Haydock Park,Saturday 26th March 2016,Challenger Series Finals Day

Easter Saturday and the inaugural running of the finals of the 2015-16 Challenger Series for horses rated under 140. 

An ideal time of the season to fill the void between Cheltenham and Aintree,this day gives a chance for stables lesser lights a chance to shine and pick up some nice prize money. 

Weather wise it was windy and very overcast which resulted in a real downpour after the fifth race,traditional Bank Holiday weekend weather!

1.25 ApolloBet Weekly Golf Refunds Challenger Mares’ Hurdle Series Final,Class 2,2m3f,10 flights,4yo+

A stroll in the park for the David Pipe trained Lady Of Longstone who made all under Michael Heard (5) and took this nice prize by eigh lengths,she appreciated the return to a nicer surface and no doubt the trainer will be hoping to pick some black type up before long 

Midnight Jazz was the runner up,she stayed on well into second but could never bridge the gap,she is consistent but weighted up to her best,Secret Door stayed on back in third and could be suited by further

Coming past in the first

2.00 Challenger Middle Distance Chase Series Final,Class 2,2m4f,15 fences,5yo+

A competitive race on paper with plenty inform types. 

Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has had decent success at Haydock this year with The New One and Bristol De Mai and now Ballybolley continued that fine run here under Daryl Jacob as he put in an exquisite round of jumping,always going well in the front end he never put a hoof wrong and was travelling smoothly from flag fall,he finished eight lengths ahead of top weight Five In A Row who was hard ridden but could do nothing in response to the winner. 

A former winner of the Aintree bumper the winner came here after a costly error cost him a possible win in last Saturday’s Silver Cup at Kempton,it’s touted he may pop up to Ayr for the big novice chase their,he should get three miles in time and has more to offer now. 

Five In A Row found this race much easier than Cheltenham,Dartford Warbler back in third ran a sound race too. 

2.35 ApolloBet Cash Back If 2nd Challenger Stayers Hurdle Series Final,Class 2,2m7f,12 flights

Bottom weight Petethepear came out a fortunate winner here as top weight Emerging Force looked to have the £23475 prize for first place in the bag for safe keeping but a tumble at the last flight led to Nico De Boinville being thrown out the side door. 

The pace was very generous from the start here with the field well stretched out on the final circuit, Petethepear led after four out and tried to wind up the gallop but Emerging Force took over and kept the lead albeit only by a length or two,coming to the last he began to put the race to bed but he met it on the wrong stride and crashed through giving Nico no chance and despite trying to defy gravity he was only going one direction and that was down, Petethepear regained the lead and from then it was never in doubt. 

Petethepear finally broke his duck over hurdles,the step up in trip looks to suit him,wether he can follow up is another thing, Fingerontheswitch kept on into second,Billy Dutton and Caledonia were third and fourth. 

In all fairness Emerging Force would have taken this,he is one to watch in staying novice chases next term. 

3.10 Challenger Staying Chase Series Final,Class 2,3m,18 fences,5yo+

A very competitive chase run over the same course and distance of the Lancashire Chase. 

As is the norm now at Haydock it paid to be up with the pace here and the lightly raced No Duffer who was making only his fourth start of the season and his 22nd career run at the age of nine ran out a very ready winner, tracking early leader Jac The Legend throughout he grabbed the lead with a mile to go and got plenty under pressure and found extra when needed for Paddy Brennan who had to get him to work up the straight   

He finished 3.75 lengths ahead of the running on Gonaslton Cloud who was outpaced early but he was staying on very well,a winner of three under rules this term he has gone up 32lbs in the process,a step up to further will be better for him, Jac The Legedn dead heated with him for second,he seemed to like the more positive style of running and Baku Bay in fourth ran an honest race but has still yet to score over fences. 

No Duffer looked  to appreciate this surface,he could head to Cheltenham next month for a nice race in which he was third last year

 

Staying Chasers head out into the country

 
3.45 Challenger Two Mile Hurdle Series Final,Class 2,2m,8 flights,4yo+

A race which was marred by two falls at the first two hurdles,firstly Jonny Delta fell at the first which resulted in Diarmuid O’Regan being taken to Aintree hospital then at the second flight Serenity Now fell which resulted in Aidan Coleman being stood down for the rest of the day,both horses came back safe,this meant the first hurdle in the straight was bypassed. 

Despite the irony of the two mile final actually being run over 1m7f 144yds the drop back in trip and return to a kinder surface looked to suit Thunder Sheik under last weeks RSA winning jockey Ryan Hatch,he made plenty ground up on the flat as they bypassed the third last and had to given a few reminders after two out to get past Floresco,both led over the last and Thunder Sheik began to get on top in the last half furlong and had enough to take the prize from the running on Kings Bayonet and Apterix in second and third. 

Thunder Sheik certainly benefitted from the reapplication of cheekpieces,he’s down to run at Newbury on Friday although races like the Amateur and Conditionals race at Aintree and the Swinton back here in May could also be targets. 

 

2m hurdle finishers

 
4.20 Tim Molony Handicap Chase,Class 3,3m4f,22 fences,5yo+ (0-130)

A real mixed bag of marathon types here despite six of the eight runners all pulled up on their last runs. 

Universal Solider who last sighted pulling up here in January’s Peter Marsh put up a much polished performance under Sean Bowen as he looked much happier going up in trip and down in grade,making most he bounded on well and the win never looked in doubt as he came home twenty lengths ahead of the 5yo Cyclop who in turn was eighteen ahead of Alto Des Mottes. 

Universal Solider loves these long trips,11yo he was only having his 19th career race,he could be a type for the Highland National at Perth but he’s still lower than his current hurdles mark, Cyclop has plenty good days ahead of him as a stayer and can improve a lot next season. 

4.50 ApolloBet Bet Through Your Mobile Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race,Class 5,2m,4-6yo

Some fair types to this decent enough looking bumper in which the main Easter Eggs began to hatch at the business end. 

Alan King looks to have a nice sort to go hurdling with next season as Elgin didn’t lose his marbles and improved from his first run at Southwell to battle on in the churned up ground to stay on and hold off the more experienced Desert Retreat back in second, Hot favourite River Wylde was a few lengths behind in third,he was keen early but looks a nice recruit,Arctic Destination came fourth and also looks nice.  

The first four all look good,Elgin may head to Aintree and it’s possible Alan King might be tempted to run him on the flat if need be, Desert Retreat has been placed in three Chepstow bumpers and looks a stayer, River Wylde should find a bumper win somewhere soon. 

Wattspots

Cyclop,5yo runner up in the Tim Molony,looks to have a good future 

Quietly,5yo came down the field in the bumper but will show more in time when he has jumps to negotiate

A very good day for the horses at the lower end of the scale then,this series has proved to be very popular and looks set for a healthy future over the years. 

Next up racing wise we head to Aintree for the first two days of the Crabbies Grand National meeting 

Till then,Goodbye

Wolverhampton Races,Saturday 12th March 2016,Lady Wulfruna Stakes Day. 

A crowd of over 1,800 descended upon Dunstall Park on a fair early spring afternoon for an informative day of All Weather racing with the feature races being the Lincoln Trial and the  Listed Lady Wulfruna Stakes which served as a qualifier for the Mile final on Finals Day at Lingfield on Good Friday. 

While the more pressing issue of Cheltenham may be on the horizon,for a few this served as a good opportunity for some to get their eye in on the upcoming flat season. 

  
1.40 Unibet Offer Daily Jockey/Trainer Specials Classified Claiming Stakes,Class 5,5f,4yo+ (0-70)

Easy stuff here from the 8yo Elusivity as he made all under Paul Mulrennan to record his sixth career victory, Summerinthecity followed him all the way but couldn’t get past even with getting 5lb off the winner in weight and was 2.25 lengths away in second and he just hung on to that place from Thataboy in third,both the first and second are keeping good form and should pick up more at this level of racing. 

 

Elusivity

 
2.15 Ladbrokes Lincoln Trial Handicap Stakes,Class 2,1m 141yds,4yo+ (0-105)

Eight of the twelve that went to post here on the sand held an entry for the big one next month. 

A real peach of a ride from Jim Crowley here as the 4yo Keystroke from the Jeremy Noseda axe he overcame a rather sloppy start but got a good position up the inside in mid division,turning for home with 3f to go he made his move up the inside to pick off horses as Sound Advice and Father Bertie continued to go hammer and tongues with each other. 

Inside the last furlong Keystoke began to claim the lead as the closers ran on and he just held on by a nose from the fast finishing Supersta and Intrude who was only three parts of a length behind them, the race was so competitive enough that only Two lengths separated the first six home. 

Plenty to like from Keystroke,a 4yo who is still an entire so more is expected from him to develop into a black type performer in the summer,he should be at Doncaster for the Lincoln,Supersta was unlucky in defeat here but continues in fine form,Intrude was running well and maybe a step up in trip may help. 

 

Keystroke

 
2.50 Ladbrokes Lady Wulfruna Stakes,Listed,7f,4yo+

Mister Universe like the winner in the previous race just got the nod by a nose in this decent Listed prize over the specialist trip, a winner at Lingfield last weekend over 1m he has form over 7f. 

Tracking early pace setter Kelinni he managed to pass him past the 1f pole but then last years winner Sovereign Debt came down the outside to challenge and in fact briefly led but in a real heads up heads down battle Mister Universe just got the nod in the photo. 

Mister Universe should head to Lingfield for the final and he would hold a fine chance for that race, Realize back in third was 1.75 lengths down and is worth another crack at this level. 

 

Mister Universe

 
3.25 32Red Casino Handicap Stakes,Class 4,1m6f,4yo+ (0-85)

A rise of 8lb could not stop the 13/8f Midtech Star from following up his win from last weekend at Lingfield here as he swooped to the front under Adam Kirby with 2f to go and stayed on gamely, Scarlet Minstrel from Andrew Balding’s stable gave chase and only went down by half a length, the pair were six lengths clear of the rest. 

With Cheltenham coming up this will have given trainer Ian Williams a nice boost,Midtech Star looked to have got the trip ok and gong in off 78 he will now end up in the mid 80s, Scarlet Minstrel is consistent too and deserves a win,a return to Chelmsford may suit him 

4.00 Dowload The New Unibet Racing App Handicap Stakes,Class 2,6f,4yo+ (0-105)

A real competitive dash for the cash here on the sand but it was all about one horse,Zac Brown under Aaron Jones (5) for trainer Charlie Wallis’ stable as he made his third start for his new trainer a winning one as hung on by a neck from Steelriver under Graham Gibbons who was finishing with a real flourish but was unlucky in all fairness, back I third we had Patrick who travelled well but couldn’t pick up when needed. 

Zac Brown took this just 1lb above his last winning mark,he could struggle in handicap company so a step to Listed may be called for,Doncaster’s Cammidge Trophy would be a fair race to head for,Steelriver has form over 6-7f so a step back up to 7f would be no bad thing. 

4.35 32Red.com Handicap Stakes,Class 4,7f,3yo (0-80)

Lots of potential improves here in a nice looking 3yo handicap.  

This proved to be a race that benefited horses having had a run as Marco Botti and Andrea Atzeni took the scalp with 12-1 shot Ilzam as he won quite nicelyfrom Ikerrin Road by half a length with Rocket Power behind them in third. 

Ilzam was held up from the start but was always going well and now the penny has finally dropped it’ll be interesting to see how he goes on from here when sent back to the turf, Ikerrin Road broke his duck here last month over CD,he remains a fair prospect. 

Rocket Power was only having his third start but will improve,possibly a step up to 1m will suit him. 

5.10 32Red Casino Maiden Fillies’ Stakes,Class 5,1m 141 yards

The cream rose to the top in this average maiden, Sagely from Ed Dunlop’s yard responded well to the urgings of Silvestre De Souza to overpower odds on favourite Intermittent from Roger Charlton’s. 

These two were always at the forefront,Intermittent tried to make all and still looked in command turning for home but Sagely who was a runner here in October had a bit more stamina in reserve and used it to good affect. 

Both are now qualified for handicaps so it will be of note to see how both develop in their 3yo seasons. 

 

Sagely and Intermittent

 
A really good afternoon on the All Weather then,a nice way to get the eye in on the flat as we go into Cheltenham week. 

Wattspots

Yours Forever,3yo filly who was very green in the paddock for the last race but will have learned plenty,will prove better when sent up to 1m2f-4f in time. 
Next meeting on here will be the Challenger Finals day at Haydock on Easter Saturday,until then have a very good Cheltenham one and all