Haydock Park, Saturday 22nd May 2021, Casumo Temple Stakes Day

Finally after a long fifteen month absence during which the world as we know it had a bit of fisticuffs with a virus that could potentially have wiped humanity off the face of the earth, racegoers finally returned to the North West as Haydock Park opened the gates to a decent seven race card on day two of the second May meeting.

Beach Asscends To Temple Summit

John Quinn has been no stranger to the Haydock winners enclosure in recent years and this afternoon proved no exception as his 4yo filly Liberty Beach put in a power packed performance to land the feature G2 Temple Stakes over 5f, straight out from the stalls she was head down and went through the soft Haydock ground at full pelt, she did have to fend off the attentions of Ainsdale in the last half furlong or so but the line just came in time win by a diminishing neck.

Liberty Beach,2021 Temple Stakes

She will most definitely head off to the Royal meeting next month for a face off with Battaash in the Kings Stand and while she has a few lengths to make up on him from Goodwood last year she will give a good account of herself but ground wise Liberty Beach definitely prefers some juice in the ground, Longchamp in October will also be another main aim for her in the autumn.

Ainsdale back in second was very unlucky not to get up on the line just going down by a neck and can certainly take a hand in the big sprints this year although going off this race he will be far better at 6f.

Rohaan Hits The Note In Sandy Lane

To those probably of a more younger generation Rohaan is a musician from Manchester whose links to his very good tunes can be found here in this link https://linktr.ee/rohaanmusic

On the equine front Rohaan was very lucky not have been robbed of the Sandy Lane Stakes as he made it a second turf win of the season just hanging on from the fast finishing Dragon Symbol in a thrilling finish.

David Evans is always someone who can produce a quality horse when given one and Rohaan was following up from his recent win in the G3 Pavilion Stakes at Ascot, sadly he isn’t eligible for the Commonwealth Cup due to being a gelding but other options will certainly be available later on with possibilities of the Wokingham and the Jersey Stakes being mentioned in dispatches.

Rohaan, 2021 Sandy Lane Stakes

Jack Bowls Perfect End In Bowl

Haydock’s Silver Bowl is always a competitive race for three year olds and this years proved to be just that as Roger Varian landed his second winner of the meeting here with Raadobarg who made his handicap debut a winning one with an excellent win in the race, always going kindly in the heavy ground he put the race to bed in the last two furlongs keeping runner up Seasett firmly at bay.

Already a winner of two novice events at Leicester and Thirsk this term Raadobarg is clearly worth more than this winning mark of 88 and will be in the mid 90s for sure when he gets reassessed, Royal Ascot looks to be his next stop for the Brittania should the rain keep itself in the UK and still being an entire some black type will be sought after too.

Raadobarg, Silver Bowl winner

As for the best of the rest, Oisin Murphy rode a double on the day in the first two races, in the opening 1m4f handicap for 3yo he rode Classic Lord to victory in what looked a tight race then thirty minutes later performing miracles to get Molls Memory on the line in the 7f handicap and in the staying handicap over 2m jockey Jason Hart who was successful in the Temple Stakes landed the spoils on Frankenstella.

For sports fans from this part of the world though it was just good to be back on a racecourse again, it will be a long way till full normality is resumed but with the vaccination programme going great guns at the moment then come mid summer more people will be allowed to dig out the summer dresses and smart suits which for most of 2020 were all stuck in hibernation and saw less daylight than Count Dracula on a summer holiday in Ibiza!

Providing the weather stays good after a deluge that sent the local animals down to the local DIY centre to start building a big ship and put an advert out for experienced sailors, we will be back at Haydock next Saturday afternoon, till then goodbye and it’s just sooo good to be back!

Wetherby Races,Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase Meeting,Friday 28th & Saturday 29th October 2016

Wetherby’s two day Charlie Hall Chase meeting came to a glorious conclusion on Saturday afternoon as Welsh trainer Rebecca Curtis stole the show with Irish Cavalier as he showed that younger legs were the order of the day to just hang on from veterans Menorah and Cue Card in a thrilling finish at the ever popular A1 course to land the Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase, 5th in last seasons Gold Cup he went to land a hurdle at Punchestown and looks to have found significant improvement during his summer holiday, only 7 he looks likely to head to Haydock next month for the Betfair chase before being readied for Cheltenham, Menorah defied his 11yo status to run a cracker in defeat while the star of last season Cue Card travelled well but giving 10lb to the winner was always going to prove tough to do but he will be much better next month when back on level terms.

 

Irish Cavalier & Rebecca Curtis


Irish Cavalier will more than likely miss the worst of the winter heavy ground but this was a big day for Rebecca Curtis and new stable jockey Jonathan Moore who both look to have a partnership with which to kick on with now.

 
Elsewhere on a decent card we saw Silsol take an intriguing renewal of the Grade 2 West Yorkshire Hurdle over 3m as he finished over two and three quartet lengths ahead of Native River, always at his best fresh Silsol won a couple of novice chases last season but looks like he will be trying to emulate Big Buck’s now in the staying hurdle division, next months Long Walk at Newbury is the plan for him, Native River in second was using this as a Hennessy prep and he will come on a ton for this and will have a live chance in the big Newbury handicap, Favourite Ballyoptic was hard at work but still had a squeak when he fell at the last flight but thankfully he got up to applause from a loving and caring NH crowd, hopefully this won’t have dented his confidence. 

Silsol having a well earned drink


Jockey Bridget Andrews gained her biggest win to date on Stephanie Frances in the Listed Mares’ Hurdle over 2m, a hold up mare she was given a well timed ride to land the OLBG sponsored contest by just half a length to Midnight Jazz and looks likely to be kept to her own sex this season,she stays 2m4f and one feasible target could be the Warwick race in February over 2m3f in the new year. 

Stephanie Frances


In the minor races on the card Double W’s from Malcolm Jefferson’s stable took the opening 1m7f Nov Hcap Chase and followed up his recent Carlisle win, he is thriving this autumn and looks more than feasible that his 135 mark will shoot over the 140s after this. 

Ozzie The Oscar ran out an impressive winner of the 2m Novice Hurdle finishing six lengths ahead of debutant Zipple Back, both will make into good horses,the winner jumped well and his experience helped,he will be interesting to follow in handicaps now,Zipple Back was 9th in the Aintree bumper and should strip fitter for this but he did get in close at a few and should go on from here and pick a race up easily. 

Zeroshadesofgrey gave Royal Vacation an 11 length beating in the 3m Novice Chase,the winner jumped well in the main and staying races look his thing, Royal Vacation was beaten fair and square in this. 

The finale saw ex Bloomfields/Godolphin runner Blue Rambler win on his debut for new trainer Ian Williams in the 2m3f Handicap Hurdle, sixth in the Cesarewitch on the flat he made a mockery of his 122 mark which looks to be raises quite a bit after this, Three miles will be no problem you would think and this is a race with a bit of a history behind it as former World Hurdle winner More Of That took this a couple of seasons ago. 

Pulling up after the last


In the best of Friday’s action trainer Paul Nicholls got his only other winner here with the ultra game Cliffs Of Dover in the Listed Wensleydale Hurdle over 2m which was his fourth win of the month, clearly thriving on his racing he is enjoying the jumping game but it’s a long way until the Triumph. 

Indian Stream landed the 2m3f Listed Chase under a fierce ride by Noel Fehily for Neil Mulholland, despite being a bit tricky at the last she kept on well to land her fifth chase win on her eight start, the mares chase series could be a target for her now and she has won over three miles before, she will certainly be a good jumping broodmare in the future. 

Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies had a poor Saturday but had a Fab Friday with Scotchtown running out an impressive winner of the 2m3f Novice Hurdle,the step up in trip on his hurdles debut proved the right call and he will pay his way and Robinshill came back from his summer hols in fine form as he made all to land the 2m Handicap Hurdle making a mockery of his mark of 115. 

Scotchtown



All in all two excellent days of racing in Yorkshire as the National Hunt season well and truly cranks up a few gears now. 

Next up will be the two day Betfair Chase festival at Haydock, until then Goodbye. 

Wattspots 
Zipple Back,4yo trained by Alan King was 2nd in the 2m Nov Hdle,looks a winner in the making and should land a race next time out. 

Blaklion,7yo from Nigel Twiston-Davies,got outpaced at the business end of the Charlie Hall but will improve and last seasons RSA winner jumped very well in the main. 

Nietzsche,3yo from Brian Ellison was runner up in the Wensleydale and should make into a useful juvenile hurdler as the progresses, would be no shock to see him run in the big 3yo hurdle at Doncaster in December. 

Aintree Grand National Meeting Day One,Thursday 4th April 2013

Four Grade Ones,two big field handicaps and a twenty five runner Hunter Chase were the order of the day for day one of this three day jumps bonanza in Merseyside and weather wise it was a mixture of sun with a bit of cold and windy conditions when up in the stands viewing the races. 

 
Today was Aintree Hurdle day which was transferred from Saturday to give it the centrepiece it so richly deserves and the 2013 running was a race which on paper looked as good and as strong as ever, crowd wise over 30,000 turned up and what a treat for the faithful national hunt die hards and the once a year racegoers who give this meeting their main focal point of the year. 
 
Also today was the first day of racing with the new design of fence on the Grand National course which is a make up of the traditional spruce from the Lake District and a new plastic core which replaces the old style timber to give a more forgiving yet respectful fence that hopefully won’t cause damage to any horses or jockeys. 
 
2.00 Matalan Anniversary Juvenile Hurdle 2m 110 yards,9 Flights
 
The first Grade One of the day and a useful renewal of this race albeit with no Our Connor in the line up but this year the geldings where firmly put in their place by the filly L’Unique who gave trainer Alan King his fourth runner in this race with victories in 2007,09,12 and this filly won well,sitting behind the pace set by Irish Saint and went on to hold off the very progressive Runswick Royal who ran a seasonal best on his fourth start over hurdles with Irish Saint back in third and Flaxen Flare in fourth. 
 
The winner could well be targeting the Mares Hurdle next season providing she likes the step up in trip and Runswick Royal may well be Fighting Fifth bound in November as he is trained in Newcastle but before could have a crack at the Swinton Hurdle or maybe the Scottish Summer Champion at Perth in August and Irish Saint could be one to take in the 4yo Chases early in November at Warwick. 
 
2.35 Betfred Bowl Chase 3m1f,19 fences
 
Another Grade One here and a race with many questions such as could Silviniaco Conti bounce back from his Gold Cup fall and will any Festival form hold up in what can often be a real grave yard for favourites
 
As it happened it was Ireland who took this years running just like last year albeit with a horse at a much shorter price in First Lieutenant who helped frank the form for Cue Card tomorrow with a battling victory by overtaking Menorah on the run in after being in second at the last fence hold on with Silviniaco Conti back in third after being held up and probably could have ran better had he been more closer to the pace. 
 
First Lieutenant has kept good form but this was his first win since 2011 and could well be a good type for the Gold Cup next season should he be aimed but will spend most of next season in Ireland no doubt, Menorah is better at 2m4f but ran a lovely race and Silviniaco Conti has probably had enough and will be back next season at Haydock in November. 
 
3.10 The John Smiths Aintree Hurdle 2m4f, 11 flights. 
 
A third Grade One and this race which on paper looked a high quality renewal with horse that ran in the Champion Hurdle doing battle over further and even though only two of the nine runners had won over this trip it was a race to savour for national hunt fans.  
 
The new kid on the block was The New One who won the 2m4f Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham and was having his first crack at dining at the top table but it he went down but not without a fight as Zarkandar fought him tooth and nail up the run in and after making almost all the running to win in what was a titanic battle up the Aintree straight and the sort of finish that makes you realise why you follow this sport in the first place. 
 
Zarkandar had a real race here and this will be it for his season and next year could be taking them on in the 2m4f division where as The New One will probably end up Champion Hurdle bound and will certainly shake them up a bit and will not be out of place in that league. 
 
Thousand Stars was back in third and ran is usual honest and gutsy race, he may well end up at Auteuil in May while Oscar Whisky has done enough to warrant a summer holiday,Countrywide Flame never picked up but he has plenty good races left in him and Raya Star who took a crashing fall got up safely. 
 
3.40 The John Smiths Fox Hunters Chase, 2m5f 110 yards,18 fences. 
 
Just the Twenty Five for this years running and the first chance to see the new fences in action as these amateur riders had their once a year spin over the big greens going at the usual good gallop from when the tapes went up. 
 
Now normally with these big jumps festivals we speak about the battle between England and Ireland but of course nothing is normal in racing and like Foinavon and Mon Mome it was a 100-1 winner but this time over Hadrians Wall and into Scotland as the 13yo veteran and Kelso specialist Tartan Snow rallied on the run in under Jamie Hamilton to defeat Cool Friend after a photo finish for trainer Stuart Coltherd in Selkirk. 
 
Being over the big fences their was a few events, firstly a false start which is nothing new at Aintree with four fallers and one unseated rider but sadly we did suffer the loss of the Ted Walsh trained Battlefront who was pulled up with four to jump and sadly died after suffering a heart attack but this is something that can happen at any race meeting and while it is of course such a shame it occurred and while I offer my commiserations to the owners and connections,the Walsh family themselves are real horse people and know how things like this can happen at any race meeting not just the ones over the Grand National fences. 
 
Cool Friend was unlucky to get beat but is a useful horse albeit a bit in and out while Warner back in fourth is only nine and can do better when going back up to three miles. 
 
Cloudy Lane ran in this as his last last race and has been retired,he was Donald McCains first ever winner at the Cheltenham Festival and deserves to put his hooves up and relax after doing his part for the McCain family. 
 
4.15 The Matalan.co.uk Red Rum Handicap Chase,2m, 12 fences
 
Always a tricky race,they go fast and furious in this and with Cue Card due to line up tomorrow the Colin Tizzards yard warmed up with the veteran 11yo Oiseau de Nui who has been placed three times in this race finally got his name in the number one spot by beating another older horse in the 10yo Tanks for That as a few major players in this race all ran below par, Kie who is only five for the McCain stable was well to the fore and was running an eye catching race. 
 
Its fair to say the winner is in the hey day of his career as is the runner up but Kie ran well up with the pace and will be better over a bit further and allowed to settle a bit more but he remains a horse with a lot more to give. 
 
Favourite Rebel Rebellion found this race a bit to much and was pulled up but he will be back as will Silver Roque who would prefer a much more softer surface than this. 
 
4.50 The Betfred Manifesto Novices Chase,2m4f, 16 fences 
 
The last Grade One on the card was won by Captain Conan who resumed winning ways after his flat run at Cheltenham here and did the job well enough despite idling on the run in to give Nicky Henderson another high quality 2m4f performer for next season, he has jumped well this season with all his wins being Grade One or Two so is a high quality steeplechaser and the only problem now will be where to place him especially is Sprinter Sacre wins the Melling tomorrow afternoon but next season is a long time away and his plan of campaign will be thought out but he is one to keep an eye on next season. 
 
Tap Night ran second and being an Ayr specialist will probably have another run in the Future Champion Novices before being put away but Lucinda Russell has a good warrior here and can fly the flag for Scotland in a lot of the big races next season. 
 
Back in third was Changing Times who will probably end up handicapping next season so will be interesting to see how he gets treated after this. 
 
5.25 The Silver Cross Handicap Hurdle Race, 3m 110 yards, 13 flights
 
Just the twenty one for this race with lots of potential horses for the future in the mix but the younger brigade were given a mighty kicking and they should all be thankful they are geldings because the way in which the winner Battle Group sluiced up if would have hurt them, this eight year old now in the care of Kevin Bishop won this race of a rating of 137 back in 2011 but was down to 131 this afternoon and the change of yard helped as this was his first start and gave Brendan Powell Jr his second winner of the day which takes him to be the top rider at the end of day one. 
 
Jetson who was well fancied from Ireland could not live with the pace of the winner and went down by 10 lengths with First Fandango back in third.  
 
Battle Group may go to Haydock next month for a 3m hurdle as will a few of these probably, of the rest I’d nominate Easter Day who ran on into 7th to go and be a decent novice chaser next season as he won the Sidney Banks Hurdle back in February and has a touch of class about him but probably found the extra half mile a bit too far today.  
 
So a day which promised so much did indeed live up to its billing for day one of this wonderful festival. 
 
The highlights for myself were walking the course before racing and taking some pictures of the fences including Bechers Brook,seeing top class jumps horses do battle and for me getting my photo with Clare Balding who is as lovely away from the camera as she is on it. 
 
Tomorrow is Ladies Day with the main highlight being the triple bill between Sprinter Sacre,Cue Card and Flemenstar in what will be the race of the season.  

 

Haydock Park,Jockey Club Grassroots Final Day,Saturday 30th March 2013

The last full jumps fixture of the 2012/13 season at Haydock today with the exception of the mixed Swinton Hurdle meeting in May and on paper it looked a very competitive card on this Easter Saturday and with Aintree just around the corner it was the big stables lesser lights who had the chance to get themselves a big payday and get noticed on what was a day with sun but still that little bit of cold from the last throws of winter. 

 
Today was also a family raceday with this being the Easter bank holiday weekend but thankfully all that was kept down in the Newton Stand so those of us who where their purely for the racing were not going to be annoyed by the entertainment laid on for the families who want a different kind of day at the races. 
 
The first race of the seven was the long distance Tim Molony Handicap Chase over 3m4f with twelve going to post and four of them had course form going into it and so it proved vital as previous course and distance winner Monsieur Cadou recorded a 10l victory from King Fontaine who was putting in a seasonal best on his fourth start of the campaign,back in third was Handy Andy who has only won three times all of them at Newbury but ran a fair race, The winner is a quality stayer and could be aimed at the Welsh National or Becher Chase next season and has the ability to run well in the National next season should he be aimed for it. 
 
Second race was a 2m4f Handicap Hurdle and was the final of the Jockey Club Grassroots Series Final for Hurdlers, just the nineteen for this and like last year it went to trainer Brian Ellison who again was mob handed with five and he took this with the 7yo Fleet Dawn who certainly benefitted from the crashing fall that Landscape took at the last flight of hurdles when getting involved with the finish and In turn brought down Cloudy Bob who was right behind with nowhere to go but down, this left Fleet Dawn who held on in a battle Master Benjamin up the run in to just hang on and collect the £24765 prize for first place, The Ellison yard also took third money with Mubrook who ran well on his first start over this longer trip and is worth keeping an eye on. 
 
All horses who fell in that race got up safely. 
 
Third race was the Levy Board Handicap Chase over 2m4f and a really good quality field went to post for this, After a poor show at the Cheltenham Festival it was a confidence boosting win for the Paul Nicholls stable with 6yo Cedre Bleu getting the prize in a pulsating finish with three in line at the last of the fifteen fences to hang on from the gallant mare Pepite Rose by the shortest of short heads in second with Cloudy Too who has been mentioned in previous reports this season back in an honourable third  This was a cracking finish and worth the entry fee alone, The winner took an Ascot Graduation Chase in December and after that fell at Chepstow so was having his first start in 84 days and was given a cracking ride by last years Grand National winning jockey Daryl Jacob and he must have had Deja Vu from twelve months ago as his mount held on to claim the loot, Pepite Rose is a lovely mare and deserves a big race and Cloudy Too is still improving and could be aimed at the Ayr or Perth festivals with another go at Three Miles next season being a distinct possibility. 
 
As for the winner he battled and fought tooth and nail up the run in and being a 6yo still has lots of racing in him. I can imagine the Paddy Power being an early season target and may be even better going up to Three Miles as time progresses.  
 
Fourth contest and it was a 2m6f Handicap Chase which was the steeplechase part of the Jockey Club Grassroots Series Final which went to the Northampton yard of Caroline Bailey with her stable star the 6yo Noble Legend under Andrew Thornton who was already a course winner over two furlongs shorter back in October and warmed up recently with a win at Southwell and fought off the attentions of veteran Patsy Finnegan to win by 5l with Frontier Spirit back in third place. The favourite Balinroab was back in seventh and struggled under his 10lb higher rating for his recent win at Leicester, Noble Legend is a nice horse and the ideal type that a smaller stable needs during the season to take on the Henderson and Nicholls horses and will no doubt be back at Haydock next season maybe in a Peter Marsh Chase should he get a nice weight but before that could be Grand Sefton bound at Aintree 
 
It was a Novices Handicap Hurdle next over the Fixed Brush Hurdles with a distance of 2m4f to cover for race five and in the week that Imperial Commander begins his a Grand National preparations it was trainer Nigel Twiston Davies who finally got Oscar Magic to win after three second places this season with son Sam on top in a driving finish to see off Valleyofmilan in second and back in third was Bathwick Brave who was given a typical tough ride from AP McCoy but could never get past the first two, Oscar Magic had ability but has found one too good in his three starts prior to this but showed his metal on his handicap debut and could make into a fair chaser next season. 
 
Race six was the smallest field of the day in the 2m Novices Chase and an all the way victory for Dare Me who was backed into favouritism following the defection of Kandari to win fairly easily in the end from Shadows Lengthen who was giving the winner 4lbs at the adjusted weights as jockey Jake Greenall took 3lbs off with his claim but even on level terms he would not have beaten Dare Me who was the better horse throughout the race and it will be interesting to see what the handicapper does to him. 
 
The final race of the day was one I couldn’t see due to a later engagement but it was a Bumper over 2m and a much welcome winner for the Donald McCain yard who have some serious chances in next weekends Grand National with the 5yo Salto Chisco who came into the race with two second places so deserved to go one better today beating Jean de Florette by 3l, The winner looks nice enough and will be one to follow when going over timber next season and could become one of their leading novices. 
 
So a good end to Haydock Parks jumps season which saw some cracking races as always with highlights being Silviniaco Conti getting the big pot in the Lancashire Chase and Well Refreshed taking the Grand National Trial.  
 
We did lose just the two fixtures but with the weather being largely wet and cold since November it is expected as that’s the unpredictability with jumps racing. 
 
So now the roadshow moves down the East Lancs Road to our sister course Aintree and I shall be there for the first two days of the Grand National meeting for what looks like being some of the best jump racing the course will have seen for a very long time, Their may be no Big Buck’s but Sprinter Sacre will be an able deputy for what looks like one of the races of the season should he do battle with Flemenstar and Cue Card in the Melling Chase on Friday. 
 
Before that their will be a preview on Monday, Bye until then. 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Doncaster Races,Grimthorpe Chase Day,Saturday 2nd March 2013

Quite unusually the sun was out today for a seven race card on Town Moor where it was the last jumps meeting of the season before the return of the turf flat in a few weeks time when races such as the Lincoln and Brockelsby will be a welcome return for non jumps and artificial surface racing fans. 

 
Today the emphasis with Cheltenham slowly on the horizon was Aintree and a good Grand National trial with some lovely supporting races on the undercard, Special praise must also go to the Doncaster management for starting the card at 1.15 due to problems over the past few years since the rebuild with the low sun that occasionally made obstacles being omitted in the later races so thankfully nothing like that occurred this afternoon. 
 
So on to the racing and we began with the first race which was a 3m Novices Chase for horses that had not won more than one chase with a field of only Three,All eyes were on Themilanhorse on his debut run over fences from the Paul Nicholls yard and went off at odds of 4/7 f and he was never travelling on this firmer surface plus he made a few errors and came home last but should not be written off just yet, The winner with this being a three runner race was the outsider Night Force who by making all the running and jumping fluently gained his second ever career win on what was only his 12th start so is very lightly raced but at the age of 10 would probably be one to keep an eye on if he goes in a satellite National somewhere but he loved the much faster surface, Back in second was Fill The Power who I have alluded to before in previous reports would be better aimed for a race like the Scottish National. 
 
The second race was the inaugural running of a Listed Mares Novices Hurdle over 3m and again only three runners due to the defection of Ma Filluele took the gloss off this race but the prize was still their to be had along with some useful black type for when a trip to the paddocks is called for, This race was won by the 6yo Tweedledrum who regular readers know was second on my previous visit to Wetherby, She had to battle to get the better of Wilde Ruby who made most of the running but it was evident that class would tell in the end and trainer Tom Symonds will be delighted with the continual improvement with this lovely mare who is very tough and genuine in the way she races.  
 
After a couple of long distance races it was the more speedier sorts with a fair looking 2m H’cap Chase and a wonderful display of front running from the grey Toubab who lumped top weight of 11-12 to fend off Ulysses Collonges by 1 length and giving the runner up 18lbs, Toubab has always had the potential but sometimes struggled to show just how good he can be and being allowed to bowl along helped today, I hope he misses Cheltenham and goes for the Red Rum Chase at Aintree as that course will suit his style a lot better, The runner up is no back number but will be better over 2m4f but on this run I think the handicapper may be putting him up a few pounds but he is only Five and can have a good career ahead of him as the years progress. 
 
The fourth was also the feature race the Grimthorpe Chase over 3m2f and a good few were using this as a preparation run before the Grand National next month at Aintree, all eyes were on Join Together from the Nicholls yard after his cracking run when finishing second in the Becher Chase over the big greens back in December behind old warrior and the now retired Hello Bud, That race was on very heavy ground and today’s much firmer surface would not have been to his liking, However course form does count at Doncaster and the crowd were treated to a fine front running display from Quentin Collonges who apart from hitting the last put up a wonderful display of jumping to give Henry Daly a nice big winner and just held off Mr Moss by half a length who was staying on really well up the Town Moor home straight,Both horses are expected to go to Ayr for the Scottish National where they would be in the mix after this run. 
 
As for Join Together he got hampered by the fall of Night in Milan at fence number three which relegated him to last place where he stayed before being pulled up turning for home,Aintree will be his target so I would not write him off yet as that as the National has always been the big race for him to be aimed for and expect their to be a little bit left to work on between now and the 6th of April. 
 
Next up was a Handicap Hurdle over 3m which was all about one horse in my eyes and that was Aaim To Prosper a former dual Cesarewitch winner and he won the 2012 renewal had Countrywide Flame and Tominator back in second and third so with ATP having his first run in a handicap off a rating of 124 he was thrown in as far as I could tell especially going up in trip to 3m, He did win as I’d expected however it was not all plain sailing as the wonder that is Tony McCoy got Cockney Trucker at the age of 11 to try and almost spoil the party after being held up in the first part of the race slowly shook the others off and was even in the lead after the last on the run in however Ruby Walsh who knows a thing or two about quality stayers would no be denied and to the roars of the South Yorkshire faithful got ATP into the winners circle by a neck in a rousing finish that showed National Hunt racing at its absolute best. The winner will probably end up at one of the festivals but I also wonder if his trainer Paul Nicholls may be tempted with him on the flat in the summer? 
 
Race six was a 2m3f Novices Hurdle and due to the faster ground this had four no runners but the five who began all came from top yards, The pace was slow hence why four of them all lead at some point in the contest but the only horse who didn’t share the early pace was Massini Lotto from John Quinn’s stable who have a live Champion Hurdle chance with Countrywide Flame in a few days time, These weren’t the best horses in this field so the form should be treated with caution although Thimaar back in fourth for the Donald McCain yard now qualifies for handicaps so will be worth keeping an eye on his rating in the future but maybe a race at the big Scottish festivals at Ayr and Perth could be more up his street. 
 
So the finale and last race of the 2012-13 NH season on Town Moor was a Standard NH Flat Race over 2m and punters went home happy as Avidity ran out a nice ready winner on his second start for trainer Pip Kirby, Only a 4yo he showed lots of heart to beat debutant Solo Jugadores by 1.25 lengths in a cracking finish, The winner looks pretty good and could well be sought after by the more prestigious trainers but the smaller stables need a good horse and he could be one to watch out for in early season novice hurdle events around the northern circuit after his summer holiday, One eye catcher was Beaujolais from John Ferguson’s base in Newmarket who finished fourth and needed the run, This ex pointer brought over from Ireland has quality about him and will show more when he gets asked to jump again. 
 
A nice end to the jumps season at Doncaster then with some good quality racing and a few Aintree clues spotted on the day itself, Weather wise it was lovely this afternoon the sun made a fair crowd turn out, Not the biggest by the courses standards but the jumps never really draw a huge amount compared to the flat which starts the week after Cheltenham it’s hard to even believe that Turf 2013 is slowly coming around. 
 
We were treated to some wonderful finishes and the Aaim To Prosper battle with Cockney Trucker was a real treat to see with two brilliant horsemen showing why we all love this sport which follows.