Easter Saturday at Haydock for a seven race card which included a good collection of valuable and competitive handicaps as the days towards next weeks Grand National meeting just a few miles down the East Lancashire Road slowly begin to get ticked off the calendar.
It was also Wild West Family Day here with plenty of entertainment down in the family area well away from the people who were just here for the racing, On my arrival to the course I noticed local radio station Wish FM were supplying the music for the day as families turned up although one has to question why playing Men At Works famous “Down Under” track is associated with the Wild West?
Also there was a female singer songwriter on the stage but I left quickly when despite her being dressed for the occasion she began to play Lana Del Ray’s “Video Games” to begin! I doubt anyone briefed that being a Wild West raceday that maybe Johnny Cash or even the overhyped Taylor Swift would have been more fitting.
Anyway back to the racing and we had seven races on the last day of Haydock’s 2014-15 jumps season so let’s take a look back.
1.25 888sport.com Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase,Class 3,2m,13 fences,5yo+ (0-140)
Just Cameron under Joe Colliver (3) racked up a hat trick of wins with a fine performance here, always up with the pace he fought off the attentions of Village Vic who subsequently pulled up after sulking and runner up Ifandbutwhynot whom he gave six lengths the finish with Ubaltique who plugged on for third spot.
Just Cameron has really taken to fences and could be Ayr bound in a fortnight but 2m looks his best trip at the moment,going in here off 140 he has a bit more to offer,Ifbutandwhynot looks held on 137 but is consistent with his racing.
2.00 888sport.com Tim Molony Chase,Class 3,3m4f,22 fences,5yo+ (0-130)
A wide open staying constest with plenty having questions to answer.
It paid to sit off the pace in this marathon which is exactly what Diarmuid O’Reagan (5) did on William Money as he worked his way into the contest and attached himself to the leading four turning for home,he took the lead after three out from favourite Ziga Boy and long time leaders Fourovakind and High Ron from which he began to forge ahead and had plenty in hand from the fast finishing Buachaill Alainn and Fourovakind.
Wiliiam Money is only an 8yo but very lightly raced for his age making only his eighteenth career start, two starts back he won at Kelso before flopping in the Grimthorpe at Doncaster,hard to know what his next race will be,possibly the Highland National at Perth would be the only option for him.
Ziga Boy just began to empty after three out and maybe a slight drop back in trip will help.
2.35 Connoly’s Red Mills “Precission Nutrition” Series Hamdicap Hurdle Final,Class 2,2m4f,10 flights,4yo+
A top quality field of sixteen went to post for what looked a high quality of this popular series for hurdlers.
As usual it was a big race Saturday win for Paul Nicholls but only just as top weight Southfield Vic with the steerage of jockey Sean Bowen (5) just got the better of Raktiman under Samantha Drake (5)
The pace was solid from the outset and turning for home the eventual winner was in 11th and vigourosily ridden along where as the runner up was making progress up the inside as they made the turn.
Raktiman lead over two out and began to just hold them all at bay despite Sam Drake having a few steering issues but Sean Bowen’s persistence on Southfield Vic was slowly paying off as he cajoled the horse into third after the last flight and began to get the upper hand to just deny Raktiman by 3/4 of a length at the line, the pair were well class of Make Me A Fortune in third and Top Cat Henry in fourth spot.
6yo Southfield Vic clearly needs further and found 2m4f on the sharp side,his three other wins have been over 2m6f and 3m this season,he could go to Sandown in a few weeks for a 2m6f Listed Hurdle but he will be even better over fences next season.
Raktiman was an unlucky loser,a model of consistency he never runs a bad race and deserves a nice prize.
3.10 888sport.com Handicap Chase,Class 2,3m,18 fences,5yo+
A bloodless performance here by top weight Virak for trainer Paul Nicholls and jockey Sean Bowen (5) who by riding this now qualifies him to be able to ride in next weekends Grand National.
Virak was always going well and sat behind leaders Algernon Pazham and Carrigdhoun as the race progressed.
After turning for home Algernon Pazham tried to press on as Virak was brought to the stands side rail but it was drama at two out as Algernon Pazham met the fence on the wrong stride and forced Ryan Hatch to do some fine counter balancing to keep on the horse, although Virak was going into the lead this helped him gurantee the race as he just had to be kept up to his work to secure the £19,000 first prize.
Virak is back on track after a couple of poor efforts in the Kauto Star and Reynoldstown Chases, going in here off 144 he will now be off on his summer break and is an exciting prospect for next season.
Algernon Pazham put in a much better performance after his recent refusal at Uttoxeter,he has a lot to offer while No Planning ran a good race in third.
Below,Virak coming to the line
3.45 888sport.com Handicap Chase,Class 2,2m6f,18 fences,5yo+
The final of the Jockey Club Grassroots Chase Series,this had a field of fifteen in it but it was a tough race as only five completed the course.
From the tapes up the field went at a strong gallop as the fences came thick and fast but it paid to sit off the speed which is exactly what Jamie Bargary (7) did as he steered Holow Blue Sky to victory after plenty of cajoling.
It wasn’t an easy win as he had to fight off the attentions of Silvergrove up the straight and both were leg weary over the last but he had plenty in hand and both were in front of Future Gilded in third and Tenor Nivernais in fourth, the only other finisher was Saints and Sinners who needed a step ladder to climb over the last and he walks over the line in his own time.
Hollow Blue Sky was third in this last year off 3lb higher,he was fully entitled to take this,this trip suits him so possibly the Sefton at Aintree could be an ideal race next season.
4.20 888sport.com AP’s Last Ride At Haydock “Fixed Brush” Novices’ Handicap Hurdle,Class 3,2m4f,10 flights,4-8yo (0-135)
Sadly AP’s last ride was not a winning one at Haydock as he finished seventh of the nine who completed.
At th business end the race went to Northumberland as trainer James Walton and jockey Jamie Hamilton (7) got Central Flame to follow up his recent win at Carlisle to go in pretty easily under bottom weight,this ex pointer is getting the hang of things now over hurdles and looks ahead of the handicapper so he could be turned out somewhere again before getting reassessed.
Hello George who has ran credibly in big races such as the Ladbroke and the Lanzarotte was 11 lengths back in second,maybe a step up to 3m will help,Doctor Phoenix came third but looks held on his mark of 135.
4.55 888sport.com Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race,Class 5,2m,4-6yo
A fair bumper at an ok pace although plenty were pulling early doors.
Red Six trained by Peter Bowen and ridden by son Sean Bowen (5) got his debut off to a winning one here,he set the early fractions and wound it up after previous winner Palermo Don tried to take him on with 7f to go, coming down the straight Red Six had it in the bag and took it by 6 lengths from Vieux Lille in second spot and fellow debutant Wicked Willy in third.
Red Six is nicely bred and should make into a fair novice hurdler next season,he should get 2m4f and is one to note as is Vieux Lille who will Definitly want a trip over hurdles.
Some good racing then as we approach Aintree.
After the sixth race the Haydock directors gave AP a picture of his win in 2010 on Drill Seargant who won a 2m Novice Hurdle after pulling himself up when in a clear lead before overtaking the whole field again and winning in what was a race like no other
Next week is of course Aintree,the first two days will be reviewed so until then Goobye and enjoy your racing.