Market Rasen,Saturday 27th September 2014

It was Harvest Festival raceday here in Lincolnshire with a nice plethora of trade stands such as the usual hog roast which sold out before the fifth race as well as a local real ale stall although I don’t drink on course it was tempting to break that rule but I managed to stay away from it!

This afternoon was the end of the summer jumping season and a seven race card including a couple of competitive Listed handicaps made for a competitive afternoon of racing.

It’s the time of year when fans of National Hunt racing start buying all the usual preview books and looking back at last seasons results to spot potential winners and look for well handicapped horses as the big races slowly begin to creep upon us.

Below,Some of the stalls.

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1.45 The 888sport Juvenile Hurdle,Class 2,2m1f,8 flights,3yo.

The best 3yo hurdle of the season so far with Goodbye Dancer and Full Day,two horses unbeaten and Vosnee Romanee a winner of his last two over hurdles.

All three where comprehensively walloped by the David Pipe debutant Unanimite an ex French flat racer who jumped well and has a nice look about him,while it’s to early to even think about the Triumph it’s possible the big 3yo hurdle at Wetherby would be next up for him.

The other three horses filled the minor honours but they were simply beaten by a much better horse.

Below,Unanimite poses for the camera.

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2.15 The 888sport Hurdle,(Handicap),Listed,2m1f,8 flights,4yo+.

A tricky heat with plenty coming into this race in form and a good few having their first runs of the season.

It paid to be at the foot of the handicap here as last weekends Uttoxeter winner Exitas.

The old grey Australia Day set the early pace and tried to see them off from the front until Exitas got the lead over the second last and had,Purple ‘N’ Gold,Benbecula and Odin as his challengers but he had plenty in hand from them and gave Conor Shoemark possibly his biggest winner to date as well as his trainer Phil Middleton in Aylesbury.

A few ran poor races,Mijhaar from the John Ferguson yard and was fifth in the Top Novices at Aintree in April ran a poor race finished right down the field.

Take nothing away from Exitas he is thriving at the moment and going in here of 108 he should get a hefty rise in the weights, You would think the Greatwood as a target but their is also a two mile hurdle at Ascot which would also have to come under consideration.

2.50 The 888sport Handicap Chase,Listed,2m6f 110yds,14 fences,4yo+

A wide open contest on paper and so it proved to be on course as their were plenty in with a shout turning for home with three to jump.

Coming to the last Tom Scudamore had Houston Dynimo just in the lead from Fox Appeal but Daryl Jacob had other ideas as he galvanised Mart Lane on the run in for Grand National winning trainer Dr Richard Newland to give the Doctor the perfect medicine, Dursey Sound chased him on the run in but he was never going to overtake him.

Winning at Doncaster last season over three miles he then lost his form on his last four runs including pulling up three times with the last one being in the Topham over the big greens, the summer holiday looks to have done him a power of good and bigger targets lie ahead.

Houston Dynimo came third,he will be better back over 2m4f, Fox Appeal ran a very good race considering he was a second season chaser and had to carry top weight,I think a nice little Intermediate Chase will be idea while Attaglance is going to be a member of the “Expensive to follow club”

Ballincurrig ran a poor race and was pulled up but he probably found the competition a bit to hot on this occasion.

Below, Dr Newland’s horse box

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3.25 The 888sport £88 In Free Bets Handicap Chase,Class 4,2m6f110yds,14 fences,4yo+,(0-115)

An ok race but nothing special as Charlie Deutsch (7) jumped out and made all on the Charlie Longsdon trained 7yo Long Wave who resumed winning ways by holding off AP on Spoil Me by 0.75 lengths.

Long Wave may not be the classiest but he is consistent and always runs a sound race,He gets further than this and has won over three miles in the past, Spoil Me only had a bumper win on the AW to his name but he should win a race sooner rather than later, West End back in third would prefer further too.

4.00 The 888sport Novices’ Hurdle,Class 4,2m1f,8 flights,4yo+

A race where the cream came to the top with the Brian Ellison trained Manhattan Swing who won his first start over hurdles for Dermot Weld and making his first start for Ellison did the job nicely,he had plenty left in the end.

Runner up was Countersign who I saw here last month,making his second start over hurdles he pulled quite hard and was in with a shout turning for home,had he not clattered his way over the last two he could well have won but he certainly isn’t short of ability at this level and given a stronger pace and maybe a step up in trip he can win a novice or two soon.

Gran Maestro in third was leading over the last but things happen on this furlong and a half run in,he ran a good race in defeat,Skyfire came fourth which was a real PB for him.

One disappointment was from Hawker trained by John Ferguson who came into the race off a recent second at Newton Abbott,he travelled well leaving the back straight but when asked found nothing,he now qualifies for a handicap rating although he may still find things a bit tricky depending what mark he gets.

4.35 The 888sport Neck Refunds All Uk Races Handicap Hurdle,Class 4,2m3f,10 flights,4yo+ (0-120)

Just like in the fourth race it was a conditional who set the fractions and controlled the pace as Sean Bowen (7) took the race by the scruff and made all on his fathers Get Home Now to nicely take this prize by 1.75 lengths from Pass Muster.

All eyes were on favourite Ever So Much who came into this race on the back of four consecutive wins,he was keen early doors and had every chance at two out but could never pick up and his chance went down like the Man Utd defence last weekend at Leicester, it was reported he lost his action and AP did ease him after the last flight.

5.10 888sport National Hunt Flat Race,Class 6,2m1f,4-6yo.

An ok bumper with a few nice sorts for the future here.

5-4f Arabic History followed up his debut success at Newton Abbott here,taking over in the last furlong he had a nice two length lead over the Charlie Longsdon debutant Midnight Shot who had the lead in the last furlong but the race experienced Arabic History used that to his advantage.

Hurdles will now beckon for the winner although their is a quality bumper at Cheltenham next month, He is one to keep an eye on.

An enjoyable afternoon then at the Rasen then with some exciting finishes.

For me the jumps is up and running and from here until April their will be reviews from various meetings interspersed of course with other events such as non league football and other sports.

Next up for me is Warwick on Thursday for Ocktoberfest raceday

Until then thanks for reading and keep spreading the word.

Jumpers to Follow 2014/15 Season.

As the people in the Royal Albert Hall sang the traditional hymn of Auld Lang Syne which brought the conclusion to the Proms season as usual for me signalled the beginning of the end of summer which means that the jumps horses are in pre season training as the season slowly but surely comes around again.

Like a lot of people I have been going through my racecards from last season and picked out some horses which I think can be worth following and keeping an eye out during the winter months.

I have hand picked sixteen horses,a few of which may look obvious and be in other peoples horses to follow which is no doubt a testimony to how highly regarded some horses may be in the eyes of racing fans.

Here then is a list which I hope will do well and make a few of you a little bit richer

Beat That,6yo,N Henderson.H154

In many books for this season,A very emphatic winner of the Sefton Novices at Aintree he then followed up at Punchestown, Should More Of That go chasing then I fully expect him to take in the big staying hurdles over the season, He is a horse of huge potential.

Brother Du Berlais,5yo,P Nicholls,H139

Saw this horse win at Ayr on Scottish National Day,looks a good chasing prospect but only being a 5yo he may stay over hurdles this season and has a very exploitable mark at the moment.

Capote,6yo,J O’Neill,H135.

A horse who was beaten over thirty lengths behind Beat That at Aintree but should have been closer had he not made schoolboy errors over the last few in the straight,owned by Trevor Hemmings he has the look of a staying chaser and could be the sort for the Four Miler at the Festival or the Fulke Walwyn.

Corrin Wood,7yo,D McCain, C150 H130

A likeable grey who beat Black Thunder at Warwick in January but was down the field in the RSA Chase at the Festival, He is a staying type and likes to bowl along at the head of affairs, I would expect him to go for the big northern handicaps like the Rowland Meryck and the Peter Marsh

Deputy Dan,6yo,O Sherwood,H145

Took the Grade Two Leamington Hurdle at Warwick back in January before finishing runner up in the Albert Bartlett,Another one who could go down the novice chasing route or have a go at taking on the staying hurdler division.

Doctor Harper,6yo,D Pipe,H145

A ready winner at Aintree on the opening day of the National meeting on his first crack at three miles, to me I would not be shocked if he turned up at Haydock on Betfair day in the big Fixed Brush Hurdle which David Pipe has farmed over the last few years, On a mark of 145 he is rated two pounds higher than last years winner Gevrey Chambertin.

Eduard,6yo,N Richards, C155

Winner of the Grade Two Novice event run at Ayr in April he gave Valdez a twenty length thrashing and put in some decent jumps as the race progressed,It’s more than probable that the Old Roan at Aintree could be an early starting point then the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon, Good to see Nicky Richards have a top prospect here and with Eduard he has one to follow the elusive steps of Monets Garden.

Garde La Victoire,5yo,P Hobbs,H140

Had a useful season taking his maiden hurdle win at Aintree before following up at Warwick,had a tough time in big Graded events but finished his season with wins in the spring at Taunton and Cheltenham,A mark of 140 is fair and very exploitable in the big early season handicaps unless connections send him over the birch.

Goohar,5yo,H Daly,H118

Very lightly raced horse who originally came from Luca Cumani after not making any runs on the flat,He has improved on his promising bumper form,most notably winning over hurdle at Haydock then finished down the field in the big EBF Final at Sandown, 118 is a good mark for him and should be more than capable of picking a nice handicap and will no doubt end up at Haydock,Bangor or Ludlow where trainer tends to do well.

Josses Hill,6yo,N Henderson,H150

Has kept quality company in a short career most notably when runner up in the Supreme at the Festival then went one better when taking the big Grade Two even at Aintree over 2m, It’s possible he will go novice chasing unless Mytentoryours does, He would end up on the shortlist of Arkle candidates if he goes chasing.

Miles To Memphis,5yo,A King.

Took a couple of bumpers T Kempton and at Ayr on Scottish National Day, Novice Hurdles is the starting point for this horse with plenty of potential.

Milo Man,6yo,E Williams,H127

Only had three runs over hurdles last season although he did win two of them at Carlisle on his debut back in November then at Taunton on January with a defeat into third at Leicester inbetween, With a rating of 127 this horse is very well handicapped and capable of much better this season, One to keep an eye on

Silsol,5yo,P Nicholls,H144

Originally I saw this horse finish fourth behind Garde La Victoire at Aintree back in October,He certainly found improvement when going up in trip to 2m4f at Ayr in a Conditional/Amateur rider race over hurdles under Jack Sherwood who took the bull by the horns and kicked on after halfway with the race never in doubt, Lots of improvement expected no doubt.

Stonebrook,6yo,D McCain,H131

Finished down the field in an ultra competitive handicap hurdle over 2m4f at Aintree in April but he can be forgiven for that race, Owned by JP McManus and under the care of Donald McCain this is a horse who can improve after the summer break, No doubt a nice easy Bangor novice event over fences will be sought for him.

The Liquidator,6yo,D Pipe,H143

Began the season brightly winning on hurdles debut at Carlisle then easily took the Grade Two event at Cheltenham’s Open meeting before finding himself outclassed by the bigger boys, a mark of 143 looks exploitable and maybe the Greatwood is a target early doors.

Wuff,6yo,T George,H128

Lightly raced ex Irish pointer who took to racing under rules very well last season,originally a runner up in a Haydock bumper he then came back in January after following up his hurdles win at Uttoxeter by winning over the Fixed Brushes then came back a long 65 lengths last of six finishers in the Grade Two Persian War in February, Tom George has a real prospect on his hands here.

There we are then a nice selection I hope of jumpers to keep one eye on during the winter months.

It’s times like this that all fans on national hunt fans love, the anticipation of what could happen as the horses we love return from a nice summer of chilling out in the fields before being brought back in around late June and July as the trainers slowly but surely begin to bring them on as the battles ahead lie await.

The jumps season will no doubt be full of more twists and turns than the Isle of Man TT course with more stories that can be found down the local library, Everybody I know will have their own personal favourites who they can’t wait to see again and just like you reading I know that come October it’s time for the Panama to go into it’s hibernation period and the tweed over will make it’s much welcome return.

Enjoy.

Ashton Town v Northwich Flixton Villa,NWCL Div 1,Saturday 13th September 2014

Redemption was given to Ashton forward Neil Weaver for his first half penalty which rattled the cross bar as he scored the winning goal nine minutes from time to give the home side the three points in a tight encounter at Edge Green Street on a sunny late summer afternoon in Ashton.

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Ashton came into the match off the back of a busy previous weekend which saw victories over Appleby Frodingham 4-2 and a thrashing of Atherton LR 5-0 while NFV haven’t won a game since opening day of the season.

The game began with the visitors snatching an early lead on two minutes as Crewe loanee Callum Pritchard-Ellis met a corner exquisitely for Villa to go one up,He looks a more than useful recruit and the time here will help him learn his craft,the lead didn’t last that long as Ashton made the scores level just four minutes later with Daniel Barrie easily converted the cross from Marcus Cusani.

Ashton could have gone 2-1 up but Neil Weaver who took the penalty awarded to them agree Villa keeper Kieren Cunningham brought down a striker, if anything it was much worse than one at the LR v Eccleshall game last month which saw the keeper sent off!

Eventually Ashton took the lead with Cusani knocking it in from another corner on to make it 2-1, Villa in turn came back and their persistent efforts were duly rewarded as Villa full back Dylan Norris tapped in virtually unmarked in the area to draw it level with ten minutes to half time.

HT Ashton Town 2 NFV 2

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The second half was a bit mundane to be honest, both teams struggled to get a real foothold on the match as the half progressed.

Villa had a good opportunity on around 64 minutes as Dylan Norris curled a shot outside the box which was knocked onto the bar for a corner and Ashton Town almost took lead eight minutes later but Neil Weaver’s shot from a cross just hit a wall of players in the area.

Ashton finally got the lead when Weaver power blasted a shot inside the box that the keeper could not stop.

The opposition tried to score but could not burst the Town’s defences, even one of their defenders who looked more like a prop forward than a footballer was getting stuck in but to no avail.

Ashton Town had to to battle for this and it was more a case of result first and performance second,This win lifts them to third but a few teams around have plenty of games in hand over them but they will be at the business end of this league come April.

Northwich may lie in 17th from 19 clubs but they are clearly much better than this and the results should slowly be coming their way, it’s just a case of working hard and they are certainly not afraid to fight when the chips are down.

FT Ashton Town 3 NFV 2

Ashton Town.

Clements,Molloy,M.Boyle,Keenan (C),Crompton,Baker,Barrie,McDonough,Robinson,Weaver,Cusani.

Subs.

D.Boyle,Dainty,Munroe,Williams.

Northwich Flixton Villa (to be fully filled when I find the XI)

Cunningham,Suleiman,Norris,Gibson,Headlamp,Evans.Rushe,Grant (C),Pritchard-Ellis,Salim,Tottah.

Subs.

Yousif,Abu,Bellattar,Matabaro.

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Haydock Park,Betfred Sprint Cup Day,Saturday 6th September 2014

The north wests principle flat meeting of the whole year came around once again as the stars of the sprinting game turned out for the 2014 running of the Betfred Sprint Cup which was the final Group One of the sprinting division of the season.

Today was also the midway section of a busy five days of sport in this neck of the woods as the afternoon culminated in the third day of this festival which changes from four hooves to two wheels on Sunday as the first two legs of cycling’s Tour Of Britain kickstarts down the A580 in Liverpool for the first two stages.

Before the horses took to the turf we had four athletics events over 600m on the road inside the course which consisted mainly of match races between younger north west based athletes who are at the beginning of their fledgling careers.

The races were won by Nzimah Akpam from Toxteth who is the Merseyside 400m champion,he saw the trip out well, Tom Clarke an 800m runner who didn’t seem inconvenienced by the drop in trip, James McNally another 800m specialist and finally the finish of the day which saw 20yo Jamie Webb who is an outdoor 800m athlete just get the better of rival John Ashcroft and he is said to better over 1500m and was also a 5000m finalist in the British Universities races.

A nice initiative and one which seemed to work,certainly the infield at Aintree would be better at staging road races and could be a good idea for the future.

Below,Jamie Webb just hangs on.

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2.05 The Betfred Mobile Be Friendly Handicap,Class 2,5f,3yo+ (0-100)

A typical renewal of the race that celebrates the horse who won the inaugural Sprint Cup.

Kickboxer bounced back to form after a recent poor spell,a winner at Leicester and Ripon this season it did look like the handicapper had him but the drop down to 5f didn’t bother him and he ran out a ready winner,Long Awaited traveled well and just got tapped for speed when asked but eventually came runner up and just got the better of Normal Equilibrium, back in fourth was the popular 12yo Borderlescott who ran his best race for a long time.

Kickboxer was first off the bridle but responded to Luke Morris’ urgings, not sure if he’s entered in races like the Portland or the various Ayr Cups but going here of 93 he should go to just between 97-100 after this.

2.40 The betfred.com Superior Mile,Group 3,1m,3yo+.

This was a case of the salute the cat as favourite Captain Cat under the steering of George Baker docked into bay number one as he travelled well from the outset sitting behind the early pace set by Penitnent.

Captain Cat took over with just over a furlong to go and had plenty in hand over the rest,Balty Boys who has been seen quite a bit by me this season ran on to just get second place ahead of the Lincoln winner Ocean Tempest.

The winner may head to Newmarket for the Joel Stakes, he is a lovely miler at home on turf or sand and never seems to run a bad race.

Balty Boys ran a PB for the season and it did look like Penitent has had enough for the season and at eight maybe it’s time he was given an honourable retirement.

3.15 The Betfred TV Old Borough Cup Handicap,Class 2,1m6f,3yo+ (0-105)

As usual a wide open looking renewal and oddly none of the sixteen runner field had ran in the Ebor last time out.

Right as the gates opened we had a bit of drama as top weight and favourite Havana Cooler deposited jockey Richard Hughes on the deck but he soon followed his friends and was safely caught at the finish.

The step up in trip proved no problem for the John Gosden trained Nautilus who came from out of the pack and got the better of likely winner Epsom Hill by a length under an inspired drive by Nicky Mackay, Communicator was staying on up the inside but still needs dropping in the ratings, Glenard who made most of the running is a lot better back at 1m4f, he doesn’t stay this trip.

Nautilus stayed the extra distance really well,Their might not be many opportunities for him this season after this but maybe something like the Ormonde or Yorkshire Cup next year could suit unless a trip to Dubai is on the agenda.

3.50 The Betfred Sprint Cup,Group 1,6f,3yo+

A real high class renewal of this famous sprint which featured winners from the big festivals in the division for the speedsters.

All the talk was about 5f superstar Sole Power and wether or not he could break his 6f hoodoo at the eighth time of asking.

Again it was not to be today as he came a very honourable fourth behind some real 6f specialists down the Haydock turf.

Trainer David O’Meara who many including myself remember him riding various Sue Smith chasers around here over the winters scored his first ever Group One winner as a trainer as 3yo G Force became the first three year old since African Rose in 2008 albeit in a rescheduled running at Doncaster to land the prize under Danny Tudhope, held up in the pack early doors he found a lovely gap with a furlong to go and was able to pick his hooves up and just go the better of last seasons winner Gordon Lord Byron who looked set to land back to back renewals had it not been for this very plucky three year old.

Music Master was third,he came here off the back of a Newbury win in July and was fourth in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot,Group 3 is about his level, Sole Power was fourth and traveled well to get the trip but they extra furlong just finds him out, Expect normal business to be resumed come Prix De L’Abbaye at Longchamp next month.

Of the beaten horses Baccarat probably found this a bit too tough but was only beaten around eight lengths,Es Que Love was sixth but he is better at 7f,Astaire has struggled this season and has not been able to replicate his second in the Duke Of York back in May and lastly Cougar Mountain from Ballydoyle could be better off going up on trip.

As for G Force this was a fantastic performance,it’s more than likely he will head off to Ascot to become Champion Sprinter and take in the big sprints after the winter.

4.25 The Betfred Goals Galore Nursery Handicap,Class 2,6f,2yo.

After being comprehensively walloped in the Gimcrack last month it was back to form for the Kevin Ryan trained Teruntum Star who had won a Carlisle maiden in July, travelling pretty well he drew away in the last half furlong and had a nice 3.25 length lead over runner up Inniscastle Lad who looked far happier back sprinting today.

Favourite Roossey was third,he was simply beaten by better horses on the day but did keep up to his work.

5.00 The Betfred Fun And Friendly Stakes,(Asscendant Stakes),Listed,1m,2yo

Only five here for this Black Type event and it was a pattern winner for trainer Sir Mark Prescott with the very talented but very quirky and at sometimes loopy Celestial Path on his second start at the racecourse.

Holding entries in the Racing Post Trophy and Derby it’s clear to see why as he dug deep despite a slow start and having to be ridden along to get into contention he gave Medrano a four length whacking here who in turn was 3.5 lengths ahead of Smaih in third who didn’t look to get the extra trip.

Celestial Path as I mentioned is a bit quirky and if he carries on then he may wake up noticing a couple of things missing,I would expect either the Racing Post Trophy or Royal Lodge to be the next race unless he is now given time to mature in the winter.

5.35 The Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Handicap,Class 2,1m6f,3yo,(0-100)

A very competitive long distance finale here for the young staying brigade and it was jockey Adam Kirby who timed it to perfection on Mizzou for Luca Cumani to record his third win on what was his fourth career race, already a winner at Pontefract and Doncaster this season he went in easily here in the end of a mark of 89 and beat Intense Tango by 1.75 lengths.

The runner up was looking to follow a recent course win last month over 12f,she ran another solid race and is still in good heart although a drop back to that trip could be better for her,Spectator finished third and had Kashmiri Sunset behind him.

Another Sprint Cup day has been and gone then for 2014 and from here it looks like I shall be concentrating on the jumpers albeit with the odd other sport thrown in.

Today’s Cup was the best quality one seen for a long time and it will be interesting to see how the form works out as the season gears up for the big autumn finales at the various festivals.

Danny Tudhope and David O’Meara have had days they will never forget, it’s always great to see the trainers and jockeys who might not yet be considered household names get on the scoresheet in the big races at this level.

I shall be at Market Rasen in three weeks time and will probably get to a non league game in the interim.

Till then a very goodbye from me and for the 2014 turf flat season.