Haydock Park Races,Saturday 29th April 2017,Opening Flat Meeting

The opening meeting of the 2017 flat season in the north west and at Haydock Park brought a hat trick up for local trainer Tom Dascombe as himself and stable owner Michael Owner went back home to their Malpas base with huge smiles on their respective faces. 

First up came in the first race when La Celebs Ville finally broker her maiden in tag in the opening 1m handicap (0-70) by half a length from Whitkirk, she had to dig in for this and can pick up some more races in this grade. 

Team Dascombe then came up good in the last two races on the card when Sidewinder made sure his owners The Sidewinder Partnership did sleep tonight as he like the opening race winner broke his maiden tag in the 3yo handicap over 1m (0-75), back on the green stuff today he responded well to Richard Kingscote to get the verdict over Know Your Limit,the step up to a mile suited and he reportedly heads to Chester in a couple of weeks time, The third winner came in the finale when Caponova readily scored in the 1m2f handicap (0-80) to record a fourth course and distance win, going in off 75 he should get upped about 5lbs after this but won like a horse ahead of his mark. 

Caponova


The afternoons feature race a Class 2 7f handicap saw the £28k or so first prize get taken by Frankie Dettori who paid a flying visit for two rides and bagged this one under Afjaan for trainer William Haggis and owners Al Shaqab Racing as this lightly 5yo scored very readily here, possible targets include the Victoria Cup at Ascot in a fortnight but the one thing against him is that all of his three wins have been on tracks with a turning 7f so one possibility could be to come back here for the Spring Trophy on the same day.  

Josephine Gordon,last seasons champion apprentice jockey got a very nice ride off evergreen 7yo Quixote from David Loughrane’s stable as he bolted up in the Class 2, 1m handicap, going through the gears in the last furlong he was over three lengths ahead from Early Morning,on his last run Quixote got left in the stalls at Southwell and that looked to have been a blessing now as the handicapper dropped him 1lb for that, The Royal Hunt Cup is a potential target and he could well make the cut for it. 

Quixote


Godolphin unveiled a potential Derby horse in Maghfoor who finally broke his duck on his third start for Saeed Bin Suroor under last seasons champion flat jockey  Jim Crowley  in the 1m4f maiden for 3yo, he easily held off debutant Humble Hero from the Haggis stable by three quarters of a length, wether the Derby entry is an optimistic one we will only know should he go for a trial race, the one at Lingfield could suit this horse a lot better than the Dante off this run. 

Maghfoor


Finally Downton Kitten picked up an ordinary looking EBF Fillies Maiden over 1m under the steerage of Tom Queally for David Lanigan, getting the better over the more experienced Beyond Recall she should make into a solid enough filly and will have learnt plenty from this too. 

A welcome return to the flat after being NH focused since October, next Saturday we are off to Yorkshire for the tricky to pronounce Thirsk Hunt Cup meeting. 

Wattspots

Beyond Recall,3yo filly trained by Luca Cumani she was runner up in the 1m fillies’ maiden and is now qualified for handicaps after this run. 

Fawaareq,4yo clue from Owen Burrows, 3rd in the feature 7f race will be much better when upped back trip to a mile

Haydock Park,Saturday 15th April 2017,Challenger Series Finals Day. 

The Easter Bunny pulled out two nice big prizes for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede on a slightly chilly Easter Saturday, far removed from the wonderful weather that Aintree had last week for the finals of the Challenger Series designed to cater for mid tier jumps horses with some pretty decent prize money of £23475 per winner of the six races. 

Their first leg of the double came when Ballybolley hacked up in the 2m4f Middle Distance Chase for the second year in a row,only 4lb higher from last years winning mark of 129 he finished 17l ahead of Captain Redbeard, he jumped very well and no doubt connections will be hoping of more improvement next season in some of the big handicaps, the second leg came in the 2m3f Mares’ Hurdle as Secret Door just about followed up her recent Ludlow won as she had to be all out to land this in a pulsating three drive after the last flight to just fend off Poppy Kay by a neck. 

Ballybolley


Secret Door


Alan King got a shock as Willoughby Hedge sprang a 25-1 shock to land the Staying Chase over 3m, only the horses eighth start over fences this 10yo is lightly raced and the first time blinkers clearly worked the oracle as he hung on in another exciting finish to land the prize for owner Trevor Hemmings by a neck. 

The 2m Hurdle prize was a very competitive affair and mixed fortunes for owner JP McManus as his hot favourite Midnight Maestro was pulled up, to be fair the horse did pull early and lost his position after the sixth flight, he can be forgiven and has plenty more to offer, stepping upto the plate though the second string Stamp Your Feet stamped his hooves over the rest as he got on top of Limited Reserve in the last 50 yards to mug him for the money, kept to a mark of 115 after a Hereford win in December he is consistent at this level. 

In the Staying Hurdle over 2m7f trainer Jonjo O’Neill scored with Kelvingrove under Aidan Coleman for his owners The All In One Syndicate whose members include former Cheltenham supreme Edward Gillespie who had to work on him to edge out Young Dillon by a length, he has the look of a dour stayer about him should he go over fences next season. 

Mares had another race added to the series with the 2m6f Mares’ Chase and another close finish in the afternoon as the 9yo Magic Money making her twelfth start of the season had a real slanging match with Still Believing on the run in and Magic Money just found that little bit more needed to edge out the victory by a neck, the mare was following up her recent win at Fontwell, still unexposed over fences connections will eye some black type next season for her. 

Finally the last race of the season came with the annual running of the Tim Molony Chase and here Jonjo O’Neill picked up his second victory of the day with Mustmeetalady under the steerage of Killian Moore (3) as he relished this step up in trip to 3m4f, his first win over fences on his sixth start going in off 124 which is 8lb lower than his hurdles mark, this looks a good type for Satelitte Nationals next season and he came four lengths ahead of Courtown Oscar who is as game as they come in races like this. 

Staying Chasers in action


Another jumps season over with then, in two weeks we return for the opening meeting of the 2017 turf flat back here at Haydock followed by a trip to Yorkshire for the Thirsk Hunt Cup

Many highlights and memories to think about but far too many to mention, It’s now time to look forward for the flat. 

Until then Goodbye

Aintree Races,Randox Health Grand National Festival,Day Two,Friday 7th April 2017

Ladies Day on a sunbaked afternoon as the crowds poured into the home of Grand National for a competitive afternoon of top class National Hunt racing  

The feature race on day two was the JLT Melling Chase over 2m4f at Grade One level and this was complemented by a mix of top novice events,two handicaps which included the Topham, a race so difficult that even the worlds greatest mathematicians and form experts would struggle to solve and a Grade Two NHF race for good measure. 

Today though the plaudits went to trainer Colin Tizzard as he took three of the afternoons big races,after a Cheltenham in which nothing seemed to go right, today was very much a case of balance being returned to the force. 

Of the three the biggest was in the Grade 1 Melling Chase in which Fox Norton showed he needs a trip like this now as he beat a more than useful field in a race that might not have looked like a top class renewal but he could only best the field that turned up and he shook off Irish challenger Sub Lieutenant quite easily, Fox Norton had won two at Cheltenham this term and was runner up in the Champion Chase, he is likely to be aimed at the big 2m4f chases next term but it would be no shocker to see him turn up at Kempton on Boxing Day. 

Fox Norton


The first of the Tizzard treble came in the Grade 1 Top Novices’ Hurdle as Pingshou burst a few egos and bubbles as he easily breezed home ahead of Mount Mews, over 34 lengths back down the field at Cheltenham he clearly benefitted from being a lot more handy,he will probably go chasing next season, Mount Mews back in second came here on the back of a Grade 2 win at Kelso and will clearly be suited by further. 

Winner number three came in the Grade 3 Topham Chase over the big National fences courtesy of Ultragold who stayed on ahead of long distance regular Portrait King to send the bookies heading for the Champagne Bar as he picked up this wide open handicap at 50-1, back to his last winning mark of 136 back at Newbury in November he looked to enjoy the challenge of these fences. 

Nicky Henderson picked two more races up as his quest for the champion trainer title continued,first up he saddled a 1-2 in the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase over 3m1f with the same 1-2 as the RSA last month as Might Bite showed himself to be the best staying novice chaser of the season beating Whisper yet again, probably not the strongest renewal as only five turned up but the best two finished in the correct order, Might Bite will certainly be up to having his say in the big three mile division next season. 

Might Bite


His first leg of the double came in the first race the Grade 3 Alder Hey Hurdle over 2m4f and with the news that Jess Glynne is gong to be dong a summer concert here it was one for the coincidence bets as Rather Be showed that Aintree is the one place he would rather be as he paid his owners back for his four faults after unseating early in the Martin Pipe C/J Hurdle at Cheltenham just getting the edge over Clondaw Kaempfer whose mistake at the last cost him his chance. 

The Worlds End paid back his connections following his fall at Cheltenham when getting to the business end as he hung on to land the Grade 1 Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle over 3m under Adrian Heskin for Tom George, ridden up with the pace he went for home off the final bend and the judges line just came up in time as Beyond Conceit and Debece chased him right up to the end, This was his second win at Graded level and he could be aimed at the big staying hurdles unless he goes novice chasing. 

The Worlds End


Finally in a wide open looking Grade 2 Bumper over 2m1f, Champion jockey elect Richard Johnson who bizarrely has no ride in the big one landed his first win of the meeting as Lalor whose previous three runs in bumpers have all been at Wincanton put in a polished performance from a very nice looks horse in second place,Enniscoffey Oscar. 

So two top days of jumps racing comes to an end. 

Tomorrow sees the Grand National and like everyone else who loves jump racing I wish all horses and jockeys a safe journey and hope they all come back and sound. 

Next weekend we go to Haydock for Challenger Finals Day. 

Aintree Races,Randox Health Grand National Festival Day One,Thursday 6th April 2017

New year,new sponsor but still the same races as the national hunt carnival rolled into Merseyside for the first of three excellent days of jump racing at Aintree. 

Four Grade One races complemented by a fiercely competitive two mile handicap chase,a Grade Two Mares’ Bumper and of course the feature race over the big green monsters that make up the Grand National course which being Thursday is the Foxhunters over 2m5f. 

The main highlight of the day was without doubt Lizzie Kelly gaining some well deserved compensation on Tea For Two as she edged out the much loved Cue Card by a neck to land the Grade One Betway Bowl Chase over 3m1f, switched off early Lizzie picked the field off one at a time and kept him working right to the line, this was his first win going left,Hopefully we should see him next season at Haydock in the Betfair Chase where hopefully he will meet up with the usual protagonists, Cue Card was gallant in defeat,Smad Place was back in third.  

Silviniaco Conti finished down the pack and has now been retired. 

Tea For Two and Lizzie Kelly


JP McManus landed a double up as his two odds on shots both duly obliged as expected, first up Triumph Hurdle winner Defi Du Seuil put in a workmanlike shift to land the Doombar 4yo hurdle,probably not as flashy as his Cheltenham wins he easily saw off Divin Bere and now goes for his summer holidays before being aimed no doubt at the Champion Hurdle unless connections fancy a go at chasing with him. 

Defi Du Seuil and Barry Geraghty


Buveur D’Air supplemented his Champion Hurdle success by following up in the Betway Aintree Hurdle over 2m4f, stamina doubts were never brought into question here and he led home a 1-2 for JP as Mytentoryours stayed on for second place past regular North West visitor and former winner of this race The New One, Buveur D’Air had been chasing until two starts back when Nicky Henderson decided to go back hurdling and that has proved to be the best decision of the season. 

Buveur D’Air and Barry Geraghty


In the opener,the Manifesto Novices’ Chase over 2m4f, Flying Angel who had his chance at Cheltenham blown by a fallen horse bringing him to a virtual halt got some karma in return but had to shake off the attentions of Cloudy Dream which he did by just over a length, this looked a useful enough race and while a few didn’t show their true its well worth keeping an eye on it for next season. 

The feature race over the National fences saw the amateur riders do battle in the Foxhunters’ and all eyes were on previous dual scorer of this race On The Fringe but at the age of 12 it looked like Old Father Time has caught up with him and he was pulled up, at the business end though Dineur last years runner up went one better as he battled on up the run in taking full use of a mistake by long time leader Darwins Fox which relegated him back to fifth spot. 

Dineur came into the race off the back of a recent second at Chepstow and has good course form to his name but the real star of the race for many was the 15yo Big Fella Thanks who has ran many good races over these fences without actually winning,third this afternoon he still retains all his enthusiasm for the game. 

Katie Walsh took a nasty fall at The Chair and had to be taken to hospital for a check on her arm. 

After not quite getting on top in the first race trainer Malcolm Jefferson landed a big coup for northern jumping as Double W’s bounced back from a poor Cheltenham run to land the 2m Red Rum Chase in a thrilling finish from Theinval, Double W’s clearly appreciated the drop back down in trip and won here on his highest winning mark of 139, he looks to have plenty more to offer still. 

In the finale, The Nickell Coin Mares’ Bumper we had the battle of the roses, not as in Lancashire v Yorkshire at cricket but Dame Rose showing all heart to fend off Oscar Rose, this is another race that will throw up plenty of nice winners next season. 

So plenty of good racing this afternoon,class act of the day was Buveur D’Air  without doubt and he will aimed at next years Champion Hurdle no doubt. 

Tea For Two was the main story of the day,breaking his left handed duck and has to be taken seriously as a Gold Cup contender.  

Ladies Day tomorrow,a real sight for sure!

Till then it’s goodbye.