Haydock Park, Saturday 18th December 2021, Virgin Bet Tommy Whittle Chase Day

After an enforced absence from last years meeting due to the Tier system which meant due to the boundary lines of Greater Manchester just ending before the gates at Haydock Park which meant entry was denied, your intrepid reporter was spending the last Saturday before Christmas watching Manchester League Football in Tyldesley, Thankfully it was back to normal (well normalish) this year as Tommy Whittle Chase Day became the traditional last meeting before Christmas yet again

Perfect Prescription For Doctor

Redemption at Christmas can often occur as Ebenezer Scrooge will most definitely testify and for Dr Richard Newland he had the same feelings as Enqarde romped home under Charlie Hammond to land the Tommy Whittle Chase after falling in the same race last year.

In what looked a competitive race on paper with sixteen runners facing the starter over the extended 3m1f trip they began to thin out like the Christmas gravy towards the business end and while many eyes were on Remastered who was looking for compensation after his crunching fall at Newbury in the Ladbrokes Trophy he couldn’t shrug off the attentions of Enqarde who was getting plenty weight and began to pull away from the last fence.

Enqarde does seem to like Haydock and may come back next month for the Peter Marsh and the National Trial in February, he will probably not head to Aintree this season so something like the Midlands National might be more up his street.

Remastered just found the extra couple of furlongs a bit far but had a nice race in him somewhere, something like the Premier Chase at Kelso might be more up his street and maybe he might benefit a bit more dropped down in trip and could be an ideal Topham horse.

Haute Estime In High Esteem

A real home nations battle in the Abram Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle saw the Salitre fly high over Haydock as the Lucinda Russell trained Haute Estime just hung on from the fast finishing Nina The Terrier to land this Listed event.

In what looked a fair but not spectacular looking race it looked set to be a Scottish-Welsh shootout as the winner had a real fight to over power the Evan Williams trained Current Mood who was still pitching in at the last but Hatue Estime showed real fight to get past her although Nina The Terrier was finally picking up speed in the last furlong and was unlucky not to mug the winner on the line.

The step up in trip seemed to suit her and this was a nice chance to pick up some black type, she should be aimed at more events at this level before going for a crack at the mares race at the Cheltenham Festival.

Haute Estime

Football Double On Merseyside

Former FA Cup winning manager Harry Redknapp wasn’t at Haydock but no doubt he celebrated back at home with a glass of something and a bowl of his favourite jam roly poly as Shakem Up’Arry put his Ffos Las fall firmly behind as he put in a quality round of jumping to break his chasing duck on just his second start over fences when he breezed up in the 2m handicap chase under Luca Morgan.

He was fairly good over hurdles but looks a natural over fences and will certainly build from this and is one to keep an eye on.

In the 2m3f handicap hurdle former Arsenal chairman Sir Chips Keswick had good reason to smile as Up For Parol benefited from a return to the smaller obstacles as he got the better of Stellar Magic in a proper grandstand finish where he eventually ran out a length and a half winner.

He didn’t seem to like the fences at Ffos Las and it looks like for the time being he’ll remain over timber and could be Lanzarotte bound in January although that would be the race at Kempton as opposed to a winter holiday.

Elsewhere Adrimel got his novice chase career back on the right track as he took full advantage of the 6lb he received in the 2m novice chase, he was a fluent hurdler last season and showed his class when he took the Leamington Novice Hurdle at Warwick in January, things didn’t go to plan at Exeter on his chasing debut but now he looks set to kick on from this and may return here in January for the G2 Altcar over 2m4f.

So the year of 2021 is almost at an end, and at the moment things are up in the air regarding life going on as normal due to the obvious but may i take this moment to wish you all a Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year too, touch wood we shall be back here on the 30th for The Last Fling raceday although that depends on the weather being kind and the L word not occuring from the government.

Till the next time, hopefully soon, Have a great Christmas and stay safe.

Aintree Races, Saturday 4th December 2021, Unibet Becher Chase Day

A very testing day for human and equines alike at Aintree with rain,cold and wind being thrown at all who attended for a top class afternoon of jump racing, Before racing began the course fell silent before the first race in tribute to 12yo girl Ava Green who sadly lost her life last week in Liverpool, May the angels be looking after her and her family in these tragic circumstances

Leopardess Leaps For Becher Glory

In a finish which was very reminiscent of tbe 1973 Grand National although on this occasion the one who was in front as they came down to the elbow actually held on, Snow Leopardess put in a beautiful round of jumping over these famous green spruce monsters to land the Becher Chase in an pulsating finish that befitted a race of this nature.

From the release of the orange knicker elastic out in the country there was plenty of pace on in testing conditions and she took the lead just after taking the Chair and Water Jumps, from that the mare sailed over the fences including a huge leap at Becher’s, her lead was being reduced quite markedly as Hill Sixteen dug in under Craig Nichol despite being out of the handicap by a few pounds but Aidan Coleman kept Snow Leopardess going all out as the line came up in time.

This was a performance that heated up the crowd who braved the elements to appreciate a high quality mare, wether or not she comes back in April is up for debate, Charlie Longsdon is certainly tempted although the owner isn’t as keen but she will have an entry and could get a nice weight but in all probability it might not happen.

Hill Sixteen ran a sound race in defeat and stayed on right towards the and looks more than likely to be here in April for the big one.

Footage from RTV, see https://www.racingtv.com/ to subscribe

Andrews On Cloud Nine

Arguably the most impressive performance of the day came in the Grade 2 Many Clouds Chase as Bridget Andrews gained one of her biggest career wins as she had a dream ride on  the Dan Skelton trained Protektorat who oozed class in the Aintree mud to land the spoils.

As expected the pace was solid from the outset with the 11yo warriors Native River and Wishing And Hoping trading blows like two boxers in the ring but Protektorat sat off it early and made up the ground before passing Native River after the cross fence from which it was a case of how far?

That turned out to be around twenty five lengths from the former Gold Cup winner who ran his heart out but had no match for the youth of today, Protektorat was outpaced early in last months Paddy Power at Cheltenham but ran on to show that three miles might be better for him and that showed to be bang on, The Gold Cup has been touted although now he is twice a winner here in Graded company possibly the Bowl over course and distance in April might be a more attainable target.

Dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll was pulled up after the first circuit and was never really travelling, he got a warm round of applause from the crowd to show their love and respect, he has nothing to prove now but wether or not his airline owning owner decides to keep running him is for his concience to decide.

Sea Sessions Shines Superbly

Irish trainer Ross O’Sullivan gained his first ever Aintree success in the training ranks with Sea Sessions who overcame choppy waters to arrive in winners berth number one at the winners enclosure dock as she landed the Juvenile Hurdke for Fillies.

On what looked a reasonable if not spectacular race on paper she came down the near side under Jonathan Burke and ran away from runner up Calvados at the end for an Irish 1-2-3-4, gaining some good black type in the process Sea Sessions will probably head to Leopardstown over Christmas unless connections decide to find a more suitable opportunity elsewhere.

Houghton Glory For Zambella

Zambella gave Nigel Twiston-Davies plenty to smile about as she put in a power packed punch of a performance to bag the rerouted Houghton Mares’ Chase which like the 2019 running was rerouted down the M6 from Carlisle after being abandoned last Sunday.

Making all under Daryl Jacob she jumped like a buck here to easily beat Annie Mc by just over five lengths, a country mile back in third was favourite Elimay who never seemed happy and struggled in the conditions, she can be forgiven for this.

The winner will almost certainly be aimed at the big mares event at the festival in March, she is a very likeable type and looks to have more big days ahead of her and it would be no surprise to see her try her luck in open company during the rest of the season unless she sticks to the mares races.

Round Up

This was arguably one of the toughest afternoons weather wise at Aintree, but the jockeys were very sensible especially in the fourth race a 2m4f handicap chase when only two finished and five horses all pulled up before the last after doing the right thing instead of continuing with their tired mounts.

Performance day certainly belongs to Snow Leopardess who jumped for fun over the big fences and was the first athlete either human or equine since Carrie Ford to be a mum winning a race over the National course.

Seeing Tiger Roll pulled up at the back in the Many Clouds Chase was a sad sight to see, he may have pulled the rabbit out of the hat over the years but surely now it is time to hang up the hat for the final time, he may yet prove everyone wrong but he deserves to put his hooves up and enjoy the rest of his days away from the racecourse, the crowd down below showed their appreciation in what was a touching moment of love and respect.

Haydock Park, Wednesday 1st December 2021, Jewson Raceday.

The Lion King Regains His Pride

You certainly could feel the love at Haydock this afternoon as the wide-eyed warrior Blaklion became King again and came into the winners enclosure as did the other three placed horses to warm applause and affection from the midweek crowd.

At a time when racing could do with some happy news going into the Christmas month Blaklion showed that the old flame still had some embers burning into the twilight years of his career as he landed the 3m1f Veterans’ Chase by just over a length from Aso on very heavy ground.

Having not won since the Becher Chase in 2017 and had some stable transfers since Darren Yates bought him which didn’t quite work, a bit like Lionel Messi moving to PSG, he jumped around Haydock like a horse falling in love with steeplechasing again, down to 131 this was only his second win in a handicap of the ten races he has won in his career, he will probably head to Sandown in January for the final and he could have a say despite the trip possibly not being ideal for him.

One horse who could be very much in with a chance will be Aso who ran a cracking race to be second, he looks to stay three miles at this level and Sandown in the soft in January will be a match made in heaven.

Blaklion and Harry Skelton

Best Of The Rest

Lucinda Russell has a very good string of horses at her Kinross yard and Readysteadybeau looks like one to keep an eye on as he showed that stamina is his forte when taking the 3m Maiden Hurdle, fouth over 2m4f at Ayr recently he is surely destined for better things after this and could go to Doncaster in January for the River Don or the Potato Race Trial back here in February but he will make a nice chaser next season.

Kiltealy Briggs in the McNeill colours finally won his first steeplechase when landing the 2m5f Novice Chase, only four went to post but it was a tight race on paper and he had a fight towards the end against Mint Condition who kept him honest, the winner should be ok at handicap level.

Kiltealy Briggs and Adrian Heskin

Finally the Donald McCain run keeps on running as A Different Kind made it four from four this season as he readily won the 2m Introductory Hurdle, Already a winner of two bumpers and a novice hurdle all at Sedgefield, He is only a 4yo and in good hands so should offer more in time.

A Different Kind and Brian Hughes

Only a brief summary and provided the opening bit doesn’t lead to any copyright infringements from Sir Tim Rice we shall be off to Haydock on Saturday for the Becher Chase.