the card and due to the ground in all steeplechases the first fence down the back straight was omitted.

1.45 Betfred “Goals Galore” Victor Ludorum Juvenile Hurdle,Class 2,2m,9 flights,4yo+

Some useful juveniles here on display which went to the Nick Williams trained Abracadabra Sivola who conjured up a bold display of front running under Sam Twiston Davies to just hold off the challenge from recent Wetherby scorer Aurore D’Estruval.

This was a huge improvement in form that the stewards noted and when asked the trainer pointed out the uncontested lead which he had, he is not in the Triumph but could end up at Aintree or Ayr, the runner up got some useful Black Type and is going the right way, The Green Ogre for Gary Moore is now qualified for handicaps, a few of these need a much better surface.

2.20 Betfred Mobile Hurdle (Registered as the Rendlesham Hurdle) Grade 2,3m,12 flights,4yo+

A few well know names in this but they all got promptly stuffed by the 6yo Seeyouatmidnight, a novice on only his third start under rules this ex pointer is clearly in good heart following his bumper win at Hexham at 66-1 then on his first start over timber at Musselburgh when 22-1, today he was 6-1 and like the first race he made all under Ryan Mania and stayed on very well up the run in to hold off the gallant and tough mare Mickie by 1.25 lengths to give her more Black Type for when she goes to the paddocks.

The big disappointment was from Celestial Halo who was having his first start since winning the Long Walk at Newbury, he travelled ok but struggled to pick up when needed, He could join Big Buck’s in the World Hurdle but it’s possible that the Aintree Hurdle then the French Champion Hurdle would be the main targets.

As for Seeyouatmidnight he has no entry at the Festival but will be bound for Aintree in either the Sefton Novices or Stayers Hurdle both over 3m110yds.

2.55 Betfred Grand National Trial,Grade 3,3m5f,20 fences,5yo+

This was a brutal race to watch and coming back in up the run in it was like a return from the battlefield as weary mud splattered horses and jockeys had given their all in very testing conditions.

Venetia Williams continued her excellent run of form as last years Classic Chase winner and runner up in this race last year Rigadin De Beauchene eased to victory under Robert Dunne (3),travelling and jumping easily he cruised in the mud to beat stablemate and recent Ffos Las winner Emperor’s Choice by 10 lengths and Loch Ba who must have been getting tips from some of Mick Channons horses on how to quicken up did just that to sprout wings like Pegasus after the last fence to take third albeit 40 lengths behind the winner.

It was a very hard race with plenty casualties in it,down the back on the first lap Wellforth fell when prominent at the open ditch then on the last circuit Across The Bay went at the same fence,he was always struggling and will probably be roughed off now until Aintree.

Wychwoods Brook took a crashing fall when very tired at the third last,he really should have been pulled up as he clearly had enough,he didn’t look to stay the extra trip but is one to follow next season,it’s quite possible a race like the Becher Chase at Aintree and that Graduation Chase at Carlisle in November could be early targets, jockey Connor Ring (7) got a ten day ban

Red Rocco was another who took a tumble,he was fine too.

As for Rigadin De Beauchene he will not be going to Aintree but possibly Fairyhouse or most likely Ayr for the Scottish National.

3.30 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Series Qualifier) Class 2,3m,12 flights,5yo+

A bold display of front running by Conor O’Farrell on the David Pipe trained Top Wood in the Lady Clarke colours landed the spoils here on his first start in 388 days.

Slick jumping here helped and he simply ground the opposition into submission although the only danger was from Astigos who battled on up the run in but could not gain the extra 1.5 lengths that separated first and second, he may not go for the final but will go chasing next season all being well and will be a useful recruit.

The big disappointment was from Flemenson the recent Wetherby scorer who ran very flat,he is only a 5yo so this can be forgotten about as I’m convinced that better is to come.

4.05 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle (Registered as the Prestige Novices Hurdle) Grade 2,3m,12 flights,4yo+

A race with a decent history behind it,two years ago the sadly missed combination of Brindisi Breeze and Campbell Gillies beat Harry Topper before winning the Albert Bartlett at the Fesitval.

The mare Toubeera gave Venetia Williams a second winner of the day here,held up early she took over after two out under Aidan Coleman to easily give a twelve length whacking to Kaki De La Pree who in turn was twenty five clear of favourite Oscar Rock.

Toubeera won’t be Cheltenham bound although there is a mares race at Doncaster in a fortnight which could be considered.

4.35 Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Novices Limited Handicap Chase,Class 3.2m5f,14 fences,5yo+(0-140)

Six set off and only three came past the judges box at the end,the other three pulled up and of the ones that did finish they were separated by a total of 69 lengths.

It was A.P. who had an easy enough ride on Bobcatbilly who was already a winner here this season,he likes Haydock and could come back here on Easter Saturday,he jumped well and was allowed to run down the last two fences.

Sixty Something was staying on,he want a lot further than this.

Dungeel was pulled up halfway through,he was never happy while Gardefort can be more effective on an easier surface.

5.05 CHA Foxhunter Trial Walrus Hunters Chase,Class 3,3m,16 fences,5yo+

This was a thrashing dealt to the rest of the field by jockey Cath Walton on board the evergreen 12yo Ockey De Neulliac here as they made all and jumped impeccably apart from a peck at the third last and just holding on from the challenge of Current Exchange by a length this was a quick hat trick after winning a pair of Ladies Opens in Points last month

Current Exchange should be winning a Hunter soon,trained by Sheila Crow he could be going for the North West Point to Point final at Bangor in May.

Favourite Always Right is a tricky customer who could be costly to follow but wait till he runs in a Kelso Hunter before backing him.

As for Ockey he should go to Cheltenham or Aintree to chase the bonus prize after winning this, it’s fair to think that the members of his registered hunt the Vale Of Yore had a nice evening after this

Some tough racing this afternoon then at Haydock,the people in charge should be congratulated for getting the meeting on,it was very testing for horses and jockeys and thankfully all returned safe and sound.

This was National Hunt at its hardest and even most bravest,the weather may have been giving the UK a real battering and hammering but the racing roadshow continues in earnest,of course lots of people have suffered badly throughout all this and I send out huge sympathies and hope that they can get there lives back to some semblance of normality as quickly as they possibly can.

Next Saturday I hope to be at Newcastle for the Eider Chase but if the weather has a day then the afternoon BAGS at the local dog track will be the back up plan but if that’s the case I probably won’t blog that.

Below,Yours truly with the beautiful Gina Bryce off C4

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Below,Top Wood after winning the Pertemps Race.

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Below,Ockey De Neulliac

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Sainsburys British Athletics Indoor Championships,Sunday 9th February 2014

Day two of the trials for the World Indoor Championships in Poland next month were held at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

Sheffield always referred to as the Steel City,home of one of my favourite groups The Human League has a rich history when it comes to sport,Sheffield FC one of the worlds oldest football teams is just outside past the Totley Tunnel,The Crucible is fhe spiritual home to snooker here,Ponds Forge has held many high quality swimming events and in July the second stage of the Tour de France finishes in this South Yorkshire City.

This afternoon though it was all about getting qualified for Poland as the a athletes took to the track and field to give their all.

The afternoons proceedings began with a few field events with the Men’s Shot Put,this went first as it’s an indoor meeting so the metal caging and mats are put down on the 60m sprint track, The winning throw came from Zane Duquemin from Shaftesbury Beagles with a distance of 18.31 metres in the fifth round,he already looked to have this in the bag from round two and was the deserved winner, the one who got out bed the wrong side was Luke Roach-Christie who had five consecutive red flags until the last round when he threw 13.79m which was a PB,Zane will be representing Jersey in Glasgow this summer.

Women’s Triple Jump was taken by Laura Samuel of Birchfield Harriers,her opening hop,step and jump of 13.32m in the very first round was the best although in the last of the six jumps each athlete got Nadia Williams almost got there but her 13.27 was just a few centimetres short.

Pole Vault action for the men was very action packed with the very talented young athlete Luke Cutts for local club The Dearn waiting until the end as he leaped over 5.60m and got the better of runner up Max Eaves who cleared 5.45 but in the final with Cutts could not get over the winning distance

The opening heats for the Women’s 60m hurdles and 200m came next as did the Men’s 200m but I shall concentrate on the finals.

Two more field events went on during the afternoon,a huge field in the Men’s High Jump,Robbie Grabarz from Newham and Essex Beagles took the honours,his first attempt of 2.24m was enough for him, he did attempt 2.28m along with three others but none of them were able to get over the bar, the Women’s Long Jump was won by Katarina Johnson-Thompson for her club Liverpool Harriers, 6.75m was well clear from Jazmin Sawyers with 6.44m, this was a busy two days for Katarina as the heptathlete also won the High Jump yesterday and with Jessica Ennis-Hill currently in Broodmare condition many of the Women will have an eye on picking up where she left off.

And so on to the track events, the first final of the day was the Men’s 1500m over seven and a half laps of the EIS track, Chris O’Hare made the early running and was being tracked on the penultimate lap by Lee Emanuel before Charlie Grice got in the shake up as the took the bell,eventually with 100m to go Emanuel kicked on and took the gold medal in a time of 3.48.15 for his club City of Sheffield with a blanket for the places,Chris O’Hare rallied for second,Grice got the verdict for third and Kris Gauson was fourth,it was so tight that the second to fourth times were all on 3.48 but the hundredths were 68.69 and 73.

Nine went to post in the Women’s 3000m final over 15 laps,The race was defected by the non declarations of Emelia Gorecka,Lauren Howarth and steeplechaser Eilish McColgan but it was still a good race to watch.

Beth Potter was leading from the start and behind her Jo Moultire and Charlene Thomas who took over with four laps left as Potter began to fade,Thomas subsequently began pouring it on winning in the end in 9.05.93 ahead of Thomas in 9.09.02 then for Bronze was Rosie Clarke 9.10.99, The Wakefield Harriers time did not meet the standard required of 9.02 so I have no idea if it means she won’t be going to Poland or not.

The 200m finals came next so it was from stayers to sprinters.

The ladies went first here and in an enthralling race a mere four hundredths of a second separated Dina Asher Smith and Shannon Hylton with Asher Smith getting the judges verdict as the winning times of 23.20 and 23.24 were recorded, Joey Duck had the Bronze and for the record the other Hylton sister Cheriece was fourth so this meant four of the first three including the winner came from the Blackheath and Bromley club.

For the men Chris Clarke came second but was awarded the victory as Edmond Amaning got disqualified for a lane violation, the Newham and Essex Beagle in lane five may feel its a hollow victory but that’s racing and of you break the rules then you must take the punishment dealt to you.

800m came up for both sexes, the women’s final looked very interesting on paper and so it proved to be when the gun went bang as Shelyana Oskan-Clarke towed them along until halfway or so when the ever popular Jenny Meadows took over then on the last lap recent Glasgow winner Laura Muir led with 100m to go and fought on from the pack behind to win Gold,Oskan-Clarke battled on and got Silver,Katie Kirk just edged the Bronze from Meadows.

Winning time was 2.06.04 with another blanket covering the other places, Laura Muir is one to follow,only 20 she has a serious future ahead of her as a middle distance runner

Drama in the Mens race,Andrew Osagie was first past the post until the stewards disqualified him for a lane violation which resulted in Sheffield RC’s highly regarded Mukhtar Mohammed getting the Gold, Osagie had made all from the gun until getting headed by Guy Learmonth at the bell then Osagie regained the lead in the last 100m, The new winning time was 1.51.71.

Over the jumps with the final of the Women’s 60m hurdles, Their was drama at the start as Angelita Broadbelt-Blake got disqualified for a false start,Gemma Bennett from Shaftesbury Harriers won,her time of 8.20 was her season best, Serita Soloman and Sarah Kate Lavin needed a photo with times of 8.24 and 8.25 to sort there positions out.

The last events of the day were the 400m Women’s and Men’s.

A brutal display of front running saw Margaret Adeoye destroy her competitors in 52.77,runner up in both her heat and semi races she saved the best for when it mattered the most,The Enfield Harrier is under the tutelage of Linford Christie, she will have a good season outdoors,Laura Wake and Meghan Beesley in 53.35 and 53.38.

In the Men’s final Luke Lennel Ford was first past then got disqualified with the race given to runner up Nigel Levine,the WSE Hounslow was just ahead of Richard Buck and Daniel Awde with times of 46.82,46.86 and 46.90.

I have to say this was a very enjoyable afternoons entertainment,a lot of sports including my first love of horse racing can learn a lot from how the people at British Athletics organise an event like this.

The sound of the crowd was very much appreciated by the competitors here as they gave each one a huge amount of love and respect,despite many occasions when the bars got knocked down and red flags given the athletes are only human,born to make mistakes.

A couple of good notable things which did occur from the day is that the supporters are sporting like the competitors and also their was no alcohol on sale which made for a very friendly atmosphere, British Athletics really is on the up.

Next up all being well depending on the weather will be Haydock on Saturday with the Grand National Trial being the main race.

Below,The starter here doesn’t wear a trilby!

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Below,3000m mid race

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Below,Going over the pole vault.

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Below,W800m runners coming out,Wigan’s Jenny Meadows in the shades

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Below,The presentation of the Women’s 400m.

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Below,Myself with Margaret Adeoye

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Below,Two Sporting Legends,On the left the 1991 Lowton County Primary School Sack race and Skipping Rope race Champion Neil Watson and on the right the 1992 Olympic 100m Gold Medalist Linford Christie

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Wetherby Races,Towton Day,Saturday 1st February 2014.

Medieval day at Wetherby was met with a very cold wind but thankfully after a week in which most of the country was battered with rains,winds and storms of biblical proportions but thankfully the Friday night weather was having a few hours off so the meeting went ahead thankfully without the need of an 8am inspection.

The downpour made the ground Heavy and it was testing conditions for the horses out there which made for very slow finishes but the jockeys used their heads wisely and didn’t do any flat out gallops during the day.

As I said it was medieval day and ye olde elders of Wetherby turned out albeit a bit of a small crowd probably due to the fact that Leeds v Huddersfield had a 3pm kick off.

Seven races on this afternoons card with the feature race being the Grade Two Towton Novices’ Chase which was complemented by some Novice events,a couple of Handicaps,a Hunter Chase and a Bumper.

Due to the ground the last fence down the back was bypassed in all chases.

1.00 Wilmot-Smith Memorial Mares’ Novices Hurdle,Class 4,2m 1/2f,9 flights,4yo+

The gloss of this race was taken off at the first flight when second favourite Slipper Satin stumbled and unshipped Jack Quinlan (3) which left odds on favourite Aurore D’Estruval to collect the winning pot easily.

The places horses are nothing special but the winner did what was necessary on her British debut for John Quinn,prior to this she had a second place at Pau on December and is going the right way,it’s possible the Victor Ludorum at Haydock may be next before a crack at the Fred Winter at Cheltenham.

1.35 Play The £1million Scoop6 Today Novices’ Hurdle,Class 4,2m6f,12 flights,5yo+

Seven went to post but only three had a chance on form,Flemenson,Sir Mangan and Total Assets,they kept well ahead of the other four throughout the race,turning for home Sir Mangan who made all of the running getting headed from Flemenson who worked hard under the McCoy drove to record a 3.75 length victory.

Flemenson had to dig deep for this and is a more than useful stayer in the making,while his jumping wasn’t great he has a bit of class about him,he will probably be sent chasing next season.

Sir Mangan likes to bowl along in the lead and will be find another race soon,while Marlee Massie who was in total 90 lengths back in fourth now qualifies for handicaps.

2.10 Bet totequadpot With totepool Handicap Chase,Class 2,2m4f,14 fences,5yo+ (0-143)

Another course win for No Planning who gave some solace on what has been a mix of fortunes for the Sue Smith stable but more that later, No Planning came here after his recent third in the Tommy Whittle at Haydock before Christmas,he seems to like Wetherby and could follow along the lines of what Cloudy Too did last year after the won this race, no doubt the 3m H’cap Chase at the Festival could be considered or maybe the Topham at Aintree.

Doeslessthanme was the runner up on his second start for Richard Ford,he was given a patient ride by Richie McGrath and has a good race in him soon.

The race didn’t go without incident though,McMurrough was in contention for a place before unseating at the third last and Ultimate who made most of the early running jumped the last slowly when he got himself stuck on top of the birch, his rider A.P. quickly got off and slowly but surely helped him over before leading him safely back to the stables.

2.45 Download The totepool Mobile App Handicap Hurdle,Class 3,3m1f,12 flights,4yo+ (0-132).

An average race which brought a back to form win for Who Owns Me whose last race saw him a distant seventh in the Pertemps Qualifier at Warwick,like a lot of the races today he had to be driven out, the first time blinkers helped and he could be targeted for the final at Cheltenham although he would need to go up a few pounds to make the final.

Kilbride Chief was second on his first run in a handicap and will be winning races soon while Beauboreen and Rattlin both disappointed but this could be due to the testing ground.

3.20 totepool Towton Novices’ Chase,Grade Two,3m1f,16 fences,5yo+

Shutthefrontdoor was a non runner due to the ground but this was a race with incident.

To begin with the pace was steady for the first lap but going out into the country for the second time Coverholder broke his hind leg and in turn hampered favourite Green Flag who was quickly pulled up, Green Flag was led away by Peter Buchanan but sadly Coverholder had to be euthanised, my condolences to all involved with him at Sue Smiths yard.

This left three left but the only two who had a chance were together,Ely Brown and Milborough kept each other company until turning for home when Ely Brown was sent on and stayed on to beat Milborough by 9 lengths who in turn was a huge 98 lengths ahead from the only other finisher debutant Strike Fast, en ex pointer who was only in this to have a run and he picked up some nice prize money.

Ely Brown will now end up going possibly for either the Kim Muir or the Four Miler at the festival,he stays well and can only improve from this.

3.55 CGA Foxhunters Trial Open Hunter Chase,3m1f,16 fences,6yo+

A back to back win for Palypso De Creek who took this last year,always prominent he led at the last fence and was ridden on by Miss C V Hart (7) to defeat Doctor Kingley by two lengths, Always Right more of a Kelso specialist travelled well but looked in need of the run and was keen early on,he will strip fitter for this and could be Aintree bound as he would have a great chance in that.

Palypso De Creek will probably not go to Cheltenham for the Foxhunters but the main target could be Stratford in May.

4.30 wetherbyracing.co.uk Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race,2m 1/2 f

A more than useful looking bumper on paper but experience counts and it showed as the favourite Relic Rock under A.P. for Louth trainer Steve Gollings did the job well on his first start in Britiain, prior to this he was a runner up in Ireland at Cork, it’s possible he will get entries in the big bumpers at Cheltenham and Aintree but I would imagine the ones at Ayr or Perth would be more realistic although it’s more definite than given where he is trained he will probably begin his novice hurdle career at Market Rasen or Southwell.

Bryden Boy was second at 40-1, the well fancied Pithivier ran well in third and could be winning one soon,Bobs Lord Tara trained by Alan Swinbank will have learned a lot and his trainer could even send him on the flat in the summer which would not surprise me so watch out for those maiden races in the north between 1m2f and 1m6f.

A fair days racing then,some real tough races which showed horse and jockey at their most bravest and hardest in the conditions at the A1 course, The staff here did an excellent job to keep the show on the road.

It was very sad about Coverholder but it showed the ups and down of National Hunt racing especially for the Sue Smith team which had to retire last years Grand National winner Auroras Encore due to injury but with No Planning they have a new star to keep the flag flying in Yorkshire.

2014 is a big year for Yorkshire especially in July with the opening two races of the Tour De France being held there, that will be some sight going uphill and downdale.

Next week I shall be swapping four legs for two and horses for humans as Sheffield will be hosting the British Trials for the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Poland next month so places will be up for grabs in what looks a high quality event.

Until then thank you for reading.

Below,Ely Brown,The Towton Novices’ Chase winner

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Below,Palypso De Creek

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Below,A suit of armour.

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Below,More Medieval things.

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Below,Birds at the races!

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