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
Below,Palypso De Creek
Below,A suit of armour.
Below,More Medieval things.
Below,Birds at the races!