Aintree Races, Sunday 27th October 2019, Virgin Bet Old Roan Chase Day

Bihan’s Sunny Afternoon

At the beginning of a potentially big week for the Brian Ellison yard, things got off to the ideal start as Forest Bihan picked up the first major prize of the season in the Grade 2 Monet’s Garden Old Roan Chase.

Despite the race having a small but still decent field including the popular chaser Frodon and one of last seasons top novice chasers in Kalashnikov, Forest Bihan had plenty in hand in a race which had six of the scheduled sixteen fences being omitted due to the low sun which always affects this meeting each year when its a clear and sunny day.

Coming into the last furlong or so both Forest Bihan and Kalashnikov were staring each other in the eye before the winners experience came to the fore and he forged on to record a nice victory, as for his next target he could possobly go to Cheltenham next month for the BetVictor Gold Cup or maybe Ascot to have a go against Altior over 2m5f.

Kalashnikov lost nothing in defeat and will have learnt plenty from this first run in open company, whilst he is much better going left handed that does limit options over here but the sky is still the limit with him and Amy Murphy may even think about dropping him back to two miles for Cheltenham next month and even send him over to Ireland to see what suitable races are available for him at Leopardstown,Naas and Navan but ultimately the Ryanair and Melling Chases will be the main target for him.

Photo courtesy of Lois Davis

Burton Gives Hemmings Perfect Weekend

No one would have believed that since New Years Day 2018 that Burtons Well would see the racecourse, No one could have dreamed that the form book was being scrutinised by Venetia Williams to declare him on Friday, Few people even considered the possibility of him coming back but minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded the 3m1f Veterans’ Chase as a race with envious eyes and slowly and surely Charlie Deutsch drew his riding plans against the rest of the field in the colours of Trevor Hemmings.

The chances of Burtons Well winning werent quite 1,000,000-1, in fact he was returned at 11-2 as he romped home in the contest, travelling nicely in rear he made good headway and landed in the lead clearing away from Killaro Boy on the run up to the last fence to give the Herefordshire based trainer a tidy winner at the home of the Grand National.

On only his tenth career start he was still unexposed despite being a 10yo and although he has had problems in the past something still lies within to keep racing, he may be heading to Sandown for the final in the New Year or something like the Classic Chase at Warwick or another decent staying handicap will be a target for him

Trevor Hemmings was on the score sheet over half an hour later as Stoney Mountain hit the summit under champion jockey Richard Johnson by winning the feature 2m4f handicap hurdle for trainer Henry Daly.

Already a course winner at this meeting last season, Stoney Mountain kept good company before finding the potato race at the Festival a bit too much but down in trip and on his handicap debut off 134 he should be in for another good season, he will end up over fences eventually but for now the smaller obstacles will be enough.

Alcazar Rules

Trainer Fergal O’Brien may prefer cakes at the stables these days as opposed to crying at the discotheque and in this afternoons opening race he had to wait for the judge to announce Imperial Alcazar as the winner of the 2m4f maiden hurdle.

A tasty looking race on paper it proved to be just so as the winner had a real ding dong battle up the Aintree straight with the Evan Williams trained Coconut Splash with the pair passing the post in unison which took quite a bit of time to seperate no doubt causing judge Nick Bostock to reach for the strongest magnifying glass available to sort out the pixels, both the winner and runner up are ones to follow.

Back in third came hurdling debutant Big Bad Bear from Nicky Richards stable who was running on towards the end and is one to keep an eye for when sent over much further than this.

Round Up.

Some decent racing then and despite the low sun issue in the Old Roan, a good family crowd in a mix of tweed and halloween outfits enjoyed a Sunday at the races with plenty of younger racegoers being paddock side for Bryony who was mobbed as she came down the steps to be reunited with Frodon.

The low sun at this meeting will always cause problems, maybe next year the course and BHA can look into an earlier start for this race so the full complement of 16 fences can get jumped.

Next weekend we head to the two day Charlie Hall Chase meeting all being well, please do join me for that.

Carlisle Races, Thursday 17th October 2019

Jonjo Jr Has The X Factor

It may be the time of year when Simon Cowell persuades the dwindling viewers with more money than sense to vote on his continuasly tacky talent shows but hitting the right notes at Carlisle this afternoon was Jonjo O’Neill Jr as he gave a fantastic ride to the 7yo Pop Rockstar when landing the afternoon’s feature three mile steeplechase.

What looked a competitive race paper proved to be just so with the eight runners who went to post all holding some semblance of a chance with a mile to travel but Jonjo Jr kept his cards his chest and led over the last from Irish raider Aasleagh Dawn who ran a very honest race to the end.

Still a 7yo Pop Rockstar was making only his seventh start over fences and going in off 130 certainly gives his dad a headache as he is clearly improving but now wether he goes for another race or saves him for the Challenger Finals in April and in the meantime run him off his hurdles mark of 120?

Pop Rockstar

Frank Does It His Way

Lucinda Russell’s journey back up to Kinross will have been much quicker after saddling a double on the day, Methodtothemadness landed one of the novice hurdles but Le Frank was in top form as he took the two mile handicap chase.

Twelve went to post in a race which was ran at a decent clip but it can often pay to hold up around here and Blair Campbell (3) got the tactics spot on to run away picking up prize money just shy of five thousand pounds.

Relatively lightly raced for a 7yo he will certainly be aimed for the Northern Lights Two Mile Chase final at Kelso in March and he will have a live chance should he be kept sound come spring time.

Iolani Teaches Them A Lesson

Local winners are always welcome to any racecourse and Penrith based Dianne Sayer left Carlisle with a beaming smile as Iolani stayed on in determined fashion when picking up one of the divisions of the 2m4f handicap hurdle under improving conditional Danny McMenemin.

A three time winner in October last season this is clearly his time of year so it could be a case of striking while the iron is still hot and get him turned out again before the end of the month, he came here fit from a couple of runs on the flat making light of his mark of 108, back in second place came Romeo Brown who was staying on making rapid progress towards the finish, he has a good future ahead of him as the season goes on.


Round Up

A decent afternoon at Carlisle and despite the early start a good sized crowd turned up for what was a nice card to ease into the jumps season.

Carlisle race again next Thursday afternoon but for us our next port of call all being well will be Aintree next Sunday afternoon for the Grade 2 Monets Garden Old Roan Chase.

After that we head from Merseyside to Yorkshire for the two day Charlie Hall meeting which is when for many the day when the season really hits top stride.

Till then, Goodbye.