Haydock Park, Monday 30th December 2019, The Last Fling Raceday

Lord Reigns Over Haydock

Nine days after his emphatic Tommy Whittle win here at Haydock, Lord Du Mensil once again became everyone’s Christmas cracker as he followed up with a very easy win in the Last Fling Chase over the marathon trip of 3m4f .

In conditions which werent as testing as in previous meetings here but still tough none the less, Lord Du Mesnil jumped out with the same intention as last time to make all which he duly did getting a few of them off the snaffle mid race and in a race which saw six start only three of them completed this long distance test.

Things are certainly clicking with Lord Du Mesnil at the moment and still looks a horse ahead of the handicapper, he looks likely to get a National entry but as he will be only a 7yo come 2020 that may be too soon so while a return visit here in February might be ideal he would probably be aimed at the Midlands or Scottish Nationals as his big end of season targets.

Last months course winner Perfect Candidate came second and debspite approaching 13, he still retains his love for the game.

Jewel Hits Bookies For Six

Nick Alexander is always a trainer to watch at Haydock and with his daughter Lucy in the saddle they set back off back up the M6 to Kinneston with some New Year dreams in both their heads after Ebony Jewel ran out a nice winner of the 2m novice hurdle, although he had a bit of a battle with First Lord Du Cuet up the straight he rallied under Lucy Alexander to land the spoils by three parts of a length.

This race was a qualifier for the EBF and while thats a decent prize in its own right it’s possible that his trainer may want to target a local prize so something like the Festival trials at Musselburgh or the Premier Hurdle at Kelso might be under consideration but Ebony Jewel certainly looks like sparkling plenty more times.

Photo courtesy of Steve Mullington

Buster Robs Again

It’s fair to say that Mattie Batchelor has already improved the security on the cupboard which as his ‘Jump Ride Of The Year Award’ it because there is every chance that Jack Tudor is currently planning a Todd Unctious style attempt to nick it after his amazing ride on the David Pipe trained Buster Edwards who came from another parrish in a ride which has to be seen to be believed when landing the opening 3mile Handicap Hurdle for Conditional Jockeys.

On what looked a competitive race on paper, Buster Edwards was already under the kosh from halfway but thanks for Jack Tudor’s persuasion and never say die atitiude he came thundering home on the long run it to finish like Hello Youmzain did in September’s Sprint Cup.

Without doubt one of the standout rides of the season so far, Jack Tudor is one jockey clearly going places.

Bee Gets The Honey

Finally Fergal O’Brien looks to have a very nice prospect on his hands in the name of Ask A Honey Bee who left all his owners and backers buzzing as he won his second bumper on the bounce in the finale.

On what looked a nice race on paper with some good sorts on show, last months Southwell scorer ran away in emphatic style here finishing 11 lenghts of the runner up Kiriglote, this was as strong a bumper performance as youre likely to seel all season and looks set to take his chances at either the Cheltenham or Aintree in the spring, he should make into a very nice novice hurdler next season for the Cheltenham based master of cakes and jumpers.

Final round up

Another racing year comes to an end, in what’s been a very enjoyable one going from as far north as Carlisle to as south as Epsom we have been treated to some of the finest that this sport can offer.

Personal highlights for me include seeing Pinatubo and Defoe wining at Epsom, Battaash at Haydock and York, Stradivarius at York and last but no means least Tiger Roll with his second Grand National victory and who knows maybe come April we may see history in the making.

Until next time, may i wish you all a very Happy New Year for 2020

Haydock Park, Saturday 21st December 2019, Betway Tommy Whittle Chase Day

Hobsons’s Choice For Lord Prooves Right

Owner Paul Porter will have enjoyed driving home for Christmas yesterday after his Lord Du Mesnil put in a top quality round of jumping under Paul O’Brien for Cheltenham based trainer Richard Hobson.

From the release of the tapes he set out in front and never saw another rival over the stamina sapping 3m1f trip on heavy ground coming home plenty clear from runner up Calipso Collonges.

Three weeks ago he broke his maiden tag at Newcastle and finally looks to be going the right way, his next port of call after a little rest according to his trainer will be the 4 mile marathon Eider Chase back at Gosforth Park in mid February and looks well ahead of his race winning mark here of 127, soon to turn 7 he could be a Grand National horse in time.

Desaray Strikes In Abram

Phil Kirkby has another useful mare by the looks of things as Desaray Girl fought tenaciously up the long Haydock run it to nick the Listed Abram Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle from Rosie And Millie right on the line in a fairly competitive looking event.

Rosie And Millie tried to make all and was still ahead on the run in but Desaray Girl fought like a tiger here and showed real grit, longer trips look to be her forte here so expect her to be kept to 2m4f and maybe further, only a 4yo she has plenty more still to come.

Bingley Bells All The Way

After a slow start to the season things have certainly cranked up a notch or two for the Sue Smith yard and Yorkshire’s finest and most famous couple headed back to the White Rose side of fhe Pennines with a couple of nice winners.

First up Joke Dancer certainly had plenty smiling faces rewarded for keeping the faith as he picked up the 2m Handicap Chase, although he went out to the right at a few fences and nearly did a copycat version of what Diego Du Charmil did at Ascot last month at the second last he readily routted a fair field by 11 lenghts ahead of Chambard, he looks another Haydock specialist.

The stables other win came in the last race of the afternoon when Captain Moirette took the salute from the crowd in the 2m3f Handicap Hurdle, back over smaller obstacles after a couple of fair runs over fences this did his confidence the world of good and should be back over the larger jumps next time, a big grey horse he has more to offer one would think.

Another year of racing slowly coming to an end, we race again here at Haydock on Monday 30th December on what is always an enjoyable family day of racing designed to blow the cobwebs away.

From myself may i wish you all a Merry Christmas and enjoy the holidays

Aintree Races, Saturday 7th December 2019, Randox Health Becher Chase Day

Another Walk For Mill

Let there be no doubt that the Aintree Factor really does exsist as Walk In The Mill broke history by becoming the first dual winner of the Becher Chase as just like last year under James Best he romped to victory over these famous green spruce fences.

A quality field lined up for this Grade 3 staying test which was run at a good clip as you would expect for a race of this nature and Walk In The Mill sat in the pack of the early exchanges before picking up the lead at the second last from where James Best simply kept him up to his work, he relishes these fences and will be in the shake up come April.

Runner up Kimberlite Candy ran a very sweet race back in second place staying on all the time under Richie McLernon, expect him to be laid out for the National too as he would have a great chance and should get a fair weight when they get announced come February.

Johnson Sails Away On River

Native River began his campaign in what became nothing more than a glorified schooling session in the end as he had a a gentle Saturday afternoon potter around the Mildmay course to land the Grade 2 Many Clouds Chase.

Over the first three fences with old adversary Might Bite it looked like we were due a proper repeat of the 2018 Gold Cup, sadly at the fourth fence he decided to shove Nico De Boinville out the side door which left Native River plenty clear from Black Corton and Outlander who had their own private battle as he sauntered home by 33 lenghts.

This was a nice confidence boost for Native River who could head to Chepstow now but also if the ground at Cheltenham came up very soft then we could have a new version of Kauto v Denman if he were to take on Lostintranslation in the Gold Cup then a return to Aintree for the National in which he would carry top weight no doubt is also the main reported target.

Might Bite does need a confidence race now, you couldn’t rule out a return to hurdles maybe with his hurdle mark of 148 quite exploitable if the correct race is found.

Hogan The Hero

Jamie Snowden’s horses continue in great form and Hogan’s Height certainly reached new heights by landing the other race over the big greens, the Grand Sefton Chase.

Fourteen went to post and he jumped away nicely staying in the pack before making headway across the Melling Road to swoop around the outside to over the second last from where he increased his lead and ran away a very impressive winner.

Fair to say that April’s Topham Trophy will be his main target from here as he seemed to enjoy this test and although that race can be slightly classier than this one, he does have that Aintree factor which is always worth a few pounds extra.

Best Of The Rest

Jockey Tom Cannon had a day to remember with three winners, most notably with Hogan’s Height but also with Midnights’ Gift who won the 3yo Fillies’ Listed Hurdle after taking full advantage from challenger Galice Macalo crashing out at the final flight of hurdles.

Already successful at Fakenham on her hurdling debut she looks a useful recruit to jumping and with a flat rating of 78 means she could be one to mix the codes when the bad weather comes, Galice Macalo showed good improvement and despite the fall has a good future too for the Jane Williams team.

Finally Carlisle’s loss was Aintree’s gain with the Listed Houghton Mares’ Chase being transferred from last Sunday’s abandoned meeting and Nicky Henderson will have been delighted with Casablanca Mix running out a ready winner here over the 2m4f trip to supplement her Summer Plate win back in July, despite being a bit unsettled in the early part she served up the good when needed, time between races in essential for her but another black type win will been very much welcome here