Archive Racing News 7

 

31st DECEMBER 2016

 

NOT THE DAY FOR A KNIGHT!

I guess it's a bit early in the day for another knight in the horse racing business, following so soon after the former champion jockey, Tony McCoy's elevation to the ranks. There is noticeably a generous sprinkling of knight- and damehoods in other sports in the New Year's Honours' List, such as tennis, athletics and rowing (Andy Murray, Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katherine Grainger). If you search the lists carefully, you will, however, find a small group of horse racing personalities whose contributions to the sport have been recognised. John Gosden has been awarded an OBE for services to horse-racing and training. The Newmarket-based handler, who was Britain's champion Flat trainer on two occasions (2012 and 2015) has achieved a life-time total of over 3,000 winners including winning the Derby twice and St Leger four times, listed among his eight British Classic triumphs.

 

Another recipient honoured for services to racing and charity, this time an MBE, is former jump jockey. Sam Morshead, who retired last as racecourse manager at Perth after twenty-five years' service, gets an MBE

 

Sam Morshead: "I am overjoyed and just so excited. It is a fantastic honour and I am truly humbled by it all. However, I do know that this honour is not all mine and it must be shared with my chairman at Perth, David Whitaker, who sadly is not with us but will be enjoying this from above, and my simply brilliant team at Perth racecourse. Without their wonderful support over the years I would have achieved very little."

 

Rhona Elliott, has also received an MBE in recognition of her services to horse-racing and charitable services to people with multiple sclerosis in the Scottish Borders. The former rider and trainer, who is, herself, an MS sufferer, is recognised as the inspiration behind the MS Borders Racing Club, which was set up to help raise awareness of the illness. The club, which has 40 members, currently has three horses in training, two with Nicky Richards and one with Iain Jardine.

 

Rhona Elliott commented: "I can't believe it. I am a little bit embarrassed about it. I don't feel I am really worthy of it. I was an amateur jockey and then trainer. I had done most things with horses. I wanted to try to do something positive out of something very unpositive. A lot of people joined to begin with because they were flabbergasted about the news I had MS, which I kept secret for 12 years. I was having difficulty walking so had to let everybody know. I trained them myself to begin with but the illness got so bad I couldn't train. I think we were one of the first charity syndicates in Scotland and it has helped improve the awareness of the condition, but there is still no full treatment. I have also tried to highlight the fact that racecourses are so good for disabled people. Wherever we have been everyone has been so helpful and supportive."

 

Another MBE award went to Tim Adams, who is Chairman of the Leger Legends committee and a trustee of the Northern Racing College. There were other well-deserved awards for equestrianism as such but nothing specifically for the Sport of Kings!

 

A GOOD LASS!

The totepool Chip & Pin Betting Mares' Novices' Hurdle at Taunton yesterday gave rise to jubilation among the recently formed Ditcheat Thoroughbreds Syndicate when the Paul Nicholls-trained Coillte Lass made it three in a row. The daughter of Beneficial was hastily acquired after winning the Grange Stud, Fermoy 5&6yo Mares Maiden in Ireland in April and proved to be a valuable investment. An easy victory in her hurdling debut at Hereford in October was followed by an incredible eighty-six length run-away triumph in the Racing UK HD On Sky 432 Mares' 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle at Ludlow the following month. Yesterday's contest presented the mare with a much stiffer test but with a confident Sam Twiston-Davies aboard, the 11/4 shot, racing over two miles for the first time, had no problem going for home before the final turn and claiming the prize by four-and-a-half lengths.

 

The winning trainer commented: "Look how many owners are here, it's amazing. Part of having a syndicate is having a lot of fun like they've had today and that means a lot to them. She's a good mare and has just kept improving. I was a little bit worried about the trip, but it was a good performance. I'm thrilled for all the owners."

 

GET AWAY IN STYLE

This Sherborne-based trainer, now recognised as one of National Hunt racing's leading trainers, has no intention of letting 2016 go out with a whimper after a fantastic year on a high. Names such Cue CardNative Riverand Thistlecrack, all big-race winners, spearheaded a spectacular beginning to Colin Tizzard's current campaign that could well mean he is a strong contender for this season's champion trainer's crown. Today he has the Betfred Challow Novices' Hurdle at Newbury in his sights when he saddles Elegant Escape in the Grade One two-and-a-half-mile contest. This four-year-old son of Dubai Destination is only at the beginning of his career but so far hasn't put a foot wrong with confident victories at Chepstown and Ascot in October and November, respectively.

 

Colin Tizzard commented: "He's a very nice young horse. He's stepping up all the time and you forget he's only a four-year-old as he's done so much already. We've had this race in mind since his last one and we're looking forward to it."

30th DECEMBER

 

HANKY PANKY!

There was a shock result in the Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown yesterday. It was on the cards that the 2/5 odds-on favourite, Willie Mullins-trained Nichols Canyon would claim the prize for a second successive year. Horse racing is notorious as a sport where not everything goes according to expectation and this was no exception. The Henry De Bromhead-trained Petit Mouchoir, ridden determinedly by Bryan Cooper, ran on freely early in the early stages and took over the lead from Nichols Canyon after the first hurdle and had developed a three-length lead by halfway. There was no stopping him now as pushed ahead and eventually sealed his success by seven lengths. Having virtually ceded victory following the first, the Ruby Walsh-ridden son of Authorized, having lost a lot of momentum after getting in too tight at the second last, had to be content with denying Joseph O'brien's Ivanovich Gorbatov second place by two-and-a-quarter lengths.

 

The winning trainer commented: "He's a lovely galloping horse with a huge stride. Bryan thought he'd have won the Fighting Fifth but for falling and he did jump brilliantly today. It's our first win of the week but the horses have been running well and we've won races at Kempton, Limerick and Down Royal over the past few days. I'll have to talk to Michael and Eddie [O'Leary, owners] about plans but the horse has had a light season and the Irish Champion Hurdle [on January 29] could be next."

 

A CLOSE CALL!

Donald McCain just beat the close of the Old Year by two days when he notched up his 1,000th career win at Kelso yesterday. There must have been moments when the Grand National-winning trainer (Ballabrigs 2011) must have thought he wasn't going to make it, as for the past sixteen days he drew a blank and his total was stuck ominously on 999. (Sounded like a distress call!) Then just when he wasn't expecting it Lough Derg Jewel, with Will Kennedy aboard, ran the fourteen-strong field ragged to win the Samantha & Rebecca's 18th Birthday Bash 'National Hunt' Maiden Hurdle by twelve lengths. His official total consists of 985 British jumping wins, 14 British Flat wins and one jumps winner in Ireland.

 

Donald McCain commented: "I feel proud and delighted to have finally reached the 1,000 winners. It's been a bit of wait and we've hit the crossbar several times in the last two weeks.

 

DONCASTER DELIGHT

This female Newmarket-based trainer, who only secured her first winner last month in her first training season, gained her biggest success so far when Kalane, owned by her father, Paul, won the Listed Sheffield Greyhound Stadium Mares' Chase at Doncaster yesterday. That means that Amy Murphy has now scored a creditable six victories under all codes. Ironically her Kalanisi mare fell in this contest a year ago when she was trained by Charlie Longsdon. Indeed, it looked as though history was about to repeat itself at the fifth fence when the seven-year-old made a bad mistake, with jockey Jack Quinlan, just just managing to stay aboard. The Paul Nicholls-trained Viky Du Reponet, ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies had made all the running until the seventh-last obstacle when the eventual winner took over. She was, however and headed three from home by Colla Pier who lead until the final fence but Kalane mounted a game last-minute rally, gaining the advantage on the run-in and winning by five lengths.

 

Amy Murphy commented:"I'm obviously delighted with her. It was touch and go whether we ran prior to the race. I walked the track twice over before I made the decision. With it being her last season, we thought we'd let her take her chance. I said to Jack if at any point he wasn't happy, bring her home and look after her. Jack said that although she wasn't at her best on the ground she handled it, so I'm delighted with her. I'm terrible, I can't watch anything so I didn't actually see the mistake, but I was told it was awful! I'm delighted for Dad. He's put so much into the sport with the mares and keeping them in training. It's fantastic. When she retires at the end of the season she's going to be covered Sulamani. It's my biggest success. We've had six winners so far from about 20 odd runners. I'm got such a good team at home and I couldn't do it without them. Today was the main aim. It's not that she doesn't handle Cheltenham, I think she's better on flat, galloping tracks. We'll take her home and have a look at the programme book to see where we go next."

 

29th DECEMBER

 

HADN'T THE FOGGIEST!

Fog caused a few problems over the Christmas period but it can't be blamed for yesterday's fiasco at Lingfield as it had virtually cleared by the time of the staging of the 32Red Casino EBF Nursery at 14.55. The problem arose from a tight photo-finish, not for the winning slot, clearly won by Vatican Hill but for third and fourth positions. As a result of the judge's decision, the Michael Bell-trained Elementary was placed third, a nose in front of Henry Candy's Sun Angel in the seven-furlong nursery. Subsequent replays, however, revealed that the result was the other way around. An inquiry was held at the end of the final race of the day when the judge notified the stewards that he wished to correct the result. Later an announcement was made on course that the result for third and fourth placings had been reversed but that for betting purposes the result stands as originally established because the riders had all weighed in. That being the official result, bookmakers paid out on the each-way portion of bets on Elementary but were under no obligation to do the same for supporters of Sun Angel.

 

Sam Angell, a Stipendiary Steward commented: "Judge Graham came forward and said he would like to reconsider his decision on the seventh race and after the stewards viewed the print the placings were revised to place Sun Angel third and Elementary fourth. But for betting purposes the original result stands as the weighed-in signal had been given."

 

Paul Binfield of Paddy Power added: "We're delighted to be paying out each-way on Sun Angel."

 

Jon Ivan-Duke of William Hill wasn't such a happy bunny, however, when commenting: "Punters shouldn't have to suffer so we'll pay out on 'both' results on this occasion, but the BHA should refund bookmakers for every error of this nature. It is entirely the fault of the judge, so why should bookmakers bear the brunt of another sorry saga from British horseracing? Unfortunately, trust in the governing body is at an all-time low and that confidence needs to be restored as a matter of urgency."

 

TATA BACK AGAIN!

The Irish Independent Hurdle at Limerick yesterday made it five-in-a-row for this daughter of Astarabad. The Gordon Elliott-trained Missy Tata with only two rivals between her and victory had no problem, making all and claiming the Class 1 two-mile contest by six-and-a-half lengths. Since winning theSetanta Sports Mares Novice Hurdle the four-year-old filly hasn't looked back and it now looks as though she will be booking her ticket for the Cheltenham Festival in march.

 

Olly Murphy, the winning trainer's assistant commented: "I don't think two miles is her ideal trip so we decided ride her nice and positive. Her Gold Cup is going to be the two-and-a-half-mile Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham. She is improving the whole time but I doubt we'll see the real article until she goes jumping fences. She is straightforward and stays going well and will have one more run or will go straight to Cheltenham."

 

NICHOLS AND DIMES!

The Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown today is expected to provide a back-to-back victory for this six-year-old son of Auhorized. Nichols Canyon' trainer, Willie Mullins, has claimed this race on four of the previous five years, courtesy of Hurricane Fly. The latter may have been a classed by many above today's aspirant but the six-year-old won his hurdling maiden conclusively and has since done himself justice in exclusive Grade One company, winning eight times from fourteen starts over hurdles. That's a creditable performance a horse, still only a six-year-old, bearing mind that at a similar same stage of his career, Hurricane Fly had notched up five Grade One wins. So Nichols Canyon is quietly building up a fantastic record, perhaps somewhat overshadowed by his former illustrious stable companion. Today Nichols Canyon only has three rivals between him and another Grade 1 success. No wonder he's the odds-on

28th DECEMBER

 

ORWELL. WHAT'S NEXT!

Dire predictions were postulated in this futuristic novel, pitched only thirty-six years ahead of its publication. One relatively benign development George Orwell he did not foresee in 1984, however, was that Channel 4 would take over the reins as the UK's broadcaster of horse racing. That partnership came to an end yesterday with the Channel's presentation of the action across the country on one of the busiest racing days, Bank Holiday. On balance the day proved to be a well-delivered farewell, with coverage divided between Kempton Park and Chepstow for the Welsh National. Mick Fitzgerald and Richard Hoiles did the honours in the Land of My Fathers and it's good to hear that this professional and likeable duo will be back on New Year’s Day working for their new employers at ITV. Not everyone has fared so well as a result of the new deal. Nick Luck, Gina Harding, Tanya Stevenson, Graham Cunningham, Simon Holt and Rishi Persad all had nice things to say about all the people behind the cameras and swapped memories of their time on Channel 4. A subject that no-one wanted, quite naturally, to dwell on was the fact that from this sextet, for some reason, only Rishi Persad has been chosen to continue his work for the new owners.

 

Overall, it's true to say that Channel 4 Racing succeeded most of the time in maintaining a delicate balance between presenting a service for the casual viewer, including the inevitable human interest stories whilst, at the same time, delivering sporting insights and information for the serious racegoer. The final coverage ended on a triumphant note with a stirring montage of some of the greatest moments and personalities (two-legged and four-legged) Channel 4 has given us over the last thirty-two years: Sir Henry Cecil, Desert Orchid, Tony McCoy, Best Mate and “three Gold Cups”, with Denman, Kauto Star and Frankel. Quite a list and quite a legacy for ITV to inherit and live up to!

 

WELSH WAS GRAND!

Yesterday's Coral Welsh Grand National Handicap Chase witnessed arguably one of the great performances in its history. The Colin Tizzard-trained Hennessy Gold Cup hero, Native River, put on an impressive performance, supported by a confident and suitably aggressive Richard Johnson, to claim the three-and-a-half-mile event by a comfortable one-and-three-quarter lengths. That comparative short winning distance belies the way the son of Indian River had the field well strung out for most of the contest and only Raz De Maree had enough left to try unsuccessfully to close the gap in the last minutes of the race.

 

Richard Johnson commented: "He is such a hardy horse as the more you ask of him, the more he gives and after what he has just done he has to be a Cheltenham Gold Cup contender now.

"I was never really that happy with him on the first circuit but as soon as I said 'come on boy' he picked up and had everything beaten. He has to be pretty special to carry that sort of weight and win the way he did."

 

The winning trainer added: "Between the fourth and third last he must have made up eight lengths. I wondered if he would hold on but looking back at the rest nothing else was going with him. It's a fantastic time for us. Things couldn't be better. Horses like this are hard to find and you've just got to enjoy the moment. It's addictive. We'll look at the Cotswold or the Denman Chase and then the Gold Cup. I might send Cue Card to the Ascot Chase and the Ryanair Chase because I don't really want Native River, Cue Card and Thistlecrack in the same race."

 

NOEL, NOEL!

Kempton Park proved to be this Cork-born jockey's oyster yesterday when he stormed home a winner in the first four races and came second by only a length and a fifth in the last two, respectively. It was certainly a good Boxing Day for Noel Fehily, the highlight being, undoubtedly, the victory by the Henry de Bromhead-trained Special Tiara in the feature race, the Desert Orchid Chase. The front-running son of Kayf Tara proved that he enjoyed the decent ground at the Sunbury track by repeating the success he had in this race two years ago. The 8/11 favourite made all the running in two-mile Grade Two contest, too far ahead to have been troubled by the earlier drama when former Champion Chaser Sire De Grugy unseated Jamie Moore at the second fence. Of the two survivors the Dan Skelton-trained Savello was always having problems at the back of the field and, and, although the Tom George-trained Sir Valentino, with Adrian Heskin aboard, mounted a strong challenge in the straight but was far from foot-perfect over the last, giving the eventual victor the winning hand.

 

Noel Fehily commented: "It's been a fantastic day. I've ridden some lovely horses and I'm very lucky. I've had some great days on this fella. I've been placed in Champion Chases on him, I've won a Celebration Chase on him. He's been a very good horse to me. He's older now and is finishing his races off a lot better. He picked up well."

 

Earlier on in the day, Noel Fehily provided Nicky Henderson with two winners: Charli Parks in the 32Red Casino Introductory Juvenile Hurdle and Altior in the Grade 2 32Red.com Wayward Lad Novices' Chase. Between those two triumphs the forty-one-year-old jockey scored on the Henry Daly-trainedNordic Nymph in the three-mile-plus 32Red Casino Mares' Handicap Hurdle.

 

27th DECEMBER

 

A RACE WITHOUT END!

The Bathwick Tyres Lord Memorial Cup Handicap Chase at Wincanton yesterday fell completely flat when the only horse still in the race after seven of the runners fell or were brought down at the open ditch (fence six) refused to finish. The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Hollow Blue Sky miraculously escaped the melee and was left out on his own but he came to a halt as he approached the fated sixth (now omitted 15th) he broke into a canter after that but refused twice at next and was retired and the race was declared void.

 

Ardkilly Witness's trainer Jamie Snowden commented: "It's very bizarre. Our horse was bounding along in front and jumping from fence to fence. He's an older horse and has jumped lots of open ditches in his time and not a bother. Something has obviously taken his eye going into the fence and caused him to back off and refuse. There's the old domino effect and they've all gone down. Touch wood both the horse and jockey (Micheal Nolan) seem OK. A few minor cuts, but hopefully nothing more than that. I would guess that the sunlight has reflected off something on the inside of the track and caused a blinding effect, but I'm guessing. Micheal said it perhaps might have been off a reflective jacket worn by an ambulance man. The winter sun can be quite low."

 

Barry Johnson, Clerk of the course. added: "I've not seen that before. You see pile-ups sometimes, but I've never seen anything like that. As far as a I know, all the jockeys are fine. There are never two races the same and you have to be prepared for every eventuality. This is one we can tick off now.”

 

FEAST OF STEPHEN

The County Carlow king celebrated the festival in style at Leopardstown and Limerick with six victories which took him through the 100-winner mark for the season. The Willie Mullins-trained Min was the centrepiece of a 12/1 Leopardstown hat-trick on the busiest day of the Irish racing year. A record crowd at the St Stephen’s Day feature event delighted in watching the master team, Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh, goingthe Horse & Jockey Hotel Maiden Hurdle, which Bunk Off Early won by five-and-a-half lengths. They followed this up with a victory in the third contest, the Grade Two Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle, winning with Bapaume. It was Min, however, who probably impressed the most with victory in the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase which he claimed by nine lengths.

 

Ruby Walsh commented: “He’s an easier horse to ride over fences. He has a look where he’s going over fences and he’s a bit more manageable. I was happy with him in Navan but he impressed me today. He reminds me of Kauto. We thought he’d improved a little bit for his first run for us at Fairyhouse. I rode my own race and he’s a tough horse. He stays well and is improving. Who knows how much more he can improve.

 

GREAT CRAIC!

When the Kempton Park King George Chase is mentioned inevitably memories of Desert Orchid come to mind. The legendary grey won this feature event as an unlikely 16/1 shot in 1986 and went on to win it three more times. In future it will be another name that will come to mind – Thistlecrack. Yesterday the Colin Tizzard-trained son of Kayf Tara certainly made an equally remarkable breakthrough performance, revealing exceptional racing talent to match that of Desert Orchid. Just like the latter, Thistlecrack made much of the running, taking the first couple of fences at break-neck speed. He also performed a flawless round of jumping, including several jumps that must have left the crowd, and possibly his opponents, short of breath. His stable companion, Cue Card, last year’s winner, did his best to compete but Thistlecrack had his measure and galloped away on the long run to the third-last, giving his jockey, Tom Scudamore, plenty of time to easily take care of the last three-and-a-quarter lengths in front. Maybe now in years to come racegoers will recall Thistlecrack's hypnotic performance on Boxing day, 2016.

 

 

22nd DECEMBER

 

A QUESTION OF NUMBERS

Strange to say this County Kildare jockey hasn't yet got a ride in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day but he hasn't been quiet in his racing columns as to which horse he would go for. Ruby Walsh has made it clear that that he would like to be aboard Thistlecrack. The novice chaser last night was vying with his stable companion, Cue Card, for favouritism certainly on the Betfair’s exchange on Wednesday night and both runners are on offer at 11/8 with most bookmakers. Whilst recognising that the son of Kayf Tara's reputation is only based on novice events and has only clocked up just three minor successes over fences so far. The thirty-seven-year-old rider was keen to point out, however, that the Grade 1 three-mile chase would have a maximum of seven runners and he would have opted for Cue Card if there had been in excess of a dozen competitors.

 

Ruby Walsh commented: “It won’t inconvenience Cue Card but he has all the experience of big fields and competitive races and that won’t come out as much on Monday. If I had the choice I’d ride Thistlecrack. The likely tempo of the race and the quality of this King George field is his biggest test yet over fences. But I think he’ll prove up to it. I haven’t seen anything in his jumping suggesting this is a race or two too soon for Thistlecrack. He’s looked a great jumper. But, that said, Cue Card is possibly 20lb better than any horse he has faced before.” Walsh added that he would have chosen Cue Card if there were 12 runners or more.

 

 

In any case, it's pure speculation because, barring some unexpected circumstance, Tom Scudamore is booked to ride Thistlecrack and Paddy Brennan will be aboard Cue card. 

 

 

A TALE THAT DIDN'T FAIL

The two-mile race yesterday contest on Tapeta at Newcastle was a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £150,000 Betway Marathon Championships over the same distance on Polytrack at Lingfield Park on All-Weather Championships Finals Day on Good Friday and, what is more, it is a free entry for the victor. The appropriately named Winning Story, trained by Saeed bin Suroor for Godolphin notched up his fourth Fast-Track Qualifier victory of the 2016/17 All-Weather Championships season when he claimed the £20,000 Betway Conditions Stakes by a length-and-three-quarters. Unusually the three-year-old son of New Approach wasn't on the ball when coming out of the stalls but with but jockey Pat Cosgrave's encouragement, he quickly made up the lost ground to get himself into second slot behind early leader, the Brian Ellison-trained Buthelezi. When the eight-strong field approached the the final three furlongs Winning Story was sent into a clear lead and kept going, brushing off the Hollie Doyle-ridden First Mohican

 

The winning jockey commented: "It has been great so far this year [the link up with Saeed] but it is easy when you have got the horse. Fair play to Saeed and his team this morning because they said to me that Winning Story is a big, galloping horse. I don't think things have quite gone to plan in his last few runs and I followed him the last day when I rode Wrangler in a very muddling race. Going back up in trip today on a big, galloping track has really suited him. He didn't half stretch in the last furlong and went through the line good. He is a good staying horse. I think he is a big baby still. He has only had a few runs and is a bit raw. I think there is more to come. I would imagine he will go for the Marathon final at Lingfield now. It is a different track and I think the main thing is to make plenty of use of him and his big stride. Newcastle will probably suit him better than Lingfield but you might as well have a crack at it now he is qualified."

 

THREE IN A ROW?

The Count Carlow king is counting on his top mare, Vroum Vroum Mag, to bring home the prize for the third year in a row in the 32Red Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day. Willie Mullins and owner Rich Ricci have claimed this Grade One contest in the last couple of years, courtesy of Faugheen, but he has been absent from the track since winning the Grade 1 BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown last January during which he incurred an injury and missed the chance to defend his Champion Hurdle crown at Cheltenham in March. There were plans to run the son of Germany in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown last month but that didn't happen. It remains to be seen whether the eight-year-old will take up his appointment in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown next week. Vroum Vroum Mag, on the other hand, lost her unbeaten record at the beginning of this month when she was denied victory by a shoulder in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse but the eight-year-old daughter of Voix Du Nord also has other options at Leopardstown over the Festive Season.

 

Regular rider, Ruby Walsh, commented: "She'll have to work again tomorrow. I think declarations are Friday. She seems well. She came out of her race nicely when Apple's Jade beat her, but there's obviously Yanworth and The New One. It's going to be a small field, but she looks to be in good order. I suppose when a horse gets beaten it takes the shine off them a little, but we still think she's a very good mare and she'll give a good account of herself getting 7lb from the geldings."

21st DECEMBER

 

ALL HE WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS …

The winner of the Betway Conditions Stakes at Newcastle this afternoon will automatically gain a free place in the £150,000 Betway Marathon Championships at Lingfield on All-Weather Championships Finals Day on Good Friday. That is because this race is a £20,000 fast-track qualifier and eight trainers have their eye on this prize. One, in particular, Mark Johnston, has made no secret of how he would like this present for his Christmas stocking. His Royal Ascot runner, Oriental Fox, who wasn't great shakes at Kempton Park for his debut on the all-weather track last time out but the son of Lomitas had already shown what he was capable of on turf when he triumphed in the totepool Phil Bull Trophy Conditions Stakes at Pontefract in the middle of October.

 

The trainer son and assistant, Charlie Johnston, commented: “He is in good form. Two miles around a galloping track like Newcastle should suit. It was obviously a turf track when he ran a screamer when he was beaten a short-head in the 2013 Northumberland Plate. “That sort of track and trip is his ideal, whereas Kempton is a bit sharper.”

 

LOVERBOY

This son of Dream Ahead is just one of ten runners bidding for the big feature race at Chelmsford City tomorrow afternoon. The Richard Fahey-trained Donjuan Triumphant will be hoping to live up to his name when he runs in the £45,000 Weatherbys Stallion Book Conditions StakesDonjuan Triumphant came second in the Prix de Maurice de Gheest on turf at Deauville in July and and last month came third in a seven-furlong sunbets.co.uk Conditions Stakes on the Polytrack at Lingfield Park. One runner may deny the Musley Bank-based trainer this coveted prize. This is the David Simcock-trained Dragon Mall, with his regular rider, Jamie Spencer, aboard. It's over a year since this son of Blame claimed the totepool Racing's Biggest Supporter Conditions Stakes at this track and seven months since losing by a neck to the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Thikriyaat in the Listed King Charles II Stakes at Newmarket.

 

Trainer David Simcock commented: "Dragon Mall heads to Dubai in the New Year. He actually hasn't been in training that long after a break and, although it hasn't been a rush, he goes to Chelmsford as ready as I can get him. This race fitted in well in regard to going to Dubai which is his priority. The seven furlongs might be a tad short of his best but we know he likes the surface as he won nicely there last year."

 

SNOW FORECAST FOR AFTER XMAS

Trainer Noel Meade seems confident that his son of Presenting is none the worse for wear and ready to take on the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown on December 28. Snow Falcon was the clear winner of the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle at Navan in the middle of November and looked like he could he had a chance of claiming the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury last time out, at the expense of the eventual winner Unowhatimeanharry, but unfortunately fell at the third hurdle. Snow Falcon might be joined by his stable companion, Monksland, who was returned to hurdling this season after recent disappointments over the larger obstacles.

 

The County Meath-based trainer commented: "The plan is for Snow Falcon to run in the Christmas Hurdle, and maybe Monksland might join him. We weren't happy with Monksland after he ran the last day, so we gave him a bit of time. It depends on how he works. We sent him back swimming for a while again."

20th DECEMBER

 

DO US A FLAVOUR!

Having not had a win since the toteexacta Pick The 1st And 2nd Handicap Hurdle at Taunton in April 2014 it seems about time for this son of Passing Glance to savour the sweet taste of success. Today's Weatherbys Racing Diaries "Confined" Handicap Hurdle, also Taunton, could be just what the confectioner ordered for the Harry Fry-trained Hint Of Mint. The seven-year-old, formerly handled by Nick Williams, was rated as high as 140 last Spring but the handicapper seems to have taken the hint and lowered his rating to 128. also the change of stables seems to have rejuvenated the bay gelding. After a disastrous first outing for the Beaminster-based trainer at Ascot when he came last, Hint Of Mint came third in the Be Wiser Insurance Handicap Hurdle at Wincanton in November and then went on to produce an impressive effort at the Orchard Portman track when he was denied victory by just a head. He obviously likes this course, the scene of two of his previous wins, so connections must be quite hopeful of a return to the winner's enclosure.

 

STILL TUNING UP

Trainer Sandra Hughes has decided that her son of Network will be better served by staying at beginners' level for his next outing rather than going for a Grade One contest. The reason is obviously due to the fact that Acapella Bourgeois blotted his copybook last November when he fell on his debut run over fences in the Download Paddy Power's Messenger Betting App Beginners Chase at Naas. The six-year-old did redeem himself the next time out, however, coming third in the Jim Ryan Racecourse Services Beginners Chase at Fairyhouse at the beginning of this month, just two lengths behind the winner, Martello Tower,

 

The County Kildare trainer commented: "Acapella Bourgeois has an entry in the three-mile Grade One at Leopardstown (Neville Hotels Novice Chase, December 29) but will go for the two-mile-three-furlong beginners' chase instead. He just got a bit tired the last day at Fairyhouse as it was practically his first run of the season as he fell at the first at Naas."

 

BY GEORGE! HE'S RUNNING!

Ultimately it was the owners who made the decision to run their Kayf Tara son in the Boxing Day King George VI Chase at Kempton. John and Heather Snook let it be known that it was always at the back of their mind to let Thistlecrack compete in this feature event.

 

John Snook commented: "It's definitely the King George for Thistlecrack - it has always been my intention to go that way provided the horse has been coping with jumping fences and we think he has. . . provided he's 110pc on the day, we'll be in the King George."

 

Trainer Colin Tizzard admitted that he had been considering letting his star novice take on the best chasers in the business since the eight-year-old had no problem winning his first three races over fences. This means also that stable mate, Cue Card, will also be lining up in next Monday's race, as the Sherborne-based trainer is hoping the son of King's Theatre can achieve a back-to-back win after last year's success.

 

Colin Tizzard commented: "We'd been saying for the last three weeks that we were going to leave the decision as long as we could, but we thought it was only fair that we told people what we intended to do. Cue Card's owners have sat down with Thistlecrack's owners and they are both in agreement that the King George is a once-in-a-lifetime race and both horses are in cracking form, so they should take their chance. Thistlecrack is eight coming nine, we know he can gallop and win a World Hurdle. He's had three chases and last time his jumping was immaculate. Do we need to wait another year before we try to win a King George with him? The owners had the final say and they wanted to go, I fully support it. It would have been easier if Cue Card wasn't in it, but he is and he's in very good form, so they can both go."

 

19th DECEMBER

 

TAXING TIMES

The County Meath track paid its dues yesterday when the Gordon Elliott-trained Death Duty claimed the Navan Novice Hurdle by three-and-three-quarter lengths, therefore extending his wins to three in a row, having triumphed at this track last month at Roscommon

in October. The Henry De Bromhead-trained Monalee was clearly determined to dominate the Grade Two contest from the outset. The son of Shantou, however, ridden by Bryan Cooper, had shadowed him closely from the outset and, as they approached the second hurdle, they went eye-ball to eye-ball and, with a little encouragement from his rider, the the Gigginstown House Stud-owned five-year-old had no trouble putting the race to bed.

 

The winning trainer commented: "He's done it well and we like him a lot. I thought he'd improved a bit from the last day, and Bryan said he was on the bridle more this time. He will go now for the Grade One (Lawlors Hotel) novice hurdle at Naas (January 8). You couldn't help but be impressed there. He jumps, he gallops, he stays, he settles. He does everything. He's an exciting horse. If he'd got beaten today, I'd have been disappointed. I wouldn't be afraid to go for the Albert Bartlett, but I'll have to talk to Eddie and Michael (O'Leary) about the other horses they have. A bit of better ground and a further trip will probably suit him."

 

Bryan Cooper added: "His jumping kills other horses, and he gets four lengths at a hurdle when another horse might get two. Shane McCann rides him in all his work, and he told me that he has more gears than you think. He's not as slow as we think, and he has plenty of options."

 

LOVE ACTUALLY!

Two hours later a Gordon Elliott-trained horse was back in the winner's enclosure again but this time at Thurles race track when Shattered Love, with Jack Kennedy aboard, claimed the Horse & Jockey Hotel EBF Boreen Belle Mares Novice Hurdle after the odds-on favourite fell three from home. Up to that point it was six of one and half-a-dozen of the other as to which one would claim the prize but fate intervened and the five-year-old Yeats daughter was handed victory on a plate as Catcheragain fell at the last and the Joseph O'Brien-trained Kalopsia, although managing to stay on her feet, was no threat as she thirty-seven lengths adrift, albeit claiming second prize.

 

The winning jockey commented: "She jumped and travelled away and I was still going all right when Paul (Townend, on Asthuria) fell and I'm not sure how it would have worked out. She is a nice mare and is progressive and I was happy enough with how I was going (at the third-last). She'd stay further."

 

Gordon Elliott added: "It worked out great for us with Willie's runner falling, but she deserved it. We'll keep her in mares' races this season."

 

DINO SOARS!

Trainer Alan King has decided that the time has come for Dino Velvet to rise to the challenge and take on top-level rivals for the first time on December 27 in the Coral.co.uk Future Champions Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow. The son of Naaqoos will be seeking to make it two wins from three sorties over jumps in this Grade One contest. The three-year-old must have given his McNeill Family owners severe palpitations at Cheltenham last month when he fell at the last obstacle in the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle when it looked like he had the race in the bag but has since made amends by opening his account at Sandown Park earlier this month in the Beazley Insurance Introductory Juvenile Hurdle.

 

Alan King commented: "The plan with Dino Velvet is to go to Chepstow. I think the race will suit him as he stays very well and handled soft ground. He is the logical one to take there. He will be much sharper with his jumping. He was a little bit cautious at Sandown as he probably still remembered that fall at Cheltenham."

18th DECEMBER

 

RIDING ON AIR

The Nicky Henderson-trained Buveur D'Air, a Grade 1 winner over hurdles last season, was successful on his chasing debut yesterday. The son of Crillon only had three rivals in the Read Paddy Brennan At 32Red.com Novices' Chase which was initially taken along by Chic Name who soon faded by three out when the Malcolm Jefferson-trained Cloudy Dream took over. Buveur D'Air, with Aidan Coleman aboard, never looked in any trouble and proved it by making a confident leap into the lead over the last fence to claim the race by three-and-three-quarter lengths.

 

The winning jockey commented: "He enjoyed it. He was low and accurate. I wouldn't say he was brave in the sense of taking off outside the wings, but he took me right into every fence. He's a very nice racehorse."

 

Malcolm Jefferson, magnanimous in defeat, added: "The winner is a nice horse and we've run a grand race. We'll mind him now, as he's a better horse on better ground. We'll freshen him up in January and then bring him back. I don't think he needs any further, a good gallop over 2m will suit him on better ground when he can quicken. He's a grand horse."

 

MIST THIS ONE!

The last race at Haydock, the 32Red.com Handicap Hurdle, had to be seen to be believed! As it couldn't be seen, however, the result still had to be believed. The problem was the track was shrouded in thick fog and the runners were barely visible until they crossed the line when it could just be made out that one silhouette had passed the post about half a length in front of another.

 

Commentator, Stewart Machin, carried on gamely but soon abandoned the task saying: "I'm afraid I can't tell you what won, what finished second or whether they all got around. But certainly to the fore late on it looked like El Terremoto, Draytonian, Sharp Response and Super Sam. All those were involved. But in what order, make up your own mind."

 

In fact, the latter came third, fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively! It was announced that the race was narrowly won by the Evan Williams-trained Clyne, pursued by the Lizzie Kelly on Le Rocher. In what must be an event for the record books, no distances were published There was just a list of the finishing order with no official time given. It turns out that a stipendiary steward who was stationed at the winning post helped the judge to finalise the result.

 

Appropriately named Kirkland Tellwright, Clerk of the course, commented: "We saw it worsening and sent a stipendiary steward down to the winning post as a contingency. It was the last race and there's always a desire to complete the card if you can, but we have to admit that had that worsened or been as bad as that at the time of the first race we could not have done so."

 

Winning jockey Adam Wedge said: "It was only when I saw the wings that I knew a hurdle was coming up," he said. "[Visibility] couldn't have been much more than 50 yards."

 

Robin Mounsey, the BHA's head of media, added: "The welfare of horse and rider is paramount and the views of the jockeys were taken throughout the day, including before the last race. They gave the thumbs up they were happy the race could take place without welfare of horse and rider being impacted. The fog then started to come in shortly after the runners had set off in the last race and visibility was difficult. The judge made it clear he was going to have difficulty calling the result, but there was a stipendiary steward in the medical vehicle following the runners. He positioned himself on the line and was in a position to call the result. The team on course then took their time to clear the result and to make sure there was full confidence in the integrity of the result."

 

KNOW WHAT I MEAN?

Things weren't quite so opaque at Ascot and the Grade 1 JLT Long Walk Hurdle's runners were still visible and the winner and positions fully recorded. Making it seven wins from his last seven outings the Harry Fry-trained Unowhatimeanharry, ridden by Barry Geraghty, was the expected winner of this £100,000 feature and did it handsomely by four-and-a-half lengths. The JP McManus-owned eight-year-old turned out to be a confident staying novice hurdler last season and gave Harry Fry his first success since moving from the Dorset-based stables of Helen Nelmes.

 

The winning jockey commented: "He had to work harder today and it was a good performance. He's very good and he only does as much as he has to, and probably has a bit more class than he lets on."

 

17th DECEMBER

 

POLITICS RULES, OK?

This son of Poliglote sent a strong message at Ascot yesterday that he's aiming to be top novice this season. The Paul Nicholls-trained Politologue, on just his second start over fences (he won his first at Haydock in November), made all and won the Grade 2 Mitie Noel Novices' Chase by four lengths. Steered by the back-in-top-form Sam Twiston-Davies, the five-year-old grey produced his best jumping form to outrun and outclass any competition.

 

An unusually cautious winning trainer commented: "Next season he will be ready to take on the big boys but we won't do that this season. We will get some experience into him. I am not that mad about going too far with him this season. Two miles four, five or six is about as far as he needs to go. He is enthusiastic, he jumps, he has plenty of pace. You are all going to ask what he will do at Cheltenham but it is unlikely to be RSA. He could go two and a half and there are two and halfs at Aintree and Ayr. I am really focussing on next season. He will be awesome then and we are just going to mind him for that."

 

A POINT TO MENTION

Fifteen pounds lighter than the top-handicapped horse in the Grade 3 Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle at Ascot today, the Tony Martin-trained Golden Spear heads up a three-pronged bid for glory by the County Meath-based trainer. It will not have escaped the serious race-goer's attention that the latter has regularly claimed the biggest handicap races this side of the Irish Sea, both on the Flat and over jumps. Golden Spear, although rated no better than a 16/1 chance when bookies first announced their prices, has rapidly come into 7/2 with some Turf Accountants. This son of Killachy will have the full support of his stable companions, Quick Jack, winner of the Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. 'Petingo' Handicap at Leopardstown last November and Pyromaniac, a former Galway Hurdle winner, who was runner-up in that contest.

 

Tony Martin commented: "All three are in good order. Pyromaniac and Quick Jack haven't run over hurdles since the Galway Hurdle in July when they both ran well despite not having the clearest of runs. We're claiming 7lb off Quick Jack as he has plenty of weight. Golden Spear is the least experienced of the three over hurdles and hasn't run over hurdles since winning at the Listowel festival last year, but he won nicely on the Flat last time and has his chance off bottom weight. The better the ground, the more it will suit all three."

 

TED TALKS

Today's Lavazza Jolie Silver Cup Handicap Chase at Ascot could be the making of this son of Morosov or so his handler believes. The Nicky Richards-trained Eduard will be taking on a step-up in trip to three miles when he lines up for only his second outing after an eighteen-month absence. The Greystoke Stables' boss was obviously pleased with his eight-year-old's performance in November when he was only three lengths behind the winner, the Philip-Hobbs-trained Royal Regatta in the Grade 2 Stella Artois 1965 Chase this Berkshire track.

 

Nicky Richards commented: "He seems to be fine. The only bit of a doubt is I hope that I'm not going a fortnight too quick on him because he'd had a long lay-off. There isn't really another race for him in this country, but he's in grand fettle. I thought he ran a smashing race last time. His jumping was just a little rusty mid-race, but he finished very well. If he'd had jumped the last two real good he might have nearly won the race. He wasn't beaten far at all and was finishing faster than anything in the race. I've always thought he'd want three miles. He's been a big, strong horse now and he's got a grand old staying-chase pedigree.”

16th DECEMBER

 

BLOOMING GOOD!

Willie Mullins saddled another future star in the Online Tickets From www.tramore-racecourse.com Mares Maiden Hurdle at Tramore yesterday. Camelia De Cotte staked her claim for glory at next year's Cheltenham Festival when she won this two-mile contest by fifteen lengths. The standard of the race is perhaps a little questionable as the third and fourth runners came home some thirty and twenty-eight lengths adrift, respectively. This daughter of Laveron was making her debut in Ireland after coming third in her only previous start over hurdles in France and already she was a measly-priced 1/5 odds-on. Ruby Walsh kept the four-year-old handy, close to the pace, from the word go. Then as the duo approached the second flight from the finish, Camelia De Cotte easily cruised into the lead to become the hallowed heroine.

 

Winning jockey Ruby Walsh commented: "She was a little bit keen at home, so we didn't know how she'd handle the track, but she settled relatively well and jumped super. It wasn't the strongest race on paper, but I'd say it was a good performance Not many take that much pulling up at Tramore on quick ground, let alone soft ground. She did that nicely and I'm sure Willie will be happy."

 

Michael Shinners, racing PR manager added: "An impressive start, make no mistake, but those above her in the market are there because they've showcased stronger form so far. Still, those famed Ricci silks and a performance like that mean she's a mare we'll probably be looking to keep on-side."

 

THE GRADUATE

The 188Bet Graduation Chase at Exeter yesterday didn't unfold as had been expected. But that's horse racing! The one many had their eyes on, the Nicky Henderson-trained L'Ami Serge, threw away his chances by jumping markedly to the left throughout the race and this got noticeably worse as the contest progressed and the pace increased. This, in no way, belittles the performance by the winner, the Paul Nicholls-trained Le Prezien who, although obviously profiting from son of King's Theatre's capricious cavorting, more than merited his 10/11, favouritism. The J P McManus-owned five-year-old, ridden by Barry Geraghty, had already made his mark over fences by winning the Grade 2 Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial Novices' Chase at Cheltenham in November so great things were expected of him.

 

The winning trainer commented: "It was a nice race to support. He jumped a little bit novicey at Cheltenham and I was keen to get some more experience into him. Horses like him need to have plenty of races to get experience into them. He will go back up in trip, but we will take our time. There are no plans, I will talk to the team but he could run in another graduation chase. There are plenty of good races in the calendar and it is not all about Cheltenham. We've got some good novice chasers and they are the future for us. He jumped nicely today,"

 

Barry Geraghty added: "It came easy for us, I'd say Cheltenham is a stronger test. The runner-up, I wouldn't like to meet him the next day - we didn't see him at his best."

 

TEN FROM NINE

The Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle has been run nine times and has produced ten winners. That is because Jolly's Cracked It and Sternrubin dead-heated at last year's renewal. These two are back again tomorrow aiming for a more conclusive victory. This is the first time back on the track for the Harry Fry-trained Jolly's Cracked It since this race last year but Philip Hobbs' Sternrubin won the Listed William Hill Handicap Hurdle at this track in October and was fifth in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham last month. Four of the runners are Irish-trained: Tony Martin saddles Quick Jack, Pyromaniac and Golden Spear and Noel Meade is hoping the best from his Waxies Dargle. The latter is one of four runners in the race owned by JP McManus. The others are the Nicky Henderson-trained Hargam and stable companion Consul De Thaix and the Paul Nicholls-trained Modus, who will have Barry Geraghty aboard. This popular event used to be known as The Ladbroke and will be hotly contested by another Nicky Henderson entry, Brain Power, Meet The Legend, trained by Dan Skelton and Who Dares Wins from Alan King's yard.

15th DECEMBER

 

A FRIEND IN NEED

The188Bet Graduation Chase at Exeter today should decide what the optimum distance is for this son of King's Theatre. The Nicky Henderson-trained L'Ami Serge only has two others to beat in this two-mile-plus contest and the likelihood is that he'll lead the way into the winner's enclosure, with the help of jockey, Daryl Jacob. The six-year-old hasn't been seen since coming second in the Grade 1 Merseyrail Manifesto Novices' Chase at Aintree in April, following up his third slot in the JLT Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

 

The Seven Barrows-based trainer commented: "He's been in good form and sets a good standard. I'm not sure this is the right way round for him but he doesn't mind the cut in the ground. Trip is still the guessy part for him. He's always looked as if he might get two and a half and then you go there and he suggests he's not getting it. However, he looks great and we're looking forward to getting him out."

 

RIDING HIGH

The presence of Godolphin's Chief Executive at Newbury yesterday could have been an act of pure paternal solicitude or it could have been a covert tip for the shrewd punter. John Ferguson was ostensibly there to watch his youngest son, Alex, ride the Ben Pauling-trained High Bridge in the Blackmore Building Maiden Hurdle. The son of Monsun was making his first start since coming second in the totetrifecta Pick The 1, 2, 3 Maiden Stakes at Thirsk at the end of April when he was handled by Charlie Appleby. In fact the switch was so recent that the five-year-old was still sporting the colours of his former trainer. The Bloomfields-owned gelding did the honours for his new handler by taking the prize by by three lengths.

 

Ben Pauling commented: "We are all obviously over the moon and it means a lot. John Ferguson and Alex Ferguson prepared this horse and sent him to me in magnificent condition.

It is great for Alex to ride in a top-class novice hurdle so competently. He jumped well, travelled well and stayed well to the line. We will keep him to this trip, but then come March if he is good enough he may want further."

 

FORTH CAME FIRST!

Five months after unveiling the six-foot-six high Corten steel sculpture to mark the East Lothian track's bicentenary, it was royal payback time. The Charlie Longsdon-trained Forth Bridge, owned by Her majesty, won the Racing UK Anywhere Juvenile Hurdle at Musselburgh yesterday. This son of Bernardini's last victory was in the ApolloBet Weekly Golf Returns Maiden Stakes at Haydock last June although he did come close last month at Wetherby, losing the ROA/Racing Post Owners Jackpot Juvenile Maiden Hurdle by just a neck. This time, with Brian Hughes aboard, he set the record straight by beating the John Patrick Shanahan-trained Warp Factor by the same distance.

 

The winning jockey commented: “He’s a nice big horse and he liked that decent ground. He’s a lovely prospect and was a little green in front over the last but I was always going to win.”

 

14th DECEMBER

 

LOSING WEIGHT!

After riding the Peter Niven-trained Brian Boranha to victory in the Racing UK Profits Returned To Racing Handicap Hurdle Brian Hughes learnt the true meaning of the biblical expression: “ … and the first shall be last”! The problem was that the twenty-nine-year-old jockey weighed in two pounds lighter than he weighed out and so was disqualified and place at the back of the line.

 

Trainer Peter Niven explained: "There was a hole in the lead cloth. There's four panels and Brian's quite light so he had loads of lead. There were two or three [pieces of lead] in three panels but there was nothing in the back one, and they'd always spread them evenly."

 

The stewards later announced they accepted that the missing weight was accidental although the weight cloth had appeared in a "serviceable condition" before the race began.

 

FIRST RATE!

The daughter of Striking Ambition has a challenging name to live up to but the Michael Chapman-trained Striking Nigella hasn't come anywhere near being in the frame in seven outings. She continued her lack of success by trailing home last of six in yesterday's Betway Claiming Stakes at Southwell, forty-eight lengths behind the winner. That is discouraging enough for connections but the fact she has an official rating of 1 does rub it in even more. The handicapper dropped the six-year-old mare down to this lowest possible mark from the previous mark of 46 after her race at Thirsk in August, when she was beaten by thirty lengths in a selling handicap.

 

Trainer Michael Chapman, clearly not happy with the handicapper's rating commented: "She beat three horses last time and they were all rated above her so I feel somewhat misjudged. The horse doesn't know her rating so we're not worried. She's beaten three horses and they're still in training."

 

David Ashforth, former Sporting Life and racing Post journalist explained: "Such a rating is extremely rare and achieving it is not easy. It requires a level of failure below and beyond the commonplace. Striking Nigella has achieved that level, for which she can blame her mother, Fiona Fox. Between 2006 and 2008 Fiona Fox ran five times, runs which included finishing last of 16, last of 12 twice and eleventh of 13.”

 

A BRIDGE TOO FAR?

There's a royal presence at Musselburgh when the Charlie Longsdon-trained Forth Bridge lines up in the feature race of the day, the £20,000 Racing UK Anywhere Introductory Juvenile Hurdle. Owned and bred by the Queen, this son of Bernardini, with Brian Hughes aboard, will be opposed by seven rivals in this fifteen-furlong-plus contest. Forth Bridge, formerly a Flat racer trained by Michael Bell, was narrowly denied victory on his hurdling debut at Wetherby last month by the Alan King-trained Coeur De Lion.

 

The Chipping Norton-based trainer commented: "He is a lovely recruit from the Flat and he jumps well. Rather frustratingly he finished second at Wetherby and looking like the winner jumping the last. He'll come on for the run and looks a good prospect for juvenile hurdles this season."

 

13th DECEMBER

 

A DAI TO REMEMBER

Another son of King's Theatre finally got back into the winner's enclosure again at Ffos Las yesterday, the first time for more than eighteen months. West Wizard, who is with his third trainer in three years, showed great promise in his early days when with Nicky Henderson. The seven-year-old started his career with a bang when he won his bumper debut at Kempton Park by six lengths in March 2013. He then went straight for the hurdles and was runner-up in the next three contests. The Dai Walters-owned gelding was then, for some reason, moved to the Nigel Twiston-Davies yard and was deemed ready to tackle fences but that proved not to be a good decision as he fell in his first chase and came fifth in his next. It's early days but the third move to the Mid-Glamorgan-based Paul Morgan seems to have done the trick for West Wizard because he came second in the Vindico Beginners' Chase at the Kidwelly track at the end of November and went back there yesterday and claimed the Volvo Novices' Handicap Chase by four-and-a-half lengths.

 

Owner Dai Walters, Ffos Las founder and Chairman, commented: "I was very happy with him today. He was a big talking horse a couple of years ago and hopefully he's on his way back up. I think he likes this soft ground. He's had a lot of trouble with his knees and I just think cut in the ground suits him a lot better. We don't want to rush him. We'll see where we are in a month or six weeks and then try to find a race for him."

 

SHEIKH THE MONEY TREE!

Over six-hundred members of the public applied to ride in the Champions Willberry Charity Race on April 20, 2017, in which Nick Skelton, Ben Hobday, Tina Cook and William or Alice Fox-Pitt are also scheduled to compete. The event is in aid of The Bob Champion Cancer Trust and Hannah's Willberry Wonder Pony Charity. One not so surprising entrant, selected to ride alongside Nick Skelton, the Rio 2016 gold medallist, is the leading racehorse owner, Sheikh Fahad al Thani, who won the Newmarket Town Plate in July and is becoming a regular presence in such charity contests. Each of the competing riders has pledged to raise at least £2,500 and the target for the day is £100,000 to be split evenly between the two charities.

 

Ian Renton, Cheltenham's Regional Director commented: "The number of applicants to ride in the race were more than any of us could have expected and we'd like to thank everyone for their interest in the event. Selecting the final riders was incredibly hard but I believe we have a great line up of people to take part and hopefully raise plenty of money for two such worthwhile charities."

 

ONE TRACK, MIND!

A ninety-two-length defeat in the Grade 2 Fuller's London Pride Novices' Chase last month at Newbury is hardly a good omen for this Flemensfirth gelding when he lines up at Catterick today in the Come Racing New Year's Day Beginners' Chase. Trainer Warren Greatrex, however, seems to be sure that he has done all he can to restore One Track Mind's confidence ahead of today's contest when he will be partnered by his regular jockey, Gavin Sheehan.

 

The Hungerford-based trainer commented: "Gavin was happy, we were all very happy and there's no reason not to run him. He's fit and healthy and the schooling went well, so we're going to give it a go. At Newbury, I think it was the first time in his small, young career he'd done something like that and it shook him a bit and it took him a while to get over it. We've done plenty of schooling since and I was happy with what I saw (on Monday morning) and we go to Catterick. It looks a good little race. First and foremost we want to have a nice, clear round and get back on track. If he does that he'll be hard to beat, so we've got it a go."

12th. DECEMBER

 

MAURICE NOT MINOR

Ryan Moore made up for his disappointment at not steering Highland Reel to victory in the Longines Hong Kong Vase on Saturday. The three-times Champion jockey (2006, 2008, 2009) displayed his excellent equestrian skills aboard Maurice in the Longines Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin yesterday. The Noriyuki Hori-trained five-year-old, making his last-ever appearance on a race track, notched up Sha Tin four out of four with an impressive three-length success. As only the second Japanese horse to win three Group Ones abroad, he will now retire with the reputation as one of his country's greatest-ever racehorses.

 

Ryan Moore commented: "He's very good at a mile but he's better at ten [furlongs]. He gets better every time I ride him. He's a lot of fun to ride."

 

HORSES FOR COURSES

Some may have thought that Ruby Walsh's decision to ride Djakadam at Punchestown instead of Douvan at Cork was pushing his luck but the Count Kildare jockey got it spot on. Taking on a trip a good half-a-mile shorter than he's used to, the son of Saint Des Saints delivered impeccable jumping except for the last-but-one fence and ran his rivals ragged to win by nine lengths.

 

Winning trainer, Willie Mullins commented: "That was a good effort first time out. He was able to find a leg when he made his only bad mistake at the downhill fence but other than that he jumped very well. We hadn't made a plan beyond today but I'd imagine we'll be looking at some of the top Grade 1s including the Cheltenham Gold Cup in which he ran second last season and the season before."

 

Ruby Walsh added: "It was a good performance bar one mistake and it was good to win the race for the second year in a row up, beating two race-fit horses in Outlander and Sub Lieutenant."

 

HARRY UP!

Two young riders from the successful Ditcheat stables gave the Champion trainer a treble at Doncaster, two of which were the feature races of the day. Paul Nicholls first of all saddled All Set To Go in the bet365 Handicap Hurdle which jockey Harry Cobden claimed by four lengths. Then two races later it was the Jack Sherwood's turn to do the honours. He was aboard Present Man who made all in the Grade 2 bet365 December Novices' Chase and, despite a terrible mistake at the eighth obstacle, held on to win by one-and-three-quarter lengths. Perhaps the most impressive performance of the day was saved until the last event, the bet365 Summit Juvenile Hurdle in which Cliffs Of Dover, again with Harry Cobden aboard, lead from the word go in the bet365 Summit Juvenile Hurdle, with two-and-three-quarter lengths in hand at the line. That also made it a double for this season’s leading conditional jockey.

 

Harry Cobden commented: “He’s a proper horse, I was quick out of the gates on him today. I didn’t realise how far clear I was down the back and I think he just idled in the straight. I think he’d have gone again if anything had come close. He’s very exciting, I think he’ll go to the Triumph now.”

 

11th. DECEMBER

 

IT'S NOT REEL!

The Santa Anita Breeders' Cup winner had to settle for second place after being caught on the line and being denied the Sha Tin Longines Hong Kong Vase. The Aidan O'Brien-trained Highland Reel was bidding for a second successive victory in this 12-furlong Group One contest and jockey Ryan Moore had full confidence in this Galileo son and by the time they went past the post for the first time, it looked as though it could be mission accomplished. Trainer Michael Bell clearly had other ideas how the race should pan out and his Damian Lane-ridden Big Orange, who was from the outset kept handy in fifth slot, was urged to kick on approaching the seven-furlong marker, moving up to harry Highland Reel. This son of Duke of Marmalade, however, soon began to show the effects of those efforts at around three furlongs from home and dropped away to evetually finish in eleventh position out of fourteen runners. Ryan Moore, with just a furlong to go, seemed to have everything under control as various rivals prepared to throw down a challenge. The one who came under the radar was the Japanese raider, Noriyuki Hori-trained Satono Crown who, ridden by Joao Moreira, mounted a last-minute successful charge to claim the one-and-a-half-mile feature race by half a length.

 

The winning trainer commented: "I'm very happy the race went so well for us. He reminds me of another very good horse I trained called Duramente who was also a very good two-year-old and developed."

 

Joao Moreira added: "It's a dream come true. I always knew he had it in him to land a very big prize and turning in I had a lot of horse underneath me. I was held back a bit by Silverwave at one stage coming round the turn, but when he saw clear daylight he really picked up for me."

 

DJAK'S ALL RIGHT!

Having watched the son of Saint Des Saints settle for runner-up in two Cheltenham Gold Cups, doesn't seem to have dampened his connections' spirits and they are clearly looking forward to better things in today's John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase. Djakadam is a few weeks short of his eighth birthday and he is now bidding for a second victory in this Grade One feature race following his supreme, but not victorious, efforts at the Cheltenham Festivals.

 

Patrick Mullins, assistant trainer to his father, Willie, commented: "He's a fabulous horse and as he's still only seven going on eight we hope there's still a lot more to come from him. When he won this last year he beat Valseur Lido very easily and he's a very good horse in his own right, so you'd have to think a repeat performance would be good enough to win. It must have been a very tricky decision for Ruby to miss the ride on Douvan, but it's not like he's in danger of missing the ride next time or anything like that.”

 

SAM'S BACK!

The Paul Nicholls-trained Frodon provided Sam Twiston-Davies with a fitting return to the winner's enclosure in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup. The son of Nickname thus became only the second four-year-old to win this prestigious handicap chase at Cheltenham whilst giving his jockey a welcome big-race success after his recent return from serious injury. Last year's hero, the Philip Hobbs-trained Village Vic, bidding for a second successive victory, had ultimately to settle for minor honours.

 

The winning jockey commented: "I said he had a good chance, and it's important for me coming back from injury to get a big one on the board for the boss - I couldn't be happier. If he hadn't made a mistake at the ditch down the back the last time, you wonder what might have been. I was happy with my position and that's what we wanted to do today, give him a bit of space and the right horses to aim at. He jumped the last really nicely, but when the ground is like this it's a long old run-in. These days are very important. He's brave and it's a very special day."

 

Paul Nicholls added: "I enjoyed that, I thought he was awfully unlucky the last day. The rain suited him and I thought he'd go close today. Frodon's a good horse, he jumps well. They can all make the odd mistake, he's only a novice, but we put that right in the last month and he was a lot fresher today. He'd only run seven days before the BetVictor. The great thing is he is still a novice, we will mix and match but today was the day. It was great for Sam to have a winner on the big stage. It will have done his confidence the world of good."  

10th DECEMBER

 

WITH GOOD GRACE

This Nicky Henderson-trained Kayf Tara mare outclassed her twelve rivals and opened her hurdling account in the bangorBet 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle at you-know-where yesterday. This was an encouraging sign as it took Kayf Grace four attempts to get off the mark in the requisite number of bumpers. She obliged, however, by following up her first National Hunt Flat race victory with another win in the Grade 2 Goffs Nickel Coin Mares' Standard Open NH Flat Race. Yesterday the six-year-old looked well composed as Jeremiah McGrath rode her to a two-and-half length victory.

 

The winning trainer commented: "From what I saw, she looked good. She travelled and jumped well but she was expected to win that. She is good and doesn't need a lot of work. It was important to get her out today. We might let her do that again in a novices' race but it depends where the races fall. There is a Listed race for mares coming up in a couple of weeks' time and Theatre Territory who won on Tuesday could come back for that, but Kayf Grace won't. I'd like to think that the Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle at the Festival will be the long-term target."

 

VIC FOR VICTORY?

This could be one for the record books if this son of Old Vic his career-high rating to win the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham today. If this happens, Village Vic will become only the second horse in history to notch up back-to-back victories in this two-and-a-half-mile contest. The one concern is the fact that the Philip Hobbs-trained nine-year-old claimed the prize last year when he was bottom weight of 10 stone, with a rating of 136; this time around, however,he is on 11 stone 12 pounds with a rating of 158. Clearly the Minehead-based handler is hoping that his charge will show some improvement as he attempts to emulate the Andrew Croskery-trained Poquelin who claimed this contest both in 2009 and 2010.

 

Philip Hobbs commented: "He ran great at Cheltenham in the BetVictor and was just run out of it on the run-in. That was his first run of the season and hopefully he might have improved a bit for it since. He has been in good form since. The ground being good is a bit of an unknown as we know he goes well on soft. Maybe he won't be quite so effective on good, but that is only a maybe. We will just take our chance and go from there. He went up 3lb for the last run so hopefully it won't be beyond him."

 

STILL FRIENDS?

It must be difficult for jockeys when they find themselves in the position of competing against a horse, trained by the stable for which they regularly ride. This happened yesterday at Cheltenham. Paddy Brennan, who has played an important role to-date in the successes of Fergal O'Brien, was, ironically, aboard the Colin Tizzard-trained Theatre Guide when he won the Unicoin Group Handicap Chase, thus denying the Gloucestershire-based trainer victory by the shortest of distances – a nose. Conor Shoemark, who won on Perfect Candidate at this track in April, was entrusted with the ride again and was clearly determined to get the most out of this son of Winged Love by relentlessly galloping into the lead with the aim of putting pressure on the rest of the field in this three-mile-two furlong handicap. The more experienced Theatre Guide, however, didn't put a foot wrong and was definitely travelling the best as he moved effortlessly alongside Perfect Candidate. The latter wasn't going to give up without a fight and it seemed victory was his as he galloped on for the line. The son of King's Theatre, however, was the one who ultimately took the curtain call.

 

9th DECEMBER

 

TWO FOR ONE

This Lambourn-based trainer always seems to do well at Doncaster and he's taking no chances this afternoon. Of the three runners Nicky Henderson's sending on the three-hundred-and fifty mile round trip, two of them are targeting the same event, the 188bet.co.uk Novices’ Chase, the race he won last year with Volnay De ThaixMight Bite is undoubtedly a good hurdler but was a disappointment to his connections on his debut over fences last time out at Ffos Las in the Rob Davies Chemists Novices' Chase. That was last November so the long break might have given time for his trainer to sort him out. Not that this son of Scorpion will have it all his own way. His stable companion is a son of Kayf Tara, the sire who is a leading producer of excellent jumpers. Premier Bond is also making his debut over the larger obstacles after a establishing himself as a capable hurdler. So it will be an interesting contest.

 

AN ABSOLUTE STAR

Sunday's Longines Hong Kong Sprint is a contest that always seems a bridge too far for European trainers. Richard Fahey, however, is aiming to change all that with a son of Oasis Dream whom his handler describes as "an absolute star." Just over a year ago, however, things didn't look so rosy. When with another trainer, Growl had a pretty dismal record, amongst other things, finishing tenth out of thirteen in a mediocre all-weather handicap. Then, for whatever reason, the Dr. Marwan Koukash-owned gelding was transported up North to Richard Fahey's stables at Malton in North Yorkshire. Since then Growl's improvement has been meteoric especially in his last two starts. The transformation became particularly apparent in the British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot in October when this former mediocre all-weather performer blossomed into to a classy Group 1 sprinter, producing an amazing last-minute challenge to bag second place.

 

His ultra-modest trainer commented: "He is an unassuming character and it is hard to know how good he actually is. Growl is so straightforward that he could train himself. We got him just when he was starting to come right. He ran easily the best race of his life at Ascot and then when doing what he had to do to win at Doncaster last time - sprinters winning is good for their confidence. When I saw the photo of him arriving off the plane in Hong Kong I thought he looked a bit light, but now I've seen him here I think he's looking grand. Growl's got some good fast ground form, I'm not remotely worried by the bend and, though it is obviously not ideal, last year's Sprint winner came from an even higher gate."

 

SPUDULIKE!

The CF Roberts Electrical & Mechanical Services Mares' Handicap Chase at Cheltenham today should provide the champion jockey with an interesting ride. Richard Johnson will be aboard the Henry Daly-trained Queen Spud, one of the more experienced runners, who will be renewing her ongoing rivalry with the Michael Scudamore-trained Dawnieriver whom she got the better of at Fakenham in the middle of last month. The daughter of Multiplex is attempting to complete a hat-trick today. The Indian River mare was frustrated in that last defeat, however, when she was narrowly denied a four-timer, as a consequence, is slightly better off at the weights. It is likely, though, that this tough track will be handled better by Queen Spud a little better. This in no way a two-horse contest, however. There's the Ben Pauling-trained Treaty River who has probably improved since her chasing debut at Huntingdon on the 19th of last month. Dan Skelton's Yes I did could answer again in the affirmative and the Tom George-trained Song Saa could well be in tune.

 

8th DECEMBER

 

OVERCOMING THE HEX

A win aboard steeplechaser Munsaab yesterday marked National Hunt jockey Henry Brooke’s amazing return to racing at the very track, Hexham, where the twenty-six-year-old sustained life-threatening injuries just two months ago. It was only last week that the Yorshire-born jockey got back to race riding when his mount, Highland Lodge, was denied victory by a short head in a thrilling climax in the Betfred Becher Chase at Aintree. Clearly overjoyed to be back in the winner’s enclosure, Henry Brooke announced that his winnings of around £400 would be donated to Jack Berry House, the Injured Jockeys Fund rehab centre in Malton where he was helped to recovery from his horrific injuries. He had promised that any prize money from his first victory would be donated to the IJF and was terribly disappointed that he didn't win on Highland Lodge as the donation would have amounted to several thousands of pounds.

 

Henry Brooke commented: “I’m delighted to be back riding winners and all I want to do is get stronger and better. I’m hoping this will be the end of all the press coverage, to be honest. I’ve had some unbelievable support, which I really appreciate, but I just want to get back to normal. I suppose in a way it’s nice to do it at Hexham, but I would rather have done it at Aintree on Saturday! It’s nice to ride my first winner back for Jimmy after that. I’ve got some nice rides at Newcastle (on Thursday), so hopefully I can ride another winner there and get things going again. I’m only going to get fitter and stronger. I watched the finish back today and I looked a bit untidy. I don’t want to be remembered as the jockey who had that fall at Hexham. I’m more determined than I’ve ever been.”

 

TEN FOUR? NO SIXTY!

This son of Presenting, returning to the track after a thirty-four week absence, was given a master class in how to win a race by the champion jockey. The Philip Hobbs-trained Ten Sixty landed the two-and-a-half-mile Advent Handicap Hurdle at Leicester yesterday. The six-year-old was held up at the back of the field for the first part of the race and didn't start to make any headway until about five hurdles from home. Added to that, his jumping over the fourth and third wasn't anything to write home about. Richard Johnson, however, on his only ride of the day, clearly demonstrated why he's the champion and persevered, getting his mount just in front of the Dan Skelton-trained Abricot De L'Oasis after the last and battled on to the line to win by a head.

 

The winning jockey commented: "He is a very honest horse. The summer break has really done him the world of good as he needed a bit of time. He is a staying chaser in the making."

added: "The jockey gave him a wonderful ride but the horse stayed on very well - he didn't quit. It has taken time for the penny to drop. I would think we'll keep him to hurdles this season. We'll discuss it with Philip."

 

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

There could be trouble ahead at Newbury if plans to save this historic race develop as they are rumoured. There is talk that Ladbrokes has offered to step in as the new sponsor of the Hennessy Gold Cup at the Berkshire track. Any such move would defy the the British Horseracing Association's Approved Betting Partners policy, whereby race sponsors are obliged to give a percentage of their on-line earnings to the sport, something that Ladbrokes, now merged with Coral, have explicitly refused to do. Strong objections are bound to be voiced by the BHA and the Horsemen's Group at this rumoured Newbury decision, even though the ABP agreement has not been accepted by all racetrack organisations. The offer is obviously very tempting for Newbury, which is neither a Jockey Club Racecourse nor a member of ARC, as Ladbrokes/Coral could well inject huge amounts of money into this great race. If this betting conglomerate does enter into a sponsorship, however, it is interesting to speculate what the future holds for the new Hennessy Gold Cup? Clearly most people would want the name 'Hennessy' to be kept as it is very much a part of racing history. There should be no problem there, though, as Mandarin who won the first running of this race at Cheltenham in 1957 and again in 1961. when the contest was transferred to Newbury, was owned by Peggy Hennessy, a member of the sponsor's family. If the name isn't retained the same thing could happen as happened to the Whitbread Gold Cup which lost its historical identity when the famous brewery removed its sponsorship in 2001.

7th DECEMBER

 

THE CUP RUNNETH OVER!

After sixty years this company's sponsorship of one of the most prestigious awards, won by the likes of ArkleMany CloudsBobs WorthDenman and Triolo D’Alene, has come to an end. The Hennessy Gold Cup, one of the longest-running sponsorship partnerships in horse racing, was awarded for the last time to the Richard Johnson-trained Native River on November 26.

 

Dominic Burke, Newbury racecourse Chairman, commented: “For anyone with even a passing interest in jump racing, the Hennessy Gold Cup has been a race that has captured the imagination. It has helped to identify future stars, confirmed existing champions and produced as much emotion and excitement as almost any other race in the calendar. We are enormously grateful to several generations of the Hennessy family and the company’s management team for their wonderful support of such a special event. But everything comes to an end at some point and it is fitting that the sponsorship is drawing to a close after such a thrilling race to mark the 60th Hennessy Gold Cup as the highlight of two wonderful days of top-class jump racing last month.”

 

A TRYING TIME

The Turf Club's Rule 212, whose implementation has sometimes produced considerable controversy, is to be amended. This rule deals with the tricky situation of non-triers. The most recent incident involved JP McManus' Noble Emperor who was punished under this rule in April and his jockey, Barry Geraghty, received a 30-day ban, which was, however, subsequently overturned. The Turf Club has been debating this issue for some six months and it has now been revealed that rule will henceforth be divided into four categories according to the alleged severity of the offence.

 

Denis Egan Chief Executive Officer of the Turf Club, commented: "The thing is you've the one rule for high- and low-level offences; now we'll break it into four parts. The first will be a blatant stopping job, which will be a 90-day ban for the horse, for one. The second will be when the rider doesn't make a genuine, real, timely effort. The third will punish horses running in a condition which precludes their chance of winning; the fourth will be for misjudged rides. We hope to complete this in about a fortnight. It will be the most complete running and riding regulation in any jurisdiction.”

 

REAL COOL

Uttoxeter proved to be a successful start to a chasing career for the David Pipe-trained Champers On Ice prompting connections to wonder how the rest of the season will proceed. The six-year-old triumphed in two out of five starts over hurdles last year and yesterday's contest, the three-mile-plus Signs 2000 Novices' Chase, was his first appearance since since coming third in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last March. Not surprisingly, Champers On Ice was the measly short-priced 1/5 favourite only having to deal with two other contenders, Dueling Banjos and Have A Go Hero. As expected this duo proved no match for the Tom Scudamore-ridden grey, who when he emerged from the fog was clearly in the lead as they rounded the home turn to conclude this little stroll in the park with a twenty-seven-length victory.

 

Winning trainer David Pipe commented: "We're pleased. Apart from one mistake he jumped nicely and did what he had to do. He does jump a bit left-handed - he did that over hurdles as well - so we'll stick to left-handed tracks and see where we go. I haven't really made a plan. We've been waiting for softer ground, so it was nice to get that and get his first run out of the way. It's a good start to his chasing career and hopefully he'll improve from it."

 

6th DECEMBER

 

MOTHER-OF-ALL  AWARDS!

At the Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) award ceremony yesterday at Leopardstown a popular female stole the show and she wasn't a horse. Eighty-seven-year-old Maureen Mullins, widow of the late and great Paddy, forever remembered for his successes with Dawn Run, was presented with the Contribution to the Industry award. The mother of trainers Willie, Tom and Tony received a standing ovation. When asked if she had a favourite son, Mrs Mullins replied that she had not. At this point the MC of the proceedings, Des Cahil, interjected that he reckoned it was Willie.

 

Maureen Mullins added after some thought: "Well, I would say that Tony needed the most forgiving."

 

Some time later said son, Tony, commented that, although his mother was "as sharp as ever," he believed she had got the year wrong when she quoted Caughoo's 1947 Aintree National victory as her favourite racing memory. As it turned out the remarkable dame of racing was right but I expect she'll forgive her wayward son again!

 

The award for The Outstanding Achievement of the year must have been hotly contested but the ultimate recipient was the former Hon. Michael Morris, now known as 'Mouse'. The Tipperary trainer is known for his quick wit. After he won this year's Irish National with Rogue Angel and the Aintree spectacular with Rule The World, he was told by his son Jamie that the social media pages were packed with messages from people who said they couldn't understand an emotional Morris when he was interviewed on TV after the race. The sixty-five-year-old without hesitation quipped: "I couldn't understand what I was saying either.”

 

A MARCUS OF RESPECT

Yesterday in London marked the fiftieth renewal of the Horserace Writers & Photographers Derby Awards and the winner was …... Daily Mail racing correspondent, Marcus Townend who was crowned Racing Reporter of the Year. The fifty-two-year-old journalist, with a twenty-seven-year career with the Mail, writing under the pseudonym Captain Heath, beat both Jon Lees and Lee Mottershead from the Racing Post and the Guardian's Chris Cook. The John Oaksey Trophy was presented to the East Yorkshire-born writer in recognition, among other things, of his well-publicised campaign this summer when he raised £14,000 for the racehorse charity, HEROS, by competing for the first time in a race at Windsor.

 

The judges made their decision based on the examination of three submitted articles from each contender and came to the conclusion that Marcus Townend's exclusives and a marvellous report of his success at Windsor in the Mail on Sunday warranted the esteemed award.

 

Marcus Townend commented: : 'I am deeply honoured to receive this award after such a memorable year and it is always special to be recognised in this way by your peers. It is the first thing I've won since a 20-20 cricket competition in my early 20s!”

 

CROWNING GLORY

It's that time of the year. Awards are being dished out, right, left and centre. At the same ceremony, mentioned above, Jim Crowley completed what must have been his best year ever by being named Jockey of the Year. The new champion Flat jockey was up against some tough competition in this category. Not only did he have to see off the leading apprentice, Josephine Gordon but also National Hunt champion Richard Johnson and Ryan Moore.

 

Aidan O'Brien whose season has probably been beyond his wildest dreams, was voted Trainer of the Year, where he had strong contenders such as the Epsom-based trainer, Laura Mongan, the County Carlow king, Willie Mullins and flavour of the month, Colin Tizzard. As expected,

Coolmore, whose horses are mainly trained by Aidan O'Brien, was crowned the Owner of the Year, beating Jean Bishop, Ontoawinner, Strecker & Burke and Susannah Ricci. The prize for International Trainer of the Year went to Godolphin handler, Charlie Appleby, recently enjoying great success in Australia. Others competing for this prestigious award were David O'Meara, Sir Michael Stoute and Roger Varian.

5th DECEMBER

 

OSCAR WINNER

O'Brien scores again. No not that O'Brien. Nor that one! The Naunton-based Fergal O'Brien who received some sort of consolation for his disappointment at Aintree on Saturday when he watched his stable star, Alavorado, fall in the Becher Chase at Aintree. Yesterday things were more to his liking. Oscar Rose, with Paddy Brennan aboard, made it fourth time lucky in the Betfred TV Henrietta Knight Mares' Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race at Huntingdon. The 4/1 shot, son of Oscar, finished just outside the frame last time out at Cheltenham but clearly demonstrated that better things were on their way.

 

Fergal O'Brien commented: "She is very good and I'm delighted for the owners. Paddy Brennan said she just travelled well throughout the race and said she felt like the best horse. She had a bit of a look when she hit the front, but he said he enjoyed the ride. Conor Shoemark gave her a lovely ride at Cheltenham and she has progressed from that. It is a shame he didn't ride her as he brought the owners to me and is a big part of the team, but Paddy rides everything when he can. We can't run her in an ordinary bumper, but they will let us run at Sandown in a Listed bumper so we will probably do that. It is a similar route to Colin's Sister who finished fifth in this last year and came second in the Sandown race."

 

NO WARREN PEACE

One trainer was visibly disappointed by the debut performance of his stable star in the Constant Security Services Novices' Chase at Wetherby. Hungerford-based Warren Greatrex was clearly at a loss to explain why Cole Harden finished second, seven lengths behind the winner, the Dan Skelton-trained Its'afreebee, even though his jockey, Gavin Sheehan, was a bit more positive. The diminutive son of Westerner seemed to be doing everything right. He led the field until the fifth jump when he was passed by the eventual winner. The seven-year-old didn't give up, though. He and regained superiority after the seventh but then was outpaced by the ninth and made hard going of it up the home straight, even allowing himself to be passed by the Harriet Bethell-trained rank outsider Newberry New, as they approached the last but Gavin Sheehan was having none of that and managed to rally his mount sufficiently on the run-in to gain the second slot.

 

Warren Greatrex commented:“Gavin is more bullish than I am. I thought it was work in progress. I didn’t think he was as fluent as he should be. The winner is a fair horse, but he was third best going to the last when the outsider made a mistake. I’m probably being harsh on him, but we’ll have another go around Christmas and go up in trip to three miles.”

 

NOT ENOUGH VROUM!

Two of the three mares running in the seven-strong field in the Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse yesterday dominated the first two places but the winner wasn't the favourite. The Willie Mullins-trained Vroum Vroum Mag had to settle for second-best again when Apple's Jade, trained by Gordon Elliott scored by a short head. The son of Voix Du Nord, with Ruby Walsh aboard, looked well in command and ready for victory. That discounted the determnation of Bryan Cooper, who, recovering from a nasty-looking fall just half an hour earlier, managed to get more from the Gigginstown House Stud-owned four-year-old and claimed victory. Ironically the winner was one of the horses originally trained by Willie Mullins before Michael O'Leary moved them all to Gordon Elliott's yard!

 

The winning jockey commented: "I didn't think I'd be riding again after the fall, thank god the impact was on my left leg, the better of the two! She's so tough, I made the call last week (to ride Petit Mouchoir) and I maintain that was right, but she is progressing with each race. I didn't know she's be coming here last week but it was a fair call, she was bouncing and if she came back to her form of last year she had to have a chance. Gordon told me I knew her, I knew she stayed and last year at Aintree I felt she was a stayer. She's only four, maybe in two years she'll be a World Hurdle horse, this year the Mares' Hurdle over two-five might be her race, but I'll leave that to others to decide."

 

Gordon Elliott added: It's great it worked out. She had a hard race last week, but I'm in a lucky position training for Gigginstown and they left it up to me - she actually weighed more than before she went to Newcastle. I'm delighted for Bryan as he needed that. She's so brave and I'd say she needs three miles before the season is out."

4th DECEMBER

 

SCEAUX FAR SCEAUX GOOD

A victory in yesterday's Tingle Creek Chase notched up Willie Mullins' Grade 1 one win for his first runner of the season in Britain and and challenged all the cynics who doubt that he can still remain Ireland’s champion trainer. Jockey Ruby Walsh was clearly very moved when Un De Sceaux claimed Sandown's feature race, beating the dual Tingle Creek champion, Sire De Grugy by a length. The County Carlow king has had to endure a couple of knocks recently; firstly sixty of horses, owned by Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown Stud, were removed from his stables and then he lost one of his best horses, Vautour, in a freak accident in the paddock. Yesterday's victory marked a second Grade 1 success for Willie Mullins in two weeks.

 

The winning jockey, not one to mince his words, commented: “The more you write us off, the more you piss us off and the harder we try. We are all part of the team. We have a huge amount of talented staff and we all feel the same that we are lucky enough to ride for a guy who tries to do the right thing at the right time. It’s great when he gets rewarded and you ride a big winner for him.”

 

ONE FOR THE ROAD

The Saeed bin Suroor-trained daughter of Exceed and Excel fully earned her place in the all-weather championship finals at Lingfield on Good Friday when she won the 32Red.com Conditions Stakes at Wolverhampton yesterday. Dubai One was back on the track just six days after an easy victory in the five-furlong 32RedSport.com Nursery at Newcastle on Monday but that didn't stop her taking on so soon higher class rivals over the same distance. The Godolphin-owned filly seemed anxious to get the job done and transported jockey, Pat Cosgrave, into a handy position behind the pace-setting Monte Cinq and about a furlong from home she headed for home and just managed to fend off a last-minute challenge from the William Haggas-trained Gheedaa by half-a-length.

 

The winning jockey commented:"We dropped her to five from six at Newcastle as she was a bit keen before. We put a hood on the last day as well. We took the hood off today and that helped. She's all speed and a quick-turning five is up her street and she's qualified now for the big race at Lingfield. That race is over six and hopefully by then she'll have relaxed a little more by then, but she got the job done."

 

DREAMS DASHED

As expected the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase provided all the drama yesterday at Aintree with a short head preventing a fairytale ending. It was a two-fold dream: the horse that won the three-mile-plus contest last year was bidding for a place in history as the first to notch up back-to-back successes: the jockey, just seven weeks after sustaining horrific life-threatening injuries in a fall at Hexham in October, was assisted in his remarkable recovery by the dream of returning to ride last year's winner to victory. The dream almost became a reality as the James Moffatt-trained Highland Lodge, with Henry Brooke aboard, went into the lead five out and looked as if he was going to succeed only to be reeled in by the David Pipe-trained Vieux Lion Rouge, ridden by Tom Scudamore, in the last few strides.

 

A clearly disappointed Henry Brooke commented: "Maybe I should have waited a little bit and taken my time a bit more. I was on the rail but he drifted over. Obviously I am disappointed he hasn't won, which I came back to do. I don't like finishing second but hopefully he will get into the National now."

 

An equally emotional owner, Simon Wilson, added: "I thought he ran a brilliant race. He jumps for fun and you could see them all struggling behind him. It's a long way in on your own and he's got done but how can you be disappointed with that? Just tell Mr Smith to put him up a couple of pounds to make sure he gets in the National. That is the ultimate target as he just loves jumping these fences."

 

Winning trainer, David Pipe, added: "I wasn't sure he was quite going to get there but once Scu (jockey, Tom Scudamore) got the running rail at the Elbow the horse has responded well," said trainer David Pipe, who now has to plan a route back to the National - which may not involve another race. The difficult thing now is to decide whether to run him again. You are probably high enough to get in now so you don't want to risk going down a few pounds and you don't want to risk going up a few pounds either. That's the frustrating thing sometimes with a National horse, he might not run again until the race."

 

3rd DECEMBER

 

LODGE A CLAIM

Neither punctured lung nor broken ribs, injuries sustained at Hexham in October, were enough to prevent this determined Yorkshire-born jockey from riding Highland Lodge in today's Grade 3 Becher Handicap Chase at Aintree. The rider in question is Henry Brooke who has been dreaming of returning to tis feature event aboard the James Moffat-trained ten-year-old, who, just twelve months ago, was the shock 25/1 winner of this three-mile-plus contest. If he makes it today, this son of Flemensfirth would the first to achieve back-to-back successes, although two horses have won it twice: Into the Red (1994 and 1996) and Hello Bud (2010 and 2012).

 

Henry Brooke commented: "It was always my main intention to come back for this ride and Highland Lodge felt in great order when I sat on him at Jimmy Moffatt’s last week. He enjoys the fences and hopefully he can give me another nice spin."

 

BAILEY WON'T YOU PLEASE COME HOME!

Sandown is the target for the Kim Bailey-trained Charbel when he lines up in the four-strong in the Grade 1 Racing Post Henry VIII Novices' Chase this afternoon. Although all eyes appear to be on the Nicky Henderson-trained Altior, winner of the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, the Andoversford-based trainer has high hopes for his two-mile novice chaser, who was victorious in the Kalahari King Beginners’ Chase at Uttoxeter last time out in June, defeating the likes of Top Notch and Le Prezien.

 

Kim Bailey commented: “He deserves to go and take on Altior as it will pinpoint where we go later in the season. Sandown is never easy, but David Bass was very good on him at Uttoxeter and met every fence right. He’ll be very lucky to do that at Sandown over those Railway Fences, though. It will be a proper race.”

 

OBEAUX IN TUNE

Trainer Alan King saddled the 25/1 winner of the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle for the second successive season, when his Messire Des Obeaux followed the success of Label Des Obeaux's triumph last year. As seems to be the trend just lately it was a small field, just seven runners. What the race lacked in numbers, however, it made up for with excitement with a thrilling finish, with the sight of three runners battling it out to the end. Ballyandy, last year's Champion Bumper hero rendered, as expected, another stalwart performance but still failed to break his duck over hurdles after three attempts. This contest has been the making of many a quality winner, such as Fingal Bay and Taquin Du Seuil so the winner's achievement takes a lot of taking in. The son of Saddler Maker, the youngest in the field (there were five five-year-olds and one six-year-old), won the Bathgate Group Handicap Hurdle by ten lengths last time out at Bangor in November.

 

Winning trainer Alan King commentedsaid: "Between the last two I thought he had run very well and would be a good third, but he's knuckled down well. That's the first time he's been asked a question like that and he's responded. Giving 7lb to Nigel's horse [Ballyandy] is a good performance. We always thought he was very good, but this was a cracking Winter Hurdle with real depth. He's a horse that is going to get better as he is big and rangy.”

 

2nd DECEMBER

 

NOT BAD FOR SLAD

This Slad-based trainer won't be putting his feet up this weekend, not when he's saddling two hopefuls in both the Tingle Creek chase and the Becher Handicap Chase. Tom George may not hit the headlines as often as the currently riding-high Colin Tizzard, for instance, so it may come as a bit of a surprise that he has actually saddled more winners (32) this season than that Sherborne-based handler. Tom George's big weekend revolves around the performance of God’s Own, ridden by Adrian Heskin, in the six-runner highlight at Sandown where he comes up against the Willie Mullins-trained Un de Sceaux and his Sir Valentino at Aintree who, steered by Noel Fehily, takes on a whole host of contenders, including last years' winner, Highland Lodge,the Liverpool track specialist, Saint AreThe last Samuri and Double Ross.

 

Comparing himself to Colin Tizzard, Tom George commented: “The numbers are the same. But the quality has gone up. However it is not an overnight process, it has to happen over a few years and you sacrifice a few that might have won a poor race at Fakenham for a nice young horse which might not win for 18 months. I think we’re heading in the right direction now though.

 

Tom George who had the presence of mind to snap up Adrian Heskin as his stable jockey when the latter's job with Barry Connell in Ireland came to an end explained: “I knew a fair bit about him. A couple of years ago I wouldn’t have been in a position to take on someone like that. Thankfully it looks the right call. He’s very up together. When he gets on a horse he knows the dam and the dam’s sire and he spent a day off earlier this week visiting National Hunt stallions. He’s also worked out British courses very quickly. He’s won on his first rides at a lot of them and, though he’s only been here a couple of months he’s already telling me which courses would suit which horses.

 

UTTER FOR SUTTER!

A Yorkshire based trainer is making the three-hundred-mile round trip to Wolverhampton tomorrow with eight of his horses. Mark Johnston has his eye, in particular, on his two-year-old Sutter County who he hopes will get back into his winning ways in the £19,000 32Red.com Conditions Stakes. This five-furlong contest on Tapeta is a Fast-Track Qualifier for the six- furlong £150,000 32Red.com Three-Year-Old Championships over which will be staged on the Lingfield Park Polytrack on All-Weather Championships Finals Day on this Dunstall Park track on his debut in March and was only was beaten a neck by Kananee in a six-furlong Fast-Track Qualifier on Tapeta at Newcastle last month.

 

Charlie Johnston, mark's assistant commented: "We are very happy with Sutter County. He came out of Newcastle with a huge amount of credit. He had an 8lb penalty, which is a lot of weight to give away, and emerged as the best horse in the race. We have kept him on the go with Finals Day in mind and it would be nice to get this Fast-Track Qualifier under our belts - then we can work back from Good Friday. P J rode him at Newcastle and said he stayed the six furlongs very well and wouldn't be worried about going a bit further, but the one breathtaking performance that put this horse on the map came over Saturday's course and distance. He was very effective over it in March and we hope nothing has changed since then.”

 

CRAFTY WINNER

The last race of the day at Market Rasen, the 1stsecuritysolutions.co.uk Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle, proved lucky for this Cheltenham Festival-winning rider. Ryan Hatch was aboard the Alex Hales-trained Crafty Roberto who had not been in the winner's enclosure for more than three years. The eight-year-old son of Intikhab this time was in blinkers which seem have done the trick because he made a last-minute rally to deny victory to the odds-on favourite Jaunty Inflight by a length and three-quarters, thereby also presenting his rider with his sixteenth winner of this season.

 

The winning trainer commented: "It has been a long time, but he likes it here as his last win was here three years ago. He had just been holding a bit back for himself, so we tried something different and decided to put the blinkers on and, to be fair, he stuck his head down well. Ryan gave him a great ride. The other horse was two lengths clear coming to the last, but he has just outstayed him. I had it in the back of my mind that if he won today he would go to Taunton next week for a 0-110 race over hurdles."

 

1st DECEMBER

NOT AS EXPECTED

Super Sam scored in the Finnings Handicap Hurdle at Ffos Las yesterday but it wasn't the Sam we were expecting - Sam Twiston-Davies – returning after and absence of seven-and-a-half weeks because of injury. It was the Venetia Williams-trained seven-year-old grey, winning for the second time in a week after almost two years off the track. Just before the third flight from home five-pound claiming jockey, Charlie Deutsch, decided to go for it, aftertracking the leader Time For Champers thus far. The 10/11 favourite, not showing any ill effects as a result of his easy victory at Hereford last Wednesday, responded well and shrugged off the challenge by Southport by a length-and-a-half, denying the other 'super' Sam a comeback victory.

 

The winning jockey commented: "He was pricking his ears at the end. He just stays well and he's very gutsy. I was confident if he was like he was last week. You just don't know. He seems to have come out of it really well by the looks of it, so I'm really pleased with him."

 

A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH!

Victory in the ten-furlong Betway Conditions Stakes at Lingfield Park yesterday must have certainly warmed the cockles of his new connections' hearts. The Jamie Osborne-trained Battalion, bought for 70,000 guineas at Tattersalls last month, claimed this race for the second year running, making it the third win of his career on the Polytrack All-Weather. This son of Authorized, originally trained by William Haggas, triumphed in the 2014 Churchill Stakes, over the same distance, also at this Sussex track in 2014. The six-year-old, ridden by William Carson seemed a little reluctant to get involved at first, settling at the rear of the field but, by the time the seven runners entered the straight, the Melbourne 10 Racing-owned gelding went into the lead about a furlong from home and eventually left the 5/4 favourite Master The World trailing some four lengths in his wake.

 

Jamie Osborne commented: "Battalion did it nicely today. It was a bit of a fact-finding mission and I probably wouldn't get too carried away because he did get the run of the race and maybe the favourite underperformed. We have got some decisions to make now because he has been accepted to go to Dubai and we wanted to see what happened today before making a decision. It is possible he could go to Meydan and, if he did, it is not impossible that he could come back for the Winter Derby and Finals Day. We have got to decide whether we want to put him through that. The prize money in Dubai is very tempting, but then again we have super prize money here during the winter season and it looks like he will be one of the better mile and a quarter horses.”

 

RIDING HIGH

Saturday's Betfred Becher Chase at Aintree will provide the opportunity to see Brian Hughes riding The Last Samuri. This Ulster-born rider had a humdinger of a November, notching up over thirty winners and a victory over the Grand National fences would be the crowning glory for an incredible few weeks and maybe the start of another high-scoring month. The Kim Bailey-trained son of Flemensfirth's last impressive performance was also at this Merseyside track in April when he was runner-up to Rule The World in the Grand National. As stable jockey, David Bass, has opted to be aboard Charbel at Sandown, the Andoversford-based trainer was happy to book the riding-high Brian Hughes.

 

Brian Hughes commented: "I'm very much looking forward to it. I won the Topham on Always Waining for Peter Bowen, he was a grand little horse who came alive around there. I then got off him to ride Frankie Figg and he won a couple more! I've had a few good spins around there and I'm really looking forward to another one."

 

30th NOVEMBER

 

OH 'APPY DAYS!

This dual-purpose trainer, based in Worcestershire, who got his first licence in 1997, after working with the likes of Jenny Pitman, Martin Pipe and Francois Doumen, notched up the 1,000th winner of his training career. This was achieved yesterday at Lingfield Park when Ian Williams saddled the appropriately named Appy Days in the Call Star Sports On 08000 521 321 Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race at Lingfield. The daughter of King's Theatre, owned by top golfers, Lee Westwood and Danny Willett, was given a patient race by his jockey, Tom O'Brien, held up in rear in the early stages of the contest. Then about four out her rider switched her to the right, urging her into the lead well over a furlong from the winning post, from where the duo quickened and claimed the prize by an easy nine lengths.

 

The winning trainer commented: "It's great and quite aptly-named as well. It's huge. I wish my father was still alive. It would be great for him. It's something you never dream of doing. It's a great feeling. We've been very fortunate and won at every racecourse in England, Scotland and Wales. We've managed to do a bit of everything - Grade Ones in France and a Group Three in Dubai. I wouldn't say we punch above our weight, but if you've got the horse we'll win with it somewhere. Achieving this is something that has made me feel good about what I do.

 

SAM'S BACK!

After seven and a half weeks' absence due to a damaged spleen after a fall at Chepstow on October 9, Paul Nicholls' stable jockey can't wait to get back where the action is. Sam Twiston-Davies returns to the saddle at at Ffos Las today when he will be aboard Southport, trained by his father Nigel, in the two-and-a-half-mile Finnings Handicap Hurdle.

 

The twenty-four-year-old rider, who is hoping to ride on Saturday when his boss, Paul Nicholls, has a number of runners at Sandown, Aintree and Chepstow commented: "I'm looking forward to it. The horse is in good form. He's run well in a couple of novice hurdles. It will be interesting to see how he goes on his handicap debut. I'll just graft away and see how we get on. I'm not sure where I'm going this weekend, no plans as yet. There's lots of options with the meetings that are on, so that's really nice. It's been one of those things, it's part of a jockey's life. It's been a learning curve. I just want to move on and get back to where we were."

 

A STRAIGHT SWAP

It has been announced that Newmarket trainer, Roger Varian, has bought Clive Brittain's Carlburg Stables and will be operating from there next season. In fact, there could be some sort of a swap as Simon Crisford, Godolphin's former racing manager turned trainer, currently rents boxes from Clive Brittain, and could, if all works out, become the next resident at Kremlin House by the end of the season. The latter stables were taken over by Roger Varian in February 2011 after the retirement of his mentor Michael Jarvis.

 

Roger Varian commented: "It's an honour and a privilege to purchase such a historic yard in Newmarket. I have great admiration for Clive Brittain as a person and a professional and I hope that myself and my family will enjoy Carlburg for as many years as Clive and Maureen have. An extended thank you must go out to all of my owners whose continued support has made this possible."

 

Clive Brittain added: “It will give me enormous pleasure to watch what he can achieve from a yard which has been a very generous landlady to me over four decades. My experience tells me that Roger's dedication bodes well, and I wish him, his owners and of course his staff every success".

 

29th NOVEMBER

 

HE'S THE TOPS!

The Autumn Gala Novices' Chase at Plumpton proved the winning ticket for this horse of the highest quality. The Nicky Henderson-trained Top Notch, made it two wins in a row from three starts over fences, having clocked up his first victory at Warwick just twelve days ago. His regular jockey, Daryl Jacob, gave the son of Poliglote a positive trip from the word go and the five-year-old responded with an impressive round of jumping. Only the Paul Nicholls-trained Romain De Senam seemed up to mounting any sort of challenge. When it came to the turn for home, however, Top Notch, despite being eleven pounds heavier than his only serious rival, easily went clear before the second-last and clinched the contest with a six-length victory.

 

The winning jockey commented: "I was very happy with him. It wasn't ideal, as you didn't want to really be making the running, but I had no option. It's another learning curve and he'll be a lot more better for it. He's getting quicker and slicker."

 

Michael Shinners, a spokesman for Sky Bet added: "Top Notch showed a really likeable attitude and was very slick over his fences as the pace quickened. He remains unchanged with Sky Bet at 16/1 for both the Racing Post Arkle and the JLT and it will be interesting to see if connections keep him at two miles or step him up in trip."

 

JUST WILD ABOUT HARRY

The Breedon Aggregates Handicap Hurdle at Ludlow yesterday was the scene of some rejoicing for the owner-trainer of son of Gold Well. Roger Teal purchased the seven-year-old, originally trained by Gary Moore, for just for £3,000 at Ascot's Tattersalls Sales earlier this month because he wanted to give his son Harry more experience in the saddle. It was a shrewd move, too, as he came second at Southwell the first time out for the Hungerford-based handler - and it rewarded him with victory on his second attempt. Jockey, Harry Teal, a conditional rider, threw caution to the wind and set sail for home four from home and luckily he got it right as any opposition was left struggling behind, with the nearest rival, the Tom Scudamore-ridden Mahlers Star six lengths adrift.

 

The winning trainer commented: "I'm very proud. I bought this horse to give Harry his chance and he gave him a cracking ride. He's normally quite a lazy horse, but he travelled so well. I saw Harry and thought he'd gone too soon, but then I saw the horse was loving it. He made a little mistake at the last but saw it out well. He's one you can run quite quickly. I'll see what he's like on Tuesday and make a plan from there."

 

A HORSE, A HORSE A TINGLE FOR A HORSE!”

Two of Sandown's Grade One races on Saturday have been reopened for entries as the response has been so disappointing. The Betfair Tingle Creek, with only eight entries received at the five-day stage and the Racing Post Henry VIII Novices' Chase with only six, will both be open for another for 24 hours in an effort to attract more runners. Officially the names of the octet in the Tingle Creek Chase line-up have not been officially released but somehow the bookmakers have got hold of them as they are quoting odds for the same horses. The Gary Moore-trained Ar Mad and and Willie Mullins' Un De Sceaux are currently joint-ante-post favourites at odds of at 2/1 with Sky Bet. We'll have to wait for full declaration for the other contenders.

 

28th NOVEMBER

 

HIT FOR SIX!

Six of the seven races at Navan's prestigious Troytown Chase fixture yesterday were clocked up by a County Meath-based trainer. Gordon Elliott, thereby, enforced his claim to be the Emerald Isle's rising star. The Cullentra House stables' handler is now leading the reigning Irish champion, Willie Mullins, by some £424,500. The highlight of the sextet of wins was provided in the Troytown Chase when Bryan Cooper steered the 12/1 shot, Empire Of Dirt, to a four length victory. The nine-year-old son of Westerner running in the colours of Ryan Air boss, Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud racing operation, is already earmarked for next year's Grand National.

 

Gordon Elliott commented: "I've never had six at one meeting on a day before. I did have seven once spread between Bellewstown and Perth - I can't believe it; they were good races too. It's a day to enjoy - I have a good bunch of staff and a lot of nice horses - we're delighted."

 

D FOR DELTA

The Gary Moore-trained son of Old Vic seems to be in rattling good form over hurdles, having triumphed on his two previous outings both at Plumpton and at Fontwell in October and November, respectively. So connections have every reason for optimism when Yukon Delta, with the trainer's son, Joshua Moore aboard, lines up this afternoon at the East Sussex track in the seven-strong Tysers Handicap Chase. His previous run at this course was a good four furlongs shorter than he likes so it was all credit to the nine-year-old chestnut gelding that he battled on to win by a head. It was clear the next time out, running in the Winner Rental Services Handicap Hurdle, that Yukon Delta felt more at home in the three-mile-plus contest which he claimed by seven lengths. Today's ground conditions are almost the opposite of the previous but he's got plenty of stamina so the Moore family could be celebrating in the winner's enclosure some time after 3pm.

 

MONDAY MONDAY

This Haverfordwest-based trainer will be seeking solace today after his Henri Parry Morgan failed to fire in the Hennessy Gold Cup. Today's contest, the Breedon Aggregates Handicap Hurdle, is no patch on the prestigious event on Saturday, being only a Class 4 but, a race is a race. The Peter Bowen-trained Get Home Boy, with Tom O'Brien aboard, may have to do a lot to live up to his name but he may just have some factors in his favour. The son of Diktat certainly has the handicapper on his side as he is rated 104, ten pounds lower than his last winning mark way back in September 2014. Then there is the headgear, or rather the lack of it. The eight-year-old's earlier victory at Uttoxeter was notable for his wearing of cheekpieces for the first time and, although they may have helped him win two starts later, they don't seem to have had much effect since then. A visor and blinkers never seemed to be much good. It's interesting that when the headgear was left off in the late Summer and early Autumn of 2014 he did much better off a mark of 114. Lastly the drying good to soft ground conditions today seem to be in Yukon Delta's favour. The size of the field should also be of some benefit because he seems not to do well with a lot of horses around. He may not be a horse that would attract much attention but he seems to have enough going for him on a Monday when value bets are few and far between.

 

27th NOVEMBER

 

NOT SO OLD!

One enthusiastic racing website (to remain nameless!) carried the headline 'Native River wins 60th Hennessy Gold Cup'. That can't be true because the Colin Tizzard-trained son of Native River has only won it once and, anyway, he's only six-year-old! Of course, what the writer meant to say was that this was the sixtieth renewal of this prestigious prize and it was won by Native River. Not only was it a great day for Brocade Racing's horse but it marked also for both trainer and jockey, Richard Johnson. The latter was appearing in the three-mile-plus Grade 3 Handicap for the thirteenth time, only managing second on both Spendid in 1999 and Planet Of Sound in 2011. Native River was in a handy position for most of the contest and went into the lead before the last fence. He soon had to ward off a strong challenge from the Neil Mulholland-trained Carole’s Destrier and held on to win by half a length.

 

Colin Tizzard commented: ”Everything was right for Native River today and we expected a big run. I think he travelled better today than he ever has and he jumped beautifully. He only just won in the end but I can’t believe it. Nowadays, we don’t take horses for three-mile gallops, we just work them on our system. Loading him up this morning, I made a point of being there when he loaded up and he looked fine. Everything was right today – good ground, a flat left-handed track and it was a big race. He wouldn’t be the fastest on the gallops. He actually won a gallop last year and we were terrified. Richard said that he went clear and looked like he was going to win by almost five lengths at one time but then the other nearly got to him and he went again. That’s the sign of a good, honest, strong stayer.”

 

Richard Johnson added: “People keep telling me how I had never won this race, so it is always nice to get one that you haven’t done before. He is a fantastic horse and Colin, Joe and the whole team – their horses are in amazing form. You have to come around the water jump on the run-in and he was just having a good look. I knew that he would pick up again but you are just worried that something comes and does you late on.”

 

FOOT-PERFECT

Any doubts about this Kayf Tara son's jumping ability were put to rest after his impressive third victory over fences in the Grade 2 bet365 Novices' Chase at Newbury yesterday. The Colin Tizzard-trained Thistlecrack didn't do it by halves, either. He made all in this five-strong field and left any possible challeneger lurking eight lengths in his wake. o

 

An over-joyed winning jockey, Tom Scudamore. commented: "It was a great thrill. Joe [Tizzard] tells me we were only three seconds outside the track record, and yet he wasn't out of second gear. He's jumped brilliantly today. There are more tests to come obviously and he's got to take on better horses, but I think the criticism at Cheltenham was a bit harsh. If you watch him at the next ditch he got some height on it and has gone out as far the other side.

"He was superb today, he's really learned from last time and he keeps on learning. I'll leave all that to Colin and Heather [Snook], but the Feltham is a very nice race too and it didn't do Coneygree any harm running in that."

 

The winning trainer added: "He was immaculate. He was brilliant today and any fears we had from Cheltenham have been put to bed. He was just a bit sketchy there, but we needed to get some runs into him for whatever we do after Christmas. The King George is a real test for any horse and I'm not sure whether he's ready for that, but we'll no doubt leave him in for now just in case. All options need to be thought about. I don't want to lead anyone awry, but we've got to mind this horse. We don't want to go up the ladder six steps at a time and then slip back down, do we, so what we are doing is going gently at the moment."

 

A RIGHT ROYAL RING TO IT!

The Warren Greatrex-trained daughter of Doctor Dino claimed a hat-trick yesterday at Newbury when she won the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association Mares' Novices' Hurdle by three-and-three-quarter lengths. La Bague Au Roi proved to be just as adept over hurdles as she was in the three out of four bumpers that she won. Jockey, Harry Bannister, was determined to stay ahead of the game and timed his approach perfectly, making sure his mount had enough in reserve to hold off any last-minute challenges from both Copper Kay and Dusky Legend.

 

The winning trainer commented: "It is amazing what a few hours can do. She was good. Like I've said all along, it is not ideal to keep leading, as she doesn't do a lot in front. But you can see the size and scope of her that there is no point making it a crawl. She will be better on better ground. Her jumping is getting so slick. I'd probably say she would have a break now and come back in the spring. She deserves to go there (Trull House) now. It just depends whether we go straight there or have a run before."

 

26th NOVEMBER

 

GOING FOR GOLD

The Hennessy Gold Cup and champion jockeys don't seem to go well together. Neither Tony McCoy nor Richard Johnson have managed to bag this prestigious prize. The current champion jockey first tackled this race in 1998 and came second and repeated that in 2011. Connections are clearly hoping that this jinx is over for the Hereford-born rider and that he can steer the Colin Tizzard-trained favourite, Native River, to victory in the sixtieth renewal of this Grade 3 Handicap.

 

Colin Tizzard commented: "Without being too bullish, Native River looks like he could be a goodish thing. He has been favourite for ages and his final two runs last season were excellent. He needs to improve 10lb to be a Gold Cup horse but we'll find out if he's improved at Newbury. He had a hard enough race at Wetherby but he's a dour stayer and I don't think there's a bottom to him."

 

BARRY DIDN'T TARRY

This Nicky Henderson-trained son of Azamour proved he was worth his salt when he made his winning debut in the bet365 'National Hunt' Maiden Hurdle at Newbury yesterday. His jockey, Barry Geraghty, did have to chivvy him a bit as they came into the home straight but the four-year-old Jenkins soon got the hang of it and went neck and neck with the Dan Skelton-trained Captain forez at the last-but-one hurdle. When asked to go for it, however, the 10/11 odds-on favourite found plenty of reserve to produce a five-length victory.

 

Nicky Henderson, who won this race last year with Buveur D'Air, commented: "He is a lot more laid-back than he ever was last year. His schooling is good but we might have to ask for a bit more but I thought he might be a bit like that. As Barry Geraghty said, there are all sorts of departments he can improve in. He was very good over the last two as he woke up to what was going on. All the gears are still there what we thought he had last year. He will have learnt absolute tonnes for that. He will have learnt more than all of last year, I suspect. We will wander on quietly and do a bit of schooling. He could go further but he won't be doing that at the moment."

 

A WEIGHTY WINNER

The Crowne Plaza Jockey And Trainer Awards Handicap at Dundalk yesterday was won by a weighty son of Dansili who produced an irresistible last-minute challenge. It all looked done and dusted when the Jim Bolger-trained Mainicin who was well in the clear two furlongs from home but finishing speed of Specific Gravity, trained by Adrian McGuiness and ridden by Oisin Orr, was irrepressible as he steamed ahead to a two-length victory.

 

The winning trainer commented afterwards: "He's a grand old horse and when he gets to the front I think it makes a difference. He got challenged here the last day and headed and he didn't enjoy it. He's just a better horse doing that and at this level he's just a bit better class. He's ideal for those races and he loves the surface."

25th NOVEMBER

 

CHAMPAGNE - CHEERS!

The (deep breath!) Boomerang Animal Bedding And Boomerang Horse & Country Store Chase at Thurles yesterday was the race where two former Cheltenham champions went head to head and the result was appropriately decided by - a head. The Willie Mullins-trained Champagne Fever, returning after a 576-day absence, won the Champion Bumper in 2012 and the Supreme Novices' Hurdle in 2013 and was denied a hat-trick, again by a head, in the Arkle Trophy a year later. The nine-year-old grey made just one mistake at the fifth fence but apart from that gave a flawless performance for the rest of the contest, steered by Ruby Walsh. The 5/4 favourite, Wounded Warrior, set out to make all the running but the son of Stowaway wore down the Noel Meade-trained seven-year-old and took over just before the home turn. Roi Des Francs, with Bryan Cooper aboard, decided it might be his day and posed a threat for a while. Ultimately it became the expected contest of the two veterans as Lord Windermere, the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero, back on the track after 593 days, emerged as a big threat in the home straight. There followed a ding-dong battle for the line and the County Carlow king's runner proved himself to be that little bit better.

 

Willie Mullins commented: "He ran a good race for his first run back, which he always does. I'll probably look for a similar race for him next over two and a half (miles). I think the John Durkan might come too soon and I might also look for something easier than that."

 

OH LUCKY JIM!

The current British flat racing Champion Jockey has just got another feather in his cap, by landing one of the top jobs in the sport in racing. Jim Crowley has bee appointed the number one jockey for owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.The Ascot-born 30-year-old replaces Paul Hanagan at Norfolk-based Shadwell Racing.

 

Racing Manager, Angus Gold, commented: "I spoke to Jim two nights ago and he confirmed he would be happy to do it. It's very exciting news and obviously we're thrilled to have him on board. He's worked his way up and proven himself to be a top jockey and he's done a brilliant job this year."

 

Jim Crowley added: "I'm very much looking forward to it. I'm chuffed to pieces. On the back of such a good year, this time of year everyone is trying to get sorted for next season but it was nice to get the offer."

 

LIGHTS ON AMBER

It's all or nothing for this daughter of Holy Roman Emperor at Wolverhampton this evening. Dean Ivory-trained Golden Amber could be off to mares' sales next week if she doesn't win the 32Red.com Fillies' Conditions Stakes. This just-over seven-furlong race is a Fast-Track Qualifier for the 32Red All-Weather Fillies' And Mares' Championships Conditions Stakes over the same distance at Lingfield Park on Good Friday. The five-year-old mare, who hasn't scored since September 2015, clocked up the six-furlong course record at Chelmsford City in August, 2015, and last time out at Kempton Park was a valiant runner-up in the 32Red.com Conditions Stakes

 

Trainer Dean Ivory commented: "Golden Amber ran incredibly well to finish second at Kempton earlier this month. She handles the All-Weather very well and, while her best track is Chelmsford City, she has run a good race at Wolverhampton in the past. Being drawn two sounds good enough to me - she can be a bit slow away in her races but makes up for it in the end. Seven furlongs suited her last time and it gives her a little bit more time to get into race. She is back taking on her own sex and we are hopeful of a good run. She is in the mares' sales next week but, if she goes and wins on Friday, then we might have a re-think. I would like to keep her going on the All-Weather but it depends how she gets on this week."

 

24th NOVEMBER

 

SOMETHING A MISS!

The Racinguk.com/daypass Novices' Chase at Wetherby yesterday was won by a five-year-old mare who, according to her trainer doesn't like men. The Pam Sly-trained Actinpieces who scored three times over hurdles last season before switching to fences in October had her regular jockey, 24-year-old Gina Andrews aboard when she triumphed in this just-over-three-mile contest. The first two outings over the larger obstacles, in fact, had not been a good start for the daughter of Act One, unseating rider in the first and finishing last in the second so connections were rewarded for their patience.

 

The Peterborough-based trainer commented:“She is not too keen on men. I’ve never had a horse who’s been like this before. She is Gina Andrews’ mount, or her sister Bridget’s when she is unavailable. When their brother Jack, 18, tried to get on board, Actinpieces was having none of it. She tried to buck him off as soon as he got on. The boys didn’t want to ride Actinpieces from the start of her career. They said she was lethal. She wasn’t very easy to break in. Gina has been riding for me since she was 16 and I asked her if she wanted to ride her and she said: ‘Course I will.’”

 

Gina Andrews added: “When my brother went to get on her she tried to bite him. It’s quite funny because she doesn’t normally do it when I get on. She’s only had women riders. If a man went up to her in the yard she’ll put her ears back. It’s a bit weird. I ride her at home and do some schooling with her as well as racing.”

 

TWEET GEORGIA

The apprentice jockey who got the ride via Twitter came seventh in the All Weather 'Hands And Heels' Apprentice Series Handicap at Kempton Park yesterday. Swindon-born Georgia Dobie, who, it was revealed, beat Jacob Mitchell “by a whisker” in a poll conducted on the site by trainer Jamie Osborne, partnered Secret Interlude in this fourteen-runner one-mile contest restricted to jockeys with fewer than ten wins. The Twitter duo got off to a good start and seemed to be holding their own as the the field turned into the straight, but there was some kind of interference about two furlongs out and, sadly, they never got into the picture again. The jockey had already got into the frame, though because, just before the race, the Upper Lambourn-based trainer posted a picture on Twitter from the parade ring with owners Melbourne 10 Racing and Georgia Dobie, with the caption: "The first jockey ever booked by Twitter poll."

 

TWO GOOD TO WATCH!

Two former dual Cheltenham Festival winners go head to head in the Boomerang Animal Bedding And Boomerang Horse at Thurles this afternoon. The Willie Mullins-trained Champagne Fever has been absent from the track for 576 days due to minor problems, having excelled himself in the Champion Bumper (2012) and the Supreme Novices' Hurdle (2013). The nine-year-old grey will come up against Lord Windermere, trained by Jim Culloty, winner of the RSA Chase (2013) and Cheltenham Gold Cup (2014). This ten-year-old son of Oscar was last seen when he had to be pulled up in the 2015 Grand National.

 

Patrick Mullins, son and assistant of the County Carlow king commented: "It looks an ideal race to bring him back in, the conditions suit him as he's got no penalty, which is a nice bonus.

He seems in very good form at home, I actually schooled him myself just the other day and he felt great and jumped nicely. We hope he can get back to winning ways, he's a lovely horse who has been unlucky recently. There was never anything seriously wrong last year, we had hoped to bring him back but he just had a few niggly problems. Then of course the year before he was bitten by another horse of ours on the way over to Cheltenham and couldn't run."

23rd NOVEMBER

 

TOM TOM?

This third-generation British flat and steeplechase jockey is hoping for a day to remember at Newbury on Saturday. Tom Scudamore, whose father, Peter, was eight-time champion jockey and whose grandfather, Michael, won the Grand National way back in in 1959, partners two horses that he thinks can deliver. The thirty-four-year-old rider has a chance for glory aboard the David Pipe-trained Un Temps Pour Tout in the Grade 3 Handicap, the Hennessy Gold Cup Chase. It's some eight years since Tom Scudamore teamed up with the Somerset-based trainer boss to claim this prestigius prize with Madison Du Berlais and it appears this trainer/jockey duo may have the potential to strike lucky again with this son of Robin Des Champs who is the second favourite, after the Colin Tizzard-trained Native River. Un Temps Pour Tout triumphed in the Grade 3 Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last season. Then there was clearly a plan to target the Hennesy hot one by running him at Aintree on Guy Fawkes' Day when he left another Hennessy hopeful, the Nicky Henderson-trained Vyta Du Roc, trailing some eighteen lengths in his wake.

 

Tom Scudamore commented: "You've got to respect the race and respect the others but we certainly think Un Temps Pour Tout can do it. He's straightforward, has jumped around Newbury before, handles big fields, and is very versatile regarding the ground, so he hasn't got many question marks. On a strict line of form we've got it to do to try and turn it around with Native River, but we'll give it another go. I still think Un Temps Pour Tout has got improvement in him, and I was pleased with him at Aintree last time."

 

If Un Temps Pour Tout denies Native River the chance of victory then Tom Scudamore can make it up to trainer Colin Tizzard in the Grade 2 bet365 Novices' Chase (the Worcester Novices' Chase) when he will be aboard Thistlecrack who is reported to be in cracking form and ready for his third trip over fences in thee

 

His regular jockey commented: "I schooled him on the way down to Ascot last weekend and was very happy. He schooled upsides Native River and was very good. Hopefully it will be more of the same on Saturday. It doesn't bother me who or how many decide to take him on, I will just concentrate on Thistlecrack and the job in hand."

 

JOLLY GOOD, FELLOWES!

At Kempton Park tonight trainer Charlie Fellowes has his fingers crossed that his Prince Of Arran can maintain his unbeaten record at the Sunbury on Thames track in the Listed 32Red Wild Flower Stakes this evening. This represents a one-furlong step-up in trip for the son of Shirocco.

 

Trainer Charlie Fellowes commented: "Prince Of Arran is in good form. It is a step up in class but he won a decent handicap as he liked last time and has an interesting profile on the All-Weather. He has had his complications mentally in the past but I think we are way past that now having gelded him. The operation seems to have really settled him down which is obviously a big plus. We have all got Star Storm to beat. He looked pretty unlucky when getting touched off by a decent horse last time. I have never made any secret of how highly I regard Prince Of Arran. I think he is definitely up to Listed standard and would be disappointed if he is not."

 

PLAYING FOUR-TIME!

First a five-timer then a four-time. There seems to be no end to Brian Hughes' incredible run of form. It's only just over a week since he pulled off a fabulous five-timer at Musselburgh with the combined odds of 899/1. Now Sedgefield was the stage for a deck of four. Number one came in the Betfred Lotto '100k Cash Giveaway' Chase when riding the Malcolm Jefferson-trained Waiting Patiently who made an impressive start to his career over fences by claiming the Class 3 two-mile contest by seven lengths. Brian Hughes followed that in the next race with victory aboard the Ken Slack-trained Discoverie in the Betfred Racing 'Like Us On Facebook' Handicap Hurdle and couldn't wait to get back into the saddle again in the subsequent contest when he favoured trainer Rebecca Menzies with a narrow victory on Stilo Blue Native. He did the honours again for the same Stockton on Tees- based trainer with his fourth win on the favourite, Nortonthorpelegen, in the Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Handicap Chase. This means that Brian Hughes is no positioned joint-third in the Stobart Jump Jockeys Championship on 64 winners on a par with Aidan Coleman. Just Sam Twiston-Davies (70) and reigning champion Richard Johnson (107) are between him and the coveted crown.

 

Brian Hughes commented: "I came here thinking I had a couple of chances and after I rode the first two winners I was delighted. To then go on and have four is great and it's credit to my agent really, who is doing a fantastic job. It's a little bit embarrassing, to be honest. Things are almost going too well and I just hope it (luck) doesn't run out. I'm just part of a big wheel. I'm lucky to be riding for yards that are in good form. There are plenty of lads in the weighing room who could ride these horses, it's getting on them that's the difficult thing. I'm the one getting all the pats on the back, but it's the lads and lasses that look after the horses on a daily basis that really deserve the credit. Richard Johnson is the champion jockey, a brilliant rider and a brilliant man. I'm just having a purple patch. Everyone wants to be champion jockey, but without wanting to sound defeatist, I think it would be disrespectful to say I could beat him (Johnson). Aidan Coleman is riding very well and Sam Twiston-Davies will be back from injury soon. Both of them have good jobs and I'm just delighted to be mentioned in the same breath as them.”

 

22nd NOVEMBER

 

MIND THE GAP!

As predicted the Nicky Henderson-trained son of High Chaparral had no trouble getting off the mark on his chasing debut in the Weatherbys Supports Starlight Novices' Chase at Kempton Park yesterday. The disappointing thing was that Altior, ridden by Noel Fehily substituting for the injured Nico de Boinville, only had one rival in this two-mile-two-furlong Class 4 contest and he had no problem outrunning the Paul Nicholls-trained Black Corton, with Nick Scholfield aboard. If anything, the six-year-old gelding looked even more impressive than when last seen scoring in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Altior initially tracked the son of Laverock but by three out there was no pont hanging so he kicked on into a clear twenty-length lead going down the far side. So really the race proved to be little more than a routine work-out as Black Corton dropped further and further behind, jumping the last fence some time after Altior had crossed the line, with a gap of some sixty-three lengths separating them.

 

The winning jockey commented: "He was very good, very forward going and he used his brain well. I got him in tight to plenty of them and he can get himself out of trouble which was what we needed to learn today. He just ran into the ditch a little bit, he just probably wasn't going quick enough and he just ran at it a little bit but I thought he was very good, he got himself out of trouble; a novice could have done something silly but he was very good getting out of trouble. He's got loads of scope. That's one thing we knew he had from schooling but it's just teaching him to go forward and get himself out of trouble and that's what he's learned today and I'm just very lucky to ride him. He's obviously shown already what he can do. He won the Supreme Novices' very impressively and he didn't beat slouches there so we know he's very good.

 

Nicky Henderson added: "He had a nice little blow and had a school round and he'll go to Sandown on Saturday week for the Henry VIII (Novices' Chase). He races with his head low, which is lovely and a great way to go over fences. "We were debating whether to make him a Champion Hurdle horse. We could if we wanted to, but he's been so good at this. He's built like a chaser and I thought he jumped great. He had a nice pop round and he jumped really well, getting a run under his belt. There are options, but we might as well go to Sandown.”

 

THREE FOR CAVIAR

It's the £100,000 Grade Three Caspian Caviar Gold Cup in three weeks' time, one of the feature events of the International meeting at Cheltenham. Trainer Evan Williams is planning to enter three of his horses in the extended two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase - King's Odyssey, On Tour and Buywise. The latter has been a regular competitor in Prestbury Park handicap chases recently, claiming the Silver Trophy and coming second and third in the latest two renewals of the BetVictor Gold Cup. King's Odyssey, in fact, triumphed in the Timeform Novices' Handicap Chase on Festival Trials Day in January this year. The son of King's Theatre , on the other hand, produced a creditable result when coming second in the Betfred Lotto "£100K Cash Giveaway" Handicap Chase at Aintree onGuy Fawkes' Day.

 

The Vale of Glamorgan-based trainer commented: "The Caspian Caviar Gold Cup is 100 per cent the aim for King's Odyssey. As I told everyone, it was a prep run at Haydock on Friday and he needed it badly. He improves with a run and needed to get one under his belt. Buywise will also get an entry although we may look at taking him over hurdles for his next run. We keep trying the same thing with Buywise and it almost works so we might just do something completely different, while I imagine On Tour will get an entry as well. I get a lot of enjoyment out of Buywise. I know he frustrates a lot of people but it is a joy to have a horse who keeps running so well in these big races."

 

ISN'T THAT TWEET!

Jamie Osborne used an unusual approach to getting a jockey to ride one of his horses – Twitter! The Hungerford-based trainer tweeted that he would offer the ride on Secret Interlude in the All Weather "Hands And Heels" Apprentice Series Handicap at Kempton Park tomorrow to any apprentice, who had clocked up fewer than ten winners (the rules of the contest). The lucky person turned out to be Georgia Dobie, who works with Mark Tompkins.

 

Jamie Osborne, also owner of Secret Interlude, commented yesterday: "I was sat in the office on Sunday evening and I knew I would be leaving very early on Monday morning to go to the sales, when I realised I had no-one to ride the filly. My apprentice, Lucy Barry, has ridden too many winners and none of the people who ride out for me fitted the qualification. I have no allegiance to anyone, so I thought it would be a fun way of doing it. When I put it out there I didn't think it would create quite the interest that it did. Seven apprentices got in touch and with this being the year of the vote I thought it was only fair to do the same. I felt very sorry for the lad who came second (Jacob Mitchell) because there was only a gnat's whisker in it. It's nice to give someone a chance and it's a fun way of doing it. I haven't spoken to Georgia yet, but she sent me a message saying thank you very much and she seems very polite. It would be great if they win."

 

21st NOVEMBER

 

NOT TO BE MIST!

The feature race at Punchestown yesterday, the Grade 1 StanJames.com Morgiana Hurdle looked as though it would be run completely obscured as a thick fog engulfed the county Kildare track earlier on in the day. Fortunately it had mostly cleared by the time this two-mile contest was staged, allowing racegoers to witness Nichols Canyon's achieving back-to-back wins and, thereby, providing his trainer, Willie Mullins, with his sixth successive victory, previous winners being Thousand Stars, Hurricane Fly as well as the current hero. The Gavin Cromwell-trained Jer's Girl, with Barry Geraghty aboard, was determined not to let the son of Authorised have it all his own way and breathed down his neck for the whole trip. When the pair approached the last-but-one hurdle, however, the battling duo were were neck and neck. They then disappeared in a patch of remaining fog and, when they emerged, it was none other than the Ruby Walsh-ridden Nichols Canyon who had a clear advantage.

 

Willie Mullins commented: "It wasn't the plan to run but when the others had to be ruled out we decided to go ahead and declare him. They went a good gallop and his good jumping and stamina came into play. He's very effective over that trip on soft ground but I'd imagine we'll be going back up in trip with him."

 

Ruby Walsh who made the wrong choice in last year's race and came second on Faugheen added: "I managed to ride the right one this year!. We went a good gallop every step of the way and they both jumped well [at the front]. It was run at Grade 1 pace and we just seemed to get the better jump at the second last and it was all over then."

 

THE BEST OF TWO

The Nicky Henderson-trained Altior, ridden by Neil Fehily, makes his much-anticipated debut over fences this afternoon in the Weatherbys Supports Starlight Novices' Chase at Kempton Park but, for some reason, he only has one rival. (So a guaranteed first or second prize money of £4,549 or £1, 336!)The other runner is the Paul Nicholls-trained Black Corton, also making his chasing debut. This son of Laverock will probably adopt the front-running style he demonstrated so admirably on his last two starts, the latest on this track, so his jockey, Nick Scholfield, will be keen to force the pace and and put his rival's jumping to the test. Nicky Henderson's son of High Chaparral is the ante-post favourite for the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival and has already made his claim to fame with a stunning victory in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Prestbury Park Festival last March.

 

Nicky Henderson commented: "Everything has been very good. Noel Fehily came in and rode him on Thursday and Altior was fine, but now he has got to go and do it on the racecourse. At the moment, I am not regretting the decision to go down the chasing route. "He will be there for all to see on Monday and people can then make their own judgement. Noel will step in for a couple of races then Nico will have him back. We will see how he goes at Kempton. After that we may look at the Henry VIII at Sandown."

 

A STEAL!

This son of KAYF TARA came away from Punchestown yesterday with his third chase record in tact. The Henry de Bromhead-trained Identity Thief faced four challengers in the the Ryans Cleaning Craddockstown Novice Chase and won it by a length. Already a Grade One winner over hurdles, this Gigginstown House Stud-owned six-year-old didn't have it all his own way, though, as his stable companion, Ordinary World, produced classier jumping over many of the fences. What made the day was Identity Thief's superior acceleration on the and jockey, Bryan Cooper, did not have too much of a job steering his mount to an easy victory.

 

The winning jockey commented: "He got the job done. The ground wouldn't be ideal and he'll be a better horse on better ground. To be fair, we went a proper gallop the whole way and he'll have learned a lot more than at Punchestown last time. He jumped with fluency. I would have won a lot easier if I'd asked him at the last but I went and popped it. That was a good education. We got a lead and I'm happy. I was never in doubt from the third-last. I felt I always had him covered, and it's another learning curve."

 

Trainer, Henry de Bromhead added: "Of what we could see of it he looked good. I'm delighted with Ordinary World as well, he ran a cracker. We always hoped he'd improve for fences, which he has. Identity was good. Bryan said he was good and he was very happy with him. He said he won comfortably. He said they went a good gallop the whole way and he jumped well.

"I think the two-mile-one at Leopardstown at Christmas is the obvious race for him and probably Ordinary World as well. We'll see, as I think there is a winners' race at Naas just after that so we'll see what Chris (Jones, owner of Ordinary World) would like to do. But for Identity Thief, I think definitely that. I'm delighted to get it out of the way and I thought it was a good performance."

20th NOVEMBER

 

FOLLOW THE CUE

Throughout racing history there have always been certain horses who have found a place in the hearts of racegoers. One only has to think of Red Rum, Desert Orchid and Kauto Star, to name just three. Currently there is great public affection for Cue Card who was bidding for his third Betfair Chase at Haydock Park yesterday. The Colin Tizzard-trained son of King's Theatre repayed his supporters' affection by producing a magnificent performance. It was good to see that the ten-year-old's durability, consistency and talent had not diminished as a result of of his defeat in the Grade 2 bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby last time out. The crowds eagerly awaited the duel that was expected to take place between their hero and the Mark Bradstock-trained Coneygree, former Gold Cup champion. On heavy ground as a result of persistent rain and sleet, the contest was never going to be stylish when Paddy Brennan went eyeball to eyeball with the champion jockey, Richard Johnson. The son of Karinga Bay took the race by the scruff of the neck in an attempt to win from the front but, understandably, the nine-year-old's stamina failed by four out and it was Cue Card who took over at the top of the home straight, powering to a fifteen-length victory.

 

The jubilant winning trainer commented: "He absolutely sluiced up today. He's every bit as good as he ever has been. He didn't have a hard race at all, did he?"

 

YES SIRE!

There was another horse who delighted his connections by revealing some of his old classic form. Carrying top-weight, the Gary Moore-trained Sire De Grugy was a 10/1 shot in the Shawbrook Handicap Chase at Ascot yesterday. There had been discussion as to whether the former Champion Chase winner was past his prime and would ever attain great heights again. Jockey Jamie Moore didn't seem to be of that persuasion as he confidently kept the son of My Risk travelling smoothly just off the pace. The favourite, Vaniteux, ridden by Paul Moloney, did his best to reel in the old-timer, giving chase rounding the home turn but Sire De Grugy made a superb second-last fence leap that that sealed his success by one-and-a-half lengths.

 

Gary Moore commented: "It rates as one of his best performances. I think maybe Vaniteux didn't turn up and while he was a bit more classy than Sire over hurdles it is a different ball game chasing. He jumped impeccably today. I was pleased with his run at Liverpool, as he ran badly first time out last year and he'd had two racecourse gallops then and he'd had none this year because the ground was so firm. He will go for the Tingle Creek, as long as he comes out of this OK. It would not be the end of the world if we waited and came back for the Clarence House, but we would look at the Desert Orchid (Kempton) before that."

 

UMMING AND AHHING!”

Another 10/1 shot made nearly all the running in the very testing conditions at Ascot yesterday. The Philip Hobbs-trained Royal Regatta, who has run some of his best races at this Berkshire track, waslining up in the seven-runner Stella Artois 1965 Chase. The son of King's Theatre was given a bit of a break when the Paul Nicholls-trained favourite, Dodging Bullets was pulled up before Swinley Bottom. The eight-year-old still had a lot of work to do, however, and jockey Tom O'Brien was determined to keep him up to the task at hand when there was a sudden challenge from Kylemore Lough just before the home but that fizzled out. Tom George's God's Own looked as though he might be a threat but that didn't materialise either.

 

Sarah Hobbs, the trainer's wife commented: "Philip was umming and ahhing about running him, but he likes going this way round and he likes Ascot. It was 'catch me if you can' and Tom is a Saturday rider at the moment. He was behind a few of these at Aintree, but everything was perfect today. The ground was right and Tom was super on him. He rode him with conviction which he needs as he is a bit soft and he needs someone to say 'come on' let's go'. We are thrilled to bits and today was the day. Tom did say when he won two years ago that there would be a big race in him and he has proved that today."

19th NOVEMBER

 

SWITCHING SADDLES

The Champion jockey took precedence for a ride in today's Betfair Chase, after his intended mount was withdrawn from this early-season highlight at Haydock. Richard Johnson was due to be aboard the Philip Hobbs-trained MENORAH but the latter has been scratched due to the deteriorating ground conditions. The thirty-nine-year-old Hereford born rider will now partner Aidan Coleman's destined mount, CONEYGREE. This son of KARINGA BAY is returning from injury to line up on ground that yesterday was described as heavy. There were prolonged spells of rain and sleet throughout the day and, although more of the same is expected, it appears there is no need for an inspection for today's valuable fixture.

 

Philip Hobbs commented: "I have spoken to Grahame Whateley, whose wife Diana owns Menorah, and now the ground has changed dramatically to heavy at Haydock Menorah won't run in the Betfair Chase."

 

Trainer Mark Bradstock's wife, Sara, added: "Richard will ride Coneygree. He loves that sort of ground, the softer the better, but it does make it a little bit more of a test having been off the track for so long, and I suppose he is not alone in that none of them have galloped on anything like this. Usually you've had a week of it so you can get used to it on the gallops - ours is literally only just soft enough to canter on. We've been on the all-weather all through the autumn."

 

THE GRAVEY TRAIN.

Since 2006 this Lambourn-based trainer has has claimed the Countryside Chase an incredible ten times from his last eleven runners. The Nicky Henderson-trained DIFFERENT GRAVEY, with David Bass aboard, won this nearly nineteen-furlong Beginners' contest by six lengths ahead of Philip Hobbs' BROTHER TEDD, partnered by champion jockey, Richard Johnson.

 

Toby Lawes, Nicky Henderson’s assistant, commented: “Different Gravey will be a three-miler, but he’s not short of speed so there are plenty of options for the future. We had him pencilled in last year as an RSA type but we stuck to hurdles as we got a bit behind time. He’s just a natural and he’s built for this.”

 

The winning jockey added: “That was an ideal start. He jumped well in the main and he quickened up. He’s still a big baby and there’s lot of improvement in him. That was just greenness between the last two fences.”

 

RACING REWARDS

For the second time in three years this Berkshire race course has been crowned the best in Britain. Ascot received this prestigious award at the annual Racecourse Association Showcase presentations at Doncaster racetrack on Thursday. Now in its seventh year, the RCA Showcase & Awards is the star event of the Racecourse Association and celebrates excellence and innovation amongst British Racecourses in improving the customer experience. All in all twelve awards were made with Ascot also claiming the top honours for Digital and Social Media Excellence and Operational Excellence. Chester received The Owners' Experience Award and the overall Racecourse Groundstaff Champion was Cartmel. Musselburgh was honoured with the Events Award for their Bi-Centenary Celebration Raceday which included a visit from The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. Newbury got the Best Campaign Award for for its presentation of the Al Shaqab Lockinge Day 2016 Campaign, labelled 'Best Day Our by a Mile'. The All About The Horse award went to Pontefract and, for the second year running, Aintree received the Racing Together Community and CSR Award. The winner for Food and Beverage was declared as Cheltenham and the #TopSpot award was secured by Beverley for the popular Donkey Derby. Bath had the honour of receiving The Racing Post Readers Award for outstanding customer service. Goodwood's Clerk of the Course, Seamus Buckley, was awarded the Neil Wyatt Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the sport, which has seen more than 50 years of service, twenty-two of them in his current role as Clerk of the Course at this Chichester course.

 

Juliet Slot, Ascot Racecourse's Commercial Director, commented: “We're absolutely delighted and it's a great honour to be Champion Racecourse two years out of three. It's testament to the work of the whole team across the racecourse.”

18th NOVEMBER

 

A DREAM COME TRUE?

This six-year-old son of CLOUDINGS runs at Haydock Park this afternoon in the Brown Shipley Graduation Chase, aiming to build on his already impressive achievements. The Malcolm Jefferson-trained CLOUDY DREAM came second in last season's Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr. Connections, however, were always confident that he could do even better over fences and their loyalty was rewarded last month at Carlisle when the six-year-old produced a three-length victory in the Watch Racing UK On 3 Devices Beginners' Chase. In the process the Trevor Hemmings-owned grey revealed staying qualities that will stand in good stead for even greater challenges. It's early for any kind of prediction but a victory today wouldn't do his Festival chances any harm.

 

WILLIE GIVES IT A MISS

Often luck plays a strong hand in a race and so it was at Clonmel yesterday. The Willie Mullins-trained MISS ME NOW was handed the prize when VIGIL, trained by Dermot Weld, fell at the last. It looked like the PRESENTING daughter would have to settle for third place but suddenly found herself battling it out with SANIBEL ISLAND whom she doggedly managed to overhaul and went on to win by by three-and-a-quarter lengths.

 

The Clonmel king commented: "He (Walsh) timed it very well but he might have been a bit fortunate. She picked up really well but who knows what would have happened if Vigil hadn't fallen. It was a nice surprise and we'll have to find a winners' of two next - it's a big improvement from anything she has shown so far - we gave her a break and obviously it suited her."

 

STEADY AS A ROCK

Returning to hurdles for the first time in two years the Malcolm Jefferson-trained OSCAR ROCK claimed victory by a length in the Swinton Insurance Lord Tennyson Handicap Hurdle at Market Rasen yesterday. The eight-year-old seemed to have been out of his depth since winning the Listed Racing FX Prelude Chase Handicap at this Lincolnshire track in September 2015, after which the son of OSCAR struggled for minor places in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, the Ryanair Chase and the bet365 Gold Cup Chase. Even yesterday he must have caused his connections to miss a heart beat when he made a mistake at the last hurdle and it looked as though heds have to settle for runner-up behind the Dr Richard Newland-trained DUKE STREET. To give OSCAR ROCK his due, though, he wasn't finished yet and battled on to convey Brian Hughes over the line with a length to spare.

 

The winning trainer commented: "He wants good ground, but was probably the best horse in the race and he did it nicely in the end. He got away with that mistake at the last and won by a length. He wears blinkers over fences as well. It's not that he's ungenuine, he can just idle a bit when he gets there. That's why we put them on. Over hurdles he's a little better handicapped than he is over fences. We are going into worse ground now and whether we find a race for him on half-decent ground might not be that easy. We'll have to see. You never know with our British weather."

 

17th NOVEMBER

 

PADDY POWER

This County Galway rider, who originally dreamt of becoming a champion hurler, came to England in 2000 with the ambition of winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup and riding a 1,000 winners. Paddy Brennan achieved the former aboard IMPERIAL COMMANDER in 2010 and the latter yesterday, at Warwick, when he rode the Fergal O'Brien-trained COLIN'S SISTER to an eleven-length victory in the Thoroughbred Breeders Association Mares' Novices' Hurdle. The icing on the cake was he also won a £1000 bet with former Champion Jockey, Tony McCoy.

 

Paddy Brennan explained: 'AP said I had no chance of beating Andrew (Thornton) to the 1,000 winner mark and the bet was a £1,000 and that £1,000 will go to Freddy Tylicki's fund. It is unbelievable to reach a thousand winners and it's a landmark I'm very proud of. I never thought I was blessed with that much talent and that's an honest appraisal. Hopefully, I am an example to young jockeys that anything is achievable as long as you work hard. My ambition when I came to Britain was to win the Gold Cup and ride 1,000 winners and I can't believe I've achieved it. There are so many people to thanks, most notably the stable staff who have put up with me over the years.'

 

ON THE CARDS

Paddy Brennan remains a source of interest in the racing news because on Saturday he hopes to repeat last year's triumph by steering the Cheltenham Gold Cup contender, CUE CARD, to a second victory in the Betfair Chase at Haydock. This Grade One fixture is the first leg of the Chase Triple Crown whereby any horse who wins the Betfair Chase, King George VI and Cheltenham Gold Cup will also claim a £1 million bonus. CUE CARD was within a hair's breadth of claiming the Triple Crown last season but, unfortunately, fell three out when it looked like the Gold Cup was within his reach. If he wins Saturday's contest, he will most probably go on to Kempton Park for the King George VI on Boxing Day.

 

The only slight concern is that the Colin Tizzard-trained son of KING'S THEATRE disappointed connections last month when he made his seasonal reappearance at Wetherby, running in the Charlie Hall Chase but only managed to come third. The ten-year-old's jumping couldn't be faulted. It's just that, when he finally took up the running four furlongs from home, his stamina seemed lacking and he struggled in the final stages of this three-mile contest. Backer's of CUE CARD are clearly hoping that he can reproduce the result of twelve months ago when he won by seven lengths, beating the likes of SILVINIACO CONTI, DYNASTE and HOLYWELL.

 

THE NORTHERN LIGHTS

A series of races has been launched by the British Horseracing Authority with the aim of boosting National Hunt racing in the North of England. There will be five series, seventy-two contest altogether, at courses from Doncaster northwards, whose culmination will be a Finals Day at Carlisle in December 2017. The prize money for each final will be £25,000 and in order to qualify, horses, who do not need to be owned or trained in the North, must have competed in a minimum of two qualifiers and have finished at least once in their first eight runs. The quintet of races is to be known a the Northern Lights Series.

 

Trainer Nick Alexander, based in Fife commented: "It is fantastic that the BHA and Jockey Club Racecourses have come together to put on this series and the Finals day at Carlisle on the first Sunday of December next year promises to be a competitive card racing for excellent prize money at what can be a quiet time of year. It is really encouraging to see support for mid-tier horses whose owners deserve decent prizes to aim at, there are a lot more owners with this type of horse than top-class horses and they need encouragement to invest in the sport as much as anyone."

 

Dumfriesshire-based trainer, James Ewart, addedd: "It is very exciting to have a jumps series such as this to benefit the northern-based owners and trainers. The Northern Lights series will give us all something aspirational and valuable to aim towards with jumps horses who are competing at below the highest level. It's an excellent incentive to own and train jumps horses in the North."

 

16th NOVEMBER

THE GAUL OF IT!

A French handler who is targeting this Saturday's Betfair Chase at Haydock with this son of DOM ALCO, arrived yesterday in England to make his preparations. The Emmanuel Clayeux-trained VEZELAY, on the face of it, is probably not the obvious choice to go for this Grade One race and his 50/1 odds reflect that. The Longueville-based trainer freely admits, however, that he is finding it increasingly difficult to find races in France for his charge, who has won almost £430,000 in prize-money. The seven-year-old has won both Grade Two and Three levels over fences and was an impressive third behind multiple Grade One winner MILORD THOMAS in the Prix la Haye Jousselin last November .

 

Emmanuel Clayeux commented: "Nous prévoyons courir. Ce sera une course difficile pour lui. Mais il est difficile de trouver une course pour lui en France, parce qu'il a gagné beaucoup d'argent. Je ne voudrais pas trop de pluie. Un sol doux serait bon pour lui. La distance est bonne pour lui et Felix de Giles, qui est mon premier jockey, est Anglais et il connaîtra la piste. "

 

ROCK SOLID

According this Lambourn trainer the son of LION NOIR has got what it takes to claim the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury at the end of this month. The Nicky Henderon-trained VYTA DU ROC certainly has the right profile. The seven-year-old grey raced eleven days ago at Aintree where he came third in the Betfred Supports The BTRC Hurdle, just two lengths behind David Pipe's UN TEMPS POUR TOUT.

 

Nicky Henderson commented: From Aintree to here has done Vyta Du Roc good. He was only just ready to go to Aintree and to build on it here again has done him a lot of good. He was a good novice and at the start of their second season they've just got a little bit of a chance just to break in with the bigger boys. They are given that little window to see if they can progress and the top novices from last year do have a very good record in the race. He wasn't really a top novice but he did win a Reynoldstown. When Bobs Worth and Trabolgan won the Hennessy for us they really were top novices. Trabolgan was top-weight whereas Vyta is coming in at the bottom because he's not as good as them, there's no doubt about that but on the other hand that's why he's got that weight and it would be a nice weight to carry in the race. He looks well and I think he's very realistic."

 

WEATHER - HE CAN DO IT!

This evening the All-Weather Championships Finals will be staged at Kempton Park. The British Stallion Studs EBF Hyde Stakes is of particular interest to trainer, Roger Varian, as he saddles his hopeful, ENNAADD, who he would very much like to qualify. The son of KING'S BEST has triumphed in the last three of his five career runs, beginning with a Lingfield maiden in December, followed by a one-and-a-quarter length victory in the toteplacepot Six Places In Six Races Handicap at Chelmsford in February before returning to today's venue to score in the Betfred 'Treble Odds On Lucky15's' Conditions Stakes in April. The three-year-old also had an entry in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket at the end of April but had to be withdrawn due to an undisclosed setback. The Kremlin House Stables' handler affirms that the Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum-owned colt is on top condition now.

 

Roger Varian commented: "Ennaadd had a little setback after his last run but is in good form and has been training well. He is rated 106 now, so he is a nice horse and we are looking forward to getting him back on track. A lot of where we go with will depend on how he gets on here but I wouldn't think that this will be his only run over the winter. It looks a competitive race but I think that Ennaadd is quite a nice horse."

 

15th NOVEMBER

 

FIVE ALIVE

The three-time British flat racing Champion Jockey (2012, 2013, 2014) muscled in on this East Lothian racecourse yesterday and scored five times, with combined odds of 899/1 and, to rub it in, even came second in the other two races on the seven-card fixture. Brian Hughes didn't muck about and scored in the first race of the day at Musselburgh, when he rode the George Bewley-trained MITCD to a nine-length victory in the racinguk.com/freetrial Handicap Hurdle. Then the Dublin-born rider showed his gratitude in the second race when he partnered THANK YOU VERY MUCH, trained by James Bethell, in the extended two-mile Watch RacingUK Free With Month Trial Novices' Handicap Chase, which he won by seven lengths. And the hits kept on coming because Brain Hughes then clocked up his hat-trick in the next event with the James Moffat-trained MONDLICHT who left his rivals trailing twenty-six lengths in his wake Racing UK Free For A Month Novices' Hurdle. That seemed like a good days work and time to go home. But no, the forty-three-year-old jockey wasn't finished yet because he claimed the fourth race with a win aboard the Sandy Thompson-handled BLUE KASCADE who romped home with five lengths to spare Watch RacingUK With Free Trial Now Handicap Chase. You can't win them all. The next two races turned out to be not meant for him and he had to settle for second slot in both of them. Brian Hughes wasn't finished yet, though, because he was aboard another James Moffat-trained runner, SMART RULER who lived up to his name and claimed the last race of the day, the Racing UK Now In HD! Handicap Hurdle by a narrower distance, just half-a-length, but a win is a win and that made it a five-time bonanza.

 

Brain Hughes commented: "I'm a bit embarrassed about it all to be honest. I just keep thinking something is going to go wrong soon because everything has been going so well for me lately. I'm in a very fortunate position, the people I ride for have their horses in good form and I'm having an unbelievable amount of luck. This game is a great leveller, just look at my good friend Freddy Tylicki to see how quickly it can go wrong. Malcolm Jefferson is my main backer and he has his horses running out of their skins, and my agent Richard Hale is doing a fantastic job. A lot of lads in the weighing room would win on the horses I'm winning on, so I'm fortunate. I just hope it continues as long as possible, but in this game one minute you are up and the next you are down."

 

RINGS A BELL

The unbeaten hurdler LA BAGUE AU ROI could be stepped up in trip for Newbury's bet365 Festival at the end of the month or so trainer, Warren Greatrex, hints. The Upper Lambourn handler has already pencilled in the Listed contest at the Berkshire track on November 26. This DOCTOR DINO daughter made a winning start over hurdles at Uttoxeter in the Pektron Electronics For Vehicles Mares' Maiden Hurdle last month and followed that up with a victory in the Sixt Rent A Car Mares' Novices' Hurdle at Wetherby on Saturday.

 

Warren Greatrex commented: "She was very impressive at Wetherby. I think Dan Skelton thinks his horse (Whatduhavtoget) is very good, but she put the race to bed in a matter of strides. We might look at at Newbury on Hennessy day as there is quite a valuable mares' novice hurdle that day. The long term plan will be to go to Cheltenham in March for the Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle."

 

WILLIE HE MAKE IT?

All quiet on the County Carlow front but Sunday's meeting at Punchestown could see more action. Willie Mullins seems to have had a quieter Autumn than usual whereas, by contrast, his rival for the the trainers' championship, Gordon Elliott, has started off the campaign with a bang and has built up a strong lead for the crown. The Closutton king, however, doesn't seem too troubled by the current state of affairs and, it has been revealed, is planning a strong challenge at the County Kildare track., in particular he has his sights on the valuable StanJames.com Morgiana Hurdle.

 

Willie Mullins commented: "I would hope to run as many as I can (in the Morgiana Hurdle) since it's very hard to get races for them all. At the moment it's all about getting the horses out but the weather has been so unseasonal. It was like September this morning on the gallops, incredibly warm, and basically we're waiting on the ground. But Ruby (Walsh) said to me we only had the one runner at that Navan Sunday meeting a year ago, too, so it's not unusual for us to have so few runners at this time of year. We are traditionally late so I'm not concerned at all."

 

14th NOVEMBER

 

NORTH CAME FORTH. (1st ACTUALLY!)

Another KAYF TARA son proved he's got his Sire's stamina in his genes when he stayed on gamely in the closing stages of the stanjames.com Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham. Dan Skelton always thought NORTH HILL HARVEY was cut out to be a stayer and so it was in this two-mile Grade 3 contest. As expected the Philip Hobbs-trained STERNRUBIN went into the lead side with Ben Pauling's CYRIUS MORIVIERE close to hand. The pair didn't do enough, however, to shake off any challengers and there were quite a few as the runners came down the hill. When the beginning of the notorious incline was reached the Barry Geraghty-ridden favourite, WINTER ESCAPE, seemed to be going backwards as the JP McManus-owned MODUS surged forward menacingly. Harry Skelton kept the eventual winner travelling smoothly for most of the time. Then the moment of truth. Kevin Jones, riding SONG LIGHT, moved over to the stands' rail and threw down the gauntlet but he could never quite get the better of NORTH HILL HARVEY. The horse with the strongest chance of success turned out to be the Paul Nicholls-trained son of MOTIVATOR but he was also denied victory by half-a-length.

 

Dan Skelton commented: "I had high hopes for him in last year's Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle and thought he might be second but for the mistake at the second last. He's not in Altior's class over hurdles though. He was due to run last week at Wincanton and I left there as mad as a wasp as the ground wasn't right for him. Sometimes Lady Luck is on your side though. I did think the jump two out had cost us again as he was a bit slack. I thought Modus had come to beat us to be honest in the straight. North Hill Harvey has stuck his head out well and really wanted it though. It's just great. It was a great ride from Harry and he jumped really well. It's magic. It's great to win for Richard and Lizzie (Kelvin Hughes, co-owners) and Gary and Beverley (Widdowson) who own Dad's horse (dual Olympian Big Star).

"It's just a magical day. The rail has helped him a bit in the closing stages but he was big and bold at the last.

"He'll be a chaser next year. I've always said we'll have a year over hurdles but chasing will be his game. I'll probably look at coming back here in December for the International but we hoped to win a race like this this year, not three like it.”

 

OVER THE MOON

This 2015 Champion Bumper winner, who missed most of last season's activity due to injury, was the one to beat in Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle Trial at Cheltenham. The David Pipe-trained MOON RACER had already got off to a good start on his new hurdling career when he won the Racing Post Readers Award Novices' Hurdle at Perth in September. The Keith Dalgleish-trained MIRSAALE seemed determined to take the race from the front but the pace was nothing challenging even though a number of his rivals were struggling to settle. Nothing dramatic happened until the runners reached the bottom of the field where most of the riders seemed to think the stands' side rail was the place to be. The son of SAFFRON WALDEN, with Tom Scudamore aboard, got there before the eventual runner-up and there seemed to quite a scuffle going on behind that afterwards required investigation by the stewards. Tom Scudamore had no time to worry about that, though, as he urged his mount clear up the hill to claim the prize by two-and-a-quarter lengths.

 

The winning trainer commented: "It was a great performance. Both him and Ballyandy are good horses and we thought he'd improved from Perth. He only does just enough, but Scu (Scudamore) was always confident. He's very deceiving. You'd think he'd want further, but he's got a great turn of foot. He's very much one to look forward to. He might come back here in December if there's a race. I think he might be better on better ground. He'll have an entry in the Champion Hurdle. Why not? He is turning eight so we have got to do a bit of racing. The Supreme is the number one target. He has only been beaten once in his life."

 

Tom Scudamore added: "When it all comes right it looks good. Fortunately, I had a very, very talented partner."

 

CLAIM TO FAME

A seven-pound claiming jockey rode the ten-year-old son of TURGEON to a two-and-a-half length victory in the totepool Southern National at Fontwell yesterday. The Paul Nicholls-trained AERIAL had been off the track for 525 days but he was back to his former self when he romped home in the three-mile-three-furlong handicap chase. The Ditcheat handler had nothing but praise for the young jockey, Jordan Williams.

 

Paul Nicholls commented: "It is more about the lad (Williams). He has not had many rides and that was his first chase winner. He has been riding out a lot at home for the last two years and I promised when this horse was right I would let him ride it. Today was a great result for the lad. He is hard-working but he was getting itchy feet and he wondered if he should be here with the other lads, but I said he is doing well and his time will come and he has now gone and ridden a televised winner. Aerial had a leg injury. Since he has come back into work we have worked him hard. He could not run on good to firm ground and this was the first race where the ground had a bit of cut in it. There were reservations about the track but we knew he was fit and you have to run them fit when they have had a long time off. We will perhaps look at the London National (Sandown) now as he likes going right-handed."

 

13th NOVEMBER

 

COOL! A DEAD HEAT!

The High Sheriff Of Gloucestershire's Mares' Standard Open NH Flat Race at Cheltenham yesterday produced one of those rare results – a dead heat. Hot it certainly was but very much alive! In the closing stages it certainly looked as though the Alan King-trained MY KHALEESI wasn't taking any prisoners when Wayne Hutchinson asked him to kick for home about a furlong out but Graham Lee, the former jump jockey, wasn't about to give in so easily and urged the 5/1 shot, IRISH ROE to take up the challenge. There then ensued a battle royal all the way up the hill and the dynamic duo surged over the winning line together, with the judge unable to separate them.

 

The winning jockey commented: "It was really close and I suppose everyone is a winner, so it's a good result. She's game and she's a good filly. They both wanted this so a dead heat is fair result."

 

Peter Atkinson, IRISH ROE'S trainer, who as yet only handles two horses added: "She was very good and we came here today to try to get some black type for her. The wife (Lucinda) has bought her and done all the work with her. She's just a bit green and she'll be better on a sounder surface. She will have a rest now and maybe go to Aintree for the bumper there. "It's my first ever runner here and she only cost 2,000. I've just got the two horses, I'm a permit holder and a pig farmer by day. We enjoy doing it like this."

 

The winning trainer said: "I thought I was beat so we will take a dead heat. I've had some strange days in racing but none like this. I thought this would go against me so we'll take a dead heat."

 

MORE IS LESS

A third BetVictor Gold Cup victory for Jonjo O'Neill at Cheltenham yesterday but not with the horse he expected. MORE THAN THAT, partnered by Barry Geraghty was tipped to claim the prestigious prize but all was clearly not well as the eight-year-old son of BENEFICIAL was clearly in trouble from five fences out and was eventually pulled up before the last. No the hero of Jackdaws Castle, Temple Guiting, was his stable companion, TAQUIN DU SEUIL, who reeled in the P J Hobbs-trained VILLAGE VIC in the final yards to claim the £160,000 prize. The runner-up, under Richard Johnson, had made a valiant effort to win the contest from the front but eventually had to concede victory by a neck.

 

Jonjo O'Neill commented: "The rain last night suited him, he stays and loves this place. I was delighted with his run at Chepstow, he's not had a hiccup at home since and it's nice to win a nice race like this."

 

The win also put an end to a frustrating period the winning jockey, Aidan Coleman who added: "I've had a nightmare few weeks. I broke my cheekbone and haven't had a winner since Third Intention in the Old Roan. This is just great and I could not be happier for Jonjo and the team at Jackdaws. They're a hard-working team and it just hasn't been coming together for whatever reason but we're here now. It's my first year there and they've been so good to me and welcoming so have to a winner like this is special. Taquin Du Seuil had to battle there, it wasn't easy for him. I had a fantastic partner and I'm delighted."

 

TALK TALK!

It was a good day, too, for this Godolphin trainer who saddled TEAM TALK in the Betway Churchill Stakes at Lingfield Park yesterday. Dubai-born Saeed bin Suroor had already had successes in pattern races before but this victory was no doubt particularly pleasing to him as this son of TEOFILO gave him back-to-back victories in this Listed race in the UK.

 

The winning jockey, Sean Levey, commented: "Team Talk was incredibly impressive today. I thought that I had a lot to do turning in - I was a bit out of my ground - and they didn't go overly quick either. I thought that he was going to change gear and really knuckle down to get them. When I asked for an effort, he picked up really well. They weren't stopping and coming back to us in front and I knew he had to show a turn of foot to pick them up. He has very little experience. He didn't learn much first time out, when he won as he liked, and ran in good company in the Listed race at Newmarket. He probably learned a good bit from just being in that race. The step up to a mile and two furlongs really suited and he has done it well. I think that he will stay further. He was so settled and very professional going round there. I think he is one to look forward to."

12th NOVEMBER

 

MORE TO COME

Day two of the Cheltenham Open meeting and Jonjo O' Neill is hoping that his son of BENEFICIAL can add the BetVictor Gold Cup Handicap Chase to his 2014 World Hurdle triumph at Prestbury Park. The Temple Guiting-based trainer has already depicted MORE OF THAT as the best horse that he has trained, which is praise indeed from a handler who saddled the legendary SYNCHRONISED when he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2012 – a prize he clearly covets for his current star. Since that stunning victory two years ago, however, the eight-year-old has only raced four times, with his last three starts being over fences at Cheltenham. He won the first two of these but could only make third n the RSA Chase last time out in March but he can be forgiven for that because it was discovered afterwards that he had burst a blood vessel.

 

Jonjo O' Neill commented: “Our horses have been running a little bit below par, but he seems in good form and if he performs the same way he is at home, I’d be very happy. AP rode him last Monday morning and said he would come back for this fellow. That’s the sort of feeling he gives you at home. He’s a very genuine horse and he’s just a pleasure to be around. He’s one of those horses we all love in the yard. I think he’s the best horse I’ve ever trained, but unfortunately he’s got a few problems, as we all know. I definitely think he is a Gold Cup horse, (but) in the back of my mind, I have a little doubt about him getting the trip in the Gold Cup, as he has a lot of pace.”

 

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

This Sherborne-based top trainer wants to give his current star some valuable experience over the fences at Cheltenham today in the mallardjewellers.com Novices' Chase. The Colin Tizzard-trained THISTLECRACK, the indubitable hero of of the staying hurdling division last season when he won all his five starts, including an incredible performance in the World Hurdle at the Festival when he left the 'Mouse' Morris-trained ALPHA DES OBEAUX trailing seven lengths in his wake. No wonder this son of KAYF TARA was the ante-post favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup even before he had ever jumped a fence in public before!.

 

Colin Tizzard commented: "We don't expect him to have it as easy as he did at Chepstow.

"It should be lovely, safe ground. It will be nice for him to get some experience over fences at Cheltenham and we obviously hope he'll jump round and win. You can over analyse these things sometimes. As far as we're concerned this is just the next step in his career. It was nice to see the rain during the week as we needed proper ground, we all do."

 

His regular jockey Tom Scudamore added: "Everyone throughout their whole career is looking for a horse like this to come along, so I'm very grateful he has and I want to make the most of it. He had done everything we had asked him at home prior to Chepstow and it was great to see him replicate that on the track. He has obviously got an entry in the King George, but we will see how this weekend goes first. There is a reason for running him over fences and that is hopefully to go to the Gold Cup. That will be the aim providing everything goes well. It is about doing what is best for him and getting him there with the right amount of experience and right amount of runs under his belt. Going around Cheltenham this weekend will help in that department. Hopefully he can take another step in the right direction on Saturday."

 

A TELLING MOMENT

This son of MILAN, on just his second start over fences, added the Markel Insurance Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase at Cheltenham to his list of credits yesterday. The David Pipe-trained WHAT A MOMENT, with Richard Harding aboard, was sent off an 8/1 chance and didn't disappoint his backers as he clearly had the measure of the front-running Troika Steppes who had to settle for thr runner-up slot.

 

The winning trainer commented: "We probably haven't got as many running here (Open Meeting) as we would in previous years but hopefully it's a small but select team. He's done it nicely - he's jumped and travelled well and has been given a great ride. The horse doesn't always find a lot off the bridle but he's found plenty today. He travelled great," said Harding. "He jumped great as well - he made one mistake at the second last but other than that he travelled really well. When they travel, they jump. There was no way he was going to be caught - he just got a bit lonely in front. He had a bit of a look but it wasn't a problem. It was only his second start over fences - he's still a novice. He will be open to a lot of improvement. This trip is perfect for him. He will be a very nice staying chaser in time. Like I said, he travels well, he jumps well and he stays well."

11th NOVEMBER

 

NOTHING TO LOSE!

Today the final Group race of the European Flat season takes place at the Haute-Garonne race course in south-west France. Toulouse is the destination for four British trainers who will be making their bid for the prize in the Group 3 Prix Fille de l'Air run over ten-and-a-half furlongs. Luca Cumani saddles ROSENTAL, who won the Listed Prix Dahlia-Fonds Europeen de l'Elevage at Saint-Cloud at the beginning of last month. Although the conditions were very different from today's forecast heavy ground, there is strong reason to believe that this PIVOTAL daughter will take it in her stride as she did when formerly trained by Andre Fabre.

 

Luca Cumani commented: “She’s been training well and still has a good coat on her despite the time of the year. She’s a lovely, kind, easy filly and we hope for a good result. She ran a good race on soft ground at Haydock a couple of runs back so I’m hopeful.”

 

Sir Michael Stoute-trained ROSTOVA also triumphed in France recently, in a Listed race at Chantilly, the Prix Casimir Delamarre and there the conditions were softer so she definitely should not have a problem.

 

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for owner-breeder Khalid Abdullah commented: “She’s a tough one – thoroughly honest and genuine – and I’m delighted she has proved herself at this level. The good thing is she’s proved she acts on soft ground. She’s been straightforward and came out of her last race well.”

 

Another trainer who is quite happy to send his horses far and wide seeking success is Ed Walker who just a couple of weeks ago ran his PERSONA GRATA in the Group 1 Prix Lydia Tesio in Rome where she managed a promising fifth. This five-year-old daughter of SIR PERCY is making her ninth appearance in France.

 

Rounding off the quartet of British France-bound trainers is David O’Meara, who is pinning his hopes on ALL ABOUT TIME who last scored at Ripon in August on soft ground but hasn't had her head in front for the last five outings.

 

HILL WITH A WILL

This Ben Pauling-trained son of KALANISI has only lost one of his last eight races and that was at the Cheltenham Festival in March when he came fourth in the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, after stumbling after the last flight. Today the Circle of Friends' BARTERS HILL takes on six rivals on his debut over fences in the two-and-a-half mile Steel Plate And Sections Novices' Chase at Prestbury Park.

 

The Bourton on the Water-based trainer commented: "He is best in at the weights on hurdle ratings. Some of his opponents have had a run under their belts but Barters Hill is a very nice horse who is in sparkling form. I hope he runs a race that we can proud of. He is a horse we all need in the yard. It's a big day and deciding to release him at Cheltenham puts a bit more pressure on. He will do his damnedest as he always does."

 

NO LOSS FOR MOSS

After thirteen outings over hurdles and four disappointing attempts over the larger obstacles, this son of OVERBURY finally got his hooves successfully over fences and, scored in the Injured Jockeys Fund Handicap Chase at Ludlow yesterday. It's some two years since the Tom George-trained MOSS ON THE MILL attempted a chasing career, and although his first showing at Ffos Las was not without promise, his subsequent three efforts were appointing, to say the least, and it was decided to put him back over hurdles. This time the time seemed right and the eight-year-old gelding, with Mark Quinlan aboard, claim victory by two lengths.

 

Tom George commented: "He probably ended up in front a bit too long, but it was just the way the race was run and he probably wasn't going well enough to bide his time a bit longer. He's done it nicely and I'm delighted for Mark as he's putting in a lot of work behind the scenes at home and it's important for him to get some nice rides. We started him over fences two years ago and he had a few problems with his back and we've done a lot of work with him. He went back over hurdles and has obviously got his confidence back now he's not hurting."

10th NOVEMBER

 

SAINTS ALIVE!

The Paul Nicholls-trained son of SAINT DES SAINTS didn't quite live up to expectations on his chasing debut at Exeter yesterday. The long odds-on favourite, AUX PTITS SOINS, winner of the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival last year, was running for the first time for the Ditcheat handler, since leaving Emmanuel Clayeux's yard in France in 2014. The six-year-old, considered one of Paul Nicholls' brightest prospects in the novice ranks, was, as expected, sent off the 2/7 odds-on favourite in the RGB Building Supplies Novices' Chase, partnered by Nick Scholfield. The grey gelding wasn't too clever going over the early obstacles but, on the whole, he didn't disgrace himself. It's just that he never seemed to be able to match the efforts made by the Philip Hobbs-trained DRUMLEE SUNSET, ridden by Richard Johnson who always seemed confident that his mount had enough to get the job done. And so it was. When Nick Scholfield urged AUX PTIS SOINS to go for it as they went round the home turn, he held on well but was denied victory by two and a quarter lengths.

 

TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE!

Newbury presents the Hennessy Gold Cup in two weeks' time and one trainer is considering a two-handed attack on the three-mile plus contest. County Meath-based Noel Meade is tossing up whether to saddle both MONKSLAND and WOUNDED WARRIOR at the Berkshire track on November 26. The problem is, both of these have had their problems recently. The former, the nine-year-old son of BENEFICIAL unfortunately fell in last Saturday's JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal and the latter, the six-year-old son of SHANTOU, hasn't had a run this season, because the ground was always too quick. His last significant claim to success was in 2015 when he came third in the RSA Chase, seven-and-half lengths behind the winner, DON POLI.

 

Noel Meade commented: "Monksland has come out of the weekend unscathed and there is every possibility he could go for the Hennessy Gold Cup. He is rated 3lb higher in England and I think the weight (10st 7lb) is fine, but whether he runs or not will depend on how he schools in the meantime. He looked to be going quite nicely at Down Royal when he came down, but the fences are there to be jumped and that has been his Achilles heel. Wounded Warrior would certainly be a possible as well off 10st 9lb. He is a fine, big horse who stays really well."

 

TAKE IT FROM MEE!

The Paul Nicholls-trained son of KAPGARDE is hoping to be a star in next Saturday's Bet Victor Gold Cup. This is highly appropriate as AS DE MEE is part-owned by actress, Dame Judi Dench, who shares him with Andy Stewart. At the moment the six-year-old is the best backed horse for this feature race at Cheltenham. Currently the brown gelding is the 8/1 joint-second favourite behind stable companion, FRODON, and the Jonjo O’Neill-trained MORE OF THAT who are both on 5/1. AS DE MEE was runner-up in the Grade 1 Betfred TV Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown in February 2016 and scored his first victory over fences in the Call Star Sports On 08000 521321 Beginners' Chase at Fontwell in the middle of last month

 

9th NOVEMBER

 

AND THE WINNER IS …..

Last night the Dorchester Hotel was the stage for the 26th annual Cartier Racing Awards. These prestigious prizes, the equivalent of equine Oscars, you might say, aim to reward excellence in European horse racing. The awards are decided on the basis of a strict formula. Points are earned by competing horses in he highest level of races in Thoroughbred horse racing, namely Pattern races which make up 30% of the final winning total. Then at the end of the racing season a panel of racing journalists add their opinion (35%) plus votes from readers of Racing Post and The Daily Telegraph plus Channel 4 Racing viewers for the the remaining 35%. And the winner is …..(a long pause just like those annoying TV competitions!) …. the Cartier Horse of the Year is … MINDING. This daughter of GALILEO, owned by Coolmore and trained by Aidan O’Brien, won five Group 1 contests this year, including the 1,000 Guineas, Oaks and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. Not content with that the three-year-old also received and award in the three-year-old filly category.

 

Harry Herbert, racing consultant for Cartier, commented: “I would like to extend my congratulations to the Coolmore team on the phenomenal achievement of gaining a record five awards at the 26th annual Cartier Racing Awards. Minding and Found are brilliant fillies, while Order Of St George is a stayer out of the top drawer, and Churchill’s performances bode well for 2017. Aidan O’Brien’s achievements, with Minding, Found, Order Of St George and Churchill, plus many others in 2016 and during the last 25 years, speak for themselves and this outstanding trainer richly deserves the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award of Merit.”

 

2016 CARTIER AWARDS

Horse of the Year: Minding

Older Horse: Found

Stayer: Order Of St George

Two-Year-Old Colt: Churchill

Two-Year-Old Filly: Lady Aurelia

Three-Year-Old Colt: Almanzor

Three-Year-Old Filly: Minding

Sprinter: Quiet Reflection

Award of Merit: Aidan O'Brien

 

NO TIME TO WEIGHT!

A three-pound claiming jockey stepped in at the last moment, because the booked rider couldn't make the weight, and triumphed at Huntingdon yesterday. Jamie Bargary was substituted for Tom Humphries and steered the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained ROBINSHILL to an impressive one-and-a-half length victory in the Omni Security Michaelmas Handicap Hurdle. The County Tipperary rider knew the five-year-old son of ROBIN DES CHAMPS well, having partnered him to a six-length win in the bet365 Handicap Hurdle at Wetherby at the end of last month.

 

The 22-year-old Jamie Bargary commented: "It was unfortunate for Tom that he couldn't get the weight off in time. Nigel wanted to take 10lb off him, which was a good idea, but fortunately he didn't need it in the end. I know they've always thought a lot of him and it looks like the penny has dropped as he has won going away. When he sees a fence he will be even better."

 

Jockey, Willy Twiston-Davies, representing his father, added: "He did it well. We always thought he was a two miler but it looks like he wants two-and-a-half now. Jamie gave him a really good ride and is good value for his claim."

 

A PERFECT WIN?

It's the Anne Duchess Of Westminster Memorial Chase at Bangor-On-Dee today and Naunton-based trainer, Fergal O'Brien will be saddling top-weight PERFECT CANDIDATE in the thre-mile contest. It looks like being be a humdinger of a race as competing for the prize in the fourteen-strong event, are the likes of Peter Marsh's CLOUDY TOO, Jonjo O'Neill's BEG TO DIFFER and a couple of runners from the Alan King yard, SEGO SUCCESS and ZIGA BOY.

 

Fergal O'Brien commented: "He'll be surprised when he turns up somewhere else than Cheltenham! First time out, I just felt three miles around here would suit him better than three-and-a-half at Cheltenham at the weekend. If he runs well the idea is to send him to the Becher Chase at Aintree, so this fits in better. He's been a slow burner so while he's rated 148 now, there might be more to come."

 

Anthony Bromley, Racing Manager for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede added: "There are two valuable races on the card and the owners have a runner in each. Our initial thoughts for Ballykan were to run him in the BetVictor at the weekend but we thought that might be just a step too far for him. This looks a little less competitive and is a nice prize. It's good to support Bangor if they are putting the money up. He's the type that won't be on the go all winter so while the ground is still good we need to take advantage of that. We're hopeful he'll run a nice race, he's only six and has been a fun horse."

8th NOVEMBER

 

MAKE HIM MIGHTIER YET!

This son of HIGH CHAPARRAL provided the son of the Ballydoyle master with a victory in the Racing On New Years Day 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle at Fairyhouse yesterday. LANDOFHOPEANDGLORY, now in the hands of rookie trainer, Joseph O'Brien, made an impressive start to his jumping career when Barry Geraghty partnered him to a one-and-a-half length triumph. It is interesting to note that the JP McManus-owned three-year-old only scored once from nine starts on the Flat for Aidan O'Brien. The juvenile's jumping was acceptable on the whole but he put his mark on the race with his admirable acceleration after the final flight, leaving his stable mate, BIG BEN, to strike second place.

 

Frank Berry, spokesman for the McManus operation, commented: "That's the first two and there are a few more to come, although they haven't been off the ground yet so we'll see what happens down the road."

 

FAIR CHANCE

This FAIR MIX gelding, absent for over two and a half years after winning the 2013 Arkle Trophy at Prestbury Park, looks like making his seasonal reappearance in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham on Sunday. The Nicky Henderson-trained SIMONSIG, however, demonstrated that he had lost none of his ability by coming second behind BOB'S WORTH in the Betfred Hurdle at Aintree last November and finishing an impressive third behind GOD'S OWN and VAUTOUR in the Boylesports Champion Chase at Punchestown in April. It's true the ten-year-old grey seemed well out of his depth in the La Barka Grade 2 Hurdle a month later but he is reported to be none the worse for wear and anticipating making a bid for the Grade 2 contest, which, incidentally, was won by Nicky Henderson's SPRINTER SACRE last year.

 

The Lambourn trainer commented: "He is set for the Shloer. He has had a good preparation for once. If he gets through this week without a hiccup, in his book it would be a very good week."

 

UP HILL ALL THE WAY!

In yesterday's Weatherbys General Stud Book Graduation Chase at Kempton the Nicky Henderson-trained JOSSES HILL only had one other horse to beat and that was his stable companion. The son of WINGED LOVE, runner-up in the 2014 Supreme Novices' Hurdle, went through a phase of jumping problems when he was sent chasing the following season, although he did manage a third in the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham in November. Then fate took a hand and he fell in the Sandown Tingle Creek a month later. Back in action again, the eight-year-old 8/13 favourite was sent straight to the front by the Gold Cup-winning rider, and kept up his advantage in the straight and and got safely over the last obstacles to win by eight lengths.

 

Nicky Henderson commented: "He is getting good. He's been very good at home, but we've done nothing special. We've schooled him a couple of times and he's been brilliant. I said to Nico 'be positive at the ditches', as he used to hang in the air a bit. I just have the feeling he's better right-handed than left-handed. There is the Ascot race in a couple of weeks' time (1965 Chase), but it depends if he is right and if the ground is right. Whether that is being grown-up too soon, I'm not sure, but that's the end of his graduation days. The Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon could be very good for him. I think he's ready to go anywhere right-handed, but he has run some very good races at Cheltenham, so we can't count that out.”

 

7th NOVEMBER

 

PIPE UP!

This Gloucestershire-born jockey has won aboard this KAYF TARA gelding seven times from his last eight outings. Yet Tom Scudamore maintains that the continual pressure surrounding THISTLECRACK doesn't faze him. The thirty-four-year-old jockey has notched up a number of notable successes when riding races this eight-yearold gelding, including the Ryanair Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last March and Aintree's Liverpool Stayers' Hurdle in April, not forgetting the victorious debut over fences at Chepstow last month. This success has encouraged many racegoers and tipsters to mark out THISTLECRACK for glory at next year's Cheltenham Gold Cup.

 

Tom Scudamore commented: "Is there pressure riding him? There's always pressure [when riding]. But that's one of the areas where I've been very lucky, and I'm sure this has made a huge, huge difference to my career, and it's no secret why the likes of Dad [Peter Scudamore] or AP McCoy had that sort of mentality. When you ride for the Pipes, every race is important."

 

HORSE BEFORE THE CARTIER!

The initial unveiling of the Cartier Horse Of The Year nominations reveals that ALMANZOR, FOUND and HIGHLAND are among the five contenders close to claiming the crown. The Jean-Claude Rouget-trained ALMANZOR has a strong claim after winning the French Derby, the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown and the Champion Stakes at Ascot. On the other hand consideration must be given to Aidan O'Brien's mare FOUND, after her impressive performance in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Compare that to the success of her King George and Elizabeth Stakes-winning stablemate, HIGHLAND REEL after his fantastic victory in the Breeders' Cup Turf on Saturday. Thought must also be given to the other two nominees, the aidan O'Brien-traned MINDING and Roger Varian's stable star POSTPONED.

 

Cartier's racing consultant, Harry Herbert, commented "There has been brilliant racing throughout 2016. The nominations for the 26th Cartier Racing Awards reflect the wonderful horses who have raced in Europe and beyond this year.

 

A CENTURY!

A season ton up for champion jockey Richard Johnson at Sandown yesterday when he rode the Johnny Farrelly-trained AMORE ALATO to victory in the Future Stars Intermediate Chase at Sandown. The son of WINGED LOVE, sent off a 100/30, proved himself well capable of triumphing in this three-mile Listed heat, putting on a fine round of jumping from a prominent position. The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained BALLYBOLLEY was the one to beat with three fences to jump but the thirty-nine-year-old Hereford born rider wasn't to be beaten that easily. An impressive leap two from home put the race in the bag and a victory of seven lengths.

 

6th NOVEMBER

 

NO SHAME FOR SEAMIE!

The Ascot King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner showed his prowess again when he won the Grade 1 Longines Breeders' Cup Turf yesterday at Santa Anita, presenting Coolmore with their four victory in the last five years. This time HIGHLAND REEL had Seamie Heffernan aboard whilst Ryan Moore had to settle for third place on the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner, FOUND. The County Kildare jockey had never scored before at this meeting but that was hard to believe because he gave a masterly demonstration of how to ride from the front, quickening, with less than half a mile to travel, to establish a decisive lead.

 

The winning jockey, who had ridden this GALILEO colt into second place in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, commented: "I was on a horse that handled the conditions well. He's straightforward, he's very sound and he stays hard. If I had the choice I would have ridden Found! But it is nice to be on the team and it is nice to get the opportunities, I have a lot of people to thank."

Part-owner, Michael Tabor added: "He's a proper globe-trotting superstar and this track and the ground suited. Sometimes it works out. Once you get the addiction it's there, long may it continue!"

 

CALIFORNIA DREAM REMAINS A DREAM

This son of UNBRIDLED SONG demolished the dream when he reeled in CALIFORNIA CHROME in the final yards of the Breeders' Cup Classic yesterday. The Bob Baffert-trained ARROGATE, with Mike Smith aboard, looked as though he was out of it when the Art Sherman-trained Dubai World Cup winner went for home, steered by Victor Espinoza. But that wasn't taking into account the determination and stamina of the Khalid Abdullah-owned

three-year-old who went on to provide his trainer with his third Classic victory in a row.

 

Bo Baffert commented: "I was a bit worried, he was just loping around. I thought 'Man, I hope I have him fit enough'. I thought there was no chance turning for home that he could catch Chrome - Chrome is such a great horse. It takes a lot to get me excited and that was some race. That last 20 yards I thought we had a chance. This horse is just learning how to run and what a great race. I'm just glad I'm at the top end of it, California Chrome is a champion. I'm surprised I beat him, I didn't think I could beat him going in."

 

Art Sherman added: "I'm very proud of the way he ran and there are no excuses. What can I say, he ran his eyeballs out. This was really a great race. He will be back for sure."

 

PHOTO FINISH

A dream was realised yesterday at Doncaster, though, when the son of OASIS DREAM won the Listed Betfred Mobile Wentworth Stakes by a whisker, well, a nose, actually! The Richard Fahey-trained GROWL defeated Ed Walker's AEOLUS in a photo finish, after the latter had hit the front two-hundred yards from home and all looked lost. Jockey, Graham Lee, wasn't going to give up so easily, however, and coaxed more from his four-year-old mount to land the spoils.

 

The winning jockey commented: "He's been so consistent in all the top races, he deserved to win that. He's been running in the Champions League, really, so he had an obvious chance. I just tried to keep it simple and tracked the second and just pulled out alongside him but he's better coming between horses. He needs a really strong pace to be seen at his best and didn't really get that here."

5th NOVEMBER

 

SAINT'S DAY!

This son of DANEHILL DANCER has scored again just ten days after winning the Group 3 Handicap Jayco Bendigo Cup at Bendigo. This time the Charlie Appleby-trained FRANCIS OF ASSISI was at Flemington track in Melbourne where he triumphed handsomely in the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes. With William Buick aboard on this occasion, the Godolphin-owned six-year-old challenged the long-time leader, TOM MELBOURNE and surged clear to put an assertive ten lengths between him and the eventual runner-up, VENGEUR MASQUE.

 

Charlie Appleby commented: "This horse has been leading all the work out here and I have to say, you can see mentally he is just thriving. He's had decent horses coming up alongside him every morning but when he's got his own head in front, he's thought he was King Kong. We thought he might have the credentials to perform well down here and we couldn't be any more pleased with what he's achieved. We'll get them all back home, regroup and think about a team for next year. We brought these horses out here to test the water and we had no idea how they would campaign because it was our first experience over here. It's been a great learning curve for us and we couldn't have asked for it to go any better. Unfortunately, it's just raised the bar for next year when we pitch up, so let's hope we can perform as well!"

 

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN'

At 17.35 local time this afternoon and seven hours later here in the UK the son of LUCKY PULPIT will attempt to add his name to the list of great American horses who have triumphed in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at the legendary Santa Anita track. The Art Sherman-trained CALIFORNIA CHROME came third in the 2014 renewal of this GRADE I - $6,000,000 contest and that was after claiming the first two legs of the American Triple Crown. The five-year-old missed last year's race but, after winning the Dubai World Cup and two other Grade Ones on home soil, he's the one everyone's talking about.

 

Trainer Art Sherman commented: “I look at the three-year-old (Arrogate) and think he’ll have his work cut out. He’s going to have to run every inch of the way. I think the big, red horse (California Chrome) will be breathing down his neck. He’s just changed all of a sudden. He’s a beautiful horse now. I’m so proud of what he’s done in his career so far. He’s a different horse now. When I saw him turn the corner after he’d been turned out, I could tell by each work he was getting stronger. I knew he’d need the race when he ran here (in January) and still won. Then he had a tough race when he beat Dortmund at Del Mar and he’s good horse. He hadn’t been at his peak and hadn’t turned the corner at that stage. Then I saw he was ready to challenge anybody. I know he’ll be in the Hall of Fame one day, which he rightfully should. If he could just win the Breeders’ Cup it would be the coup de grace on my life. It’s a very prestigious race and I’m looking forward to it.”

 

51-YEAR-OLD CELEBRATES 23rd

This New Mexico-born jockey achieved his twenty-third Breeders' Cup winner when he partnered the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained TAMARKUZ to a three-and-a-half length victory in the Las Vegas Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita yesterday. Fifty-one-year-old Mike Smith produced the son of SPEIGHTSTOWN with a well-calculated challenge to claim the prestigious prize. Laura Wohler's RUNHAPPY did justthat and led the field for much of the time but then the SUPER SAVER colt began to falter just before the home turn and the hot favourite Dortmund didn't hesitate to dispute the lead with GUN RUNNER at the top of the straight. Mike Smith was content to wait a while until the time was right and went for home in the final furlong.

 

The winning jockey commented: "He was a little bit reluctant to load, but he was brilliant after that. He was well within himself and well in hand the whole time. When I asked him down the lane he just gave me that run like he's been doing."

Kiaran McLaughlin, enjoying first-ever winner at Santa Anita, added: "It feels great and at least we've got the monkey off our back for tomorrow. But more than that, it's great to win for Sheikh Hamdan, who has been a great supporter of mine for 23 years. Turning for home he looked like he was moving very well. You're never confident in these big races until you get to the wire, but Mike rode a great race."

 

4th NOVEMBER

 

QUEEN GETS HER DESERTS!

After seven trips over hurdles, including a First at Ascot and a Second at Kempton Park in November and december, respectively, it was decided that it was time for the temperamentally talented DESERT QUEEN to try her luck over fences. So it was that the Harry Fry-trained eight-year-old lined up in the Bud Booth Mares' Chase at Market Rasen yesterday, (a race named after the Lincolnshire track's long-serving chairman, Colin 'Bud' Booth) and pulled off the most significant victory of her career. The beginning didn't look promising, however, as the Nick Scholfield-ridden mare threatened to misbehave again at the start but she soon settled down in front and, on the whole, jumped pretty well for most of the race. She did drift somewhat to the left after negotiating the last obstacle but she had enough in hand to claim the contest by five lengths.

 

The winning trainer, Harry fry commented: "It was not the most conventional route going open class chasing first time out over fences. Since she had come back in the plan had been to go to Fontwell on Friday for a mares' beginners chase but with the way the ground was and with there not being many entries in this race we decided to go here. It's great to run in and win a prize like this with her on her first run over fences. She has her quirks, as we saw today, but she has ability. She has had a lot of experience in point-to-points and she has been schooling well. Once she gets into a rhythm she just keeps galloping as she has got a high cruising speed. She jumped very well on the whole, although she just got in a bit tight at the end with the runner-up. We will probably drop her back for a two-and-a-half-mile Listed novice mares' chase at Warwick on December 8, as there is nothing this side of Christmas over three miles for her."

 

GOLD STANDARD

The Gold Standard status for 2016 has been awarded to Hamilton Park as one of the top twelve racecourses in the country for racehorse owners. The South Lanarkshire track was listed in the ‘small’ racecourses category, alongside others such as Fakenham, Market Rasen, Musselburgh, Newton Abbot and Nottingham. This prestigious award, in its second year, is made by the Racecourse Owners’ Association (ROA), the organisation that has represented racehorse owners for over 70 years, and currently has more than 7600 members. ROA representatives from made a point of visiting every track in Britain at least once to get a first-hand impression of what the race day experience is like for for horse owners. Representing the 'larger' racecourses, Ascot, Ayr, Cheltenham, Chester, Haydock Park and York were listed as at the top.

 

ROA's Chief Executive, Charlie Liverton, commented: “The race day experience is one of the most important aspects of the enjoyment of being a racecourse owner. The sport can try to increase the number of racehorse owners only if they have a thoroughly enjoyable time on track, whether their horses are successful or not, so we are committed to working closely with racecourses to ensure that owners are looked after in the best possible way.”

 

A 'NEARLY' HORSE!

The David Bridgwater-trained Cheltenham star has been retired after a forty-race career, which produced five Wins, six Seconds and three Thirds. THE GIANT BOLSTER is perhaps best known for his appearances at Prestbury Park where he had the greatest of his successes. The eleven-year-old son of BLACK SAM BELLAMY was twice placed in the Gold Cup, runner-up to SYNCHRONISED in 2012 and third in 2014, just three-quarters of a length behind the winner, LORD WINDERMERE.

David Bridgwater commented: "He was probably a 'nearly' horse to everyone else, but to us he wasn't. With luck in running, he could have won two Gold Cups. Had he done that, I suppose he would have been considered as one of the greats, but there is no question he has been our flagship horse for many years. He's given us some unbelievable days. It is like anything else, you will miss it when it isn't there."

 

3rd NOVEMBER

 

KATHY CAME HOME!

An apprentice jockey, whose two previous two winners were as an amateur, bagged the feature race, the Lady Cecil Morpheus Handicap at Nottingham yesterday. Katherine Glenister who looks after the David Evans-trained GRACIOUS JOHN and rides him out every day was rewarded for all her efforts with a win at the Colwick Park track when she battled on to beat the Mick Easterby-trained PERFECT PASTURE by half-a-length.

 

Kathy Glenister commented: "I'm absolutely delighted. He's a horse I've had a lot to do with since he came to Dave's - all through his two-year-old career - and I've taken him racing everywhere. We've had a few bumps along the way. He's not the easiest ride. He ran a bit flat towards the end of the season so we gave him a little break. I'm delighted Dave gave me the chance today, taking some weight off his back, and it's paid off. I want to keep riding as best as I can and hopefully ride for other people, and keep riding winners."

 

The Abergavenny-based winning trainer added: "I came up to Chepstow to watch a horse I used to train, so I missed it. The horse had a bit of a break. He hadn't been back in work long and he obviously doesn't need much. He used to love soft ground but doesn't anymore. He hated it in Ireland when he ran there. He'll have a nice all-weather campaign now. This was a nice race to aim at first time back. I'm shocked he won. I gave Katherine the ride as she looks after him and rides him every day. It's great for her."

 

THANKS DAD!

A rookie trainer seems to have a chance of winning the JCB Triumph Hurdle next March thanks to his Dad. Joseph O'Brien's prospects have been significantly enhanced after receiving a number of Coolmore-bred three-year-olds from his father's stable. The young trainer didn't have a licence of his own when IVANOVICH GORBATOV won last season's Cheltenham prize. Although he had done all the preparatory training for the race, it was Aidan O'Brien's name that appeared on the racecard. Since then the young O'brien has become a successful trainer in his own right, having scored twenty times already in this Irish National Hunt season so the acquisition of eleven three-year-olds from his father's yard will be a significant boost in the first full season with his own licence. Seven of the new in-mates are sons of GALILEO and six of them have a rating of over 100. One of these, HOUSESOFPARLIAMENT, is the highest rated, having achieved an official rating of 113 on the Flat and another, SWORD FIGHTER triumphed at Royal Ascot.

 

WHAT A SHEILA!

The Group 1 Crown Oaks, Australia's oldest fillies' Classic, got one of the biggest shocks of its history when a 100/1 shot ran rings around all her rivals with a mind-boggling front-running display. The Lee Curtis trained LASQUETI SPIRIT didn't mess around and surged away to a massive early lead. Never has this prestigious fixture seen the runners strung out in such a manner. Everyone expected the daughter of BENETAU would, as usually happens in such a situation, eventually run out of steam and her rivals would ultimately reel her in. But that didn't happen. The three-year-old just kept going and and her jockey, Bremton Avdulla celebrated victory by standing and bowing to the crowd as his mount flew past the winning post.

 

The jubilant winning jockey commented: "I was confident I could run top eight but every time I asked her to find a new gear, she just kept improving for me," he said. When I had a look at the first big screen at the 400, I was five lengths clear and I thought she'd stay on for a nice position. When I went past the next big screen at the 200 I was still clear in front and the last 100 metres was pretty special. That's the thing about being a 100-1 shot, nobody wants to go out after you. This is special. When I got the chance to come and ride her, even though she was a 100-1 chance, I wanted to come down. You jump at the chance to ride during these four days at Flemington and to go away with the feature today, I can't believe it."

 

Trainer, Lee Curtis, added "This is the race we've been building her towards. She was right for today and it's been the plan all year. We had nothing to lose today, we were 100-1, so we could afford to take the gamble and ride her a bit silly and if it comes off, we're geniuses! I can't describe this, it's just so special. This is what we get out of bed for, I'm just really humbled. Brenton is a good friend of mine and he's a great rider. I'm always happy to get him on and I knew he would be right for this filly today."

 

Unfortunately for Brenton Avdulla, the stewards didn't take too kindly to his exuberant behaviour as he crossed the line and fined him $1,000 !

 

2nd NOVEMBER

 

AH BISTOURI!

In the Bathwick Tyres 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle at Exeter yesterday the son of BALLINGARY made his debut over hurdles on his second career outing, after coming sixth in a bumper at Newton Abbot at the beginning of last month. Ridden by Nick Scholfield, the Paul Nicholls-trained BISTOURI D'HONORE seemed to improve as expected on his switch to jumping. The four-year-old, left to his own devices, pressed leader and took over the lead at the third hurdle. Although he wasn't, admittedly, too fluent at two from home, he had a length in hand and stayed on well in this stretched-out two-mile-five-furlong contest, finally closing the deal two-and-a-quarter lengths too strong for the Nicky Henderson-trained SWOOP TO CONQUER.

 

The winning trainer commented: "He is a lovely big horse for a four-year-old. I ran him in a bumper the other day and he was a bit green. Today was not ideal being in front, but I said to Nick (Scholfield) that he probably would be left in front. He just had a gallop round with his ears pricked, really. He would get three miles, but the stiff track round here was ideal today. He is a work in progress and will be a chaser in time."

 

A VALENTINE FOR GEORGE

The hot-favourite in the 188Bet Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter yesterday failed to live up to his name when conceding victory by a short head. The Tom George-trained SIR VALENTINO, with Adrian Heskin aboard, put paid to the hopes of GARDE LA VICTOIRE when he dug deep in the final yards to establish his superiority. The Slad-based trainer saddled GOD'S OWN two years ago when he last claimed this prestigious prize. Just after the last fence it certainly looked as though Philip Hobbs' even-money favourite had it in the bag but he was clearly battling his four- pound extra weight.

 

Tom George commented: "This is probably his optimum - two-mile-one on a stiff track. He had a nice weight and he did the job well. We ran him in the Summer Plate over two-mile-five, but it was a bit too far for him. He's better over a strongly-run two miles and he probably won't go further than this again. The Summer Plate was just too far, but he travelled well. It was the wrong sort of track. He's better off over a big, galloping track like this. We've had a good run of it and have been quite close in a couple big races and have hit the crossbar a couple of times, but it's nice to get one in the back of the net. Adrian (Heskin) is a good lad and is obviously a big asset to the team. I suppose he'll have to go for some of big two-mile chases. We'll have to think about the Tingle Creek, I never thought of him as that type of horse, but I suppose he is improving."

 

YOUNG AT HEART

Today's the day when William Young will be hoping that the son of ARAKAN can maintain his staggering run of success in the three-mile Racing UK HD Handicap Chase Musselburgh. FORMIDABLEOPPONENT, who has certainly lived up to his name by scoring in his last five races, faces ten rivals today, a couple of whom could perhaps be just as formidable, including the Tim Vaughan- BOSS IN BOOTS and Lucinda Russell's RIVABODIA.

 

William Young commented: "He's been in the form of his life and good, sound ground is the key to him. He's in grand fettle and very well and I honestly don't know how long he can keep on winning. He's a got a big weight, 12st 1lb including his penalty for winning at Ayr on Saturday but he has raced off higher marks when he was in Ireland. I said before Saturday that not many horses win five-in-a-row so what I can about this time!"

 

TUESDAY 1st NOVEMBER

 

BROTHERS IN ARMS

The daughter of INDIAN RIVER made it three in a row when she won Follow At The Races On Instagram Novices' Handicap Chase at Plumpton yesterday. The Michael Scudamore-trained DAWNIERIVER was one of three finishers in this original nine-strong field in this nigh-on three-and-a-quarter mile contest which claimed two PUs, two Fs and two URs. The crucial development came when the Dai Williams-trained BENNYS GIRL fell when in the lead four from home. This left the 8/1 eventual winner well clear and Tom Scudamore coasted home to win by an unbelievable forty-nine lengths.

 

Michael Scudamore commented: "She's improved nicely and I'm really pleased she's managed to pull it out of the hat," said the winning trainer. The race was eventful and probably fell apart a little bit, but I'm very happy she could keep it all together and keep on going. I imagine while the ground is the way it is we'll keep her going. She wouldn't want the ground too soft, so we'll try to make the most of the dry weather while it's about. We'll see how she comes out of this and take it from there."

 

SECOND SUCCESS IN SIXTEEN YEARS

The 156th renewal of the world's richest handicap, the two-mile Group 1 Melbourne Cup at Flemington was a heart-stopping event when Kerrin McEvoy partnered the Robert Hickmott-trained ALMANDIN to a narrow victory over the aptly named HEARTBREAK CITY. The winning Streaky Bay-born jockey claimed this prestigious prize for a second time, the previous occasion being sixteen years ago when he triumphed aboard the Michael Moroney-trained BREW. The owner, Lloyd Williams, was clocking up a record five successes, whereas for the trainer, Robert Hickmott, it was a second victory in five years.

 

Kerrin McEvoy, married to the sister of last year's winning rider Michelle Payne, commented: "Words can't describe it, I'm just ecstatic. To be able to win another one, I'm just over the moon. Lloyd had faith in me to get the job done, the horse had a dream run through. I was worried that Joao was kicking as well as me but my horse was just so game, he put his ears back and had a crack. He's been so well handled by Lloyd, it was a really canny job to get him qualified and just give him a nice four week break. He was so fresh and he travelled like a star the whole way, I was never off the bridle."

 

VICTORY FOR VICTOIRE?

It's the 188Bet Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter today and connections have a strong case for thinking that their son of KAPGARDE, who has, had a win since January, can be back in the winner's enclosure again. The Philip Hobbs-trained GARDE LA VICTOIRE, in his second season as a chaser, somewhat blotted his copy book, when he fell at the Cheltenham Festival in March and unseated his rider, Richard Johnson, at Aintree three weeks later. The seven-year-old gelding was given five months off to recover and certainly looked none the worse for wear when he return to racing at Ffos Las and easily won the Welsh Champion Hurdle. Apart from winning this outing will have done wonders for his health and stamina Ground conditions at the Haldon Hills-based track are reported to be Good (Good to Firm in places) so ther should be no worries on that score. So fingers crossed!

 

MONDAY 31st OCTOBER

 

MORE GLORY FOR RYAN

The Tenno Sho at Tokyo race track gave Ryan Moore Grade 1 glory in Japan. That's where the three-time British champion jockey steered the Noriyuki Hori-trained MAURICE to a one-and-a-half length victory in this ten-furlong contest. The thirty-three-year-old rider was no stranger to the five-year-old son of SCREEN HERO, having ridden him twice to glory in mile contests in November and December last year. If anything the partnership looked even more comfortable with the extra two furlongs and they fair bounded into contention at the top of the home straight, taking over from A SHIN HIKARI, who had made all the running, faded away.

 

The winning jockey commented: "He's a very good horse, he's strong at a mile and very hard to beat. He's very strong, he's got a good turn of foot and he was dominant. He couldn't have been more impressive. He has a big heart, big lungs and at a mile he could go further so we weren't too concerned about the distance."

 

EXCELLENT TRY

Former Scottish rugby player now trainer pulled off a great coup at Carlisle yesterday. Berwickshire-based Sandy Thomson saddled SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT in the Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase andand this eight-year-old trounced his two rivals with a twelve-length victory. The son of MIDNIGHT LEGEND as seen racing in the Scottish Grand National when he came an impressive third.

 

Sandy Thomson commented: "I thought he had improved although I wasn't certain, but it looks as though he has. Brian (Hughes) said we should perhaps forget handicaps and go for the top races though the Betfair might come too soon. It's too early to say what we will do we will see what there is for him. It's a long way ahead but I might well give him an entry in the Gold Cup, there aren't that many chasers of that calibre around and if it came up soft, who knows.

 

Brian Hughes added: "It was like driving a Ferrari. He never touched a twig and he really came up for me at the last ditch. I've never come up the hill like that before."

 

SAEED IS HAPPY!

The Saeed bin Suroor-trained THUNDER SNOW dominated the Group One Criterium International at Saint-Cloud yesterday with an impressive victory. The son of HELMET is, without doubt, a top-notch juvenile to keep an eye on after coming a creditable fourth in the Dewhurst Stakes, just two lengths behind CHURCHILL. The Godolphin-owned colt, ridden by Christophe Soumillon was clearly still in fine form when he bolted clear in the last four-hundred yards, leaving the Andrew Balding-trained SOUTH SEAS, trailing five lengths in his wake with the Aidan O'Brien's PROMISE TO BE TRUE a further and three-quarters away in third.

 

Lisa-Jane Graffard commented for Godolphin: "Christophe was never worried. He reported that Thunder Snow travelled well all the way and handled the ground. It was a very pleasing performance and Saeed bin Suroor, who is in Australia, will be happy. Thunder Snow will be able get a mile next year so it is all very exciting."

The winning jockey added: "Thunder Snow, who looked very well, was calm and super relaxed. I think he will be even better over a mile and further."

 

SUNDAY 30th OCTOBER

 

A CAVALIER WAY TO WIN!

A twenty-two-year-old jockey, enjoying only his second Grade 2 ride, pulled off an unexpected victory at Wetherby yesterday. Jonathan Moore rode the Rebecca Curtis-trained IRISH CAVALIER to a three-quarter-length victory in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase, outdoing the likes of CUE CARD and MENORAH into the bargain. For much of the just over three-mile contest it looked like a foregone conclusion; the Colin Tizzard-trained CUE CARD would claim the prestigious prize. With Paddy Brennan aboard, it seemed the son of KING'S THEATRE could do no wrong. With a display of superb jumping throughout, the ten-year-old seemed to have the race in the bag as the field turned into the straight and made for for home. CUE CARD was now giving it all he had got but, as it turned out, it wasn't enough. A persistent IRISH CAVALIER couldn't be shaken off so easily. Then, much against everyone's expectations, Mrs. Bishop's pride and joy was passed between the fourth and third fence from the winning post but the race wasn't over yet. Jonathan Moore had much more work to do on his son of AUSSIE RULES because the previous two winners of this race, MENORAH and CUE CARD, weren't about to surrender that soon and closed in and harried the 16/1 outsider in the last hundred yards. It became clear that the victor would be the one with the most staying power and ultimately that was IRISH CAVALIER.

 

The winning jockey commented: "It's days like this that you dream about and it was the chance to be able to ride horses like him that I came over to ride. I really asked him up at the fourth-last and he's so genuine he came up for me, and he did that again at the third-last."

added: "Jonathan rode At Fishers Cross at Aintree and rode him well and then he partnered this horse to win at Punchestown and I was impressed with his riding so I offered him the job. We fancied him (Iish Cavalier) to run well today though we didn't necessarily think he would beat Cue Card and we weren't certain that he would stay three miles, but he clearly did. Apart from a couple of blips when my horses weren't right last season he was really progressive and ended up winning a Punchestown handicap with topweight."

 

MORE MOORES

The Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot yesterday was another opportunity for the Moore family to excel. This time it was the trainer-jockey combination of father and son, Gary and Jamie Moore, who ran away with the coveted £100,000 handicap chase courtesy their six-year-old ANTHONY. Following up a comfortable four-and-a-half length victory at Fontwell at the beginning of this month, this son of WALK IN THE PARK showed he has a lot more where that comes from when leaving his challengers, including the favourite, Paul Nicholls' SAPHIR DU RHEU, trailing in his wake.

 

Trainer, Gary Moore commented: It's a massive surprise to me to be totally honest. I kind of felt he'd won by default last time. He won but I thought he was a certainty and I was disappointed. But all mine have needed the run and it's done him the world of good. He's not over-big but he's very handy and when he won his chase at Sandown I thought he was a natural. I think he will be better on softer ground."

 

YOU WIN SOME, YOU LOSE SOME!

It wasn't such a big day for Paul Nicholls' day at Ascot yesterday but he was rewarded at Wetherby. The Somerset-based trainer remained on top of his early-season with a victory by SILSOL in a thrilling conclusion to the West Yorkshire Hurdle. At one stage the son of SOLDIER HOLLOW was joined by the impressive THE ROMFORD PELE who looked as though he would give his trainer, Rebecca Curtis another winner for the day but he soon faded and the other threat, the Colin Tizzard-trained NATIVE RIVER, was wearily pushed along by Richard Johnson, in a vain effort to stay in contention. So it was left to the 13/2 chance, SILSOL, ridden by conditional rider Jack Sherwood, to put another win on the board for the Ditcheat handler.

 

Brian Nicholls, father of the winning trainer, commented: "I don't know where he'll go next, it could be fences or hurdles. We didn't think that the ground would be soft enough for him today. I thought that Jack rode a really good race on him, he is very underrated."

 

Jack Sherwood added: "He's won the Welsh Champion Hurdle and is a proper horse but he got too high for handicaps. He battled on really well today. He's a horse who never runs a bad race."

 

SATURDAY 29th OCTOBER

 

AYR TODAY. GONE TOMORROW!

Today is Ayr Racecourse's final Saturday fixture of 2016, sponsored by Wellpark Brewery in the name of Tennent's lager, one of Scotland's favourite brews. Tennent’s Raceday features seven races offering more than £70,000 in prize-money. No wonder some of the leading trainers and jockeys are making their way there and not just for the beer! The feature race of the day is the £25,000 Class 2 Tennent’s Cup Scottish Champion Trial Handicap Hurdle over two miles and racegoers will have the pleasure of seeing a number of top class hurdlers bidding for this valuable early season prize. Top trainer David Pipe obviously thinks it worthwhile making the 850-mile round trip from Somerset to Ayr to saddle his MANGO CAP in the Tennent's Black T Handicap Hurdle, lining up against, amongst others, the Nick Alexander-trained PRESENTING ROSE.

 

THANK CUE!

The son of KING'S THEATRE's fall in last year's Cheltenham Gold Cup was probably one of the greatest upsets in National Hunt racing because the Colin Tizzard-trained CUE CARD was on course to claim the £1 million bonus after scoring in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last November and the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton Park a month later. The story is even more incredible when one remembers that a previous champion who claimed this triple, KAUTO STAR, achieved in in two separate seasons and CUE CARD was going for it in the same year. What is more, the then nine-year-old also won the Tingle Creek between Haydock and Kempton in one year - the only horse to have achieved such a feat. Anyway, that's all history and the nearly eleven-year-old is back, with Paddy Brennan aboard, to show he's still got what it takes to win the Grade 2 bet365 Charlie Hall Chase this afternoon.

 

THAT'S THE SPIRIT!

SPIRITUAL LADY provided trainer, Charlie McBride, with the biggest winner of his career in Britain when she cruised to an easy victory in the Irish Stallion Farms "Bosra Sham" EBF Fillies' Stakes at Newmarket yesterday, making it three wins from four starts. The daughter of PASTORAL PURSUITS was on her best behaviour on this occasion, having been withdrawn last time out from a valuable sales race at Doncaster after causing a commotion in the stalls. Jockey, Frankie Dettori, was content to settle the 3/1 favourite close to the rear of the field until the moment seemed right to take the lead about a furlong from home. Once there, the PMRacing-owned filly stayed there and won by a length and a half.

 

The winning trainer commented: "I don't know what upset her at Doncaster. She has never been like that before. She has been a Christian since and done everything right stalls-wise. She was so relaxed in the pre-parade ring she was almost horizontal. She is a very relaxed filly. She has got bags of speed. Maybe six is her trip. She is going to have rest now. We will give her a winter off and see what happens in the spring. Normally if I have one this good we start off in the Nell Gwyn. It would be the obvious place to try seven furlongs. I love this filly and ride her myself quite a bit. I've always said she is the best I've trained. If she does stay she will be a force to be reckoned with. That is my first black-type winner in England. I've been close a few times."

 

FRIDAY 28th OCTOBER

 

GLOVES OFF!

This NEW APPROACH filly provided top Irish jockey, Pat Smullen, with a rare winner in the 32Red Casino/British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes at Lingfield yesterday. Sir Michael Stoute-trained MITTENS, on her second career run, broke her duck by winning this seven-furlong contest by half a length. The Khalid bin Abdullah-owned two-year-old ran a disappointing race, finishing last, in her debut at Newmarket at the beginning of this month, so this latest performance greatly heartened trainer and connections.

 

The winning jockey commented: "She was a little bit keen last time and Sir Michael was keen for her to get cover and relax. It took me half a furlong to get her cover, but she relaxed beautifully and picked up well."

 

JUST A SECOND

A lot of interest is attracted by the results of top trainers such as Aidan O'Brien or John Gosden on turf that quite often the All-Weather Champion Trainer title tends to be relegated to the sidelines. The Newark-based Mick Appleby, having been runner-up in two earlier campaigns, finally got his hands on the coveted crown last season and the £10,000 winner's cheque that came with it. It is usually said that retaining the crown is harder than winning it but the Hilltop Equestrian Centre boss looks like he could have a good chance of doing just that.

 

Mick Appleby commented: "We will be certainly trying to win it again and we would have a good chance again, although I think it will be a lot more difficult. We have a good team, though, and we will try to bang in the winners. It helped last year with Godolphin not having many runners, but I am not sure what their plans are for this year, while we are moving yards in November and I hope that doesn't affect us too much. I would hope to have a string of about 40 to work with and we are bringing in a few more this week to go to war with. With Newcastle now part of it a few more of the Northern trainers will probably be stronger.

 

WINNING WAYS

The son of STARSPANGLEDBANNER has only had three wins from twenty-seven career runs and the last success was nearly two years ago. The Paul Cole-trained ROTHERWICK has appered in the frame more times than not so connections are hoping that today is the day when the four-year-old chestnut colt can again poke his head in front in the NGK Spark Plugs Handicap at Newmarket this afternoon. And the omens look good. His recent performance at Windsor when he came second was on ground that was probably too soft for him was impressive so today's conditions at the Suffolk track, described as Good (Good to Firm) Watered, should suit him. The additional benefit of having the champion jockey, Jim Crowley, on board can't be bad, either.

 

THURSDAY 27th OCTOBER

 

TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN

The old adage 'crime doesn't pay' didn't sum up yesterday's outcome at Chelmsford City when the Ian Williams-trained BANDITRY seized the £45,000 prize money in the totepoolliveinfo.com For Racing Results Handicap. The son of IFFRAAJ was claiming revenge for his near miss at Doncaster four days ago when he was denied victory by just a head. This time the well-backed four-year-old made no mistakes under the supreme stewardship of jockey, Robert Havlin, going into the lead about two hundred yards from home and just kept going to win by one-and-a-quarter lengths ahead of the last-minute rallying BRIGLIADORO, trained by Philip McBride.

 

The winning jockey commented: "Ian thought he had a good chance the last day and he was a bit unlucky. I rode him a bit more positive today and had the pitch I wanted, on the rail or one off it. He travelled round nicely and I got the split when I wanted it. It wouldn't surprise me if he got a mile and a half this horse."

 

BREEDING GOOD PAIR!

The Breeders' Cup meeting at Santa Anita in Los Angeles a week on Saturday will be graced with the presence of two entries by Yorkshire trainer David O'Meara. To one of them, MONDIALISTE, the contest is nothing new as he finished an impressive second behind the incomparable Mark Casse-trained TEPIN in the Breeders' Cup Mile last year. This GALILEO son is entered again for the $2 million Mile contest but is also down to run in the $4 million Breeders' Cup Turf, after landing himself a guaranteed place by scoring in the Grade 1 Arlington Million in Chicago in August. The six-year-old had the distinction last year of winning the Team British Racing Champion Award, recognising him as the top British-trained horse, after collecting the most prize money outside Europe in 2015. His stable companion, SUEDOIS, is no slouch either, having proved himself to be a top class sprinter over recent months, competing in no fewer than five straight Group 1 races and never finishing out of the first five. This son of LE HAVRE also has an entry in the Breeders' Cup Mile but will probably run in the six-and-a half-furlong $1 million Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint.

 

David O'Meara commented: "I am really looking forward to the Breeders' Cup and hopefully both Mondialiste and Suedois can be competitive. Mondialiste likes the American style of racing with its fast ground and turning tracks. We've run him a couple of times over the straight mile at Ascot and he hasn't really enjoyed it. He ran okay in Kentucky last time, when he was beaten less than two lengths despite them going really steady in the early stages, which didn't suit the hold-up horses [like him]. When he won the Arlington Million back in August he clocked the third fastest time in the last ten years, so the ground was pretty quick and a similar surface at Santa Anita will hold no fears for him. We are leaning towards stepping him up to a mile and a half for the Breeders' Cup Turf rather than going again in the Mile. It's a very fast mile and a half at Santa Anita, beginning in a chute which is part of the sprint course, so I think that will suit him fine. Suedois has only been with us for just over a year and he's had a fantastic season, with his second place in the July Cup being the highlight. He was also third in the Haydock Sprint Cup, when we made plenty of use of him, fourth in the Prix Maurice de Gheest and beaten less than a length at Royal Ascot so he has been running really well all year. One can never be sure how they will deal with the travelling but he is a sensible horse with a good head on him so I would be hopeful on that score. It's also impossible to be certain how he will handle the downhill sprint course but he is a very well-balanced individual who coped well with the undulations at Newmarket."

 

MAKING A COMEBACK

Another long-term absentee lines up in the sunbets.co.uk Handicap at Lingfield today. The John Gosden-trained FAYDHAN hasn't been seen on the track since April last year when he came third in the Listed CSP European Free Handicap at Newmarket. The Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned four-year-old's only other outing was at Haydock in July 2014 when he beat the top class Charles hills-trained DUTCH CONNECTION by six lengths on his racecourse debut.

 

Racing Manager Angus Gold commented: "John is pleased with how he's been moving recently, but we'll take things one step at a time. He's ready to run and we just hope he comes back in one piece."

 

WEDNESDAY 26th OCTOBER

 

HE CRACKED IT!

Making his first appearance since winning the Liverpool Stayers' Hurdle at Aintree in April this son of KAYF TARA was following the customary career pattern of moving up to fences. With obviously next year's Cheltenham Festival in mind, the Colin-Tizzard trained THISTLECRACK made his chase debut at Chepstow yesterday. The eight-year-old, ridden by regular jockey Tom Scudamore, took to it like the proverbial duck to water, leading from the start and securing an easy four-length victory in the Aspen Waite Complete Business Growth Service Novices' Chase.

 

The winning trainer commented: "This is just a start, a real good school round. The plan was for two novice chases and then Cheltenham. I think we need another novice and then after that I think he can do what he wanted to be fair."

 

Tom Scudamore added: "He was fantastic wasn't he? He did everything that we asked of him all the way through. He was neat and nimble, since the word go at home chasing has always been his game but it's on the course that matters. I've ridden plenty who have been naturals at home and you wouldn't believe they'd ever seen an obstacle and vice versa."

 

ROYAL REWARD

The Queen's contribution to raising the profile of women jockeys in this country was commended yesterday by the first woman in Britain to ride a Group 1 winner. Hayley Turner, accompanied by mother, sisters and grandmother, was at Buckingham Palace to receive the OBE for services to horse racing.

 

The thirty-three-year-old Nottingham-born rider commented: "It was amazing. The whole day has been brilliant because my nana, mum and two sisters came with me as well. Getting them all in London at the same time was a joy in itself, and to have Her Majesty The Queen doing it was a big bonus. We had a brief chat. She asked me about how I found the Shergar Cup this year and asked about my mum, who has rehomed some of her racehorses. Her Majesty's giving me rides at the point in my career that she did helped the girls in racing, because other owners and trainers were sure to follow suit. As much as I've had a lot of success, it doesn't happen without people like the Queen giving opportunities along the way."

 

SEND HER VICTORIOUS!

Today the Queen has her own OBE – (One Big Expectation!) when trainer, Michael Bell, saddles her FORECASTER in the attotepoolracing Fillies' Handicap at Chelmsford city. The nagging worry is that the three-year-old filly hasn't yet scored and this is her eleventh outing. This daughter of FASTNET ROCK has had a couple of close seconds, though – beaten by a neck at Bath at the beginning of August and by a head at this track last month. Admittedly this last time things didn't quite work out as expected for Her Majesty's horse. The filly did well, however, to get so close to the progressive Marco Botti-trained RAIHANA. With the capable Adam Kirby back in the saddle, however, everyone will be hoping that the day will be happy and glorious!

 

TUESDAY 25th OCTOBER

 

HAVING A CRACK

Today is the day for one of the biggest stars of the last season's National Hunt fixtures to tackle his first race over fences. The Colin Tizzard-trained THISTLECRACK, unbeaten hero of all the top staying hurdles last year, including in the World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, will line up at Chepstow today in the Aspen Waite Complete Business Growth Service Novices' Chase. The eight-year-old KAYF TARA son was due to make his debut at this track a couple of weeks ago but the Dorset-based trainer decided that the ground was too quick.

 

Colin Tizzard commented: "I think the extra couple of weeks have been a help to him, to be honest. I think he's a bit more ready now than he was then. He's working well and he's fit and hard. We've had quite a good time of it of late. I was a bit concerned we were having too many seconds, so it was nice to have three winners on Sunday. He's ready to run. Hopefully the ground will be fine and we'll see what happens. With any novice that's jumping fences for the first time you just hope they have a clear round and everything goes well, but we can't say that with horses like him and Cue Card as the expectations are so high."

 

A ROYAL OPENING

Children from All Saints School, Newmarket and, no doubt, many others will line the approach road to Palace House, which contains the remains of Charles II’s sporting palace and stables, to welcome Her Majesty The Queen, who will officially open the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art in Newmarket on 3rd November. This new attraction consists of the National Horseracing Museum, an art gallery and the main yard of the organisation, Retraining of Racehorses. When she is there the Queen will meet the former racehorses housed in the Rothschild Yard, before viewing the Robert’s Veterinary Gallery, the Pivotal Racehorse Simulator Gallery and the skeleton of the recently excavated remains of a stallion Pot8os, rumoured to be one of the greatest racehorses of the 18th century. (The story goes that a stable lad, misunderstanding the horse’s name, broke down the word “potatoes” into “pot”… plus eight os. So the horse’s feed bin sported the name “Potoooooooo”. The horse actually ran under the name “Potoooooooo” for a few starts until it was finally shortened to “Pot8os.”)

 

Chris Garibaldi, Director of the National Horseracing Museum commented: “Horseracing is a sport that we know is close to Her Majesty’s heart. We hope that she will be impressed with the new facilities — providing as it does the opportunity for visitors to understand the fascinating historical context to the modern sport and the horseracing industry.”

 

Peter Jensen, chairman of the Horseracing Trust, added: “We are extremely proud of what has been created, over many years. Many of the people and organisations who will be attending the opening ceremony have donated large amounts of time, enthusiasm and money to enable this project to happen. I know they will be honoured The Queen has agreed to open the National Heritage Centre for us.”

 

A STAR RETIRES

A sad day for the many fans of this son of SEA THE STARS who has been retired and will stand at the Aga Khan's Gilltown Stud from next year. There was nothing but the highest praise and tributes for the Dermot Weld-trained dual Derby hero HARZAND when the news was announced yesterday. The three-year-old colt was admired for his toughness as well as his class by winning the Epsom extravaganza, despite having spread a plate on the journey and requiring constant treatment right up to the start of the contest. Then, perhaps surprisingly after that supreme effort, connections decided to enter him in the Irish Derby just three weeks later and once more HARZAND took it all in his stride. Perhaps he should have been retired there and then whilst he was on a high. Sadly he went on to compete in the Irish Champion Stakes on 10th September, where he came eighth, sustaining another injury in the process and three weeks later finished ninth in the Prix de l' Arc de Triomphe.

 

Dermot Weld commented: "I've enjoyed training him. He's won two Derbies for us. He's a beautifully-made colt, very sound. It's been a team effort. It hasn't been the easiest - when he spread the plate before Epsom it was nerve-racking - but it was his guts and courage that won the day. He then went on antibiotics as he picked up an infection after Epsom, but he came back stronger than ever to win the Irish Derby. He had a long year, a hard year. People forget he won his maiden by 16 lengths in March and then the Ballysax in April. He has done everybody proud and it's been an honour to train him."

 

MONDAY 24th OCTOBER

EVERY INTENTION

This son of AZAMOUR hasn't had a win since February 2015 although he has clocked up 16 placed efforts from 28 starts over fences, so connections were finally rewarded for their patience and loyalty when the nine-year-old got his head in front in the 188Bet Monet's Garden Old Roan Chase at Aintree yesterday. After a six-month absence the Colin Tizzard-trained THIRD INTENTION, ridden by Aidan Coleman, appeared to be a little unfamiliar with the task at hand but it gradually came back to him as the race progressed. He was still near the back of the field as the seven runners turned for home in this Class 1, two-mile-three-furlong contest but had enough in reserve to haul in the the leader, Paul Nicholls' VIBRATO VALTAT, sealing his one-and-three-quarter length victory with a mighty leap at the last.

 

AWAY WITH THE FAIRIES

Another comeback kid, this time after an absence of 560 days, wasn't so lucky in the Trigo Stakes at Leopardstown yesterday. The Joseph Murphy-trained FLYING FAIRIES put paid to the hopes of the 8/11 favourite, ZAWRAQ, the Leopardstown 2,000 Guineas Trial Stakes winner, trained by Dermot Weld, who had to settle for second, trailing some three-and-a-quarter lengths behind the winner. Jockey, Pat Smullen, was content to settle his son of SHAMARDAL towards the rear of the field but when he decided it was time to make his challenge, it was too late and the bird had flown.

 

The winning trainer commented: "We were hoping to be placed as we thought the Weld horse was a serious horse. She won on fast ground in Fairyhouse and after Sunday (third in Garnet Stakes over a mile last weekend) we thought the trip would suit. We rode her to, hopefully, get placed but Gary said when she picked it up and went on it was game over. She's in the sales. Whether we keep her, I don't know. A nice race to start off in would maybe the Park Express Stakes if she stays. She has a nice pedigree and has never run a bad race. She's never been out of the first three or four."

 

Dermot Weld added: "I thought he ran an excellent race. I thought he was ring-rusty and the winner probably just got first run on him. Pat had to come round a few on the bend and that's as fast as he's gone in nearly two years. So to be fair to the horse, it just took him a little bit of time and when he got going he came home nicely. I thought he ran a super race and full marks to the winner, she was the best horse on the day, was very fit and loved the ground. That (staying in training) will be Sheikh Hamdan's decision and we'll see what happens, I would encourage them to keep him for next year, he's a lovely horse."

 

A COOL VICTORY

The first race on the second day of the Showcase meeting at Cheltenham showed that Chipping Norton-based trainer, Charlie Longsdon, is still riding high as he followed up his previous day's victory with a win by COOLOGUE in £50,000 Randox Handicap Chase over three miles. Champion jockey, Richard Johnson, was aboard this 8/1 shot, who blundered at the fifteenth fence but had recovered by two furlongs out, staying on and managing to beat off the challenge by the Paul Nicholls-trained KELTUS to clinch victory by a length.

 

The winning jockey commented; “Coologue is usually a weak finisher but Charlie [Longsdon] said he had a wind operation over the summer and that seems to have definitely helped him. They went a good gallop and then we took it up halfway down the back straight. I could feel Keltus coming at me and you’re always worried when that happens up the Cheltenham hill because it is a long way to the winning post. Charlie’s yard is in great form and, when it’s like that, the horses usually run up to their best form.”

SUNDAY 23rd OCTOBER

 

RIVETING STUFF!

A nine-time Derby winning jockey has his sights on next year's Epsom extravaganza after a horse he partly owns made all to win the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster yesterday. Lester Piggott's RIVET, trained by his son-in-law William Haggas and his daughter Maureen, beat the Aidan O’Brien-trained favourite YUCATAN by a length and three-quarters, also giving his jockey, Andrea Atzeni his fourth win in-a-row in this GroupOne, one-mile contest. The son of FASTNET ROCK , co-owned by Coolmore Stud partners John Magnier and Michael Tabor and South African breeder Des Scott, also triumphed in the Champagne Stakes at this Yorkshire track in September but followed that up with a disappointing fifth in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket a month later when, it appears, he wasn't comfortable with the undulating track on the Rowley Mile.

 

Maureen haggas commented: ‘Newmarket didn’t seem to suit him and he was also unsettled in the paddock. But daddy said it’s forever been the case that Newmarket horses don’t always run well at Newmarket. There is France, Ireland and (Royal) Ascot as well.’

 

YOU'LL NEVER OUTFOX THE FOX!

The six-year-old son of LANDO ran the socks off his thirteen rivals and won the Randox Health Handicap Chase by eleven lengths at Cheltenham yesterday. The Neil Mulholland-trained FOX NORTON clearly likes Prestbury Park, having produced some of his best form there, including an impressive third in the Arkle Trophy at the March Festival and looked quite at ease in his handicap debut. All jockey, Noel Fehily, had to do was sit tight and do the steering as the duo left the rest of the field trailing in its wake.

 

The winning trainer commented: "We felt there was big improvement in him through the summer and I've been very happy with him in all departments, especially in his work. I'd say that could be it for handicaps and we can look at the Shloer Chase back here."

 

HE DID ASK NICELY!

The Ralph Beckett-trained son of POWER, who seems to have lost it on the last two outings at Goodwood and Newmarket, got back into the winner's enclosure again with a striking victory in the Group 3 Worthington's Alzheimers Society Stakes at Newbury yesterday. PLEASELETMEWIN, ridden by Fran berry, was always in contention and hitthe front just over two furlongs out and, despite drifting to the left at the one-furlong pole, the 16/1 shot finished a good two lengths clear of the Michael Dos-trained KINGS GIFT.

 

SATURDAY 22nd OCTOBER

 

NICHOLLS TRIPLES

The champion National Hunt trainer has made ha sensational start to the 2016-17 season after claiming his tenth title back in April, with the Irish champion, Willie Mullins, breathing down his neck. Paul Nicholls notched up another treble at Cheltenham yesterday, bringing his current month's total to 24 and his seasonal tally to 50, with an awesome strike-rate of 35 per cent. Even during the acknowledged quiet months between May and August, the Somerset-based trainer sent out 22 winners. Yesterday's treble was provided by EL BANDIT, MARRACUDJA and CLIFFS OF DOVER. The fifty-four-years-old Paul Nicholls is on the verge of bettering his highest monthly total for winners in the last five years when he scored 28 times in November 2014. Today could see that record smashed as he has two entries at Kelso – BRIO CONTI and WARRIORS TALE, both ridden by Sean Bowen – and four runners at Cheltenham – KELTUS, ADRIEN DU PONT, QUALANDO and BRAHMS DE CLERMONT, the first three partnered by Nick Scholfield.

 

CHAMPION THE WONDERMARE!

Melbourne's Moonee Valley racecourse was the scene of an amazing performance in the Group 1 William Hill Cox Plate when the Chris Waller-trained daughter of STREET CRY not only retained title but extended her winning run to thirteen. There had been speculation that WINX would finally be up against an unassailable rival, HARTNELL, in one of the most eagerly-anticipated contests in recent history and the cards certainly seemed to be on the table when the five-year-old son of AUTHORIZED moved into the lead on they approached the turn. Jockey, Hugh Bowman, had kept his mount travelling strongly in her great adversary's slipstream and she very soon asserted her superiority, surging into the lead in the straight, winning by a good eight lengths. The five-year-old mare Winx has already eight Group 1s to her credit but this was, without doubt, her finest performance to-date and confirms her status as one of the best horses in the world.

 

Trainer Chris Waller commented: "This is Australia's biggest race and we'd love to win a third one. Getting to the other side of the world would be good but we'll be back next year. This is what we're here for. She was pretty special - you never expect to win like that. To get back here again, with the build-up, it's been fantastic and for her to win like that, it's fitting for the horse she is. I'm very proud and this is just fantastic for racing. It's like a dream, simple as that."

 

An emotional winning jockey added: "When we came out to the track I could hear all the cheering and I was very moved. I'm lost for words."

 

YUCATAN'S THE ONE THAT CAN

It's the the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster today and all eyes are on Aidan O'Brien who is bidding for his eighth victory in this one-mile feature contest for two-year-olds. The market had anticipated that CAPRI would spearhead the Ballydoyle master's claim for victory but, unexpectedly, he was not declared. Suddenly YUCATAN, who originally was not an obvious contender although he was runner-up to CAPRI in the Beresford Stakes at the Curragh in September, finds himself the short-priced favourite for the last Group One race of the British Flat-racing season. As a son of the great GALILEO there is no doubt that he has got what it takes and the Coolmore triumvirate of John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith are clearly well aware of that.

 

Alan Cooper, racing manager for Flaxman Stables, commented: "Aidan O'Brien indicated that he would be one of several possible choices for the race and he has decided this is the next plan for him. I think he has grown up in each run to date. It is a step up in grade for him on Saturday so let's see what happens."

FRIDAY 21st OCTOBER

 

TEMPUS FUGIT

Doesn't time fly? After a six-month Summer break, (what some regard as) the Home of Jump racing starts its new season today. All the familiar names, horses, jockeys and trainers, will be at Cheltenham over the next two days chasing fame and fortune. One trainer, who is probably better known in Ireland, or at least has been more successful there, is Henry de Bromhead. With just thirty horses in training, he is clearly up against a big challenge from the larger, wealthier yards. Nevertheless the County Waterford-based trainer is making the 300-mile journey with a small but select string of three horses for the opening meeting of the season at Prestbury Park. Henry de Bromhead has been going great guns on home ground during the Summer months and is clearly hoping to carry on the run of success in the Cotswolds. The first runner from the Knockeen yard is the six-year-old RIDESTAN, looking to make in three-in-a-row in the second race of the day, the squareintheair.com Novices' Chase in which he will be partnered by Grand National-winning jockey, David Mullins.

 

Henry de Bromhead commented: "He's very well and we're looking forward to running him.

"He won his beginners' chase in Killarney very impressively and then just held on in the Grade Three in Gowran. This looks a good novice chase and he has his penalty, but we're hoping he'll run well."

 

The forty-four-year-old trainer is obviously determined not to return to Ireland empty-handed because he is firing both barrels at the Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Novices' Chase, FULL CRY, with David Mullins aboard and HERON HEIGHTS, ridden by Phillip Enright.

 

Henry de Bromhead added: “They're two nice horses who've had good seasons through summer. Heron Heights stayed the three miles well in Clonmel the last day, albeit in a rated novice chase. Full Cry hasn't been three miles since his point-to-point days, but we've always seen him as a stayer. It's difficult to split them."

 

TRAINER DOUBLES UP!

No not in pain! Far from it. Jonjo O' Neill scored twice at Ludlow yesterday. The first of his successes was provided by the impressive I'DLIKETHEOPTION, steered by Barry Geraghty, in the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association Chase, putting down a marker as a horse to keep an eye on in the future. The son of PRESENTING, having excelled himself three times over hurdles in 2015, always looked, from a physical point of view, built to tackle fences. In fact, at this very track two weeks ago, it looked as though the J P McManus-owned five-year-old was about to nail his first chase but he stumbled on landing four fences from home and unseated the unfortunate Aidan Coleman. This time, although still a little awkward over a couple of obstacles, both rider and horse stayed together to claim the prize by two lengths. The Cheltenham-based handler's double came an hour later in the Amateur Jockeys' Association Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase when SHE'S LATE, happily didn't live up to his name, and conveyed the trainer's son, Jonjo junior, to a narrow victory.

 

A DOUBLE DOUBLE

Two wins weren't enough for this Ulster-born jockey at Carlisle yesterday. Brian Hughes doubled that. The curtain went up on his first victory when the Chris Grant-trained THEATRE ACT took the Racing UK Bet Through Your Mobile Handicap Hurdle by two lengths. Next came one of three horses trained by the North Yorkshire-based Malcolm Jefferson who saddled BALLYBEN in the Racing UK Handicap Chase, whom Brian Hughes steered to a five-length victory. The second of the Malton trainer's entries was CLOUDY DREAM in the Watch Racing UK On 3 Devices Beginners' Chase. This son of CLOUDINGS came within a length of winning the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr in April and made some sort of amends with a faultless run in this Class 4 event, quickening away after the second from home to win by three lengths. Malcolm Jefferson continued his top-form performance of the season with an easy twenty-two-length victory by DUBAI ANGEL in the last race of the day, the Racing UK Standard Open NH Flat Race, thus making it a treble for him and a four-timer for Brian Hughes.

 

THURSDAY 20th OCTOBER

 

BIG BEN

Nicky Henderson's former assistant, now in his fourth season as a National Hunt trainer, is anticipating a busy year. Ben Pauling's yard, which now houses sixty residents, got off to a good start last week at Market Rasen when BOREHAM BILL won the Spire Brewing Company - Chesterfield, Scavelli Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race by three-and-a-half lengths and connections will be looking forward to next Tuesday when BARTERS HILL is scheduled to make an appearance at Bangor. Before that, though, there's today's Par Inn Support "Prostate Cancer UK" Handicap Hurdle at Newton Abbot where the Bourton on the Water-based handler will be saddling his only entry for the day and first winter runner, EXPEDITE. Everyone at Bourton Hill Farm seems to be confident that the five-year-old will claim the prize. The son of BRIAN BORU was described as a 'slow learner' by his previous trainer, Charlie Mann, after finally winning the Racing FX Novices' Hurdle at Huntingdon last December, followed by two disappointing pull-ups at Ascot and Fakenham in January and February, respectively. The prospect of quickening ground would pose some problems but the current amount of money being bet on him suggests that punters think otherwise.

 

OFF WE GO AGAIN!

If you've waited twenty years to to get your hands on the Champion Jockey's trophy, I guess there'll be the burning desire to hold on to it for a while longer. That must be how Richard Johnson must feel as he buckles down to another National Hunt season. The 39-year-old jockey was finally endowed with the distinguished title at Sandown in April, after strengthening his claim as the rightful heir to Tony McCoy by riding an amazing 235 winners in the competitive period. Looking at his current performance which reveals his homing in on another century of winners, the Hereford-born rider looks as though he has every chance of retaining the title.

 

Richard Johnson commented: "It's always hard. You've got to ride winners on a regular basis and that's the main thing, and keep out of trouble and injury free. That is another big key thing. You never know what is around the corner, but I've got lots of nice rides for plenty of different trainers over the next seven or eight months. Hopefully I will again have a good winter and try to achieve what I did last year. My main objective is to try and be champion and that has always been my aim. Every lad in the weighing room would love to be champion jockey - it will be hard long season again, but I'm looking forward to it."

 

A PAT ON THE BACK

A former qualified vet and rider helped the eight times Irish champion jockey notch up a hat-trick at Navan yesterday. The Dermot Weld-trained VIGIL, with Pat Smullen aboard, disposed of his his maiden tag with an impressive performance in the Come Racing Again Sunday 13th November Maiden. The DANSILI gelding dominated the thirteen-furlong contest after the first furlong, was still two lengths clear one furlong from home and managed to hold on to a short-head victory, after coming under strong pressure from the Aidan O'Brien-trained BAY OF BISCAY.

 

Earlier in the day Pat Smullen partnered two winners for trainer Peter Midgley - the first on ONE BOY in the www.navanracecourse.ie Handicap followed by a one-and-a-quarter-length victory aborad GIANT SPARK in the Come Racing Again Sunday 13th November Handicap.

 

WEDNESDAY 19th OCTOBER

 

SWITCHED-ON FILLY.

This trainer is pinning his hopes on the last race of the day at Newmarket, the Home Of Racing Fillies' Handicap, to see his name up in lights. Well, actually to see UP IN LIGHTS next to his name in the list of winners! Newmarket-based James Fanshawe has been on a high just recently with his double Group 1 winner at Deauville and Chantilly, SPEEDY BOARDING, in August and October, respectively, and the Group 1 British Champions Sprint Stakes hero at Ascot four days ago. Today's contest is only a Class 2 handicap but a win is a win and £13,000 is not to be sneezed at! The daughter of MAKFI didn't inspire any confidence last time out at Doncaster, though, when she came a sixth (out of eight runners) in the Napoleons Casinos and Restaurants Handicap but there is a possible explanation. Perhaps her jockey, Tom Queally, opted for the wrong side of the track as the conditions were better down the middle of the course, as proved by the performance of the winner, the David Simcock-trained CAN'T CHANGE IT. So maybe the Mohamed Obaida-owned filly can be given the benefit of the doubt. In her favour is that she is a pound lighter than when she last visited this Berkshire venue.

 

ON GUARD!

The Greatwood and the International Hurdle winner at Cheltenham last season had to work hard for his victory in the 188Bet Best Mate Beginners' Chase at Exeter yesterday when he made his debut over fences. The Paul Nicholls-trained OLD GUARD sprawled on landing over the first fence last time out at Newton Abbot in the Eggy Birthday Novices' Chase, causing his rider, Sam Twiston-Davies, to lose an iron and eventually pull him up. The son of NOTNOWCATO seemed none the worse for that experience, however, so it was decided to give him another chance eleven days later. Punters also seem to have forgiven the five-year-old as he was sent off the 1/2 favourite. As mentioned, it wasn't a piece of cake for this market leader, who was far from confident over the jumps and, after making a mess of the fourth fence from home, it looked as though his goose was cooked. His jockey, Nick Scholfield, however, wasn't about to let his mount give up so easily and the duo managed to recoup sufficient momentum to overhaul the imminent winner in the last few yards and deny him victory by a neck.

 

Paul Nicholls commented: "He's won, which is what the aim of the game was today. He jumped a bit novicey, but to be fair to him, after the mistake he made at the fourth-last, he did well to come back and win. Nick felt he would have won nicely but for that mistake. Nick feels he wants two and a half miles and we always felt he was going to be a stayer. He'll be fine, he just needs practice and confidence. It just takes some horses longer than others to get the hang of it. I haven't made any plans beyond today. I'll talk to the owners and see where we go, but we want to get experience into him, so we won't be over-facing him at this stage."

 

IN THE PICTURE

One trainer who hasn't fared so well in Classic company recently, nevertheless managed to produce a winning debut for his DANSILI filly in the Breeders Backing Racing EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes at Yarmouth yesterday. The John Gosden-trained SHUTTER SPEED certainly had a bit more class than her thirteen rivals even though some of them had more experience. Khalid ibn Abdullah-own brown filly chased SONG MAKER, trained by Charlie Appleby, from two furlongs and ran on to into the lead in the final yards. The result was the shortest of winning distances - a neck – but a win is a win!

 

John Gosden commented: "She has always been a very classy filly. I wanted to run her three weeks ago, but I was not happy with her scope results. She has come here and gone in her coat and is ready for the winter. She would prefer to bounce off the ground and has done it purely on class. Frankie won it with the minimum of effort. She is a very nice filly for the future. Her breeding suggests a mile, but everything she does she does easily and is the kind of filly I see at a mile and a quarter.”

 

TUESDAY 18th OCTOBER

 

CLUES IN THE NEWS

When you read that a jockey, after riding the Queen's horse, DARTMOUTH, at Woodbine, Canada, immediately makes the nine-hour flight to Pontefract for a race yesterday, then it's clear that something significant is on the cards. And so it was. William Buick was booked to ride the Charlie Appleby-trained D'BAI in the feature race of the day, the EBF Stallions Totesport.com Silver Tankard Stakes. Shrugging off any possible signs of jet lag, the Norwegian-born jockey, after keeping the DUBAWI son travelling comfortably behind the leaders as the field turned into the straight, was a bit stuck for room so he noticeably nudged the David O'Meara-trained REACHFORTHE STARS to gain a little room. Nobody seems to have complained about this incident, however, so once in the clear D'BAI raced on impressively and, although there might have been a few anxious moments when AL HAMDANY threw down a challenge, the Godolphin two-year-old stayed on gamely to win by a head.

 

The winning jockey commented: "He did well, it's quite heavy ground for two-year-olds which makes it hard work. Charlie thinks quite a bit of him and he's come on from his run in the Champagne. He's a nice horse and that was a good performance, he stuck his neck out. It's hard to judge him on that performance, they were a fair way clear of the third, but I didn't want to be too hard on him."

 

GO ON, MY BOY!

There was talk of retiring the son of PACO BOY but now it has been announced that the Hugo Palmer-trained GALILEO GOLD will continue his racing career as a four-year-old. So the winner of this year's 2000 Guineas and St James's Palace Stakes will appear again in top races despite not quite living up to expectations in the subsequent Irish 2,000 Guineas and the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, wher he was runner-up on both occasions.

 

Hugo Palmer commented: "After they (owners) spoke yesterday, they have decided to keep Galileo Gold in training which is very exciting for us. Champions like Galileo Gold are so rare and hard to find. When you find one, you want to hang on to them. Hopefully we can regain his early season form next year. I don't think we could have won, whatever we did on Saturday. Frankie (Dettori) and I discussed it beforehand and we decided that we were going to follow Jet Setting as she was sure to go up the near rail and, indeed, she did go up there. As it turned out, we probably should have followed Barchan into the race as he went a stronger gallop then Jet Setting and it would have carried us further into the race. If we had done things differently we could have perhaps finished closer to Minding. He is a horse that needs a proper break now. He will go to the National Stud where Shalaa recuperated so well and where Toronado stands. The plan is to go there for five or six weeks and let him down, then get him back in his box and under my watchful gaze before Christmas."

 

HE'S THE TOPS

Success at Wincanton and Fakenham means the Ditcheat handler's place at top of the National Hunt trainers' championship is becoming more and more unassailable. Paul Nicholls celebrated three winners out of three at Wincanton and chalked up a double at Fakenham from three runners at the Norfolk track.

 

MONDAY 17th OCTOBER

 

ROYAL RUNNER-UP

In the same week that the Head of the Royal Family went into the lead as the world's longest serving monarch, DARTMOUTH came within a length of giving his owner, Her Majesty the Queen, the rare pleasure of a Group One victory overseas. The Sir Michael Stoute-trained son of DUBAWI, competing in the Pattison Canadian International Stakes at the Woodbine race track in Ontario last night, was, in fact, one of the slowest out of the stalls and William Buick, riding him for the first time, shrewdly urged the four-year-old forward, as the pace was well within his capabilities. The Mark Casse-trained WORLD APPROVAL took up the running in the early stages and was still ahead as the field moved into the top of the straight. That didn't last long, however, much to the disappointment of the clearly excited connections, as the appropriately named ERUPT, with Stéphane Pasquier aboard, surged effortlessly by to a comfortable victory. The Queen's horse ran on well to gain a well-earned second place.

 

A WIN FOR HIS MATE

This Lambourn-based trainer's first choice was a non-runner in the end but his second entry provided ample consolation. Nicky Henderson pulled MY TENT OR YOURS out of the Better Odds With Betfair Exchange Hurdle at Kempton at the last minute yesterday because of unsuitable ground. His stable mate, HARGAM, however, who hasn't had his head in front for at least a year-and-a-half, made a creditable comeback into the winner's enclosure when holding off the Evan Williams-trained COURT MINSTREL by a neck after battling it out all the way from the final hurdle.

 

Nicky Henderson commented: "He was a good four-year-old and placed in a Triumph Hurdle, but that makes life difficult. He had a fruitless season last year, purely because he gets caught in no-man's land and he isn't the biggest. We tried him in all the Grade Ones last year and he's not in that league, so it's nice to find a race like this where he can at least get his head in front. He's got a prize, which is great. The conditions of the race favoured him enormously.”

 

MINDING. THE GAP? - HALF-A-LENGTH

Never a dull moment for this GALILEO filly. What with winning the 1000 Guineas, the Oaks and Nassau Stakes and a valiant attempt at the Irish Champion Stakes, the Aidan O'Brien-trained MINDING has been on the go all season. Even though the three-year-old daughter of LILLIE LANGTRY was dropped down to a mile in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, it seemed to cause her no problems throughout the contest. As they neared the final furlong Ryan Moore decided to go for it and gained a valuable two-length advantage, which came in handy, as a group of rivals homed in on her in the closing stages but she held on valiantly by half-a-length. MINDING became the first filly to win this race since MILLIGRAM in 1987. Another record was also being celebrated. It's hard to believe but it was the first success for Ryan Moore on Champions Day in the six years of its renewal.

 

The winning jockey commented: "I'm really delighted with her today. She's had a hard season and to bring her back to a mile is some achievement really. She was too good for them, too strong. She has lots of pace and masses of talent."

 

Aidan O'Brien added: "It's unbelievable, she's an incredible filly. The last day she worked, Seamus (Heffernan) got off her and we couldn't believe it. It's a big team effort, as you can imagine. I can't say how delighted I am for everybody but she's an incredible filly - a mile, a mile and a half then bring her back to a mile in an all-aged Group One against the boys, they have to be special to do those things. I'd imagine that would be it for this year and the lads have talked about bringing her back next year, hopefully.

 

Co-owner Michael Tabor said: "She's just a super special filly, it's absolute euphoria. Aidan has kept her going all year which is an incredible piece of training. To keep her going from winning the Guineas to winning all the races in between is something special."

 

SUNDAY 16th OCTOBER

 

STATESIDE SUCCESS

The American Grand National, inaugurated in 1998 and run every year at Far Hills, New Jersey, is generally considered to be the American equivalent of the English Grand National. There are two major differences, however. The American version is a two-mile-five-furlong contest over hurdles whereas the Aintree spectacular comprises thirty fences and is almost four-and-a-half miles in length. Ruby Walsh, who has already won the English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh Nationals and even the Australian equivalent, yesterday added this US prestigious race to his list of conquests. It was a stroke of fate that helped bring this about. When the Cyril Murphy-trained RAWNAQ's regular rider, Jack Doyle, was injured at Belmont Park last month connections turned to the County Kildare-born jockey for help. And what a good decision it turned out to be!

 

Ruby Walsh commented: "Unfortunately, Jack got a bad fall a few weeks ago so he wasn't able to ride and I was very appreciative to get the phone call. The race unfolded beautifully. I got a good start and he jumped the first couple really well. It was an honest pace all the way and he outstayed them. It was a very game performance. In hindsight I wouldn't have committed him as early as I did - that hill was quite testing at the end - but he was in unbelievable condition and I have to thank Jack and Cyril. They told me all about the horse and I was just the lucky guy who got to steer him. I thank Mr Naylor for bringing me over - it's brilliant to be here. I didn't need to be asked twice. I thought he was a really good ride and I thought he was the best steeplechase horse in America and looking at the two British horses I felt Rawnaq would be able to run to a better level than them. It was a no-brainer [to come over] and it's a huge purse - I don't know any other jumps race this weekend worth this much money, so I'm glad I had the opportunity to ride and was always going to come."

 

The winnng trainer added: "All I said to Ruby is do what you do best and he did," the trainer reflected. "There were no instructions - I can't tell him what to do and I'm not going to improve what he's already accomplished. We were very optimistic coming here today."

 

FOUND OUT

Trainer Jean-Claude Rouget's decision not to go for the Arc but to save his ALMANZOR'S to compete in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot yesterday was spot on. The son of WOOTTON BASSETT produced a turn of foot that not even the Aidan O'Brien-trained FOUND could match. This pair had come up against each other in last month's Irish Champion Stakes but since then the GALILEO filly had claimed Europe's richest race, le Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. So the challenge was on. ALMANZOR came out of stall one tight against the rail but his jockey, Christophe Soumillon, demonstrated his consummate equestrian skills by managing to manoeuvre his mount wider and settled in a a midfield position on the inside, always shadowed by the Ryan Moore-ridden FOUND. Eventually they came head to head but the battle was short-lived and the eventual winner went clear by two lengths.

 

The winning jockey commented: "He's an amazing horse. Everything you do with him looks easy and he's shown how good he is. He was nearly unbeatable all year and he's getting smarter and smarter. I came a bit early on him and I knew Found was there and how strong she is, but he kept going. He's a strong horse and his great thing is his turn of foot. We've never tried a mile and a half with him, but I'm sure he'll stay," added Soumillon. He's a strong horse and very versatile."

 

Winning trainer Jean-Claude Rouget added: "He's a champion. He did the same performance he did at Leopardstown and the time he had between the two races was perfect. He beat Found further because I think she had the Arc in her legs.”

 

INTENT ON RUNNING

Today sees the return to the track of the Nicky Henderson-trained MY TENT OR YOURS in the Better Odds With Betfair Exchange Hurdle at kempton Park and connections are clearly hoping that their top hurdler can get back into the winner's enclosure again, where he hasn't been since February 2014. Last season this son of DESERT PRINCE is back at the same track where he clocked up his last two triumphs, including in the 2013 Christmas Hurdle. There's one small question mark: the ground is listed as good to firm so the Lambourn-based trainer will be keen to check the conditions before the race, although he is pretty sure that MY TENT OR YOURS will line up alongside his stable companion, HARGAM.

 

Nicky Henderson commented: "The intention is to run them both. My Tent Or Yours likes good ground and he doesn't like soft ground, so the plan was to start early with him. He's in very good form."

 

SATURDAY 15th OCTOBER

 

ASCOT'S CHAMPION!

Today sees the sixth renewal of one of the autumn highlights that marks the conclusion of the Flat season - QIPCO British Champions Day. Racegoers will take pleasure in witnessing the presentation of the Stobart Champion Jockeys' Title as well as enjoy the five categories of the British Champions Series at Ascot. The jockeys' championships are are virtually decided with Jim Crowley set to be crowned Champion Flat Jockey for the first time and Josephine Gordon will become the Champion Apprentice. Among other things the proceedings are eagerly awaited by French trainer, Jean-Claude Rouget, whose ALMANZOR triumphed in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown just over a month ago. Surprisingly the sixty-three-year-old Norman decided against running his French Derby winner in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, which would have involved a step-up to twelve furlongs. Instead he saddles the three-year-old son of WOOTTON BASSETT in this afternoon's QIPCO British Champion Stakes.

 

The Aidan O'Brien-trained FOUND, on the other hand, not only ran in the world-famous Chantilly contest but won it, leading home two other of the Ballydoyle master's entries, HIGHLAND REEL and ORDER OF ST GEORGE, thus making it an historic one, two, three. This GALILEO filly takes on Jean-Claude Rouget's runner today so it should be quite a race.

She could have another crack at Almanzor on Saturday as O'Brien and his team shuffle their pack and determine where to play their aces.

 

Another delight for the racegoer is the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes which concludes a fascinating series of contests over a mile that have taken place throughout this Summer. Sadly we shall not have the pleasure of watching the Aidan O'Brien-trained THE GURKHA in action as he has now been retired. But there is more than enough compensation in the appearance of GALILEO GOLD, AWTAAD, RIBCHESTER and MINDING who will all be lining up at the Berkshire track to prove that they are the season's top miler.

 

WINNING IS SIMPLE!

Ascot's big day kicks off with the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup over two miles. This is where the Ralph Beckett is hopeful that his SIMPLE VERSE can get the better of ORDER OF ST GEORGE. The four-year-old daughter of DUKE OF MARMALADE already established her credentials last year when she won the corresponding Fillies & Mares Stakes. It seems connections had considered letting her defend her crown but decided, instead, to step her up in trip to take on two miles for the first time.

 

Ralph Beckett commented: “It was good effort at Doncaster. She got in trouble three (furlongs) down and got herself out and managed to get there in time. She showed all her old fire. She has to run against colts and geldings, but that doesn’t really worry me. She gets the weight allowance, obviously. She stays so well that we’re keen to go two miles, rather than drop back. For her, I always felt that this weekend was likely to be her target for the whole year.”

 

THANKS 1.8 MILLION!

This Newmarket trainer's Shalfleet Stables have taken delivery of an unexpected precious cargo. The £1.8 million filly, LA FIGLIA, is one of the most valuable Frankel offspring yet to be sold at auction and is one of a group of five horses that Australian entrepreneur, Paul Makin recently transferred from the William Haggas stables to those of Jeremy Noseda. This two-year-old chestnut filly smashed the then Irish record for the sale of foals at Goffs when she was auctioned for this record sum. The arrival of this star guest, already entered for 2017's Irish 1,000 Guineas, is a big boost for Noseda yard who seem to have had a quietish season, only notching up sixteen winners which even the fifty-three-year old handler admits is low.

 

FRIDAY 14th OCTOBER

 

SURPRISE VICTORY

A trainer who was Champion jockey twenty times, including winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1979 and 1986 has reached another milestone in his outstanding thirty-year career as a handler. CENTURO became the 2,000th winner for the Temple Guiting-based Jonjo O'Neill at Uttoxeter yesterday but under rather unexpected circumstances. The long-time leader, RED HOT CHILLY, trained by Dai Burchell, seems to have become too hot to handle for jockey, Robbie Dunne, who lost his balance and was subsequently unseated just yards from the winning post. This presented the Aidan Coleman-ridden son of CAPE BLANCO with an easy win in the Shottle Hall Juvenile Maiden Hurdle. This momentous occasion means that Jonjo O'Neill joins the elite company of just three current trainers - Paul Nicholls, Nicky Henderson and Philip Hobbs – who have notched up 2,000 winners.

 

A RISK WORTH TAKING

On the cards it looked a foregone conclusion that Gordon Elliott would add to his previous five victories in the Irish Daily Star Chase at Punchestown yesterday when he saddled the favourite, LORD SCOUNDREL. The County Meath-based trainer even had the services of top jockey, Ruby Walsh, who was determined to make it number six for his boss by sending the seven-year-old son of PRESENTING into the lead from the off. The Henry de Bromhead-trained SADLER'S RISK, with David Mullins aboard, had other ideas, however, and went off in hot pursuit of his leading rival. The battling duo raced clear of the rest of the field throughout the contest. Then just before the home turn the eight-year-old son of SADLER'S WELLS hit the front and it was all over bar the shouting. It was a big-race double for the winning Knockeen-based trainer as he had just won the preceding race, the Buck House Novice Chase with THREE STARS, ridden, ironically, by Ruby Walsh.

 

Henry de Bromhead commented: "I'm delighted with that. He did it really nicely and it was a super ride from David. He was in right at the weights and the handicapper got it spot-on. He'll probably go for the James Nicholson (JNwine.com Champion Chase) now and we'll see how he gets on in that. He jumped really well. I thought he got close to a couple but that's his style. He picked up when he asked him to and he's got a lot of class. That was his first test today and now we'll try him in the north (Down Royal). Unfortunately he's better going right-handed than left. He really struggles going left-handed.2

 

JOLLY GOOD. FELLOWES!

This Newmarket-based trainer is off to 'Gay Paree' today, hoping for the biggest win of his career. The Charlie Fellowes-trained MOONLIT SHOW, outright winner in the Listed Blenheim Stakes at Fairyhouse just over two weeks ago, will be stepped up in trip to line up in the Group Two Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte. The Gatien Cottage Stables' boss is not taking the last run-away victory in Ireland for granted, however, having decided to apply a set of cheek pieces to the SHOWCASING filly to make sure she keeps her mind completely on the task at hand.

 

Charlie Fellowes commented: "Her victory in Ireland was a big deal for us. She's in good form and has definitely come on for it. I've just put a pair of cheek pieces on, though. I just felt in the last half a furlong she was idling and pricking her ears. There's good and bad points to that. It's good because it tells me she had a fair bit left in the locker, but it's bad because if anything is close enough to take advantage if she does it again, she'll be caught out. It was still a good performance and Billy Lee keeps the ride. He was really excellent on her, judged it perfectly and I'd rather go over there with someone who knows her as she's better for knowing."

 

THURSDAY 13th OCTOBER

 

SMASHING HORSE!

With only fifteen outings on the card, this strapping son of SMADOUN is already with his fourth trainer. His first year-and-a-half was with Mickael Seror in France. Then SMASHING was moved to the Willie Mullins' yard for six months, followed by a sixteen-month stint with Henry de Bromhead. The former was rewarded with two victories over hurdles and the latter with five over fences. It's not clear what owners, the Ann & Alan Potts Partnership, are hoping for, because earlier on this year they moved their seven-year-old grey again; this time to the County Tipperary yard of double Grand National winning trainer, Michael 'Mouse' Morris. The son of 3rd Baron Killanin is clearly wishing for success today when he saddles his new charge in the Irish Daily Star Chase at Punchestown.

 

The former Hon. Michael Morris commented: "Obviously he's a nice horse to get, he's a lovely prospect. It's his first run over three miles so we'll just have to see how he gets on. He might need three miles now, we'll find out. When he came to me all his best form was with plenty of give, but he moves with a really good action so I can't see why he won't be as good on better ground. I know he pulled up at Cheltenham on better ground but he's going over three miles tomorrow. It will be good to see how he gets on."

 

HUGO'S THERE!

The Hugo Palmer-trained daughter of AZAMOUR was forgiven her lack-lustre performanc last time out at York when she claimed the British Stallion Studs EBF Beckford Fillies' Stakes at Bath yesterday. The Dukes of Roxburghe & Devonshire-owned TWITCH, with James Doyle aboard, showed what she was really capable of in this mile-and-three-quarter contest when she mounted her challenge on the stands' side as the other twelve runners spread right across the the track as they went into the straight. With a hundred yards to go the four-year-old filly got the better of the Mark Johnston-trained VIVE MA FILLE to claim the £22,000 prize.

 

James Doyle commented: "Hugo was very pleased with her coming into this race. The race went to plan. We got a nice toe into the race. She quickened up and saw it out really well. The ground's getting a little bit poached and it's on the easy side. She was inclined to go towards the stands' side. It was fresh ground, she got her momentum going and I didn't want to hinder her."

 

MICKY TAKING

Last year's crowned king of trainers at Wetherby would clearly like to retain his title. Micky Hammond began as he clearly intends to go on by kicking off the new season at the Yorkshire track with a win in the first race of the day, the Spinal Research Rachel Wright Memorial Juvenile Maiden Hurdle. CANFORD THOMPSON was nigh on thirty lengths ahead by the fourth obstacle and was still seven lengths to the good when three from home, looking like he'd never be caught. And so it turned out. Finian O'Toole just had to saty aboard as the son of CANFORD CLIFFS cruised home to a four-length victory.

 

The Leyburn-based winning trainer commented: "We won the last race here and I was leading trainer over the season so it's great to start with a win. They obviously gave him too much rope, but it's great to get a win out of him. Fin said he'd ride him handier but it wasn't the plan to make all (the running) like that."

WEDNESDAY 12th OCTOBER

 

LIFE IN THE OLD BOY YET!

This son of STOWAWAY will defy his age and take on five younger rivals in the (deep breath!) Coral.ie Free Racehorse Ownership With The Coral Champions Club Rated Hurdle. HIDDEN CYCLONE, trained by John 'Shark' Hanlon, is bidding to continue his successful season when he lines up in this conditions hurdle at Punchestown this afternoon. The eleven-year-old clocked up the best performance of his hurdling career at the Galway festival in July when he was only half-a-length short of beating the Willie Mullins-trained CLONDAW WARRIOR in the Guinness Galway Hurdle Handicap. Since then he claimed the Kerrymaid Hurdle at Listowel last month and was runner-up in the Listowel Races Supporters Club Slan Abhaile twoo weeks ago.

 

'Shark' Hanlon commented: "The old boy is in great form and showing no signs of his age. I just hope we'll have genuine good ground as he wouldn't want it too quick. He has to have a good chance, but it's a tidy race with a few other good horses against him. They're claiming 7lb off two of them - The Game Changer and Plinth - and Ruby [Walsh] is on Bentelimar, who ran very well at Tipperary last time."

 

WILLIE OR WON'T HE?

Yesterday Boylesports took the unusual step of suspending betting on the Irish jump trainers' title after there had been a "bombardment" of bets for the reigning champion Willie Mullins to retain his crown. Paddy Power also alerted to significant support for Willie Mullins, whose odds were reduced last night 1-4 from 4-9. Suspicions were obviously aroused because the County Carlow trainer last month lost sixty horses owned by Gigginstown House Stud due, apparently, to a dispute over an increase in training fees.

 

Liam Glynn for Boylesports commented: "When the money started to come we cut Willie to 1-3, but the support didn't dry up and punters piled in. Further bets were laid at 2-7 and 1-5. It all happened in the space of two hours. With no sign of the support drying up our traders decided to suspend the market."

 

Paul Binfield, spokesman for Paddy Power, added: "We've been bamboozled by the money for Willie again being champion and can't make head nor tail of it. There was plenty of support today and as a result we've eased Gordon Elliott to 5-2 from 13-8."

 

OH, LUCKY JIM!

The National Hunt jockeys' championship trophy will be presented by double Olympic show jumping gold medallist, Nick Skelton, to Jim Crowley on Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday. Up to today's racing, the Ascot-born rider was sixteen 16 winners ahead of the current champion, Silvestre De Sousa, and there are only four days left to the conclusion of the contest. Jim Crowley has literally been riding high this season, notching up 144 winners since the Championship started on 30th April. Not only that he also broke the record for the most winners in a month, when accumulating forty-six in September.

 

Nick Skelton commented: "I was delighted to be asked to make the Stobart Champion Jockey presentation. Jim Crowley will be a thoroughly deserving champion, he's worked tremendously hard and has been in incredible form, particularly in the last few months. I keep a close eye on the racing world with both my sons heavily involved in jumps racing. Ascot is such a wonderful stage and I always enjoy going racing but this year it will be even more special to catch up with some of the other Rio competitors on Champions Day."

TUESDAY 11th OCTOBER

 

A RACE TOO FAR

The Irish 1,000 Guineas winner was entered in the wrong race that was over half a mile longer than she has ever run before. JET SETTING, trained by Adrian Keatley, was erroneously entered to compete in the Group 1 British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes over a mile-and-a-half instead of the next race, the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over a mile. On this occasion, however, the British Horseracing Authority was quite sympathetic and realised that there had been a genuine error and agreed to allow the FAST COMPANY filly to be switched to the intended contest even though the deadline for entries had passed.

 

A BHA spokesman commented: “Having been contacted about the error in a timely manner and after considering the individual circumstances, we felt that the appropriate course of action was to allow the horse to take its place in the intended race.”

 

A relieved County Kildare trainer added: “We just need some rain. You couldn’t persuade them to turn on the sprinklers, could you?”

 

SLEEPING ON THE JOB

The EBF Stallions Bathwick Tyres Conditions Stakes at Salisbury yesterday provided a triumphant return for the John Gosden-trained CRAZY HORSE who hasn't run since coming a disappointing sixth in the Group 1 Poule D'essai Poulains at Deauville in May. The Richard Hannon-trained ESTIDHKAAR, absent for 421 days, was urged by his jockey Paul Hanagan to make all the running and did so until about a furlong from the winning post and then the Rab Havlin-ridden son of SLEEPING INDIAN, who had shadowed the proceedings so far made his challenge and it was a case of the year-younger horse having more stamina to win by three-quarters of a length.

 

The winning jockey commented: "He's had little niggles and he wants plenty of cut in the ground. We always thought he had plenty of ability so the boss has minded him through the summer. He's moving well in the last month and this was the target. I got there a bit too soon, but he's done it well and I always felt was going to win. When he won the Horris Hill he just there on the line and his wins last year were quite late on so he's probably a back-end-of-the-year horse."

 

ICESPIRE WITH MY LITTLE EYER!

Rab Havlin was doing the business earlier on in the day at Salisbury, too, when he partnered the latest Frankel filly making her debut in the Bathwick Tyres British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes. The John Gosden-trained ICESPIRE, running in the colours of her sire's owner, Khalid Abdullah, did it in real style, coming from last to first to win the ten-runner contest. The forty-two-year-old jockey kept his cool after his hood-wearing mount missed a beat coming out of the stalls and gave her time to settle into her rhythm. When the time was right he urged her to cut her way through the field and she didn't need asking twice. Once in front at about a furlong out, the bay filly was determined to stay there and won comfortably by four lengths.

 

The winning jockey commented: "She just stood in the stalls. She was relaxed, but a month ago she was a bit of a handful. She was the ultimate professional but when the gates opened she stood still, so I just took my time on her. She used to get on her toes a bit, but we've kept the same rider on her every day. She wears the hood at home every day and has been as good as gold on it. I rode her work on Friday and she felt classy and she gave me that feel here. She'll definitely get further. She's a lengthener and she settled into a rhythm really nicely. She's a big-framed filly and will be a lovely filly next year."

MONDAY 10th OCTOBER

 

" ...COME BACK, PAUL!"

Four wins yesterday at Chepstow must have warmed the cockles of this Somerset handler's heart as it not only puts him back on top of the trainers’ table but could well set him on the road to win an 11th National Hunt championship. Paul Nicholls hasn't had the best of results from this early annual fixture but things went his way on this occasion. The surprise big win of the day was undoubtedly in the John Ayres Memorial Handicap Chase when ART MAURESQUE, with Nick Scholfield scored a narrow victory ( a head) much to the consternation of the bookmakers who had not rated his chances. So miffed was the Ditcheat handler about the 12/1 odds against his six-year-old son of POLICY MAKER' s winning the contest that he risked £50 each-way of his own money which added nicely to his profit for the day. Luck seems to have also played its part because ART MAURESQUE Unexpectedly found himself in front three out when the leader ran out of steam and just managed to hold on ahead of fast-finishing DOUBLE SHUFFLE.

 

Paul Nicholls' three other wins included a resounding seven-length victory by the Sam Twiston-Davies-ridden DOLOS in the first race of the day, the Champion Hats Juvenile Hurdle; EL BANDIT, confidently ridden by Sean Bowen in the Grade 2 totepool Persian War Novices' Hurdle and Nick Scholfield back in the saddle again on COASTAL TIEP in the Pickwick Bookmakers Standard Open NH Flat Race.

 

These four triumphs added more than £50,000 in prize money to the Manor Farm Stables' trainer's coffers (not counting his personal gains!) and took him almost to £300,000 for the season, which means that he now ahead of rivals, David Pipe and Charlie Longsdon in the championship race. The recent news that Willie Mullins has been deprived of sixty of Michael O’Leary's horses, has also considerably enhanced his chancers,

 

Paul Nicholls commented: “No matter what you’re thinking, you don’t really know what’s ready and what’s not. I said to Johnny [De La Hey, owner], ‘I’m missing a trick here, he should not be 12-1’. Because he’s been running really well and he’s a better horse this year. I really fancied him. He travelled like a legend. They are forward and they’re all really well, which is good. But I think we all need to take a pull after today until it rains. There’s no rain forecast. “At the end of the day, I’d rather run now when it’s good ground than I would in the winter when it’s a foot deep.”

 

ON TO GLORY!

Winning the the Elmer Hannon Travel Waterford Testimonial Stakes at the Curragh yesterday was a clear sign that the Charlie Hills-trained three-year-old son of EXCEED AND EXCEL was happier with the shorter six-furlong trip, having been beaten over seven furlongs in his last two starts. Nevertheless William Buick had to keep the 14/1 shot SHANGHAI GLORY's mind firmly on the job after he got ascendancy over the early leaders, NANEITWHATYOULIKE and G FORCE, the 100-30 favourite, and went into a clear lead over a furlong from home. The fast-finishing MASTER SPEAKER was determined to have his say but was held off by a length.

 

The winning jockey commented: "He likes that ground. He was always travelling well and picked up good. He probably won a bit cosy in the end."

 

TWO TIMES A LADY

In the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland yesterday the David O'Meara-trained MONDIALISTE was bidding for a his third victory in a million-dollar race after last year's Woodbine Mile and the Arlington Million but was ultimately thwarted by filly. MISS TEMPLE CITY, fourth at Royal Ascot in the Summer, was showing males a clean pair of heels for a second time this season, having won the Maker's 46 Mile over course and distance. It was a close-run affair but the Graham Motion-trained four-year-old just managed to hold off, by a head, the late challenge from the favourite Ironicus.

 

The winning trainer commented: "She's the best filly I've ever trained. She's spectacular. My frustration was over the Summer when it seemed we got a little lost with her. She had some tough trips. She's a very special filly."

 

SUNDAY 9th OCTOBER

 

HIGH FIVE!

This GALILEO colt notched up his fifth success in a row, after scoring in the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket yesterday. Everyone seemed confident that it was a matter of course for the Aidan O'Brien-trained CHURCHILL to claim his second Group One success. The Ballydoyle star lined up the 8/11 favourite on the Rowley Mile and was camly settled in midfield by Ryan Moore, allowing stable companion, LANCASTER BOMBER, to set the pace. For a few moments all the odds-on backers must have had their hearts in their mouths as they watched the Brighton-born jockey getting lower in the saddle about a furlong from home and even having to go wide. Their anxiety was short-lived, however, for once the son of MEOW got into the clear there was no pussy-footing around as he surged for the line, leaving his stable mate a length and a quarter in his wake, providing their handler with the old one-two and his fifth victory in the Dewhurst.

 

The winning jockey commented: "He was always going to win. He's a very, very good colt. It wasn't as evenly-run as it should have been, but this lad has got an awful lot in his favour. There's not a lot he can't do. When I ask him, he always finds. He's definitely a Guineas horse. I think he'll get better. He's one to look forward to."

 

Aidan O'Brien added: "I'm very happy. They went a sensible pace. He settled in there and quickened down into the dip. It got a little bit messy after the two (furlong marker) and Ryan guided him through and produced him lovely, so we're over the moon. There's tons (up his sleeve) and physically he's a very imposing horse. He's probably a more imposing two-year-old than we've ever trained. He has a great mind. He just does the minimum, which is brilliant. The qualities are there in abundance. He's very special, this fellow."

 

DOING HIS BEST

The Group 3 Dubai 100 Autumn Stakes at Newmarket proved that the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained son of KODIAC could handle the step-up in trip to a mile and, thereby, claimed his first Group-race success in the Group 3 Dubai 100 Autumn Stakes. Luck wasn't on BEST SOLUTION's side last time out at this Suffolk track, when hesemed to get blocked in and had to settle for fourth. There were no such problems this time round, however. The Godolphin colt, partnered by William Carson was always in the right position and ready to strike, which he did two furlongs out, leaving MONTATAIRE's slipstream and fending off the challenge from the Michael Stoute-trained ZAINHOM, to score by two lengths.

 

Saeed Bin Suroor commented: "We will have a look at the Racing Post Trophy if it doesn't come too soon for Best Solution. Beyond that he could go to Dubai for the 2,000 Guineas or UAE Derby."

 

WHAT A DIEGO!

Last March's Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival winner didn't have such an easy time of it at Chepstow but he got there in the end. The Paul Nicholls-trained DIEGO DU CHARMIL was bravely persistent as he slowly but surely wore down the long-time leader, the appropriately named, FURIOUSLY FAST. The latter, trained by Dai Burchell, seemed to have the race in the bag as he went for home two out but Sam Twiston-Davies urged his son of BALLINGARY to take up the running, which, combined with a particularly good jump at the last, sealed victory by a length-and-a-quarter.

 

The winning jockey commented: "His jumping was what got him there, he was great over the last few and he's really 'guts-ed' it out. He's a big, fine horse and I think he'll probably do better again for another summer. What the plans are now I'm not too sure but when he's able to do that with such a big weight then you obviously have to look forward to him going chasing."

 

SATURDAY 8th OCTOBER

 

WHICH WITCH?

What is the connection between the Tsar of Russia and a ten-furlong contest held at Newmarket every year? Well, after Tsesarevich Alexander (later Tsar Alexander II) donated £300 (about £25,000 in today's money!) to the Jockey Club, the race was named in his honour but the anglicised version became Cesarewitch. The race which was first run in 1839 takes place this afternppn. Thirty-four runners will be lining up for this tough contest that concludes on the on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile. Two horses seem ti have attracted the eagle eye of the betting world. There is the Sir Mark Prescott-trained ST MICHEL, based quite rightly on his coming third in the Doncaster Cup last month. The other popular choice is David Pipe's STARCHITECT, who, although he's only had one run on the flat this year, his resounding win in the Bathwick Tyres Handicap at Salisbury in May, is enough to strengthen his credentials. In addition the five-year-old son of SEA THE STARS is in the hands of a second-to-none trainer whose father, Martin, won this race in 2000 and 2002, the latter featured an as yet unknown young apprentice by the name of Ryan Moore. Consideration must also be given to last year’s winner, the Alan King-trained GRUMETI, who, due to a couple of below par runs, is carrying the third lowest weight in the field, just one pound higher than in 2015. It is 'such stuff as dreams are made on' (to quote the Bard) to hope that this eight-year-old son of SAKHEE could do it again but the Cesarewitch is a legendary lottery where anything is possible.

 

OH CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!

The disadvantageous draw in stall one is possibly the only thing that will prevent this son of BERNSTEIN from claiming the Coral Sprint Trophy at York this afternoon. The Ed Walker-trained CAPTAIN COLBY was impressive last time out at Doncaster when he easily won the Ladbrokes Portland and made his mark when coming third at this track in August in the Symphony Group Stakes. It looks like the additional furlong he faces here shouldn't cause him any bother and certainly the quicker ground should also be in his favour.

 

The Newmarket-based trainer commented: "We got a bit of luck at Doncaster as they didn't get as much rain as forecast. He still wasn't in love with the ground, it was a bit loose on top. He didn't travel early in the race and I was a bit worried but then he finished like a train. The ground, the trip, the extra half furlong, should all be in his favour. We're very hopeful, he's in cracking form but his draw is not ideal, I'd rather have been nearer the middle. In saying that, there is pace around him and you have tended to wanted to be on the far side at York this season."

 

OH YES!

Today's Dubai Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket could well provide the Ballydoyle master with most Group One wins in a season. Aidan O’Brien’s triumph with RHODODENDRON on Friday in the Dubai Fillies’ Mile took his score to twenty, four short of his best to-date, twenty-four in 2001 and five behind the worldwide record notched up by the late American trainer Bobby Frankel in 2003. With this in mind, up to the starting line steps Group One winner, CHURCHILL, aiming for his fifth victory in a row, including the National Stakes at the Curragh last month. If the GALILEO colt pulls it off it will have been no mean feat as he is up against the likes of the John Gosden-trained, as yet unbeaten, SEVEN HEAVENS as well as Andrew Balding's SOUTH SEAS, inpressive winner of the Solario Stakes at Sandown in the third week of August.

commented: ‘Churchill is a big relaxed horse and everything has gone well since the Curragh. We have always thought the world of him.”

 

FRIDAY 7th OCTOBER

 

WHADDYA KNOW, IT'S JO!

With just eight days to go the leading position has changed in the race for the Stobart Champion Apprentice title. Lambourn-based Jo Gordon, receiving coaching from former top jockey John Reid, has edged four winners ahead of long-time leader Tom Marquand who looked like winning the title for the second year in a row. The twenty-three-year-old rider showed great powers of perseverance earlier in the contest, patiently waiting, as she did, for eighteen months between her first and second winners but there's no doubt about it. Her career has certainly taken off this season.

 

The reigning champion has unfortunately met with an additional whammy because his apprentice licence expires on October 9. So any winners in the last six days of the competition which concludes at Ascot on October 15, will not count towards his final score.

 

Devon-born Jo Gordon commented: “I’ve just tried to keep my head down and not think too much about it. Of course, I’ve had the table at the back of my mind, but you can’t get too far ahead of yourself. It’s not long ago that Tom had a good lead and I didn’t think I could do it, but it’s gone brilliantly in the last few weeks.”

 

GOOD TO BE BACK

The first day of racing at the re-opened Hereford racecourse was heralded by wins by well-known names in the training world. One, in particular, was very welcome. Lambourn-based Nicky Henderson saddled RATHER BE in the first race of the day, the bet365/British Stallion Studs EBF 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle. The five-year-old son of OSCAR moved really well in the hands of Andrew Tinkler and ultmately left the Mick Channon-trained THE BLUE BOMBER trailing seven lengths in his slip stream.

 

The winning seven barrows' handler commented: “It’s great to be back and well done to everyone involved. You never want to lose a course you enjoy or like. It’s always been a fair track. The ground out there is beautiful. When you look at the crowd, that tells you enough. I’m sure that the Herefordshire National Hunt team are out in force, and that says it all. It’s really nice to win the first race. He jumped really well and should get two and a half miles.

 

LUCKY CARLUKE!

The last day of Ayr's Flat racing season also marked the seventy-third win for this Carluke-based trainer. Keith Dalgleish saddled SAINT EQUIANO in the opening fixture, the six-furlong Ben Maiden Stakes. The Paul & Clare Rooney-owned son of EQUIANO, ridden by Phillip Makin, showed his six rivals no mercy when, about two furlongs out, he surged into the lead, winning comfortably by two-and-three-quarter lengths.

 

During the meeting presentations were made to the leading jockey, trainer and owner at Ayr for the season. These awards went to Paul Mulrennan, Keith Dalgleish and Johnnie Delta Racing, respectively.

 

 

THURSDAY 6th OCTOBER

FINALLY A FINALE

Another race track has its last Flat meeting of the season today. The opening race of the afternoon at Ayr is the Ben Maiden Stakes over six furlongs for two year olds in which Thirsk-based trainer, Kevin Ryan, winner of a fourth victory in the Ayr Gold Cup with BRANDO, this time saddles MIDDAWI to be ridden by Shane Gray. The highlight of the day is is the seven-furlong Crabbies Handicap and the Keith Dalgleish-trained EDGAR BALTHAZAR is one to watch as he is already a course and distance winner although Richard Fahey may have other because he is represented by the powerful BALLYMORE CASTLE with Tony Hamilton aboard. The other two runners to watch in this Class 3 contest are the David barron-trained NEWSTEAD ABBEY and SIR BILLY WRIGHT coming from the David Evans yard. Whilst all this is going on, the awards for top owners, trainer and jockey at Ayr for 2016 will be presented during the afternoon.

 

HERE FOR D RACES!

The day has come for a racecourse to open its gates again for the first time for four years. Hereford will be open for business this afternoon with a full seven-race card. The reigning champion jump jockey, Richard Johnson, because he was born and bred in this cathedral city, is probably looking forward more than most to riding again at the Roman Road location. The thirty-nine-year-old jockey rode his first winner under Rules on April 30, 1994, appropriately called the Next Generation Hunters’ Chase, when he was just 16 years old, aboard the 25-1 shot, RUSTY BRIDGE, trained by his grandfather Ivor Johnson. The horse is also honoured with the track restaurant being named after him. Over 3,000 winners later, Richard Johnson has made his mark as one of the top riders in the business. He finally and deservedly won the champion jockey title last season after playing 'bridesmaid' to the legendary Tony McCoy on sixteen occasions. Booked for five races this afternoon it remains to be seen whether it is a good idea to return to the dream.

 

Richard Johnson commented: “It was very sad when it closed, as it was my local track. To have my first winner there was something I will always remember. Over the last couple of years you are worried that perhaps it wasn’t going to come back, but I’m delighted it is coming back. It’s got great memories for me and I’m very grateful to all those involved with the course for getting it back open again.”

 

THE WAY TO GO!

There's something about horse racing that's different to other sports. All the jockeys seem friendly and supportive to each other in the changing rooms and on the track, There does not appear to be any animosity or hard feelings after a contest. So it was no surprise that Silvestre de Sousa, who appears to have conceded defeat in the race to re-claim this season's Stobart Flat Jockeys' title, praises the performance of his rival. The reigning champion is twelve winners behind Jim Crowley after the latter increased his score to 134 with a win at Nottingham yesterday. The Brazilian-born rider is clearly proud of what he has achieved in his efforts to retain the title but the championship concludes on Champions Day at Ascot a week on Saturday, so he realises there is little time for him to catch up.

 

Silvestre de Sousa commented: "It's been a fantastic battle. It's been brilliant and it's been a great season," the Brazilian rider told Great British Racing. Jim's a good rider, he's been working very hard and it's paid off. I have had a season I can look back on and be really proud of - I have given it my all. It was remarkable to win last year, and brilliant I could celebrate it at Ascot with my friends and family. Once the championship is over I'm looking forward to a few days off before I head to Hong Kong."

 

WEDNESDAY 5th OCTOBER

 

NOT SUCH A LONG WAY!

Tipperary racecourse's concluded the season's National Hunt business with a bang when this County Meath-based trainer was undoubtedly the star of the day. Gordon Elliott claimed a treble in this final fixture. The first win came courtesy SHATTERED LOVE, ridden by Bryan Cooper, who claimed the Follow Tipperary Races On Facebook Mares Maiden Hurdle by three-and-a quarter lengths. This impressive YEATS daughter was well versed in her jumping early on in the race and, apart from a hairy moment at the last obstacle, rallied quickly was poetry in motion as she to asserted her dominance to the end.

 

The winning trainer commented: “She’s a big mare, and whatever she does this year is a bonus. She has filled out a bit since last year, but she’s still only a shell of a thing, so we’ll take it quietly with her. We’ll look for a mares’ race for her in about six or eight weeks’ time.”

 

Next up was JETSTREAM JACK, who had always promised to be good over fences and so it turned out yesterday. The son of BENEFICIAL presented racegoers with an immaculate round of jumping on his debut over the larger obstacles, in the Tipperaryraces.ie Beginners’ Chase. Apart from a close thing with one fence, the six-year-old jumped like a pro for his jockey, Davy Russell, and stayed on strongly to claim the contest by three-and-a-half lengths.

 

Gordon Elliott commented: “He jumped well, but we always knew chasing would be his game. We shouldn’t have sent him to Cheltenham last season because he was a bit buzzy and it took an awful lot out of him going over there. That was my own fault, and it spoiled the season for him. But he couldn’t have done much more today, he’ll be a nice horse over fences this season, and we’ll look for a winners’ race for him next.”

 

The Cullentra House Stables' handler only had to wait an hour before he was back in the winner's enclosure again with MONBEG NOTORIOUS, who transported jockey, Jamie Codd, to a resounding fifteen-length triumph in the last race of the day and 2015/2016 season, the appropriately named Season Finale Flat Race.

 

Final words from the winning trainer: “I liked that performance, he’s a nice, honest horse. He won’t run in another bumper, he’ll go over hurdles next, but he won’t be a horse until he jumps a fence next year.”

 

ONE TO WATCH

This Curragh-based trainer will be keeping a close eye on the performance of his DANSILI son at Proudstown Road today. VIGIL is probably the most striking runner on Navan's Flat card. The seven-year-old is back on the Flat after after a couple of outings over hurdles, one of which he won at Naas in February. Dermot Weld has won this contest twice before with HIDDEN UNIVERSE in 2011 and SILVER CONCORDE in 2014 and is clearly keen on claiming the prize again and obviouslyhoping that VIGIL can make it three times, The Noel Furlong-owned gelding didn't have much to write home about after his last two performances when he finished fifth in two Cheltenham Bumpers, however, but maybe this two-mile Come Racing On The Active Retirement Raceday 19th October Maiden may just prove his salvation.

 

A NAME TO REMEMBER

Yet another riding award makes its appearance to honour the apprentice who has ridden the most winners during the championship period, which ends on October 15. This year the recipient will be presented with the Tom O'Ryan Champion Apprentice trophy. This award, sponsored by Stobart Group, bears the name the former jockey turned racing journalist who died recently.

 

Andrew Tinkler, the Stobart Group' CEO commented: "Tom O'Ryan was always on hand to help out young riders when they needed advice and we were delighted to help facilitate his name being associated with the new Champion Apprentice trophy."

 

Former champion apprentice and champion jockey, Paul Hanagan, added: "I knew Tom well when I was based up north, he was always a great help to us in the weighing room and helped me out as young jockey. He was a racing man through and through and understood the game well and I am delighted to see his name associated with the new apprentice trophy."

 

Tom Marquand, last year's champion apprentice and currently just two winners behind championship leader Josephine Gordon in his bid to defend his crown, said: "It's fitting a tribute to have the new trophy named in Tom O'Ryan's honour. He was widely known as somebody that helped a lot of apprentices over the years and all he ever did was give to racing - especially apprentices. I don't think anybody would have a bad thing to say about him, he was a fantastic person. I would be immensely proud to win the trophy named in his honour."

TUESDAY 4th OCTOBER

 

EARWIG-HO AGAIN!

The Flat racing season has not quite finished but the National Hunt calendar proper is about to open. Chepstow's meeting this weekend is the first big jumps fixture of the Winter. All the familiar trainers' names are on the list from big yards to small. One person is conspicuous by his absence, however, perhaps because he was otherwise heavily engaged claiming the the first three places in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Sunday. The name is still represented on the fixture, though, as Fergal O'Brien has a runner on Saturday. The Gloucestershire trainer has been plugging away as a fully-fledged trainer for the last five tears or so and has made good progress with an excellent strike rate. It looks like the Naunton-based handler is on the road to further success as he now has a couple of horses with great prospects. One of them runs on Saturday in the totescoop6 Mares' Novices' Hurdle. COLIN'S SISTER finally started to show her mettle when coming an impressive second, just by half-a-length, to the Warren Greatrex-trained THE NIPPER at Sandown on Imperial Cup day in March. The five-year-old daughter of CENTRAL PARK is made for the jumps and could provide the Grange Hill farm boss a useful step up the ladder.

 

Another talented trainer, continuing to make his mark, is the Ross-on-Wye-based Michael Scudamore who, has one runner at Chepstow on Saturday. GRACE TARA is only on her fourth career run but has already impressed her connections by winning two out of three of her first three races. The seven-year-old daughter of KAYF TARA joined one of the rarities of horse-racing when she 'dead-heated' with TANIOKEY in the ApolloBet Enhanced Daily Racing Specials Mares' Standard Open NH Flat Race two years ago. The operative words in the last sentence are 'two years ago'. GRACE TARA, mysteriously, hasn't been on the track since May 2014 so maybe she has a lot on her plate and just needs the ride.

 

SEEING STARS

The Squirrel Handicap, with eight runners, at Leicester , looks like it could be the competitive of the afternoon. One runner that catches the eye is the Mark Johnston-trained

STARS OVER THE SEA, who is back racing on Flat after a short spell being handled by David over hurdles. The son of SEA THE STARS has experience of the three Grade 1s at the big Festivals and has already triumphed twice this season. The five-year-old's first success was in the Grundon Recycling Handicap at Newbury in May when he conveyed his jockey, George Baker, to a three-length victory. Two starts later, he was back in the winners' enclosure at Pontefract tiesplanet.com - Ladies Love Guys In Ties Handicap, when once again he put on an impressive front-running display to score by five lengths. The gelding should have no problem with the two-furlong step-up in trip and, coupled with Mark Johnston's current higher-then-expected strike rate, it could be the winners' enclosure again.

 

THE REAL MCCOY!

The South West of England Jockey Club Racecourses have announced a series new awards to be called "McCoys" after you-know-whom! There will be awards for owners, trainers, jockeys, stable staff and horses running at Cheltenham and the three other Jockey Club Racecourses supervised tracks - Warwick, Wincanton and Exeter.

 

Ian Renton, Cheltenham's Managing Director explained: "The four courses in our region, Cheltenham, Exeter, Warwick and Wincanton, are devoted entirely to Jump Racing and, with so many of our leading trainers and jockeys based in the South West, we feel it is important to recognise this great region and we are delighted to be launching the inaugural 'McCoys'. We want to highlight all the fantastic racing that takes places at the four racecourses across the season and we have a number of categories to celebrate the champions and achievements of both equine and human stars. Jump Racing in the South West is very competitive and I am sure that these awards will only strengthen that position."

 

The awards will be announced on Friday, October 27, 2017, the evening of the first race day of the season at Cheltenham, by a panel of judges, consisting of racing broadcaster Alice Plunkett, Regional Head of Racing, Simon Claisse, Chris Cook, a racing journalist for The Guardian, and, of course, Sir Anthony McCoy, himself.

MONDAY 3rd OCTOBER

 

ONE TWO THREE …

It's so ee-ee-easy! Well it is, if you're a trainer who is fortunate to have a group of wealthy owners providing three talented horses, all sired by the legendary GALILEO. Aidan O'Brien made history yesterday at Chantilly when he saddled the first three home in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. The first past the post was FOUND, one of only two fillies in the sixteen-strong field, who hasn't had a win since last May, coming second on her last five outings. This time, however, she made amends, finishing with panache, as she surged between horses, steered by Ryan Moore, leaving her stable companion, HIGHLAND REEL, one-and-three-quarter lengths in her wake, with ORDER OF ST GEORGE bagging third place. Thus, FOUND, at odds of 6/1 triumphed in Europe's richest, taking her tally of Group 1 victories to three.

 

Aidan O'Brien commented: "It's unbelievable. I can't describe it. You couldn't even dream of that. How could you say anything is higher than this? It is the most difficult race. For that to happen it is incredible. Ryan gave her a brilliant ride. I am so delighted for everyone. We were worried about the ground for Order Of St George but happy with the other two. It's a massive team effort and I'm so privileged to be part of it and they were all by Galileo."

 

Michael Tabor, part-owner of the first three placed runners, added: "First, second and third in the Arc is unbelievable. Words can't describe it. This is the time of the year for Found so we knew we had a chance in the Arc."

 

NOTHING LIKE A DAME!

Any other victory at Chantilly pales alongside the Arc triumph but mention must be made of jockey, Luke Morris' second success when he partnered the Sir Mark Prescott-trained MARSHA to victory in the Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp. The Oxford-born rider's first victory in this Group One sprint was aboard another, filly, GILT EDGED GIRL, and his latest win also came courtesy the distaff side. This daughter of ACCLAMATION got her revenge on the Ronald Harris-trained JUST GLAMOROUS, to whom she was runner-up in the Group Three Prix Petit Couvert Stakes just three weeks ago. This time that winner, though initially establishing a strong pace, weakened suddenly and, it seemed, handed the race on a plate to MECCA'S ANGEL. MARSHA and Morris, however, were having none of that and they fair flew down the middle of the track to win by three-quarters of a length.

 

The winning jockey commented: "The boss had freshened her up for this, we've always had high hopes for her and this is the icing on the cake."

 

Brian Pothecary, speaking for the owners, the 10,000-strong Elite Racing Club, added: "I'm very lucky to represent Elite here today, as one of three coachloads of owners who were selected by ballot to attend. I doubt whether she will run again this year and I very much hope she stays in training as a four-year-old."

 

CAN'T KEEP A GOOD MAN DOWN!

Losing sixty horses from his stables wasn't going to stop the County Carlow king doing what he's good at – winning! Willie Mullins acted as if nothing had happened at Tipperary yesterday when, together with the assistance of regular jockey, Ruby Walsh, he landed a treble. The highlight of the winning trio was undoubtedly, IVAN GROZNY who made all in the two-mile Class 1 Istabraq Hurdle, winning by four-and-three-quarter lengths

 

Ruby Walsh commented: "He just ran away with me and kept going. He was a bit fresher today and hasn't run in a while. The ground gets softer and it gets harder as you're trying to go slower, but he jumped super and had enough in the tank to keep going."

 

The trainer/jockey partnership notched up a second win when PENHILL merited favouritism in the Grade 3 Joe Mac Novice Hurdle, romping home by four-and-half lengths. The dynamic duo pulled off the hat-trick an hour later with WESTERNER LADY, who made it six wins in a row when scoring in the Grade 3 Like A Butterfly Novice Chase.

 

SUNDAY 2nd OCTOBER

 

WHICH STAR WILL TRIUMPH?

All the racing news today seems to be about one race taking place across the English Channel - the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, a contest that first took place on Sunday 3 October 1920 which is worth about £2.8m to the winner. No wonder it attracts competitors from beyond the French shores. Run this year at Chantilly while its traditional home, Longchamp, is being renovated, the Group 1 event will see sixteen hopefuls line up, six of them entered by four British trainers. Aidan O'Brien saddles three – HIGHLAND REEL, ORDER OF ST. GEORGE and FOUND; Roger Varian runs POSTPONED; THE GREY GATSBY is Kevin Ryan's contestant and, last but not least, Dermot Weld goed for it with HARZAND. The other runner attracting a lot of attention is MAKAKIKI because he might just fulfil the Japanese dream of winning the prestigious prize for the first time in sixty-nine years. As the full name for the famous arch is 'Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile ' everyone can hardly wait to see which horse will be the latest racing star.

 

A HORSE LIKE ALICE

Yesterday's Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket was won by this Aidan O'Brien-trained GALILEO daughter, making it her third Group One success this season. ALICE SPRINGS, due to her blistering performance in the Group 1 Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes on Irish Champions Weekend, was naturally sent off the 13-8 favourite. The David Elsworth-trained ARABIAN QUEEN, with champion jockey, Silvestre De Sousa aboard, tried to take it from the front but stamina deserted her by about one furlong out. Saeed bin Suroor's ALWAYS SMILE tried to take it up from there but the eventual winner disdainfully surged past in the final two-hundred yards to win by three-quarters of a length.

 

Ryan Moore commented: "She picked up very well and she was just dossing a little bit when I got serious with her but she found a bit more. She is a very good filly. She is very well balanced. She won here as a two-year-old, was fourth in the Cheveley Park and third in a Guineas. She has had plenty of racing and is very professional. She was second in the juvenile fillies' race last year when the ground went soft," said Moore. It was not ideal for her. Santa Anita will suit her but Tepin will be hard to beat."

 

Aidan O'Brien added: "She is an unbelievable filly. She is a real big powerhouse now. She has gone very pacey and has a lot of speed. She is a very exciting filly. Deauville (when well beaten) that's the past. She travels very strong and quickens very well. She might go to America for the Breeders' Cup Mile. She ran very well at Keeneland last year and is a very professional filly. She got there travelling very well. Ryan seemed to be very happy. His body language looked happy. We were delighted with her really.”

 

JAM FOR TART

The Clarehaven Stables' trainer only had two runners at Newmarket yesterday but one of them rewarded him with victory. The John Gosden-trained VIA EGNATIA claimed the opening race, the EBF Breeders' Fillies' Series 2016 thisfillycan Handicap by three-quarters of a length, providing a grateful jockey, Robert Tart with his first success since June at this track. The son of DISTORTED HUMOR had done well in two previous races over six furlongs, so his trainer decided to step up the distance to a mile and the young colt seemed to appreciate the trip.

 

Robert Tart commented: "All credit to John Gosden - I've got to put that out there. I went there and I didn't expect him to give me rides and I don't know if it was out of the kindness of his heart that he did or whether he thinks I'm worthy. I just wanted him (Via Egnatia) to enjoy himself as he has been very keen in his last two runs. Today he was very good and he enjoyed himself. Mr Gosden said to go forward on him. He just quickened very nicely into the dip and he came out of it just as good."

 

SATURDAY 1st OCTOBER

 

FORTY-SIX NOT OUT!

Frederick James "Fred" Archer, also known by the nickname 'The Tin Man', was an English flat race jockey in Victorian times who was described as "the best all-round jockey that the turf has ever seen". Sir Gordon Richards was the British flat racing Champion Jockey twenty-six times and is often considered the world's greatest ever jockey. But records show that these two racing heroes only notched up a total of forty-five winners in a month. Even in more recent times Tony McCoy only managed to add forty-one wins to his tally but the current Championship Title leader, Jim Crowley, went down into the history books yesterday by riding his forty-sixth winner in a calendar month when he partnered the Hugo Palmer-trained CASTLEACRE to victory in the Fresh Approach/ebfstallions.com Maiden Fillies' Stakes at Newcastle last night. Nothing seems to stop the Ascot-born jockey from his inexorable pursuit of his first jockeys' championship title this year and this result will long be remembered as a major step to achieving this goal.

 

THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT!

This Andover-based trainer proved once more that he has the magic touch with the ladies. ALYSSA, trained by Ralph Beckett, upset the apple cart somewhat when she claimed the Londonmetric Noel Murless Stakes at Ascot by the shortest of distances – a nose. The SIR PERCY filly had already three victories to her credit by the middle of Summer and so her trainer, perhaps understandably, thought she was ready for a step-up in class and entered her in the Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster at the beginning of this month but she clearly wasn't ready for it as she was soundly trounced. This latest contest also looked a bridge too far as she was up against some strong-performing colts, including the Sir Michael Stoute-trained PLATITUDE. The three-year-old filly, however, was udaunted and went into the lead about two furlongs from home. The Mark Johnston-trained FIREGLOW made a strong challenge and then she was confronted by the favourite on the inside. ALYSSA, despite being headed inside the final furlong, kept her cool and found extra reserves for jockey Fran Berry and the duo claimed the narrow victory.

 

Ralph Beckett commented: "In the Park Hill, she was drawn low and got in behind horses, and horses around her, and never ran her race as a result of that. She's just happier with a bit of space, so to go three wide round here and win was a probably a good shout. I'm thrilled it's come right, as the Park Hill was a blow-out. She's come a long way in a relatively short space of time. I doubt we'll supplement her for Champions Day, the obvious race for her would be the Long Distance Cup and we are mob-handed in that with Simple Verse. You'd have a think. Travelling her abroad might be a problem, but I've veered away from that so far. I'll have to have a think. It's possible she'll stay in training, we'll see."

 

HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL

The Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes has eluded the Ballydoyle king for eight years since HALFWAY TO HEAVEN carried off the prestigious prize. Aidan O'Brien just might be able to set the record straight tomorrow at Newmarket, however, when he saddles ALICE SPRINGS in the one-mile contest. It's true, the GALILEO daughter's record this season has been a little up and down but if she can only reproduce the form of her stunning victory in the Matron Stakes on Irish Champions Weekend then clearly she will be the one to beat. It has to be said, however, that five of the last seven renewals of this race have been won by French horse, notably gone to France, thanks, in no little part, to the Lamorlaye-based Rod(olphe) Collet and his remarkable SAHPRESA who triumphed three times in a row in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

 

Aidan O'Brien commented: "She's in good form and everything has gone well with her since Leopardstown. She likes that ground and if it stays nice it will suit her well."

FRIDAY 30th SEPTEMBER

 

ONE ALL

This year's strong contender for the champion jockey title progressed nearer to gaining the prestigious prize by scoring in the Park Lane Group Handicap at Brighton yesterday. Jim Crowley had seven rides but only one added to his beginning-of-the day nine lead over the current champion and that was aboard the Philip Hide-trained ONEHELLUVATOUCH. The jump jockey-turned leading flat rider, thereby, took his tally for the month to 42 and to 126 in the Stobart-sponsored title race which he hopes to claim for the first time.

 

Jim Crowley commented: "Philip said he thought she'd go close today. The ground was a bit too firm for her last time, but she got a nice run through and did it well. I'd not ridden the filly before but the blinkers definitely helped."

 

The winning trainer added: "She's shown plenty at home all the way through and it's just been one disappointment after another, but there were genuine excuses the last day with the ground and arguably she might not have wanted the mile and a half just yet. Hopefully we can keep going forward. I'd like to think there was more to come. She's been schooling at home since her last run so she will be going jumping at some stage, maybe not until the spring."

 

The defending champion, Silvestre De Sousa, had four chances to score on the day but only made it in the first race of the day, the ROA/Racing Post Owners Jackpot Nursery, in which he partnered the Mick Channon-trained HARLEQUIN ROSE to a one-length vicitory

 

The current champion commented: "It was a quick five and a half furlongs and she just got a bit outpaced at halfway, but when the penny dropped she ran on strongly in the last 100 yards."

 

STATEMENT OF FACT

It's certainly sounds like an over-used statement that this DANSILI son can defy today's penalty because of how well he did in his last race at the end of last month, the Listed Lewis Badges 1832 March Stakes. Sir Michael Stoute-trained PLATITUDE, however, due to line up in the Londonmetric Noel Murless Stakes at Ascot, has been put to the test on on quite a few occasions in his young life and has always delivered his best, gaining places in Listed company against older rivals. This was evidenced on his last outing at the Sussex track when came from last to first to win by a comfortable five lengths with no difficulty whatsoever. The Khalid ibn Abdullah-owned three-year-old clearly had no problems handling fourteen furlongs last time so none are expected over the same distance today and connections will be disappointed not to be not to be in the winner's enclosure around 4pm.

 

HEREFORD'S BACK!

After an absence of four years , jump racing returns to Hereford next week. In recognition of the late Times Racing Correspondent, Alan Lee's love of the track , the four fixtures this year will each have 'The Alan Lee Performance of the Day' to be judged by some of Alan's family and friends. This prize will be awarded to the individual, horse, jockey, trainer or member of stable staff who is considered to have provided the most memorable performance of the day. One attraction on Thursday, 6th October, will be a panel of top Jump jockeys, consisting of Aidan Coleman, Tom Scudamore and Richard Johnson who will be alongside the opening day's sponsors, Bet365, to give racegoers an insight into their rides on that afternoon as well as share their memories of racing at Hereford over the years. The Herefordshire-based former Champion Jockey, Richard Johnson, will also take part in the official opening of the Rusty Bridge Restaurant, named after the first-ever career winner he rode at Hereford in 1994. Also a limited edition of the Hereford badge will be distributed to racegoers in exchange for donations to Hereford Riding for the Disabled Association and Little Princess Trust.

 

Rebecca Davies, Executive Director, commented: "The buzz around Hereford as we approach The bet365 Reopening Raceday has been tremendous, and this is reflected in the number of reputable Herefordshire brands that have come on board to support us. We're delighted to have Chase Vodka supporting the Great Chase Owners and Trainers Bar, I hope that plenty of horsemen get to try some of their brilliant product, which racegoers will also get to see around the course. Cotswold MINI and BMW and Kidwells are also fantastic new partners of ours, and we look forward to working with them throughout the season."

THURSDAY 29th SEPTEMBER

 

TROUBLE AT T'MILL!

Well, trouble at Closutton, where Willie Mullins has his training operation. Due to a disagreement over training fees, the Gigginstown House Stud, founded by Ryanair boss, Michael O'Leary, is taking away all its horses and sending a good number of them to County Meath-based trainer, Gordon Elliott. The latter is already Gigginstown's top trainer based on numbers, having saddled, amongst others, DON COSSACK for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Around sixty horses have been removed from Mullins' stable, with other trainers such as Mouse Morris, Henry de Bromhead, Joseph O'Brien and Noel Meade also in line to benefit from the all-change.

 

Gordon Elliott commented:"I've been told I'm getting around 20 horses, including Don Poli and Apple's Jade, A Toi Phil and Blow By Blow. Obviously, it's a massive boost and great for the yard getting so many new horses. It's come as a surprise but we'll try to do as best we can with the new batch."

 

Willie Mullins added: "Yes, we are parting company. It is basically over fees. I put my fees up for the first time in ten years. Gigginstown chose not to pay them. I'm not willing to try to maintain the standards I have [without putting the fees up], so that's the way it is. They will be very hard horses to replace. I don't know where they're going to go. They [Gigginstown] have been great to us with some fantastic horses and we wish them all the best, but we move on."

 

TAKING A SHINE

Today's totepoolliveinfo.com Handicap at Chelmsford should provide this son of MONSUN a chance to make it three career wins. The Richard Hannon-trained RITASUN ran three times on turf last year without any success so, inevitably, connections, influenced by the three-year-old's victory at Wolverhampton in November, have decided to go for the all-weather tracks. Although the Middleham Park Racing-owned gelding couldn't follow up that success at Dunstall Park on Boxing Day, he did get back into the winner's enclosure at Southwell in January and made the frame at Wolverhampton in February. It seems that RITASUN has been purposely rested in anticipation of an all-weather campaign this Winter. The problem is that, after such a long break, he might just need the run but, currently at 10/1, he could be the value bet of the day.

 

DREAM ON!

Another interesting runner on the Chelmsford polytrack when this daughter of OASIS DREAM makes her debut. The Hugo Palmer-trained HYPER DREAM will run in the toteexacta Maiden Fillies' Stakes at 6.40pm. The filly was purchased by the owners Vefa Ibrahim Araci's racing manager Rob Speers for €295,000 ( about £255,000 in real money!) at last year's Arqana August Yearling Sale. It's too early to say how successful the career of HYPER DREAM will be, but the fact that she is the progeny of top Juddmonte stallion, OASIS DREAM and VIRGINIA WATERS, who so far has provided ten winners from eleven runners, including the six-time Group/Grade 1 MIDDAY, heroine Midday, can't be a bad indicator for the future.

 

WEDNESDAY 28th SEPTEMBER

 

TIME TO TRIUMPH

It only needed an impressive gallop yesterday morning for this Curragh trainer to book a ticket for his dual Derby winner to have a crack at Europe's most prestigious horse race. Dermot Weld will be saddling HARZAND in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly (not Longchamp this year!) on Sunday. There had been some speculation about whether the son of SEA THE STARS would be able to participate because three weeks ago he was crashed into during the Irish Champion Stakes, suffering a minor injury and resulting in only his second defeat in six races. The three-year-old colt, however, revealed the same powers of recovery that he demonstrated, when three weeks, after claiming the English he went on to win the Irish Derby. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for his stable companion, FASCINATING ROCK, who is deemed not to be ready for this event and will be saved for an attempt to win a second Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot on October 15.

 

Jockey, Pat Smullen, commented: "Harzand's in tremendous form, I'm really happy with him. I rode him (Tuesday morning) and he felt well, it's all systems go. It looks like the ground is going to be on the quick side but you never know, they might get a drop of rain between now and raceday. The draw did for Famous Name in the Jockey Club so hopefully we'll get somewhere in the middle. Hopefully it's not an over-big field, you don't want to be out on the wing."

 

FULL OF EASTERN PROMISE

The Arc is one race millions of Japanese racing fans will be staying up into the small hours to watch this weekend, praying that the 47-year-quest for a first Japanese victory is destined for 2016. It was in 1969 that the first Japanese-trained horse, SPEED SYMBOLI, competed in this prestigious event but only managed eleventh spot. In fact all the Japanese runners finished way back in the field. It was a worthy contender, EL CONDOR PASA, subsequent winner of the 1998 Japan Cup in 1998, who eventually went on to win both the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and the Prix Foy before going for the Arc the following year. The son of KINGMAMBO looked as though he would fulfil the Japanese dream as he was three lengths clear of the rest of the field. But the dream remained a dream because the John Hammond-trained Irish Derby winner, MONTJEU, with Mick Kinane aboard, snatched victory by half a length. EL CONDOR may have been beaten but from that moment on there was a confidence that Japan was getting closer to winning the much sought-after prize, particularly as its horse racing prowess has since been displayed in major international contests in Australia, Dubai and Hong Kong.

 

Cue the next challenger from the Land of the Rising Sun, the Yasuo Tomomichi-trained MAKAHIKI, who is considered by some as the country's best-ever chance of success. This son of DEEP IMPACT won the Prix Niel at Chantilly two weeks, the colt's first outing since his since claiming the Japanese Derby by a nose at the end of May. If MAKAHIKI has built on that success, then it could well be that those millions of Japanese racing fans will not have lost sleep in vain.

 

WHAT A SHOW!

The first is always remembered longest and that must be true for this Newmarket-based trainer yesterday at Fairyhouse. Charlie Fellowes pulled off a rare gamble, getting his first winner in Ireland, when MOONLIT SHOW, ridden by Billy Lee, won the Listed Blenheim Stakes by a length-and-three-quarters. The daughter of SHOWCASING was soon at the head of affairs and, although her lead was cut back from about two furlongs from home, the result never really seemed in doubt.

 

The winning jockey commented: "Charlie (Fellowes) was very confident. He told me to be good and positive. She jumped out, got an easy enough lead and kicked off the bend. Speaking from the

 

Charlie Fellowes added: "That's my first stakes winner so it's a huge monkey off my back. She's a very nice filly but she must have soft ground. She's won that pretty easily in the end and won with plenty left in the tank. There's a Group Two at Maisons-Laffitte (Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte, October 14) which we could supplement her for. I've no idea where the money came from, but she wasn't right when she got beaten at Wolverhampton and then we just got away with the ground at Haydock. We had her in the Firth of Clyde but the ground got too quick at Ayr. Ground is key to her and she's pretty smart."

 

TUESDAY 27th SEPTEMBER

 

ABUNDANCE OF RICHES

Colin Tizzard is already priveleged with the presence of at least two top-performing horses in the guise of CUE CARD and THISTLECRACK, which helped to make last season the best so far in the Sherborne-based trainer's career; he exceded £1.4 million in prize-money and won seven Grade 1s. Now he is about to be the recipient of fifteen more high-achieving horses to add to his firepower. With Colm Murphy recently announcing his imminent retirement, leading owners, Alan and Ann Potts, have decided to move all their horses from their County Wexford home to Venn Farm, three-hundred miles away in Dorset. The first dozen or so have already arrived, including the Grade 1-winning chaser, SIZING GRANITE.

 

Colin Tizzard commented: “The phone call came out of the blue at Friday dinnertime and it was one of the best I’ve ever had in racing. Alan said Colm was retiring and would I like to train them? Obviously I said yes. They’re lovely looking horses and hopefully we’ll have some fun with Alan and Ann. We’ve shuffled a few around and got them into the yard, where we’ve now got 85. I’ve met Alan and Ann a few times. At Cheltenham in March we sat talking about horses in the owners’ and trainers’ marquee. To have the patronage of another big owner is fantastic. We’ve got to thank the likes of Cue Card, Thistlecrack and Native River for making us more high-profile. It’s lovely. When the first 12 horses came off the lorry at 6.30am today I thought, ‘This is fantastic’. We’d love to be at the top table all the time and hopefully this will make us a little bit closer.”

 

WHAT A PAIN!

The first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup, who has just returned from a career-threatening injury, has been told that she will not ride her Flemington star, PRINCE OF PENZANCE, again. It seems also that there were calls for Michelle Payne to retire generally and, in particular, from the part-owners of the son of PENTIRE. The outspoken thirty-year-old rider famously tweeted: “Not anymore I’m done. Why work your arse off for people who don’t appreciate what you do and write you off anyway #moretolife.” Although she deleted it soon afterwards it was seen by connections and they obviously haven't forgiven her for the comments. Also in the meantime, during her enforced absence, another jockey, John Allen has been riding the seven-year-old and is booked to ride him for the rest of the season.

 

Trainer Darren Weir commented tersely: "Michelle is not in the frame. John Allen will ride the horse."

 

The Australian jockey may feel a little schadenfreude from the fact that PRINCE OF PENZANCE came a disappointing ninth out of ten in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes, making it his fourth underwhelming performance this season.

 

TAKING THE MICK

Hamilton Park's last fixture of the season provided testing conditions but the Mick Channon-trained SCRUTINEER handled himself very well in the totepoolliveinfo.com/ British Stallion Studs EBF Conditions Stakes. About two furlongs out the contest really started to take shape. Up to that time it looked like the Mick Appleby-trained DANZENO might just atone for his year-long absence form the winner's enclosure and take the prize. Then, with just two hundred yards to go, the even-money favourite had nothing left to resist the powerful challenge made by Graham Lee, aboard the son of INTENSE FOCUS, who went on to win by a length.

 

Mick Channon commented: "He was second in the Free Handicap at the start of the year and he's a pretty good horse when he gets his ground. We thought he had a pretty good chance. I know we were taking on a hot favourite, but once the ground went for him, we had to go. I'm very pleased it's worked out. We did enter him for Ascot on Friday because there was a chance this meeting might have been abandoned and we wanted to keep our options open. I would say it would be doubtful he'll run at Ascot now, but we'll see. When the ground is soft we might have a go in something sexy."

 

MONDAY 26th SEPTEMBER

 

O'BRIEN VERSUS O'BRIEN

Four runners in a six-runner race couldn't fail to put the odds in the Ballydoyle trainer's favour and, indeed, so it turned out; he ended up with the first three places in the Juddmonte Beresford Stakes at the Curragh yesterday. The one that was first passed the post by three-quarters of a lengths was the Aidan O'brien-trained CAPRI, the 8/11 favourite, with Ryan Moore aboard, followed by YUCATAN, ridden by the trainer's son Donnacha and EXEMPLAR, with Seamie Heffernan aboard. The eventual winner proved to be the more experienced of the four GALILEO colts and, after quickly moving over to the stands' side, he battled on gamely in the testing conditions, taking the lead just over two furlongs out.

 

Aidan O'Brien commented: "I was very impressed with all three colts. They went a nice pace and came up the middle so they had to learn. Capri is a nice moving horse and should prefer better ground. All three should definitely get a mile and a quarter, and if they are good over that they should get a mile and a half. They are all bred for it. Ryan was very happy. He kept quickening and was surprised they came with him. Next week could be a bit quick for them to run again, but we certainly will look at the Racing Post Trophy for all three. You learn the same as we do when we run them against each other. Sometimes we get surprised and sometimes not."

 

The County Tipperary trainer was denied fourth place by another member of the family, his other son, Joseph, although his runner finished sixteen lengths out of the frame.

 

WELD WINS WELD

Appropriately a Curragh-based trainer saddled a horse to win a race named after his late parents at the Kildare track yesterday. The Dermot Weld-trained EZIYRA put on a powerful display to claim the C.L. & M.F. Weld Park Stakes by two lengths.

 

Dermot Weld, who last won this race in 1999, commented: "She's been very consistent and that was an excellent performance. That's it for this year. I hope she will develop into an Irish 1,000 Guineas filly next year. We put the hood on to help her to settle as she was a bit keen the last day. I see her as a miler next year. Pat (Smullen) maintains she wants good ground as she is not the strongest of fillies physically, and she has a beautiful action."

 

Pat Smullen added: "Her form was good coming into the race, she was entitled to be favourite. No question she was in better humour today than the last day (second to Sea Of Grace in the Flame Of Tara Stakes), so the hood helped."

 

STACK OF WINNERS

A twice champion jump jockey in Britain, who went down in history when he rode the legendary RED RUM to his third Grand National victory IN 1977 is to retire at the end of this year. CLASSIC-winning trainer, Tommy Stack, who began training in 1986, is handing over the reins to his son and long-time assistant, Fozzy, who will now run the Thomastown Castle stables in Co. Tipperary. It was in 1994 that the now seventy-year-old saddled his first Classic winner when LAS MENINAS won the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket. His first Irish Group 1 success came in 1997 when TARASCON triumphed in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh and then followed that up with the next year with victory in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, partnered by Jamie Spencer. Tommy Stack was also successful in the US. His KOSTROMA scored in the Beverly D Stakes in 1992, and in 2007 ALEXANDER TANGO won the Garden State Breeders Cup Stakes at Belmont Park. He even found time in the same year to nip over to Deauville and saddle the winning MYBOYCHARLIE in the Prix Morny.

 

The retiring trainer commented: "After some deliberation I have decided to retire at the end of the year when Fozzy, who has been an absolutely essential and integral part of everything here for the best part of 20 years, will take over the licence. We have had some memorable days all the way from Corwyn Bay to Myboycharlie and I must thank each and every one of our owners for their commitment and support during that time. I have absolutely no doubt that many great days lie ahead for Fozzy here at Thomastown Castle."

 

SUNDAY 25th SEPTEMBER

 

ONLY THE BRAVE

The fast lady of the day failed in her attempt to claim the Group 1 Connolly's Red Mills Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket yesterday. At the outset it seemed that nothing could stop the Wesley Ward-trained LADY AURELIA from winning as she surged into a four-length lead at the half-way point, having covered the first two furlongs in fewer than eleven seconds. Jockey Frankie Dettori kept this SCAT DADDY daughter going at this breakneck speed until around four-hundred yards from home but then she seemed to be feeling the effect of the earlier exertions and it all started to unravel. This opened up the game and the chance was seized by the Aidan O'Brien-trained BRAVE ANNA, the 25/1 shot, and she swept through and and registered a shock result for this Class 1 event. As it happened this Group 1 prize was one of the rare ones missing from the Ballydoyle master's trophy cabinet and the daughter of WAR FRONT made good that omission, beating her stable companion, ROLY POLY, by a short head.

 

A clearly disappointed Wesley Ward commented: "It's a humbling game, I expected her to win today. She bounced out and when Frankie [Dettori] called on her it just wasn't there in the last bit. She's had a tough campaign and she's a special filly. Hopefully we'll come back next year for the Commonwealth Cup and be all smiles then."

 

The winning trainer added: "It's a very hard race to win and it takes a very good filly to win it. Wesley's filly is very good and she went very fast, probably the wind out in front didn't help her."

 

BRIGHT SPARK.

Yesterday's Cambridgeshire at Newmarket brought two old friends together to share victory. Jimmy Fortune has been aboard the Brian Meehan-trained SPARK PLUG for eleven of his career outings, the last time in June in the totetrifecta Pick The 1,2,3 Handicap at Nottingham, where they only made fifth, five lengths adrift of the winner. The son of DYLAN THOMAS hasn't scored since May 2015 but his last races at Newbury and York gave indications of better things to come. Jimmy Fortune, who won this race on PIPEDREAMER 1 in 2007, fully intended to take full advantage of draw and headed for the rail at a crucial moment. The field divided into two groups, ODE TO EVENING and GINGER JACK heading up the runners on the far side and BRAVE ZOLO and FIRST SITTING on the near side. The eventual victor surged into the lead in the final hundred yards ahead of his thirty rivals and passed the post with two-and-a-quarter lengths to spare.

 

Jimmy Fortune commented: "I had to take a pull two out, it stopped him getting there too soon. He's always been a bit of a worrier and Brian has done a wonderful job to get him back after his fall at Ascot. I've known Brian for the last 25 years, we've been great friends and long may it continue."

 

Brian Meehan added: "Jimmy rides most of the horses for us and has done for years. It has been a tough, tough, year and this old horse means a lot. He has been around the yard for quite some time, and we knew he was up to this. It was his first time over this nine-furlong trip. Tony Stafford spotted him as a two-year-old and advised the owner to buy him. It means a lot to everybody, the team at home, everybody. He's a quirky horse. The owner, Lew Day is a great supporter.”

 

THREE TIMES A LADY!

It was a great day for female apprentice jockeys yesterday. Rachel Richardson was the star after she won the £20,000 feature race of the day, the totequadpot/EBF Stallions Flower Of Scotland Fillies' Handicap at Hamilton Park yesterday aboard the Tim Easterby-trained HONEYSUCKLE LIL. This duo were sent off at 9/1 but beat the 2/1 favourite, DUTCH DESTINY by one-and-a-lengths.

 

Rachel Richardson commented: "She loved the ground and travelled really well for me. She was in front earlier than ideal but she's hung on in the end to deservedly win a nice prize. She's lovely and I've won on her once every season for three years now. It's been a good day for my boss, Tim Easterby, who has also had a winner at Chester and a couple at Ripon, so it's good to add to the total."

 

This female triumph was preceded earlier by a win for Shirley Teasdale. who partnered the Keith Dalgleish-trained RECKLESS SERENADE to victory in the toteplacepot Nursery, followed in the next race by Natalie Hambling's success aboard Richard Fahey's ROYAL CONNOISSEUR in the six-furlong Jonathan Letham Memorial Handicap

 

SATURDAY 24th SEPTEMBER

 

GOING, GOING (NEARLY) GONE!

BRAVE INCA, BIG ZEB and FEATHARD LADY. There's only one name that links such top-class horses - Colm Murphy. But not for much longer! The County Wexford-based trainer has shocked the racing community by announcing that he is soon to retire. Colm Murphy spent six years working for Aidan O'Brien before taking out his training licence.

 

Aidan O'Brien was one of the first to pay tribute to the forty-two-year-old trainer: "Colm was around with us when we had Istabraq and he was a great fellow, a star fellow for us. He is a top-class person who showed a great understanding of people and horses, and he was a world-class trainer. He rode lots of bumper winners for us and did basically everything else he could when working for me," the champion Flat trainer added.

 

Colm Murphy addded: "After a few difficult years, my accountancy background told me we just can't make it pay any more. It's been a very difficult decision and not one we've made lightly but in the end it was a financial decision that was made for us. We've been very fortunate to have some fantastic horses over the years and I want to thank all the owners and staff that have given us so much support. Winning the Champion Hurdle and the Champion Chase were great days and I suppose last year's Cheltenham winner was so sweet as it had been tough going for so long."

 

DOWN BUT NOT OUT.

Losing the number one jockey slot at Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin stables doesn't seem to have dampened this twenty-eight-year-old rider's desire to win. James Doyle's answer to the news of his demotion was to notch up winners on successive days this week. On Thursday he was at Pontefract where rode the Saeed bin Suroor-trained MEMORIAL DAY to an eight-length victory in the Simon Scrope Dalby Screw-Driver Handicap. Then back down South at Newmarket yesterday he presented trainer, Peter Chapple-Hyam, with a winner when he partnered TIME ZONE in the Derrinstown EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes. There is no doubt that James is a top-class rider and that's clearly why he and his best friend William Buick, were signed up by Godolphin two years ago. One can't help thinking that the Cambridge-born jockey is being punished for the Godolphin operation's current below-average season which has certainly not been made any better by a virus which has spread through several Newmarket yards. It is to be hoped that James Doyle bears in mind what happened to Silvestre de Sousa, who was also sacked from the Saeed bin Suroor yard, but still went on to become champion jockey last year. A successful continuing career as a freelance is certainly on the cards in the immediate future and, if he plays his cards right, there could well be a few worthwhile ‘spare’ rides, should the new retained rider, William if Buick, not be available.

 

FOUR TIMES A LADY?

It takes a lot to impress the serious racegoer but this SCAT DADDY filly did just that in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot in June. The Wesley Ward-trained LADY AURELIA is back in the U.K to show what else she is capable of, when she lines up in the Connolly's Red Mills Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket this afternoon. The two-year-old's display on her last outing has been likened to the legendary FRANKEL's performance in the 2000 Guineas and not only the winning impressed but the speed of delivery as well. Today's result will all depend on whether the filly has progressed as juveniles are expected to do between the months of June and September. There are doubts in this area, however, because she did not win the Morny Group 1 at Deauville with anything like the confidence she had shown at Ascot. It could, of course, be that Wesley Ward peaked her earlier in the season than usual because his predilection for appearing at the Berkshire track is well-known. Nevertheless LADY AURELIA seems to have settled well here after her trip from France and, despite all, she must be the one to beat when she makes her bid for four wins in a row.

FRIDAY 23rd SEPTEMBER

 

LUCKY TIE!

A winning trainer collected his prize at Newmarket yesterday with a bull-clip holding one of his shirt sleeves together and wearing a borrowed tie. It wasn't clear what had been the cause of Richard Hannon's wardrobe malfunction but that is how he accompanied his LARCHMONT LAD into the winner's enclosure after victory in the Group Three Tattersalls Stakes by three-quarters of a length. This son of FOOSTEPSINTHESAND raced wide for part of the contest and, under the stewardship of Sean Levey, forged clear in the last two-hundred yards to notch up his second victory in three career outings.

 

The racing community is probably as superstitious as any other sporting body and so it could mean that Richard Hannon will consider his latest sartorial showing as his lucky charm and feel obliged to dress the same at future races.

 

The Herridge Racing Stables' handler confessed: “My dad always used to have these winning ties and he used to wear them with stains down them. I said if this won I might have to keep wearing them.”

 

I SEE THE MOON”

The Racing Post Readers Award Novices' Hurdle at Perth yesterday was something of a ding-dong battle. It featured two of the Weatherbys Champion Bumper winners, making their debut over hurdles. The David Pipe-trained MOON RACER was taking on Nigel Twiston-Davies' BALLYANDY in the two-mile Class 4 contest and the former, with Tom Scudamore aboard, beat his rival by three-quarters of a length after toughing it out on Perth's long home straight.

 

David Pipe commented: "He's a fragile horse and it was important that we get a race into him as we might have had to wait a long time otherwise for something suitable. He was fit enough today but there is plenty of improvement to come. We'll probably be looking at some of those novice hurdles at Cheltenham for him next. The target at the moment is the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and who knows maybe these two will be first and second in that as well."

 

A LOT AT STAKES

One of the biggest names in racing, Jim Joel, (businessman and philanthropist, 1895–1992) is remembered as one of the few owner-breeders who had a winner both in the Derby and the Grand National, ROYAL PALACE and MAORI VENTURE. The Joel Stakes at Newmarket commemorates this legendary figure. The feature race used to be called after MAIN REEF, one of his horses but was renamed in his own honour in 1994. Trainer David O'Meara is hoping today to make a little bit of history today with CUSTOM CUT who claimed this event in 2014 and came second last year. The seven-year-old son of NOTNOWCATO was also runner-up two weeks ago in the Boomerang Stakes at Leopardstown, which he also won last year so he seeme to be on a winning streak.

 

Jason Kelly, David O'Meara's assistant is quick to pint out, however: "This is a strong renewal and it's drying ground, while he's often best with a little bit of ease. But his run last time was probably as good as he has run and he seems to be in good form."

 

THURSDAY 22nd SEPTEMBER

 

A BUMPER PAIR

Perth racetrack is about to wrap up its season but the occasion will not pass with a whimper, it seems. The last meeting of its season today, will have the attraction of the last two Weatherbys Champion Bumper winners, vying with each other in the two-mile Racing Post Readers Award Novice Hurdle. Two years ago the David pipe-trained MOON RACER only had just one race due to problems in the 2015-16 season. This son of SAFFRON WALDEN sustained a fracture in the early part of last season which prevented him from racing for quite a while. The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained BALLYANDY lines up for the first stime since coming fourth in a Grade 2 bumper at Aintree in April.

 

David Pipe commented: "It's not ideal having to take each other on but if we don't run now we could be waiting a while for some safe ground and we want to get this one under our belt. We want to get some racing into him. He's a seven-year-old now and we missed almost all of last season, so the plan is to try and get him out early. He's done plenty of work at home and has pleased me with his schooling."

 

Nigel Twiston-Davies added: "We hope he's improved and, if he has, what have we got? We just wanted to start him off against poor opposition but we haven't got that. However, I couldn't be happier with him. It's a very good race for the time of year, worthy of even Cheltenham. I'm looking forward to it and our horse jumps very well."

 

CRACKING START

This County Cork-born jockey didn't waste any time providing winners for his new boss, Tom George. Adrian Heskin, who only recently joined the Slad-based trainer, made a great start to his new career by steering KILBREE KID to a fourth victory at Perth, this time in the Lord Mansfield Memorial Handicap Chase. It's some six years since Adrian Heskin caught the attention of the racing public by achieving his first Cheltenham Festival winner when partnering the Michael Hourigan-trained A NEW STORY in the 2010 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase. Then he followed that up with a win in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown on CHURCH ISLAND, just after his 18th birthday. Now twenty four-years-old, the Kilworth-born jockey has made an epic start for connections at Down farm and prospects looks good.

 

Tom George commented: "That's the perfect start and takes a little bit of the pressure off. There was no pressure from our end, but it just takes the steam out of things and hopefully shows we've made the right choice, which we believe we have. He loves Perth this horse. He's been on the go a long time now so he'll be getting a well-deserved holiday shortly."

 

WHO NOSE!

Giving the son of FAMOUS NAME an infamous moniker is, on the face of it, an audacious thing to do. The Hugo Palmer-trained ESCOBAR is, in fact, named after the Colombian drug tzar, Pablo Escobar, notorious at one stage for smuggling an estimated 80 per cent of all the cocaine brought into the US. The inspiration for giving the two-year-old colt a notorious nomenclature came to owners, Ian Jennings and Fiona Carmichael (husband and wife), when they discovered that the equine ESCOBAR had one all-white nostril. (sniffing cocaine! Geddit?)

 

Ian Jennings explained: “The second time we viewed him at the sales he looked nothing like the horse we’d seen earlier in the day because we were viewing him from the other side. I said 'it's the wrong horse' but the lad explained about the one white nostril. We'd been watching the documentary film about Pablo Escobar on Netflix the week before and when my wife told me he was by Famous Name, I said 'let's call him Escobar because of his white nostril'. We did pay a lot more than anyone else might have, but after his first two runs he’s looking like a good purchase. “It's very exciting. I think my wife hopes he follows in Toronado's footsteps – that's her dream.”

 

WEDNESDAY 21st SEPTEMBER

 

IT'S A RIDE, JIM, BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT!

Just under a week after the announcement of a downsizing of its bloodstock operation, Godolphin has revealed another policy change. James Doyle loses his job as Saeed Bin Suroor's retained jockey. The four-time champion trainer has indicated that he will be calling upon other riders from now on, including William Buick, who is booked to ride SKY HUNTER at Goodwood today and BEST SOLUTION and GREAT ORDER at Newmarket tomorrow when James Doyle will make the trip to Pontefract to be aboard MEMORIAL DAY, although he does have two other rides for Richard Hannon and Eddie Dunlop. James Doyle joined Godolphin operation as a retained jockey in January last year and has notched up Group race wins for Saeed Bin Suroor, with the likes of AFRICAN STORY, HUNTER'S LIGHT, PROMISING RUN, VERY SPECIAL and BEAUTIFUL ROMANCE.

 

The Dubai-born, forty-seven-year-old trainer commented: "James has ridden some nice winners for Godolphin and I hope he will ride many more. He's a friend and a big part of the Godolphin team. But our policy will be to choose the jockey who best suits individual horses."

 

SKY'S THE LIMIT!

The above-mentioned son of MOTIVATOR hasn't raced since last November when he was runner-up in the Melbourne Cup and it looks like today's Crimbourne Stud Foundation Stakes at Goodwood could be right up his street. The Saeed Bin Suroor-trained SKY HUNTER claimed the Group 2 Dubai City Of Gold Sponsored By Emirates Skycargo in March as well as making second in the Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup. The Godolphin team decided to give their six-year-old gelding plenty of rest before running him in the September Stakes at Kempton at the beginning of this month. Although SKY HUNTER was the highest-rated contender in the contest, it could be that he that he needed the run as he didn't seem his usual self under pressure and had to settle for third. Saeed Bin Suroor obviously thinks that his charge has benefited from the experience and progressed sufficiently to provide the first victory ing a year-and-a-half.

 

LUCK OF THE IRISH

This Newmarket trainer is obviously hoping today's trip to Maisons-Laffitte will be worth the while for his AZAMOUR filly. The Martyn Meade-trained IRISH ROOKIE has left it quite a while without a win, The last time, in fact, was as a two-year-old in November 2014 when she triumphed in the EBF Stallions Montrose Fillies' Stakes at Newmarket. She has been placed on two occasions at Group One level, including last year's French 1000 Guineas so big things are now expected of her.

 

Martyn Meade commented: "She is lightly raced and we've taken lots of time with her, getting her right. I've been very careful that I've not done much with her, just in case she had any virus problems, but she hasn't shown any signs of it at all. She is stronger than ever. She has just been unlucky. We didn't quite get the result we wanted at Ascot. We have just taken time with her after that, I could have run her back sooner but I didn't. We have just got to have a bit of luck with her. She is certainly good enough and the way she has been working suggests she is as a good as she has ever been. I think to go to the Sun Chariot is going to be too difficult this year. I'd just like to give her this last run to try and pick up this Group Three if we could. On paper it looks as if it's possible that she could win it. That would then be it for the season. We will definitely bring her as back a five-year-old because she is just getting stronger." 

TUESDAY 20th SEPTEMBER

 

MONEY FOR JAM!

This DUKE OF MARMALADE daughter hadn't had a win since September 2014 so it came as quite a surprise to connections and particularly her owner, Michael Ryan, when she got her nose in front in the Group 3 Denny Cordell Lavarack & Lanwades Stud Fillies Stakes at Gowran Park. The Johnny Murtagh-trained DUCHESS ANDORRA was urged early on by jockey Colin Keane to take the lead but drifted into second position after about one furlong. Then, after more persuasion, the five-year-old bay mare asserted her superiority as the field approached the home straight and, although hard pressed by the Tony Martin-trained LAGANORE, managed to hold on and win by a short head. It seems that DUCHESS ANDORRA, formerly trained by the now-retired Joanna Morgan, can handle all kinds of ground as she won the Grand Prix Schlossatelier, the contest run on snow, at St Moritz in 2013.

 

Johnny Murtagh commented: "It's a long way from St Moritz! The whole aim this year was to get a bit of black type. I had great belief in her when conditions are like that and I think that's the ideal trip for her (nine furlongs). A mile is a bit too short and a mile and a quarter maybe a bit too long. I think she'll be a valuable broodmare for Michael (Ryan, owner-breeder). She has been running very consistently this year. I knew when she was in the fight half a furlong down the one thing she has is great heart. I'm not sure (if she will race on next season) as I haven't spoke to Michael yet but that's job done."

 

AND THE LAST SHALL BE FIRST

PAKISTAN STAR sauntered out of the gates and trailed the field several lengths adrift before producing a an amazing run, bringing him from last to first before you could say Jack Robinson, covering the final 400m in a breath-taking 21.44 seconds. The race went viral on the internet. As a result the Tony Cruz-trained three-year-old soon established a cult following – no doubt helped by the fact that he shares the same sire, SHAMARDAL, as another Hong Kong favourite, the John Moore-trained ABLE FRIEND. So there was naturally quite a lot of excitement before yesterday's seven-furlong contest.

 

The winning trainer commented: "That first day I got him, oh man, he really didn't want to work, but he has changed so quickly - he has really changed in his character. Before, he was shy about everything; now, he is brave. He has got guts, this guy, and he clearly has ability. Matthew (Chadwick – jockey) was so confident about this horse. He just left him alone and around the bend I could see he was really changing his gears; he was really coming with a bigger explosion than last time - he has that powerful turn of foot. Once he straightened to the outside I knew he was going to win and Matthew took it easy, too, he didn't hammer him."

 

NEWMARKET ANEW

Fifteen Newmarket stables opened their gates again atthe weekend for the second day of the 32Red Newmarket Open Weekend and thousands of racing enthusiasts came from all over the country to catch a personal behind-the-scenes glimpse of the racing world. After a first day of watching a number of horses on the gallops, including the Sir Michael Stoute-trained pair of MIDTERM and ULYSSES, the visitors on Sunday had the opportunity to hobnob with some of the notable trainers and, of course, meet the equine stars which are the object of the exercise. As usual, James Fanshawe's yard proved to be a big attraction, attracting a steady flow of visitors to his Pegasus Stables where Group One winner, SPEEDY BOARDING, and sprinting star sprinter, THE TIN MAN STRUTTED THEIR STUFF.

 

JAMES Fanshawe commented: "We've had more people in than the last two years. We've had a good turn-out to the yard. Hopefully people have enjoyed coming around. The horses have been very relaxed and it's great to show racing enthusiasts what goes on behind the scenes and also to say thank to the people of Newmarket as the whole place relies on give and take from everyone. It is great that people are interested, it's all very well going to the races but it is great to show them how things are prepared and how the horses are trained, and just give them a general insight behind the scenes."

 

Even though David Simcock's yard is situated some way away from the main happenings of the day, quite a number of visitors thought it worthwhile to make the trip to Trillium Place stables

 

This Newmarket handler who only started with a single-figure string of horses in 2004 was pleased with the week-end, commenting: "For me, it's important to keep the Open Weekend going and to keep the momentum up as it has been a massive success over the past couple of years. We've had lots of people through the doors and lots of interest. What's wonderful is the staff are only too willing to talk to everybody about the horses they look after. People have asked the right questions and are so interested. We are lucky we draw such attention to our industry. It's something that that really appeals to people. It gives them an insight into the secretive back work so I think it is nice for people to come and see what goes on."

 

SUNDAY 18th SEPTEMBER

 

BE AN ANGEL!

This son of DARK ANGEL had not been seen on the track since his maiden run at Ascot in May because he then sustained an injury in the stalls before a planned race at Goodwood. There was no sign of trouble yesterday at Newbury, though, when the Clive Cox-trained HARRY ANGEL didn't disappoint connections by easily winning the Group Two Mill Reef Stakes by two-and-a-half lengths and counting. The Lambourn-based trainer has had his fair share of speedy top-class sprinters in the past, including PROFITABLE, this year’s King’s Stand Stakes hero, LETHAL FORCE who claimed the 2013 July Cup, and not forgetting RECKLESS ABANDON, winner of both the Group One Prix Morny and Middle Park Stakes. The Beechdown Stables handler clearly believes he's been blessed with yet another speedster who could well be in line for the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot next year.

 

Clive Cox commented after the race: ‘I am just pleased everyone has had the chance to see what we have had the privilege of watching at home. He is potentially very good and one to keep us warm through the winter.’

 

TAKEN BY STORM

It looks like yesterday's winner of the Wedgewood Estates EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes at Newbury could well have the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster in his sights. The David Elsworth-trained SWISS STORM was making amends for a poor show on his maiden outing at Haydock at the beginning of the month. This son of FRANKEL was clearly keen to get the job done as he lined up, pulling hard for most of the way but, nevertheless, made virtually all, and outrode the odds-on favourite CITY OF JOY, trained by Sir Michael Stoute by a length and three-quarters.

 

The winning trainer commented: "It was a total misconception that he was outpaced and that six furlongs didn't suit him. He has got bags of speed. I nearly put him in the Mill Reef but this race was worth nearly as much with all the bonuses. He will probably go for the Racing Post Trophy. Obviously he is a very exciting horse. He has always been a big horse. He was a big foal and a big yearling. One doesn't want to get carried away as it was only a maiden he has won but he has pleased us ever since we have had him."

 

NOT THREE BUT FOUR

The Malton-based trainer failed in his bid for a third Ayr Gold Cup after all but this Thirsk handler claimed the prestigious prize for a fourth time. The Kevin Ryan-trained BRANDO, despite being top weight, gave his jockey, Tom Eaves, a dream of a ride and, going into the lead in the final furlong and left GROWL a length and a quarter in his wake, thus dashing Richard Fahey's hopes of another win. The highly-progressive son of PIVOTAL notched up a Group Three victory earlier on at Sandown and managed to put his disappointing performance the Nunthorpe Stakes at York last month firmly behind him.

 

The winning jockey commented: "Angie (Bailey – owner) said to draw stall eight if his name comes out early enough. She picked the stall. I always like to go middle to far side and all horses came out early enough for me to do that, so it's worked out. He was the class horse in the race, but he needed a bit of luck. It all worked out lovely and it's great to ride the Ayr Gold Cup winner. It's the big handicap we want to win up here."

 

SATURDAY 17th SEPTEMBER

 

THE POWER OF THREE

Big day at Whitletts Road today! It's the renewal of Scotland’s biggest Flat race, the Ayr Gold Cup, an event inaugurated in 1804. Until 1907 the race was run over one mile three furlongs. That changed to the current six furlongs after the course moved to its present site. The most successful horse in the history of this race was the Duke of Montrose-owned DAZZLE who triumphed three times in the 1870s. Tom Dawson trained the winner of the race 15 times – his first success was with INHERITOR in 1835 and his last GOOD HOPE in 1869. One trainer who is hoping to vie with these illustrious names from the past and achieve his third victory is Richard Fahey. Today he saddles his four-year-old GROWL whose last win was in June in the Royal Windsor Sprint Series Handicap. This son of OASIS DREAM has a lot going for him; not only does he have the benefit of a low draw but he seems able to handle any kind of ground and is on the top of his form so should give his rivals a run for their money.

 

A MERRY DANCE!

Hamdan Al Maktoum's stallion, ELZAAM, now standing at Ballyhane Stud, where his breeding fee this season is €3,500 (just over £3000, is clearly making a name for himself already. This first-season sire produced his first stakes winner at Ayr yesterday, when his juvenile daughter, CLEM FANDANGO, won the the Listed Harry Rosebery Stakes by three-and-three-quarter lengths. The Keith Dalgleish-trained filly, sporting the familiar colours of Middleham Park Racing, doggedly tracked leaders until she took the lead about one furlong from home and maintained dominance until the line. Federico Barberini purchased CLEM FANDANGO, together with Middleham Park, for the modest sum of €11,000 (something under £10,000 in real money!”) at last year's Arqana August Yearlings sale in Deauville. On the face of it, an astute acquisition as she has already won nearly £76,000 in prize-money, after also winning the Catterick Badgeholders' Guest Evening Fillies' Novice Auction Stakes and coming third in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot.

 

BACK ON THE BOX

It has just been revealed that ITV Racing, which takes over from Channel 4 as the sport's exclusive terrestrial partner from New Year's Day, has guaranteed that it will show 40 days of racing on its main channel. Interestingly, Sandown's Tingle Creek meeting, the Coral Welsh National and Cheltenham Trials Day are conspicuous by their absence but it seems these three high-profile races will be shown on ITV4. The July Cup as well as important Ascot and York meetings will all be broadcast on what is being billed as Super Saturday', for now ending the possibility of any of those fixtures moving to a different date on one of the most congested days of the season. Newmarket also gains additionally rom this partnership as the April Craven meeting, missing from Channel 4 in recent years, will be transmitted free-to-air on ITV4. The Suffolk racetrack will also have two of its top meetings, the 1,000 Guineas and the Future Champions, added to ITV's original roster for its main channel. Altogether a total of fourteen days of National Hunt racing and twenty-six days of racing on the Flat will be shown on the main channel.

 

FRIDAY 16th SEPTEMBER

 

BIN AND GONE AND DONE IT – AGAIN!

The four-times champion Godolphin trainer paraded his prowess yet again when he claimed the William Hill Doonside Cup for the sixth time at Ayr yesterday. Saeed Bin Suroor saddled SECRET NUMBER in the ten-furlong Class 1 contest and Danny Tudhope had a fairly uneventful ride for most of the trip before urging the six-year-old son of RAVEN'S PASS to go clear in the final furlong, beating the Mick Channon-trained MOTDAW by a length and three-quarters. The result could have been very different but the favourite, ALMODOVAR unfortunately went lame in the home straight and had to be walked back to the unsaddling area by his jockey, George Baker.

 

Saeed Bin Suroor commented: “He’s done well. We gave him a good break with the plan of maybe going back to Australia with him and after that I think we will. Physically he’s improving and he’s been gelded. His last piece of work was particularly impressive.”

 

NUMBER VAUGHAN – TWICE!

Rides and certainly wins were a bit thin on the ground for this apprentice jockey so it seemed a good idea to make the three-and-a-half-hour trip to the first day of Ayr’s Gold Cup meeting and hope for the best. And nothing ventured, nothing gained, Jordan Vaughan came up trumps and presented his boss, Karl Burke, with not one but two winners. The twenty-two-year-old had to work at it, though, as he had to get his weight down to 8st 3lb to be able to ride SISTER DUDE in the Barclays Bank Supporting The Ayrshire Hospice Handicap. The effort proved worth it, however, as the NOTNOWCATO filly obliged by winning the contest by a neck. Jordan Vaughan's second success came two races later when he steered SPORTY YANKEE to victory in the Scott Bennett Associates Consulting Engineers Handicap. This ride was a bonus as another Spigot Lodge rider, Clifford Lee, was due to be aboard but unfortunately sustained an injury at Beverley on Wednesday.

 

The winning jockey commented: “It’s a nice surprise. I was only due to go up for the ride on Sister Dude and, in fairness, she wasn’t promising a lot. She works so well at home but never shows anything on the racetrack. Karl asked what weight I could do on Tuesday morning and I said about 8st 5lb or 8st 4lb. He said to do my best – I won’t tell you what weight I was – but it came off bit by bit. Fruit, yoghurt, water, it seemed to work. I had a long sweat in the car on the way up and then did a power walk around the track with loads of layers of clothes on. That just finished it off and I made 8st 3lb. Sporty Yankee was Clifford’s ride. He got injured at Beverley. Nothing’s broken, he’s just torn a few muscles in his hand. He’s just missed a winner and that will hurt more.”

 

PASSED THE POST

The well-known racing journal launched as a daily newspaper in 1986 by Sheikh Mohammed has been sold to Exponent Private Equity. Over the years the Racing Post developed into a multi-media business with offices in London, Newbury and Dublin and employing nearly 300 people. Since 2007, the business, which includes the Racing Post newspaper, print and book titles as well as a range of digital products, had been owned by a consortium led by Dublin-based private equity company, FL Partners. Exponent Private Equity is a major private equity firm based in London whose investment portfolio includes, amongst others, Immediate Media (publishers of the former BBC magazines), Ambassador Theatre Group, Big Bus Tours, Photobox and Wowcher.

 

Alan Byrne, the Racing Post CEO, commented: "We will continue our policy of investing to enhance the business and to provide our customers with the best possible service. We are excited by the prospect of working with Exponent whose experience in the media sector will be very helpful in growing our business."

 

Oliver Bower, a partner at Exponent Private Equity added: "We are delighted to be investing in the Racing Post. The brand is a market leader and has a pivotal position in an exciting and growing market. We are looking forward to working with Alan and the team to help the business to reach its full potential."

THURSDAY 15th SEPTEMBER

 

LISA WITH AN S

The Guinness Kerry National yesterday was won not by Ruby Walsh, sister, Katie, nor even the talented Tom Scudamore but by a little-known amateur jockey, Lisa O'Neill, aboard the Gordon Elliott-trained WRATH OF TITANS. What was even more remarkable was that the twenty-nine-year-old Dubliner who has probably never ridden in such an auspicious race before had the full backing of not only the trainer but the owner, Michael O'Leary. The most fancied runner in the contest was undoubtedly the 'Mouse' Morris-trained FOLSOME who, as it turned out, ran no kind of a race at all and had to be pulled up. There was no faulting the ultimate superiority of the son of OSCAR , though, even if he had been a little untidy in the early stages. When push came to shove the seven-year-old proved he had what it takes and galloped to a five-length victory

 

Lisa O'Neill commented: "He crept away and got into it at the right time. I never was sure until after the last and he was careful at the last but he really picked up for just one smack. I didn't realise he had that much left in him. It was an overwhelming feeling."

 

The winning trainer added: "Lisa gave him a real peach. I'm thrilled for her and it's great to repay her a bit for all the work she does. She does some pre-training for me, she works in the office, she will lead one up at the races and she can drive them to the races as well."

 

SO FAR SO GOOD!

This daughter of DUBAWI had not been seen on the track since the beginning of May when she won the Musidora Stakes at York by four lengths. The eighteen-week absence didn't seem to trouble the but the John Gosden-trained SO MI DAR, however, as she seemed to have no trouble asserting her dominance in the EBF Stallions John Musker Fillies’ Stakes at Yarmouth yesterday. Her stylish performance whereby she maintained a four-in-a-row record must certainly mean that we shall be seeing more of this talented filly in some big-time contests later on in the season.

 

BAY WATCH

Also at Yarmouth yesterday the Roger Varian-trained SOLOMON'S BAY proved he was no respecter of persons when he showed a few respected rivals a clean pair of hooves in the Greene King IPA/British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes. This was only the second career start for this son of EXCEED AND EXCEL, having come a promising sixth on his debut at Ascot in July. Before the race the betting indicated that it would be the Hugo Palmer-trained VIA SERENDIPITY's day and, although this odds-on market leader mounted a powerful challenge, he ultimately had no response when SOLOMON'S BAY, with Andrea Atzeni aboard, kicked for home, leaving a Tom Marquand-ridden CALIBRATION three-quarters of a length adrift down the track.

 

Roger Varian's assistant trainer, Will Johnson, commented: "He did well in what was a warm race and obviously the Ascot form has stood up. He had a lovely introduction there. We just thought coming here over seven furlongs on a nice, even galloping track would suit him. Andrea (Atzeni) was very impressed with the win. He travelled very professionally into the race. "We will just have to take stock and assess his options now."

 

WEDNESDAY 14th SEPTEMBER

 

UNWANTED

The Willmott Dixon/British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes at Sandown today is set to feature yet another son of the legendary FRANKEL. The Roger Charlton-trained ATTY PERSSE was due to make his debut at Ffos Las on Sunday but was withdrawn. The colt is named after trainer Henry Seymour "Atty" Persse, who made his name training fast horses, especially two-year-olds. He will probably be remembered most for training THE TETRARCH who won all seven of his juvenile starts in 1913 including the Champagne Stakes, Coventry Stakes and Woodcote Stakes. The four-legged ATTY PERSSE, bred and owned by US-based Bjorn Nielsen, has twice been up for sale at Tattersalls but on both occasions failed to find a buyer. The two-year-old colt was bought back at the first sale in December 2014 for 200,000gns and at last year's October Yearling Sale he was taken out of the ring unsold for 160,000gns.

 

EVERYONE'S FALLING FOR THE NEW HURDLE!

The padded hurdles trial at UK racecourses, initiated by The British Horseracing Authority (BHA), is to be continued. The innovation was first introduced at Newton Abbot in 2013 and the next year the new One Fit padded hurdles were also employed at Taunton. Earlier this year Bangor and Uttoxeter joined the ranks with Kelso and Exeter soon to be amongst them. The design, developed by Richard Linley, the Senior Inspector of Courses for the BHA, and features a modified hurdle frame with a custom-fitted close-cell foam pad, replacing the traditional birch. Since these new hurdles have been in use there have been 56 fallers out of 3,525 runners (1.59%) which is a half-of-a-percent reduction compared to the 10-year average across all hurdles. Not a huge reduction but certainly a move in the right direction.

 

Richard Linley commented: “The statistics so far have been very encouraging in terms of safeguarding horse and rider welfare. Fewer fallers means safer racing, and the design of the hurdle means that when there is a fall the risk of injury to horse and rider is reduced. There have also been benefits for the racecourses taking part in the trial with less hurdle breakages occurring to the padded design. We would hope the trends continue in this positive manner.”

 

Jamie Stier, director of Raceday Operations added: “We are always looking at ways to improve safety for both horse and rider, and the indications are that the One Fit padded hurdle is having a positive impact. The padded hurdle has produced faller rates that are lower than the national average on all of the racecourses included in the trial. The further expansion to incorporate a total of six racecourses is important as it will allow us to expand the data and gain further understanding of how the hurdle performs at numerous racecourses under different conditions.”

 

ALL CHANGE, BY GEORGE!

Trainer, Tom George, has just announced that he has appointed a new first jockey. Twenty-four-year-old Adrian Heskin is to replace the thirty-five-year-old Paddy Brennan. The Cheltenham Festival winner was first jockey to leading Irish owner Barry Connell until last April but he will now move to Britain to join Tom George at Slad in Gloucestershire. Adrian Heskin has notched up nigh on 200 winners in Britain and Ireland and gained big race success when aboard the Margaret Mullins-trained MARTELLO TOWER last year in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle. One of his noticeable successes was riding CHURCH ISLAND to victory in the 2010 Bet365 Gold Cup when was still a 7lb claimer.

 

Tom George commented: "This season we have made the exciting appointment of Adrian Heskin as first jockey at Down Farm. At 24 this talented rider has got experience under his belt, ambition and we both greatly look forward to working with the horses here. Paddy Brennan and I have had some big days together over the past seasons and I very much hope to be able to give him more winning rides in the future."

 

TUESDAY 13th SEPTEMBER

 

TON UP

As of yesterday, Jim is 1/3 and Silvestre 5/2 in the Stobart Flat Jockeys' Championship. The race for the crown intensified when Jim Crowley became the first jockey to reach 100 winners in the contest. The Ascot-born rider made the 'ton' at Brighton when he rode the appropriately named UPSTAGING, trained by Paul Cole, to a one-length victory in the Follow Us On Twitter At StarSports_Bet Handicap. He then went on to make it a double by claiming the last race of the day, the starspreads.com Handicap, aboard the Rae Guest-trained NOBLE ACT.

 

Jim Crowley commented: "It's harder to get a hundred now with the shortened [championship] season, so it's great. You become obsessed by [the title battle], but it's a good thing. It's very important to me and I'll just keep doing my best. There's still a long way to go. We've seen how in the last couple of weeks it's flip-flopped. But I'll keep trying to ride the winners. I'm buzzing off it."

 

Tony Hind, Jim Crowley's agent added: "What he's achieved over the past few weeks is immense. I am very proud of him - as I am all my jockeys - but he is riding on the crest of the wave at the moment. I always say success breeds success and that is exactly what he is doing and long may it continue. He is a gentleman to deal with, he is very level headed and has his feet firmly on the ground. If he has ridden three or four winners during the day he's exactly the same as if he has ridden none. This game tames lions and you need that temperament to be a jockey. I always thought, when he came to me, that I could make him champion one day, but if he does do it this year I didn't realise it would be this quick."

 

Victory is by now means assured, though, and the battle is set to continue right to the last days of the final month of the contest which culminates on Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot on October 15. As a sign that it's not all over yet, Silvestre de Sousa notched up a treble at the Wolverhampton later on at the evening meeting, taking his score to 97 for the season.

 

AYR WE GO AGAIN!

An amazing sight awaits you if you open up the Ayr racecard for Saturday on the Racing Post or Sportinglife website. 215 sprinters are still listed, at the five-day confirmation stage, to compete in the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup but only twenty-five will eventually be allowed to run. Some of the ones who do not make it into this prestigious contest, however, may get consolation by getting into the Silver Cup (190 runners still listed) featured on the same day or the Bronze Cup (186) that takes place on Friday.

 

Since finishing strongly in fourth place in the Stewards’ Cup at Glorious Goodwood behind DANCING STAR, the Richard Fahey-trained GROWL has been the favourite in the ante-post market. This is probably based on the fact that the Goodwood winner on that day has not been declared for this feature event at the Whitletts Rd racetrack, thus enhancing the chances of this son of OASIS DREAM. That doesn't take into account, however, that the runner-up at the Sussex track in July, the Dandy Nicholls-trained ORION'S BOW, and, in third slot, RAUCOUS, trained by William Haggas are still potential contenders.

 

Jon Ivan-Duke, spokesman for the sponsors, William Hill commented: “The dogs are barking for Growl! He was an eyecatching fourth in the Stewards’ Cup and Richard Fahey knows what it takes to win the race. He is attracting most of the early money.”

 

A MILLION TO ONE!

The Jockey Club, which has been at the heart of British racing for more than 260 years, has just announced that it is to re-introduce the 1 million pound Triple Crown bonus for the 2016-17 season. This cash prize will offered to any horse that can notch up the following treble: the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park in November; the 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton Park in December and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March. The last horse to manage this hat-trick was KAUTO STAR ten years ago. The Colin Tizzard-trained CUE CARD scored in two of the races, the Betfair Chase and the King George last season but unfortunately fell three fences from home at Cheltenham.

 

The Jockey Club's Group MD, Paul Fisher, commented: "We'd love a special horse to capture the public's imagination and take their place in racing folklore by winning The Jockey Club Chase Triple Crown."

 

MONDAY 12th SEPTEMBER

 

CHURCHILL RULES

The Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes at the Curragh yesterday was won by another son of GALILEO. This colt was on his fifth career outing and fourth victory, having only failed to claim his maiden contest at the Curragh but thereafter triumphing in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown and the Futurity Stakes at this course. The Aidan O'Brien-trained CHURCHILL was naturally the favourite for his Group One debut and, partnered by Ryan Moore again, it was easy to understand why. Ably supported by his pace-making stable companion, LANCASTER BOMBER, the juvenile was urged to make his move after the two-furlong marker but didn't get cleanly away as he was closely pursued by the Richard Hannon-trained MEHMAS. A bit of a ding-dong ensued but CHURCHILL soon got the upper hand and left the son of ACCLAMATION trailing four-and-a-quarter lengths in his wake as he crossed the line.

 

The winning jockey commented: "He's a very exciting colt. He's done nothing wrong his whole life and I'm sure there'll be plenty more to come from him in the future. He has plenty of pace. Mehmas has won two Group Twos over six and when he came to me he found plenty. I think he has a big future."

 

Aidan O'Brien added: "He settles and he quickens. He's a very smart horse. He's a big, sleepy lazy horse with loads of speed. He's very exciting and today was a better test because we put pace on for him. Frankie's horse was lying in on him and he'd every chance to give in, but he shrugged them off and away he goes. He looked like a miler, but Ryan said he'd have no trouble getting a mile and a quarter next year. He keeps progressing with racing and will have learned a lot today. He's just a lovely horse, very exciting for next year. We always viewed him as a Guineas horse."

 

LIKE FATHER LIKE SONS

Can you imagine a situation when a trainer hopes his horse hasn't won! This was the case at the Curragh yesterday, where there was a photo finish in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes. Nothing extraordinary about that except that the protagonists involved were trained by two members of the same family. Joseph O’Brien found himself standing a few yards away from his father, Aidan, waiting for the judge’s verdict from a photo finish. When the official result was announced that INTRICATELY, trained by the son, had snatched victory from HYDRANGEA, trained by Dad, the word 'unbelievable' was heard quite a few times. Not only that, the winner was ridden by his younger brother, Donnacha, claiming his first Group 1 and he's only eighteen years old!

 

Joseph O'Brien commented: “I never thought she got up. She’s very tough and Donnacha was very strong on her, he gave her a great ride. This means the world to me. It’s Donnacha’s first Group One and my mum bred her. It’s unbelievable.”

 

The winning jocked added: “I thought on the line I had got it. My filly is as tough as nails and I knew she’d have the head down for me. It hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s unbelievable, Joseph’s first Group 1 and my first Group 1 so it’s a very special day and it being Irish Champions Weekend makes it even more special.”

 

Aidan O'Brien said: “Honestly, I was only hoping our filly wouldn’t put her head in front to tell the truth. I shouldn’t be saying that but it’s the reality. It’s so hard to win a Group 1 and I couldn’t believe that Joseph, at 23, could win a Group 1. Where Joseph trains is where we trained but we never trained a Group One winner or anything close to it. And for Donnacha at 18… I’m just so delighted for everyone. We all try our best to win every race and always will do but this was one race we were very happy to be finishing second in.”

 

ONLY THE BRAVE

It was certainly all happening at the Curragh yesterday. There was a shock result in the Irish St. Leger. It was expected that last year's winner, the Aidan O'Brien-trained ORDER OF ST GEORGE, wouldn't have too much trouble defending his crown and, accordingly, jockey Ryan Moore was content to settle his GALILEO colt comfortably at the rear of the four-strong field, allowing the Willie Mullins-trained WICKLOW BRAVE, with Frankie Dettori aboard, to make the running. By the time they reached the straight, however, it became clear that Ryan Moore would have to work a bit harder if he wanted to win the race. Eventually he did get the four-year-old to make some progress inside the final two furlongs but the son of BEAT HOLLOW wasn't going to give up that easily and, in fact, just managed to hold on to take the prize by by half a length, and, into the bargain, give Willie Mullins his first Classic success.

 

The winning jockey commented: "I didn't expect that, honestly! He was very brave and Willie gave me free rein and said if you want to go to the front and do your stuff, work away - I was quite surprised that I didn't hear anybody coming until about a furlong to go and we ground it out in the end. It was a surprise, but a Classic win is always great. Willie is a top man, his horses are always in good nick and we tried something different and it worked out. It was always the plan, to set the fractions, in a small field like that. He's was only about Willie's fourth choice for this too, imagine what Annie Power would do in this race?"

 

Willie Mullins added: "Ruby (Walsh) rode him in his last bit of work and he said there may not be anything to make the running. We have been holding him up all our lives and he often doesn't produce what it looks like he will. Hopefully it will be the Melbourne Cup next. That has been the plan all year as the pace and the ground will suit."

 

SUNDAY 11th SEPTEMBER

 

FRENCH TOAST!

Two of Aidan O'Brien's stars were put firmly in their place yesterday at Leopardstown by the French Derby winner. The Jean-Claude-trained ALMANZOR, with Christophe Soumillon aboard, proved himself a champion, getting the better of FOUND and MINDING in an exciting contest that featured eight individual Group 1 winners. The field even included Dermot Weld's dual Derby winner, HARZAND, but that didn't stop the son of WOOTON BASSETT from outpacing all his challengers. Although he had a clear run through, it was necessary to mount his run from well off the pace and out wide but ALMANZOR displayed an acceleration that none of his rivals could match.

 

The winning jockey commented: "It was a great feeling. It was a very high-rated race with a lot of champions. We know how good he is but you never know when you go overseas for the first time. He was very relaxed today and when I asked him to quicken he gave me a great turn of foot and won like a champion."

 

Winning trainer, Jean-Claude Rouget, added: "We'll see but he looked to have quite an easy race, but it is a Group 1. When I saw the field before the race, with all these champions, I thought the 7-1 was a bit too short, but after the race, the betting was good! We'll see if he goes to Ascot or Chantilly for the Arc."

 

AGAINST THE LAW

Another reminder that horse racing results are never cut-and-dried was clearly delivered yesterday when a 22/1 outsider won the Ladbrokes St Leger. The Laura Mongan-trained HARBOUR LAW, ridden by George Baker, was the hero of the day in a dramatic conclusion to the world's oldest Classic race. The unexpected conclusion came about when IDAHO's jockey was 'on an' off' rather than 'off an' on'! Seamie Heffernan was preparing to launch the GALILEO SON into contention when he appeared to take a false step and stumbled. The Aidan O'Brien-trained three-year-old Idaho did manage to stay on his feet but his rider didn't stand a chance and was catapulted high out of the saddle, crashing to the ground. This victory mean that Epsom-based trainer went into the history books as the first female to saddle a St Leger winner. Laura Mongan handles a team of just twenty-five fairly modest horses and that also made this success in the final Classic of the season even more memorable.

 

NEW DAWN

There's quite a line-up for today's Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh and, on the face of it, any of the seven runners have a chance of success. One filly, however, who is making her racecourse debut, catches the eye because of her breeding. The Jim Bolger-trained DAWN OF A NEW ERA, a sister to DAWN APPROACH, a four-time Group 1 winner and 2,000 Guineas hero in 2013, makes this one-mile Group 1 contest the starting point for what could be an illustrious career. DAWN OF A NEW ERA was offered by Bolger's Redmondstown Stud at last year's Goffs Orby Sale with BBA Ireland parting with €480,000 for her.

SATURDAY 10th SEPTEMBER

 

AWESOME OISIN

The former champion apprentice is no stranger to the Doncaster track and, in fact, partnered the Ralph Beckett-trained SIMPLE VERSE to victory there two days ago in the Group 2 DFS Park Hill Stakes but Oisin Murphy is in no doubt that an even greater effort will be required by his mount, ORMITO, if he is to beat the likes of Aidan O’Brien’s odds-on favourite, IDAHO, or the John Gosden-trained MUNTAHAA, ridden by twice champion jockey, Paul Hanagan. There's a lot going for this young jockey, however. He is currently on top form as he nears his 100th win of the season and, in particular, he'll be back riding for trainer, Andrew Balding, who gave him his first big break three years ago when he made the momentous decision to come and ride in Great Britain. Oisin Murphy, who had his 21st birthday on Tuesday, hopes to at least get into the frame.

 

Oisin Murphy commented: “Ormito is a horse that likes to settle in and then finish off his races well. They are bound to go a very nice gallop and, hopefully, we will be able to pick some off in the home straight. I think Idaho and Muntahaa will be very hard to beat, but, hopefully, we have a chance of being in the first three. It’s nice to ride for Andrew. I was 15 when I was with Tommy Stack, and 16 when I went to Aidan O’Brien’s. When I was old enough to get my licence, my uncle Jim Culloty (the Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning jockey and trainer) and Mr O’Brien decided it would be best to head to England because there are so many young lads in Ireland looking for a break. They sent me to Andrew’s. You get opportunities because there are so many horses and they are not afraid to put you up.”

 

TRIPLE BILL?

It's Caledonian Brewery Raceday at Musselburgh today and William Haggas is making the 700-mile round trip with the intention of saddling three runners there. The Newmarket-based trainer has established an impressive 50%+ strike rate over the last five years at this track, notching up eight winners from just 15 runners. The feature race, the £18,000 Caledonian Cup Handicap is the target for NOVALINA, who impressively broke her duck when winning the SIS Stream Maiden Stakes at Ripon at the beginning of last month. The main challenge in this contest is likely to come from the Keith Dalgleish-trained INTRODUCTORY, with Paul Mulrennan aboard, seeking three in a row. Earlier in the day the Somerville Lodge handler will be pinning his hopes on SOUNDSTRINGS in the EBF Stallions Breeding Winners Scottish Premier Handicap, hoping this daughter of OASIS DREAM can build on her latest triumph at Catterick when she claimed the Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Maiden Fillies' Stakes by three-quarters of a length. The tantalising triple could be produced by the Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned MUJAAMIL who runs in the Deuchars IPA Handicap. This DANSILI colt also got off the ground by winning Andy Taylor's 40th Birthday Supporting simononthestreets.co.uk Maiden Stakes at Ripon two weeks ago.

 

HERE'S TO ARDAD!

Dropping his Windsor Castle winner back to five furlongs proved to be one of the better decisions made by this Newmarket-based trainer. The result was that the John Gosden-trained ARDAD, with Frankie Dettori aboard, landed the Pepsi Max Flying Childers Stakes, his first Group 2 success. After winning at Royal Ascot, this son of KODIAC went off the boil, when tackling six furlongs, finishing last of nine in the July Stakes then seventh in the Gimcrack Stakes six weeks later.

Owner Abdullah Saeed Al Naboodah's racing manager, Bruce Raymond, commented: "He is quick and the most important thing with him is the trip. We've tried him twice over six furlongs and I think he is better over five. The Cornwallis could be an obvious next target."

 

FRIDAY 9th SEPTEMBER

 

LEGER LINES

Doncaster and the racing world have Colonel Anthony St. Leger to thank for inaugurating in 1776 a contest that has become the world's oldest Classic race. Nine runners have been declared for tomorrow's final Classic of the British season. The field is headed by the the ante-post favourite IDAHO, trained by Aidan O'Brien. This son of Galileo is one of three entries by the Ballydoyle king;(the others are HOUSESOFPARLIAMENT and SWORD FIGHTER.) IDAHO came third in the English Derby at Epsom and second in the Irish counterpart but finally got her head in front in the mile-and-three-quarter Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes at York in the middle of August. A strong challenge will probably come from the John Gosden-trained MUNTAHAA, who who just squeezed home in the Listed Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer Chester Stakes at Chester on his last time out, making it only his fifth career start. Another runner to keep an eye on is Richard Hannon's VENTURA STORM, looking to make it three in a row, after claiming the EBF Stallions Glasgow Stakes at Hamilton in July and then going on to win the Group 3 Haras De La Pomme (Argentine) De Reux Stakes at Deauville a month later.

 

THAT'S MY GIRL !

The British Stallion Studs 'Carrie Red' EBF Fillies' Nursery at Doncaster was courageously won by the top-weight filly. The William Haggas-trained GLITTER GIRL thereby achieved a hat-trick of victories, having previously triumphed at Thirsk and Catterick. This daughter of INVINCIBLE SPIRIT is now due for a step-up in class and The Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket and Newbury's Radley Stakes are likely choices. The Cheveley Park Stud-owned two-year-old seemed to be struggling a bit halfway but jockey Ryan Moore was able to keep her up to the task and, despite a strong headwind, the duo held off the long-time leader, STORM CRY, by half a length.

 

William Haggas commented:"She jumped well and because Ryan is such a good rider he accepted it and then he managed to get her behind Mark's (Johnston) filly (Storm Cry) and the race evolved from there. I didn't think she was that well-treated. I think she's definitely worth a shot at a stakes race. She's a first foal and is not a big filly, so we'll be kicking on this year. She's in the Rockfel, but I'm not sure about that, we'll see. The other fillies' race is the Radley Stakes at Newbury. It might be very soft by then, but I think she goes on soft. Maybe she wants seven furlongs."

 

VERSE GOT BETTER

It's a year ago tomorrow that this Andover-based trainer experienced the worst day of his training career. Several hundred thousand viewers saw on TV how ecstatic he was when his SIMPLE VERSE narrowly won the St Leger and then saw his joy become utter despair when the stewards demoted her from first to second, due to trouble with BONDI BEACH in the home straight. The DUKE OF MARMALADE daughter was, in fact, reinstated as the winner after an appeal a few days later but the horrible memory is still there.

 

Ralph Beckett commented: “It was a miserable, miserable time. Most of all because we were appealing in America at the same time [after Secret Gesture’s demotion in the Beverley D Stakes] and the two appeals were running concurrently. I came up on the train this morning, and I thought about the last time I was there. That train journey home after the Leger last year was about as low as I’ve ever got. I was in a bad way. I remember running into Bill O’Gorman at the sales, he’d trained for 40 years and he told me that in all that time, he lost two races in a stewards’ inquiry. I’d lost two in a month.”

 

Fortunately yesterday was a happier time for the Kimpton Down Stables trainer as SIMPLE VERSE won the Group 2 DFS Park Hill Stakes without any sign of an appeal. There were, though, certain distinct similarities between the St Leger and yesterday's victory. The runner-up in both contests was trained by Aidan O’Brien and on both occasionsthe narrow success was the result of the dogged determination of the eventual winner.

 

Ralph Beckett added: “It didn’t look good at the half-furlong pole but this is her optimum [trip], and possibly even two miles, I’d be tempted to go that way next time and something like the Long Distance Cup [on Champions Day at Ascot in October] looks like the obvious race for her. It’s great to get her back, because it hasn’t been easy, and I’m thrilled because the other two good fillies I had, Talent and Look Here, neither of them won at four.”

 

THURSDAY 8th SEPTEMBER

 

JOSEPH - THE LEGENDS

In the closing stages of yesterday's Clipper Logistics Leger Legends Classified Stakes at Doncaster it was a sixty-nine-year-old taking on a twenty-three-year-old, experience versus youth and the latter triumphed. Joseph O'Brien gave up race riding last season after a brief but highly successful career in the saddle to follow in his father's footsteps and become a trainer. He was persuaded to make a brief comeback to the track, along with other notable riders, to aid a good cause. The Leger Legends race is run for charity and was launched in 2010 it has raised more thanver £650,000 for the Northern Racing College and Jack Berry House, a rehabilitation centre for injured riders. The surprising thing was that Joseph O'Brien, aboard the George Scott-trained PHOSPHORESCENCE, won the one-mile contest by one-and-quarter lengths., thus adding his name to a list that includes the 20-time champion National Hunt jockey Tony McCoy, who won the race 12 months ago, and 13-time Irish Champion Flat jockey Mick Kinane who won in 2012.

 

The winnng jockey commented: "That was good. He took a nice tug all the way. He tested my fitness a little but thrived when it mattered."

 

Not everyone was happy with the result, however. Joseph O'Brien was deemed to be in breach of the rules, having applied his whip more than the permitted level and was fined £500. Rumour has it that the BHA will donate the fine to charity!

 

CHANCE RIDES

Having sustained serious injuries from a fall last May, Australian jockey, Michelle Payne will be back in the saddle again for the time next Sunday. The Ballarat-born rider made history last year when she became the first female to win the Melbourne Cup when partnering PRINCE OF PENZANCE to victory at Flemington. The thirty-year-old jockey is now booked for two rides at a track near of Melbourne, as a result of a chance discussion with Henry Dwyer.

 

The Caulfield and Ballarat-based trainer commented: "I rang Michelle to speak about a fence we need to build between our adjacent properties. We were just chatting away and sorting that out and then I just asked Michelle how her weight was. She said she was feeling great and down to 54kg and then I immediately thought of Lucky Liberty as I was needing a rider for Sunday. Michelle has obviously worked hard to get herself back fit and ready to ride again and I'm glad we can give her an opportunity. The timing of it has just worked out well."

 

LOST WON!

The Irish Stallion Farms EBF Conditions Stakes at Doncaster yesterday allowed Karl Burke to continue his winning ways. He scored a big-race double at Haydock last weekend with INTENSE TANGO and QUIET REFLECTION but he had warned the owners of LOST AT SEA that she shouldn't expect too much from their expensive puchase. In the event the DUTCH ART colt managed to assert his position over the favourite, DREAM OF DREAMS, and win by a length and a quarter.

 

Karl Burke commented: “When we bought him from the sales he unfortunately came back with sore shins so Charles and Zorka have had to be patient. I did warn them he'd probably be last making his debut in the race like this, but they were coming as it's the charity day and I like running newcomers in races like this as they are small fields. He's always been a nice horse and I left him in the Mill Reef earlier in the week which shows what I think of him. That might just come too soon, though. What I do know is there'll be plenty more to come as mine are never fully tuned up first time out"

WEDNESDAY 7th SEPTEMBER

 

THEN THESME!

It's that time of the year again when the end of the Flat racing season is in sight. A timely reminder comes with the opening day of the St Leger meeting at Doncaster. Today's feature event is the Class 1 VIP Premium Vaping & E-Liquids Scarbrough Stakes. One runner who will not be out of puff is the Nigel Tinkler-trained THESME who could notch up her first success of the season. This EXCEED AND EXCEL filly scored twice at York and once at Bath last season but has only managed to get placed in the five out of seven outings since then. In her first crack at a Listed race last April, the Whitsbury Manor Stud & EBF Stallions Lansdown Fillies' Stakes the four-year-old was soundly clobbered, coming tenth out of thirteen runners but she has, since then, done a little better in handicap company. Perhaps the Malton-based trainer was expecting a lot when he entered her for the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes at York in August and she ceratinly struggled to make any headway. But she was up against the likes of MECCA'S ANGEL and LIMATO. If, however, she can produce some of the fire that was revealed in that contest, the Fools Gold Racing Syndicate-owned filly could get her head in front for the first time this year.

 

 

WHAT DO YOU KNOW. IT'S JOE!

This Dual Irish champion jockey recently turned trainer obviously misses the excitement of of being in the saddle in a challenging race. Today, however, Joseph O'Brien won't be saddling but riding the George Scott-trained PHOSPORESCENCE in the Clipper Logistics Leger Legends Classified Stakes at Doncaster. He will line up with the other fifteen riders for this special charity race to raise funds for the Jack Berry House and the Northern Racing College.

misses the excitement in a

 

Joseph O'Brien commented: "I'm looking forward to it. There's been a bit of banter flying about, all in fun. It's all in a good cause. I haven't done anything out of the ordinary, I've been riding out a bit at home, so I shouldn't be too unfit, hopefully. I don't know much about the horse I ride. I know he's been off the track for a while. He has some form in the past, so hopefully he can run a good race. I love the training, it's keeping me busy."

 

TWO CRACKS AT THE WHIP

Jockey Pat Smullen is sticking with his preferred ride aboard the Dermot Weld-trained HARZAND in Saturday's Qipco Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, which means that the Curragh-based trainer has had to look around for a jockey to partner his other contender in this prestigious event. Not surprisingly he has opted for frequent familiar face at the county Dublin racecourse - Frankie Dettori, who has been booked to ride FASCINATING ROCK.

 

Dermot Weld commented: “With Pat Smullen staying loyal to Harzand, Frankie was the obvious choice. He is coming to Leopardstown anyway to ride in the Matron Stakes. Smullen has ridden Fascinating Rock on all 15 of his lifetime starts, including Group 1 wins at Ascot last October and at the Curragh in May of this year. The intention is to run the two of them and they both have pacemakers as well, so we expect to have four runners in the race. There is some rain forecast for Friday which should leave the track spot on.”

 

TUESDAY 6th SEPTEMBER

 

IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED …

At Galway in July this Irish national Hunt jockey suffered serious injury after crashing into the take-off board of the final fence following a mistake at the second-last in a novice chase but he's back again today at the same track and on the same horse. Today twenty-four-year-old Bryan Cooper will be aboard the Gordon Elliott-trained TIGER ROLL in the feature Grade 3 contest, the Ballybrit Novice Chase.

 

The County Tralee-born rider commented: "I suppose it is a bit ironic all right. To be riding the horse who injured you on your first ride back from the injury is probably something that's never happened before, but I'm not one bit worried about it. Up until that mistake Tiger Roll has been deadly over his fences - and he has since run well at Killarney - and it was just a freak accident. I suppose when I saw the entries the other day I knew it might happen as I knew I'd be unable to do the weight on the filly [Tocororo]. You can't be thinking about things like falls and injuries when you go out to ride a horse. The blinkers are on this time and I think Tiger Roll has a big chance. Fingers crossed he can give me a winner on my return."

 

A PAT ON THE BACK

As mentioned yesterday trainer Dermot Weld is, as ever, riding high in the winning stakes. At Galway last night he saddled another two winners but the one that caught the eye was ALMELA's powerful display when she took the Ardilaun Hotel Oyster Stakes by four-and-three-quarter lengths. The daughter of SEA THE STARS was getting her revenge for having to settle for second in the this mile-and-a-half contest last year behind her stable companion, ZHUKOVA. There didn't seem much of a chance of history repeating itself this time, though. The four-year-old Aga Khan-owned filly was sent off the 8/11 favourite and with Pat Smullen's aboard she moved up ominously coming round the home turn and galloped clear to victory.

 

The winning jockey commented: "It was a horrible race to ride in; it was stop-start and there was no rhythm to it, but she is a filly that gets further than this trip and it forced my hand to commit a bit sooner than ideal. She was different class to those and she can now go up in trip and up in grade and hopefully can keep progressing. The form of the race from last year is strong and if Zhukova gets an ease in the ground, she could run in the mile-and-a-half race (Enterprise Stakes) at Leopardstown at the weekend."

 

ACTIONS SPEAK LODER THAN WORDS!

It's been all of eleven years since this trainer's name appeared on a Flat racing card but it's there in the 3.50 at Redcar today where he will saddle RECENTLY ACQUIRED, to be ridden by Stobart jockeys' title leader, Jim Crowley. David Loder was an outstanding trainer of horses on the Flat from 1992 to 2005 and was responsible for the early career of DUBAI MILLENIUM. Then suddenly, at the height of his success, he gave up, saying he found it too stressful training a lot of Flat horses. In 2013, however he relocated to an amazing property in Shropshire where his mother-in-law already trained national hunt horses. Together with his wife, Angie, the Stow-in-the-Wold-born trainer developed the site into a highly successful stable and gallops where he now concentrates on training a select number of horses for exclusive clients. 2014/15 season was his first training jump horses. The fifty-two-year-old is keen for his re-appearance not to be called a 'comeback' and indeed, he needed special dispensation from the BHA to make the event possible as he only possesses a jumps licence.

 

David Loder commented: "It's something of a rarity, it's not a new career move, or even an old career renewed, it's more of a one-off. We're only really running him because he doesn't get the trip over hurdles and he works like a nice horse so we felt it was worth giving it a try."

The BHA has very kindly given me a dispensation to run him on the Flat. I asked them and they were very happy with us giving him a chance. We're hoping he'll run a nice race. He's in great form and it's an exploratory mission really. I'm quietly optimistic but I wouldn't want anyone blowing their money on him. I wouldn't want them to read anything too significant into it except he didn't get the trip over jumps and we think he's a hell of a nice horse and so are giving him a chance back on the Flat. Depending on how he goes we might run him again on the Flat."

 

MONDAY 5th SEPTEMBER

 

JUST WILLIAM

This Newmarket-based trainer was in top form over the weekend, bagging a treble across the card at Ascot, Haydock and Musselburgh on Friday, followed by a double on Saturday with HATHAL at Haydock and AFJAAN at Kempton Park. Still riding high William Haggas looks like he's onto another winner at Brighton today. SYMPOSIUM runs in the Brighton Lions Fireworks Night 5th Nov Fillies' Handicap at 2.00pm and, for added value, will be partnered by the talented apprentice jockey, Georgia Cox. The EXCEED AND EXCEL filly hasn't cut the mustard since coming out on top in the British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes in September 2015 and has just managed two thirds on her five subsequent starts in handicap company. The three-year-old's performance last time out at Musselburgh when she weakened inside the final furlong, indicating that seven furlongs was perhaps just a bit too far, has persuaded her connections and trainer to drop her back to perhaps a more manageable six furlongs. Even the handicapper has offered a helping hand by dropping the Royal Ascot Racing Club's chestnut filly by two pounds. Add that to the bonus 5lb claim by the gifted Georgia and it might just provide a valued each-way bet for the beginning of a rainy Monday afternoon at Brighton.

 

WELDING FURTHER VICTORIES

Galway has always been a successful stamping ground for one of Ireland's most successful racehorse trainers and he'll be back there tonight, hoping to bag the feature race. Dermot Weld saddles ALMELA in the Ardilaun Hotel Oyster Stakesand couold be a perfect fit for the daughter of SEA OF STARS. The Aga Khan-owned four-year-old has been officailly rated at 108, well above any of her ten rivals and with Pat Smullen aboard it shouldn't prive too big a task. Dermot Weld claimed this contest last year with ZHOKOVA and he could well be in the winner's enclosure again around 6.45pm.

 

MAKING THE GRADE

The current Champion jumps trainer has admitted he's a bit short of talent in the Grade One category to ensure a successful defence of his title this season. Paul Nicholls claimed the crown for the tenth time in April after battling to the last day with Irish champion Willie Mullins. The Somerset-based trainer triumphed even though he only bagged two Grade One wins, his lowest score since 2001-02. Altough he's got a team of 128 horses he still states that making gains at the highest level will be harder than ever. The Ditcheat handler has notched up twenty-three wins thus far this season.

 

Paul Nicholls commented: ‘We have loads of young horses. We have almost 60 novice hurdlers, including the juveniles, and more than 40 novice chasers. It won’t be any easier than last season. It will be even harder. It has been amazing to have won 10 titles. It was probably our best ever effort last season. It was a lot easier when we had the likes of Big Buck’s, Denman, Kauto Star and Master Minded.”

 

SUNDAY 4th SEPTEMBER

 

WINNING ON THE QUIET

This daugter of SHOWCASING didn't have time for much thought in this six-furlong Group 1 sprint as it was all go. The Karl Burke-trained QUIET REFLECTION got the better of her thirteen rivals when she won the Sprint Cup Stakesat Haydock by one-and-three-quarter lengths. As Henry Candy's LIMATO had been withdrawn from the contest just hours before because of deteriorating ground conditions, the three-year-old filly was the 7/2 favourite and supporters would have been holding their breath as she challenged the leader under the guidance of jockey Dougie Costello.

 

A delighted winning rider commented: "I just said to Danny [Tudhope, rider of Suedois] I've never ridden anything like it and I probably never will again. For a filly to be press-button go it's impressive. She was a bit fresh to be honest and she was taking me a bit from the four to the three and I'm thinking ‘Jesus Danny don't stop now, take me for a bit longer' and she's got there and idled a bit. She's won as she liked. She's the real deal. She makes everything look like it's going two gears slower than she's going. It's all down to Jordan [Vaughan, groom] and Karl [Burke, trainer]. I just turn up on the day."

 

SPRING IS HERE!

For the first time in more than a year this MONSUN son was back in the winner's enclosure, a place he had frequently called his own. The Sir Michael Stoute-trained ARAB SPRING, having won five of his first eight starts before suffering a series of setbacks, demonstrated he still has what it takes when he triumphed in the totescoop6 September Stakes at Kempton. The six-year-old even seemed to appreciate running on an all-weather surface again, the first time since winning a maiden at the Sunbury-on-Thames track back in March 2014. When William Knight-trained NOBLE GIFT, with Callum Shepherd aboard, decided to go for home from three furlongs out, Jim Crowley was well prepared and, within a few strides, he asserted his position and dashed for the line, leaving ROBIN OF NAVAN trailing two-and-a-quarter lengths in his wake.

 

The winning rider, who is in contention for the Champion jockey crown commented: "He is high class and was probably the best horse in the race. He absolutely loved that surface. It might have been a bit quick at York last time, but he bounced off that beautifully. A mile and a quarter or a mile and half, it doesn't matter to him. It is nice to get the horse's head in front and give him a bit of confidence."

 

GETTING AHEAD

Talking of the Champion jockey title, the aforementioned Jim Crowley extended his lead over Silvestre de Sousa, after scoring a double at Kempton yesterday. The reigning champion failed to strike at Kempton but got a winner later on in the evening at Wolverhampton,thus reducing the deficit to two. Jim Crowley, who is hoping to be champion jockey for the first time is odds-on 8/15 with Betfred and you can currently get 7/4 for Silvetre De Sousa with Ladbrokes and Paddy Power. The only racing on the Flat in Britain today is at at York and both the rivals have scheduled rides. So let the battle continue!

SATURDAY 3rd SEPTEMBER

 

ARC – WHO'S TALKING!

As happened four years ago when the BBC dropped the televising of France's prestigious contest, Channel 4, soon to be ex-horseracing broadcaster, has taken the decision not to relay the renewal of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe for reasons of cost. Last year viewers were able to watch on Channel 4 the winning run of GOLDEN HORN, with Frankie Dettori aboard, which now looks like it could have been the last showing of the Arc on mainstream television, unless ITV opts to fund a race which is loved by racing afficionados but never attracts a large number of viewers.bly delivers poor ratings. Channel 4 took over the coverage of Longchamps contest in 2013 - having previously handled it between 1986 and 1995 but lost the racing contract to ITV which plans to unveil its plans for a new racing team on September 16.

 

A Channel 4 spokeswoman commented: "We are not going to be showing the Arc. As the race is this year being staged at Chantilly there were inflated media rights costs. Channel 4 therefore took the decision not to cover the race and to instead focus on British racing."

 

THINKING OUT LOUD

Today's feture race, The Sprint Cup, at Haydock looks like being a highly competitive affair. Connections of QUIET REFLECTION are probably secretly wishing for a little rain. The daughter of SHOWCASING has a clear predelection for a cut in the ground and if she gets that, there'll be no stopping her. The Karl Burke-trained filly triumphed in the Sigy Stakes at Chantilly in April and already has to her credit course and distance form at this track after romping home three-and-three-quarter lengths ahead of the rest of the field in the in the Sandy Lane Stakes in May. The three-year-old then put up her marker as the best sprinter of her age at Royal Ascot when she won the Commonwealth Cup, outpacing the Tom Dascombe-trained KACHY by a length. Connections have wisely kept their mount off the track since all these exertions and jockey, Dougie Costello, will look forward to taking advantage of his horse's experience of Haydock.

 

ROAR OF VICTORY

The Mark Johnston-trained THE LAST LION, winner of the Brocklesby Stakes at Doncaster back in April, is now hoping to notch up his first Group win in the totequadpot Sirenia Stakes at Kempton today. This CHOISIR colt has been busy all season producing consistent results, rarely falling outside the frame in all of his seven races. He came third in a ver competitive Gimcrack Stakes at York last time out and initially connections were planning to go for the Flying Childers at Doncaster next week but opted for this Group Threecontest instead.

 

Charlie Johnston, the trainer's son and assistant commented: "He has not run a bad race all season. He's proved versatile over five or six furlongs and on quick ground and soft - he's been on he go since the Brocklesby. We were tempted to wait until Doncaster and the Flying Childers with him but we just felt that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush and this race looked his for the taking. He's top-rated and it looks like they all have him to beat."

 

FRIDAY 2nd SEPTEMBER

 

A SONG AND DANCE

Trainer, Joseph Tuite, was cock-a-hoop at Salisbury yesterday when MADAM DANCEALOT unexpectedly turned up trumps in the Dick Poole Fillies' Stakes. The SIR PRANCEALOT filly hadn't shown much sparkle in her two previous Group races, finishing well down the field in both the Juddmonte Stakes at Ascot in July and the Ripon Hornblower Stakes in August. The two-year-old bay filly, however, seems to have chalked that up to experience and riumphed by a length and a quarter. This victory also marked a first Group success for the Lambourn-based trainer, twelve months after his biggest success to date, when his LITIGANT scored in the Ebor Handicap at York.

 

Joseph Tuite commented: "Happy days. That's fantastic. It's not been the greatest of years, but the horses have been running well lately. You need wins like this and it means a lot, especially as it's at Salisbury, which is my favourite track by a long way. She's a good filly - she's always been a good filly. We did a deal in the car park. I'd left Ascot sales, but got a call from an owner who wanted to buy a horse so went back. When I got there I bumped into Roger O'Callaghan of Tally-Ho Stud, who bred her and he said take her. I said, 'I don't need another horse'. But he said she'd be all right and we did a deal in the car park. It was more luck than judgement, but sometimes in this game a little bit of luck goes a long way."

 

The winning jockey, Tom Queally, added: "She is very straight forward. She has been kept on the go which makes it an extra special training performance to see her peak for this race today. She's very tough and I kicked soon enough but I knew they would have to be good to get past her. Me and Joe [Tuite] said before the race we would try and make her experience count, and she had plenty left at the finish as whenever I dug deeper, the more I got from her.

 

THE COMEBACK KID

Joseph Tuite was also associated with a surprise success at Newton Abbot, when a horse he used to train four years ago and was forced to retire due to injury, made a comeback and came third in the Attheraces Sky 415 Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle. WHITSTABLE NATIVE subsequently joined an organisation as a horse for Riding for the Disabled and was ridden by many different people with various physical ailments before eventually returning to racing. This eight-year-old son of BERTOLINI didn't make much of a show on his belated comeback in September 2015 when in the hands of Sophie Leech and has taken a while to get his act together but he finally got into the frame. In fact the 50/1 outsider produced a great run and it even seemed he had a chance of winning but in the event had to settle for third, two-and-a-quarter lengths behind the winner.

 

His owner, Bruce Woodward, commented: “After over two years off, it was at best a longshot that he would be successful but his run yesterday vindicated the decision. With luck he should be able to win in the very near future. What an extraordinary horse he is to go from being a Flat horse, to being a lovely conveyance for Riding for the Disabled and then back to racing under rules as a jumper. If he could speak he would have some very interesting stories to tell and actually he does as he has his own Facebook page!”

 

UNLUCKY THIRTEEN

Thirteen horses have been removed from this Waterford-based trainer’s stables. It seems the winning partnership between Henry de Bromhead and owners Alan and Ann Potts has been wound up following this dramatic occurrence. SIZING JOHN and SUPASUNDAE have gone gone to be trained by Jessica Harrington. Mouse Morris gets the Webster Cup Chase winner, SMASHING and other trainers, such as Colm Murphy and Jim Dreaper are also the beneficiaries of the Potts' re-distribution.

 

Henry De Bromhead commented: “It would be a blow to any stable. The horses left last week.

We wish them the best of luck. Alan and Ann have been great supporters over the years but things move on and we’ll drive on again now. We enjoyed a lot of success together, winning the Champion Chase with Sizing Europe, and winning our first Grade 1 together in the Irish Champion Hurdle was brilliant. We have a lot of nice horses to look forward to for the season ahead.”

 

THURSDAY 1st SEPTEMBER

 

TWO BATHS FOR GEORGIA

A female apprentice jockey notched up the first double of her career yesterday. Georgia Cox's memorable day at Bath began with the Dribuild Group Apprentice Training Series Handicap when she rode the Malcolm Saunders-trained SILVERRICA to a half-a-length victory after experiencing a dream run on the rail. This triumph also gave the Somerset-based trainer his second successive victory in this five-furlong sprint.

 

The lady of the day commented: "You can easily put a line through last time because she slipped coming out of the stalls. That was her race over. This time everything went right for her. She's a grinder and just keeps going."

 

Nothing like striking while the iron is hot! In the very next race Georgia Cox was aboard the William Haggas-trained favourite, LAPILLI in the Markel Handicap. This contest proved to be more of a challenge but after a bit of confident stewardship victory was achieved by just a neck ahead of the strongly-finishing ENTERTAINING BEN

 

The winning jockey added: "It was a bit of a funny race. I just couldn't get him into a rhythm. Hopefully he'll build on that."

 

RAISING A STORM

Another FRANKEL progeny makes an appearance at Haydock today in the 188bet.co.uk ebfstallions.com Maiden Stakes. The David Elsworth-trained SWISS STORM will be making his debut in this six-furlong contest at 2.30pm. This Merseyside venue is making a habit of being the launch-pad for the legendary ten-time Group 1 winning Sire's offspring, such as the Group 3 heroine, FAIR EVA and FRANKUUS who gained a place in a Listed race, both on successive days in early-June. Today's contender is the ninth foal produced by the dual five-furlong Listed winner SWISS LAKE, responsible so far for seven winners.

 

NOT UP FOR THE CUP

It looks like the CAULFIELD CUP will not now have the pleasure of the company of ORDER OF ST GEORGE, the main reason being he has been allocated joint-top-weight alongside his BALLYDOYLE companion, HIGHLAND REEL. The Ascot Gold Cup winner, who is unbeaten in his last six races, is jointly owned by who has

 

Joint owner, Lloyd Williams, commented: "I don't think Gold Cup and Irish St Leger form is worth 58 kilograms. History says to me - and I have been around the Melbourne Cup for 50 years - that most horses struggle with that weight. Some can run a place but very rarely do they win. The only horse in the last 30 years to win with a weight like that (58kg) was Makybe Diva and she was capable of winning three in a row and was a champion."

 

HIGHLAND REEL, also trained by Aidan O'Brien has been competeting around the world since hhe came third in the Cox Plate. The GALILEO son has also to take on 128 lbs and so thefaces a similar task.

 

Greg Carpenter, Racing Victoria's Executive General Manager of Racing, added: "In recent years we have seen the better-performed horses come to the fore in the BMW Caulfield Cup, with two of the past four renewals won by a horse carrying the top weight of 58kg in the international entrants Dunaden and Admire Rakti.”

 

WEDNESDAY 31st  AUGUST

 

NEW PAIR OF TRAINERS

A former assistant to William Haggas launched his new career as a trainer and hit the ground running with three entries at Ripon. It was only in June that Archie Watson bought the historic Saxon Gate Stables in Upper Lambourn. The twenty-seven-year-old rookie, who also worked at Hamdan Al Maktoum’s Shadwell Stud and had periodss abroad with Simon Callaghan in California and Alec Laird in Durban, was fortunate not to have to start completely from scratch because he acquired, at the Tattersall sales in July, three horses who had been with established successful trainers: CHEVALLIER (Karl Burke); RIDE THE LIGHTNING (Brian Meehan) and EBONY N IVORY (Roger Varian).

 

Unfortunately it was not an auspicious beginning for the new Lambourn resident. His first runner, RIDE THE LIGHTNING, with Michael Murphy aboard, certainly lived up to his name, was prominent throughout, even going into the lead two furlongs from home. But then the three-year-old DALAKHANI son just ran out of steam and was relegated to fifth in this Glynn Ian Gilbert Memorial Handicap. In the next race, the Ripon Rowels Handicap, a similar kind of picture emerged. CHEVALLIER, again with Michael Murphy riding, looked to have every chance two furlongs out and then the son of INVINCIBLE SPIRIT showed none of the characteristics of his sire and weakened in the final furlong, finishing eighth out of fourteen runners. Two down and one to go. The last of the trio, EBONY N IVORY, with a first and a fourth to his name when handled by Roger Varian, was entered in the six-furlong Billy Nevett Memorial Handicap against eight rivals. The 5/1 shot seemed to be the one to make his new trainer's day and dominated the race until one furlong from home but it all seemed to fall apart and the son of EQUIANO drifted back in the field and ended up last-but-one.

 

There was a chance, however, that the distaff side could save the day for novice handlers. There was another new name in the training ranks at Newcastle. Gemma Anderson, based near Longtown in Cumbria, a familiar figure at point-to-point races in the North, was making her debut with GOODLUKIN LUCY in the one-and-a-half mile Fresh Approach At Vertem Handicap. Unfortunately the day did not have a happy ending. The nine-year-old daughter of SUPREME SOUND, ridden by seven-pound claiming apprentice jockey Clifford Lee, was held up for most of the race mid-division and then gave up the ghost six furlongs from home

Ah, well, There will be better days!

 

ENDLESS DRAMA DOWN UNDER

Trainer, Ger Lyons, is about to part with his stable star who came second to the Aidan O'Brien-trained GLENEAGLES in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas last year. It has been announced that ENDLESS DRAMA, who didn't live up to promise by only claiming fifth slot in the Group 3 Kilfrush Stud Royal Whip Stakes at the Curragh last time out, is being sent to Australia to try his luck there.

 

The County Meath trainer commented: "He seems OK but I was very disappointed with his run in the Royal Whip. It probably drew a line through his Group One future on this side of the world. I think the jury is out on what they are going to do with him next, but I think his career in Ireland is finished, as far as we're aware. I think he's going to head to Australia - that's the plan, as I'm told. "I'll be disappointed because he's as good a horse as I've trained. I'm just disappointed we got chinned in the big ones. We got chinned in the Guineas and he ran well in the Lockinge. He's a nice horse to have and I'm just sorry I didn't hit the big target with him."

 

JOHNNY DIDN'T COME  MARCHING HOME AGAIN!

Former jockey now trainer, Johnny Murtagh, is not only remembered for steering Cheltenham Champion, KAYF ARAMIS, to a thirteen-length victory in the the 2009 Theripleycollection.Com Stakes but also his triumph in the 2001 Longines Irish Champions Weeekend EBF Ripon Champion Two Yrs Old Trophy when he partnered the Peter Harris-trained RESPLENDENT CEE and claimed the £30,000 prize. It was this race that Coolaghknock Glebe-based trainer had in his sights at Ripon when he saddled GRAND COALITION for the six-furlong contest. This son of Kodiac last produced a win in June when securing Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Maiden but the last image we had was of this two-year-old is trailing nine lengths behind CARAVAGGIO, coming last-but-one, in the Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh. Unfortunately the dream of claiming this contest both as a jockey and a trainer wasn't to be. Jockey Daniel Tudhope could only present his boss with a third.

 

MONDAY 29th AUGUST

 

DOOM AND NO GLOOM

Mick Channon and Oisin Murphy were clearly there for the beer over the week-end. The trainer/jockey partnership scooped the feature contest at Goodwood, sponsored by Sharp's Brewery and named after one of their famous brews. The Doom Bar Supreme Stakes gave the Qatar Racing-owned OPAL TIARA the chance to show her five male rivals how to win a seven-furlong race, albeit only by a neck. When the Charlie Hills-trained JALLOTA was urged by his jockey Martin Haley to hit for home about one furlong out, it did look as though it was all over bar the shouting. Ryan Moore did do his best to galvanise CONVOY into making some sort of a challenge but it was clearly the daughter of a THOUSAND WORDS who was meant to have her say.

 

The winning trainer commented: "She's a tough filly, she always has been. She's been in great form all year, I just thought the fillies' allowance might make a difference and the way it's worked out it probably has. She's thrived and needs top of the ground, we had to come today, we couldn't wait for Doncaster in case the ground went. The rain came just now, but anyway she's done it. I would hope we could keep her in training. I suppose Dubai or Qatar would be an option, where the ground would be fast. I'd like to think we could have a campaign there, but I need to speak to everyone. A stiff seven is perfect for her, it's not that stiff here but it's round a bend and they go a proper gallop throughout. Seven or a mile is no problem. She just loves racing and work. She's a trainer's dream, really."

 

GRACE AND FAVOUR

Making amazing progress from the back of the field to take over the lead at about one furlong from home, the John Oxx-trained SEA OF GRACE had to battle tooth and nail right down to the final yards to claim the Group Three Flame Of Tara EBF Stakes at the Curragh yesterday.

The BORN TO SEA filly, with Declan McDonogh aboard, proved she had what it takes when push comes to shove.

 

The sixty-six-year-old winning trainer commented: "It was fast enough for her as she would like a bit of an ease. They went a good gallop and she has a good turn of foot. Declan gave her a squeeze and off she went. Then I thought she would get beaten, but she is very courageous and has plenty of heart. She has gone the right way, and was better today than when she beat Eziyra (at Tipperary). They are two good fillies. If there is an ease in the ground, we may let her take her chance in the Moyglare. It's only two weeks away but we'll see how she is.”

 

FAIR CHANCE

After being soundly beaten in the Lowther Stakes at York by another FRANKEL filly, QUEEN KINDLY, trainer Roger Charlton is considering a step-up in trip for FAIR EVA so that she can try her luck in the Shadwell Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket on September 23.

 

Teddy Grimthorpe, Racing Manager for owner Khalid Abdullah commented: "She's fine and came out of the race fine. Ascot and York are two different racecourses and they are probably two very smart fillies who finished in front of her last time, we don't really have any excuses. We are confident about her and have not lost faith in her developing into a nice filly. We'll probably go a bit further with her next time, try her over seven (furlongs) and look at something like the Rockfel."

 

SUNDAY 28th AUGUST

 

LIGHTNING STRIKES

The David Simcock-trained son of PIVOTAL has had a crack at four Group 1 races and the best he could do was come third at Ascot in the Queen Anne Stakes last June. So it was decided to drop him down in grade yesterday at Goodwood. LIGHTNING SPEAR took full advantage and won the Group 2 Doom Bar Celebration Mile by one-and-three-quarter lengths. As it soon became clear, this was not a race for favourite backers, as Paul Hanagan aboard the Sir Michael Stoute-trained THIKRIYAAT was clearly having a problem getting the son of AZAMOUR remotely competitive. Meanwhile Peter Chapple-Hyam's AROD continued to assert himself at the front of the five-strong field. Then slowly but surely the Clive Cox-trained ZONDERLAND wore the long-time leader down and assumed control. That situation wasn't to last very long, however, as the eventual winner, goaded on by Oisin Murphy, charged down the centre of the track to victory. As it happens each of the runners in this one-mile contest is entered for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day at Ascot and LIGHTNING SPEAR's odds consequently shortened from 16/1 to 10/1 for this October 15 confrontation.

 

David Simcock commented: "That's a massively relief, honestly. We've always thought the world of him and he was brilliantly nurtured by Olly Stevens. We've just picked up the pieces. We were so pleased with his first start in the Queen Anne and watching his last two races you wouldn't believe it and you feel sorry for the horse as he's very, very good. I'm not one to hype horses and I think he's really talented. He's got a really good turn of foot. Everything is aimed towards Ascot now and we'll have a really good go at the QEII."

 

Oison Murphy added:"They can be trappy races those small-field races. All credit has to go to David because I thought we might bypass this race and go for something else. But Jenny, his wife, rides him everyday and was keen to run so it's down to them. I'm 20 years of age and I'm very fortunate to be riding horses like this."

 

I'M A CELEB!

The Absolute Aesthetics Maiden Fillies' Stakes proved the perfect opportunity for the daughter of EXCELEBRATION to get her first win on the board, under the confident stwewardship of John Egan. It was a close call, though, as the Richard Hannon-trained MONEY IN MY POCKET wasn't intending to go down without a fight and challenged TARA CELEB, the eventual winner, all the way to the line.

 

Mike Tourle, spokesman for the winning owners, The Tara Moon Partnership, commented: "This is our local track and Mick (Channon, trainer) advised us to come here rather than Brighton. He said this track would suit her better and his wise words have paid off. She has only been in training for three months and almost all the progeny of our mare Tara Moon are winners. Tara Moon has a Mastercraftsman foal and is now in foal to Al Kazeem."

 

RACE FOR THE TOP

The 2016 Stobart Flat jockeys' championship has suddenly come alive with the defending champion, Silvestre de Sousa, losing the comfortable lead that he had enjoyed for a while. Until recently it didn't look as though Jim Crowley had a chance of bridging the gap between him and his rival but in recent weeks the former jump jockey has been rapidly adding to his score. Yesterday his total wins reached 77, after notching up a treble at Windsor and that was after a trio of triumphs at Ffos Las on Friday. The Ascot-born jockey has now become the odds-on favourite with a couple of bookmakers to secure the prestigious title although Silvestre de Sousa is still tipped heavily by a good few others. Further action to follow today when the strong contender has four rides at Goodwood and the current champion is off to Yarmouth for five races.

 

Jim Crowley is loath to speculate on his chances, commenting: "It's nice to get my head in front. There's seven weeks to go, I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and hopefully it'll come good."

 

SATURDAY 27th AUGUST

 

MORE TO COME

Sir Michael Stoute provided the Brighton-born jockey with a successful return to race riding after nearly a month's absence due to an non-specified injury. Ryan Moore was aboard SPATIAL in the first race of the day, the Stride by TRM EBF Stallions Maiden Fillies' Stakes at Newmarket and the result never looked in doubt. The NEW APPROACH filly was quite naturally the 4/6 favourite for this seven-furlong a fillies' maiden and saw off her nine rivals with an impressive two-and-a half-length victory. This was the former three-time champion jockey's only ride for his much awaited come-back but he's on call twice tonight at Windsor, where he is scheduled to partner JUSTICE SMART in the Tori 'Big 4 Alternative' Supports HEROS Handicap and the well-backed ULYSSES in the Group 3 Winter Hill Stakes, both entries trained again by Sir Michael Stoute

 

Ryan Moore commented: "It's nice to come back at Newmarket, it's just down the road to have an easy day and she's a nice filly. It's disappointing [being injured] but it's part of the sport. It happens to plenty of people and will happen again so you just deal with it and I've got good people around me. It's nice to be back for the end of the year. It was the sensible thing to stop. It was disappointing to miss York but I wanted to be back for the Irish Champions weekend. I'll be taking things fairly sensibly for the time being.”

 

THE FRENCH HAVE A WORD FOR IT – CHAMPION!

This twenty-seven-year-old jockey is on the verge of becoming champion jump jockey for the first time; not here but in across the English Channel. James Revely was already in close contention with the multiple French champion, David Cottin, who is now unfortunately out of action for the rest of the year as a result of a serious fall last weekend. There is even speculation that the twenty-six-year-old Angers-born jockey may be forced to retire as a result of his injuries. The North Yorkshire rider won the prestigious Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris at Auteuil in May and since then has got better and better after joining forces each Summer with champion trainer, Guillaume Macaire to gain more experience. Each james revely spent more and more time in France and, appropriately, has now decided to concentrate all his efforts on his racing there instead of travelling to and from meetings in the north of England. He promises to still ride his trainer father Keith, from time to time.

 

Keith Revely commented: “He’s moved to France full-time. He’s buying a house and turned French. He’s 31 winners clear of the next man. Other than an ‘act of God’, he should be home and dry, but it is such a dangerous sport. Jump racing is a very dangerous sport and there are no guarantees.”

 

RAIN RAIN GO AWAY!

That's what trainer, Charlie Appleby, is undoubtedly saying over and over as he contemplates saddling his DUBAWI filly in the Group 3 Snow Fairy Fillies Stakes at the Curragh tomorrow. All being well and if conditions are suitable, SKIFFLE will probably make this nine-furlong contest her final outing of the season. The three-year-old's last race wasn't particularly inspiring at Epsom in June when she only managed to come fifth in the Investec Oaks but the trainer is confident that his trainee, given the chance, will give a good account of herself.

 

The Godolphin trainer commented: "We are going to take a look at the Snow Fairy Stakes in Ireland on Sunday and the plan is to go there. The ground is on the easy side and we will be just keeping an eye on the forecast as we wouldn't want the ground too testing. It could have been a combination of things at Epsom. She had three quick runs and was stepping up in grade a good bit. She didn't gallop out the mile and a half and there was a question that the ground may have been too soft. She has had a nice break and looks good for it. We are dropping her back in trip and that should help her."

 

FRIDAY 26th AUGUST

 

MAGIC TOUCH

Ruth Carr clearly has next month's Scottish Festival in her sights for the son of NEW APPROACH but first of all he has to show that he's got what it takes by winning tonight's Theakston Lightfoot Handicap at Thirsk. On the face of it, however, with a current rating of 77, MAGICAL EFFECT will be hard pushed to get into the Ayr Gold Cup but Yorkshire trainers don't give up that easily and there are still a few weeks to sort something out. Formerly trained by Charlie Appleby, the four-year-old chestnut gelding has only had six career starts, the last three of which, when he was in the Mowbray House Farm trainer's hands, have certainly been a marked improvement, culminating in his first victory in the Project Management Scotland Maiden Stakes at the same track. No-one would claim that he is star quality, based on that performance. The Godolphin team obviously came to that conclusion as they off-loaded him abruptly for a mere £10,000 at the end of last season and, considering he cost more than £180,000 as yearling, his new owner, Miss Vanessa Church must have felt she had landed herself something of a bargain, particularly as he went on to score at the end of July. Ruth Carr is also quite upbeat about her trainee's future, admitting that he had had previous problems, probably mainly psychological, but now that he knows what it's like to win, she feels MAGICAL EFFECT can go on from there and produce further successes.

 

DISQUALIFIED!

It's been over five months since the Martin Keighley-trained ANY CURRENCY won the Glenfarclas Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March. Yesterday, however, the British Horseracing Authority disciplinary panel disqualified the son of MOSCOW SOCIETY and gave the prize to the Enda Bolger-trained JOSIES ORDERS, ridden by Nina Carberry. The reason for this belated decision is that the thirteen-year-old bay gelding was found to have traces of triamcinolone acetonide (TCA) in his urine sample. This substance may be legitimately used for horses in training for various therapeutic purposes but there must be no traces of it in the horse's system on race days. This decision is especially galling for the Moreton-in-the-Marsh-based trainer because that triumph had been his first success at the biggest jumps meeting of the season.

 

Martin Keighley commented: "We have been cleared of any wrongdoings and have been shown to have done nothing wrong. I am pleased that they (disciplinary panel) recognised that we have done nothing wrong. The treatment we put in was fine, we have just been unlucky. It is frustrating for everyone involved that we have lost the race, but we just need to move on and make sure we have more Festival winners. Taking the positives out of it has made me more eager to have Festival winners now. Any Currency is back cantering away and hopefully he will be there in March at the Festival. He just shows so much enthusiasm and he seems better than ever. He is the best cross-country chaser in Europe and although he will be 14 there is no reason why he can't win it again. It would be fantastic if he could."

 

Jacqueline Brown, his legal representative, added: “The trainer had admitted a breach of rule (G)2.1 but had allowed 41 days for the treatment to leave the horse's system against a mandatory 14 day stand-down period but despite all such efforts the horse had tested positive, and that on the matter of disqualification the panel had discretion, likewise over whether the prize-money could be reallocated should the horse be disqualified.”

 

NOW FOR SUSHI

Tonight's the night for this former champion apprentice jockey when he is hoping for a great run in the Ladbrokes Lanark Silver Bell at Hamilton Park. Hawick-born Jason Hart will be aboard the Tim Easterby-trained SALMON SUSHI who was a run-away winner of the Roa/Racing Post Owners Jackpot Handicap at Wolverhampton ten days ago and stands a good chance of beating his fourteen rivals in this one-and-a-half mile £26,000 handicap.

 

Jason Hart commented: "I didn't ride him last time but I've been second and third on him this season at Ripon. It's a nice prize and he should run well especially if they go a good gallop."

 

THURSDAY 25th AUGUST

 

AN INJURY BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT – GYM!

Due to a mysterious ailment this Brighton-born jockey hasn't been seen on the track since riding the Aidan O’Brien-trained ALICE SPRINGS to victory in the Group One Prix Rothschild at Deauville on July 31. This enforced absence is about to be terminated, however, as Ryan Moore returns to the fray at Newmarket on Friday, when he is due to be aboard the Sir Michael Stoute-trained SPATIAL. The three-time champion was observed limping throughout the Glorious Goodwood Festival but it was never made clear what the problem was. It was even intimated that it was something that happened in the gym. In his nearly two-month absence the thirty-two-year-old rider missed his scheduled ride on CARAVAGGIO who triumphed in the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh as well as SEVENTH HEAVEN's victory in last week's Yorkshire Oaks and IDAHO's win the Great Voltigeur Stakes.

 

Ryan Moore commented: ‘I have been riding out for a couple of weeks but it made sense to give the injury time to completely settle and heal before I started race-riding. There was simply no point in rushing back, with such a busy autumn campaign both domestically and internationally.’

 

A MERRY BERRY!

Horse racing is a hazardous business. Another jockey who has been sidelined for over two months got back into the saddle yesterday and grabbed himself a winner. It was Fran Berry's first ride back since fracturing a bone in his back at Doncaster in June. Everyone rejoiced at his successful comeback when riding the Ralph Beckett-trained MOUNT MORIAH to a three-length victory in the British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes at Kempton. Happy to say that it was also reported that the County Kildare-born rider suffered no after effects from this contest and he is now looking forward to more rides at Wolverhampton and Goodwood this week.

Fran Berry commented: "It's unbelievable. I'm delighted to get back going and to win as well was great, I got a real kick out of it. It was more by accident than by design [having a winner on his first ride back] as he was entered up at Goodwood earlier in the week but we came to Kempton because of the weather and what not. The back feels good, it's the first one but it was good to have a blow and I'm at Wolverhampton for one on Thursday and then Goodwood Friday. It's looking like I'll be at Newmarket Saturday and then maybe Yarmouth or the Curragh on Sunday, so it's shaping up to be a busy weekend.

 

NEWMARKET – NEW GALLOP

The Jockey Club has just announced plans for a new gallop for trainers in Newmarket with the aim of boosting the fortunes of this famous horse training venue. A partially-enclosed four-and-a-half-furlong all-weather gallop, estimated at a cost of more than £10 million, will be constructed, with a 30-metre incline from start to finish. It is the intention that the new gallop would recreate the conditions of the world famous Warren Hill, while at the same time, making it no longer necessary for trainers to walk their horses right across the town in order to find some kind of incline on which to exercise their horses. This could be a time-saving alone of more than an hour and a half per group each morning. The all-weather track would have a width of about 4.5 metres, similar to other Newmarket gallops and there would also be a road runnng alongside for emergency vehicles. It is hoped this development would make Racecourse Side more attractive to owners and trainers, where the yards in the area operate at only 59 per cent of their capacity compared to 89 per cent occupancy ratio on the Bury Side of town.

WEDNESDAY 24th AUGUST

 

FAMOUS LAST WORDS

"Fallen Leaf is sharp in victory. No antics of any kind." were the excited commentator's words during a contest for two-year-olds at Gulfstream Park in Florida. The moment he let slip these comments, however, the filly in question swerved sharply to the left and smashed through the rail, dumping her jockey, Matthew Rispoli, on the ground a few yards from the winning post. All the flabbergasted Peter Aiello could add was: "And there's the antics!” It can be implied from what was said that FALLEN LEAF had indeed displayed unruly behaviour in the past. Records show that at the same track, towards the end of July, the feisty filly, whilst on the verge of winning the race, swerved dramatically to the left and ducked in behind a rival, surrendering the contest. The commentator's observation at that time was that she was "running green". One thing's for sure. The microphone men will be more guarded with their remarks about FALLEN LEAF in future!

 

GETTING THE WIND UP

A shock victory by a 50/1 outsider, who had just undergone a wind operation in the Group 3 Curragh Stakes, has renewed the discussion as to whether this kind of surgery should be made public before the horse runs again. The Darren Bunyan-trained HIT THE BID had only run twice before this contest, finishing sixth in the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Auction Maiden at Leopardstown in May and seventh (out of nine) in the Marble Hill Stakes at the Curragh two weeks later. It was then that it was decided that the EXCEED AND EXCEL colt should have the operation. The subject of disclosure is now up for further discussion by the Turf Club in Ireland and the BHA is also debating whether more information, including the revelation of a wind operation, should be made public. It was subsequently revealed that the trainer had made the information available to the stewards at the Curragh before the race and an announcement had been broadcast to racegoers.

 

Denis Egan, the Turf Club's CEO commented: "Darren was not required to inform us, but I commend him for doing so. When he gave us the information it was announced over the public address system before the race. Getting such information into the public domain is welcome. It's something we have discussed periodically over the years and it will be up for discussion when the stewards meet on Thursday. I don't expect anything concrete to come out of the meeting, but when Dr Lynn Hillyer takes up her position as our chief veterinary officer on September 1 I'm sure it will be something she'll be looking at. One of the reasons that reporting wind operations has not become mandatory is that some wind operations are successful and others are not. So there are a lot of practical difficulties involved.

 

Darren Bunyan added: "Hit The Bid is a very big horse. We discovered his problem after his first two runs and I decided to inform the officials of the wind operation before the race as I thought it was only fair for the public to know. We think a lot of him."

 

MOR TO COME?

Since winning the Grade 1 Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse at the end of March 2013 this son of BENEFICIAL has never come closer than third. The Gordon Elliott-trained REALT MOR, however, got back into the winner's enclosure at Ballinrobe last night when he won the Sheridan Agri-Contractors Chase by a length.

 

The winning jockey commented: “He’s a class horse at his best, but just lost his way. He settled well and jumped brilliant out there and, hopefully, he’s back to himself. I got racing on him a bit earlier than ideal. He was left on his own after the last, with Paul’s horse along the stands rail but, to be fair to him, he kept galloping.”

 

TUESDAY 23rd AUGUST

 

GEORGE GETS SOME BREAD

This Marlborough-based trainer followed up his double success at Les Landes in Jersey earlier this month by doing it again at Brighton yesterday. George Baker kicked off his day with a win in the LCS Roofing & Cladding Ltd Nursery when his two-year-old DROP KICK MURPHI, with Steve Drowne aboard, scored by half a length. He wasted no time getting into the winner's enclosure again after saddling MAGNIFICENT MADIBA in the very next race, the Call Star Sports On 08000 521 321 Amateur Riders' Handicap and claiming the prize by three-and-a-quarter lengths. Armed with those victories the Manton handler is looking forward to going to Germany and Ireland at the weekend with his stable stars BELGIAN BILL and BOOMSHACKERLACKER.

 

George Baker commented: "He is just a lovely uncomplicated two-year-old. You could set your clock by him. As the owner said, he is a dude of a horse. It wasn't a bad run I thought at Nottingham last time out, as I think there will be plenty that come out of it. I thought it was a decent race. I went through this race last night and came up with seven different winners. When you have a two-year-old as uncomplicated as he is you can keep going to war with them. "There is a race at Lingfield on the 30th for him and that will be the obvious target for him. Boomshackerlacker and Belgian Bill are in a Group Three in Dusseldorf while Boomshackerlacker is also in the Irish Cambridgeshire at the Curragh this weekend."

 

GROUNDS FOR COMPLAINT

How accurate the description is of the going conditions for any race has always been a bone of contention. This subject has been taken up vigorously again by Ritchie Fiddes, who has been having a go at the British Horse Racing Association recently and is confident he has made some progress. The multi-millionaire horse owner is at pains, though, to point out that he has a lot of sympathy for the Clerks of the Course whose have to try to describe the state of the ground as accurately as possible. The former IT entrepreneur stresses that this not only an issue for owners but also for trainers and punters; even jockeys can lose their fee if a horse is a non-runner due to the racing surface being different to how it was advertised.

 

Ritchie Fiddes commented: “At the moment we don’t feel able to trust the going descriptions that we’re being given. We’re having to walk the course on the day in order to take our own view. I understand that they’re doing their best. But the going descriptions at times are factually wrong and it should be a simple thing to correct and resolve. There’s a general improvement that can be made. But by the time you’re there it’s really too late to be finding out that the ground is not what you expected. You’ve paid for the horse to get there, you’re there with your nice suit on, your friends and your family might be there as well. And your preparation has been for that race. There’s too much at stake to get there and find that the going is wrong.”

 

FRANKELY SPEAKING

By any standards FRANKEL has made an amazing start to his new career at Banstead Manor Stud. The GALILEO son has already produced fifteen winners with nine of these from thirteen of his progeny. Attention is now focussed on the next batch of young FRANKELS. One in particular has caught the eye. The David Elsworth-trained SWISS STORM is a strapping young colt who may well make his debut at the Newmarket July course in a seven-furlong maiden, copying what his Sire sire did just six years ago. It is interesting to note that although he is still part-owned by his breeders, Lordship Stud, the trainer, himself, has also taken a share. Another possible future star is RAINBOW LEGACY, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, who not scheduled to run any time soon but is ear-marked for next year's Investec Derby. This impressive colt, owned buy the Ballymacoll Stud, is expected to be a stayer following in the hoof-steps of GOLAN, also in the Sir Michael Stoute yard.

 

 

 MONDAY 22nd AUGUST

 

'HOOLIGAN' WINS!

This DANSILI colt is firm 8/1 second favourite for the Ladbrokes St Leger after his narrow victory in the Listed Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer Chester Stakes although his owner, Hamdan Al Maktoum has yet to confirm the entry. His trainer, John Gosden would clearly like MUNTAHAA to go for it as it would give him a fourth win in the race in ten years, following in the hoofsteps of LUCARNO (2007), ARCTIC COSMOS (2010) and MASKED MARVEL (2011).

 

Angus Gold, Racing Manager commented: "I like the application, and he's a horse who is very much going the right way. It's an obvious step for a horse like him and I hope he will be there, although I haven't spoken to Sheikh Hamdan yet. He's a horse who has improved and improved, mentally as much as physically, throughout the year. He was a bit of a hooligan early on, but he's settled down well now and had to tough it out at Chester, which was good. I suppose if you were to think he had a real chance in the St Leger you would have liked him to have gone on and won by four lengths, which he didn't. But I gather Graham Lee said the shock of the noise of the crowd rather took his concentration away."

 

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP!”

Aidan O'Brien's hits just keep on coming. Yesterday the Ballydoyle trainer made it three out of four for the Group 2 Futurity Stakes at the Curragh when CHURCHILL, the ante-post second favourite for next year's 2,000 Guineas, to paraphrase a famous speech, fought them on the racetrack and didn't surrender until the prestigious prize was his. The GALILEO son, whose Dam was called MEOW, sent off at 1/4 odds-on favourite for the contest after stable companion, CAPRI, was declared a non-runner, kept his cool in third slot for the first part of the race, allowing ARCADA, trained by the Ballydoyle trainer's son, Joseph, to make the running with his father's other runner, LANCASTER BOMBER. Jockey, Seamie Heffernan decided it was time to make his move by the two-furlong pole and was in the lead at about a furlong out, steadily pulling clear of the Jim Bolger-trained RADIO SILENCE to win by two lengths.

 

The winning trainer commented: "He's lazy and doesn't do a lot when he gets to the front, but he quickened nicely to get there. He'll come back here for the National Stakes next month. We think he's a Guineas horse and that he'll get further than a mile. He might get a mile and a half but the way he works you wouldn't be sure about that at this stage."

 

BLOOMING GOOD!

More successes for the Coolmore stable were to come later at the County Kildare track when two flowering fillies battled it out in the Group 2 Breast Cancer Research Debutante Stakes. The well-backed RHODODENDRON, with Seamie Heffernan aboard, led home her stablemate HYDRANGEA by a mere head. This GALILEO daughter, on her third outing, was taking a big step-up in class after breaking her duck in the Dove 100 Colours EBF British Stallion Studs Maiden Fillies' Stakes at Goodwood.

 

The winning jockey commented: "She learned a bit at Goodwood and Ryan [Moore] told me to get there late on her. He said she was the best of Aidan's three runners in the race."

 

Aidan O'Brien, winning this contest for the eleventh and for the third time in the last four years, added: "They ran very well and both gave the impression they'll stay further. We thought Rhododendron had come forward from her Goodwood maiden win while Hydrangea, too, is progressive and she rallied well when the other filly headed her. They'll probably both come back her for the Moyglare Stud Stakes next month."

 

SUNDAY 21st AUGUST

 

A WINNIE WIN?

Aidan O'Brien has won this Class 1 seven-furlong contest nine times already and with a view to making it ten, he will be saddling three horses in the Group 2 Galileo E.B.F. Futurity Stakes at the Curragh this afternoon. Of the trio two of them are appropriately sons of GALILEO and one of these is the current favourite, due mainly to his impressive victory in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot in the middle of June. With a name like CHURCHILL the market clearly expects even greater things and he is rated second to his revered stable companion, CARAVAGGIO in the ante-post betting for next year's 2000 Guineas.

 

Aidan O'Brien commented: "We've got a good bunch of two-year-olds this season. Churchill will run in the Futurity and he's been fine since the last day."

 

Kevin Buckley, Coolmore's UK representative, added: "He won the Tyros well and came out of that in very good order. We're looking forward to his reappearance."

 

WEIGHT FOR IT!

It's been quite a few years, thirty-seven in fact, since a horse weighing more than nine stone four pounds has won Europe’s richest Flat handicap, the Ebor Handicap. The Peter Easterby-trained SEA PIGEON succeeded in 1979, carrying ten stone with Jonjo O'Neill aboard. Since then there have been two winners on nine stone four pounds; all the rest have been far lighter. The mould was, however, broken on the Knavesmire yesterday by the Tony Martin-trained HEARTBREAK CITY with the assistance of a rising star. There were twenty runners lined up for the contest and, on paper, each one of them had a chance but that was not taking into account the skills of the promising apprentice jockey, Adam McNamara. The latter effortlessly eased the winner of last month’s Galway handicap hurdle into the lead at the furlong pole and it was all over but the shouting. There was great scenes of rejoicing in the winner’s enclosure with connections extolling the young rider's stylish display

 

The winning trainer commented: “I thought the young lad rode a race of sheer brilliance. He sat and he waited and then he went. It was Aidan [Shiels, co-owner] who was shouting about this lad all along. We had him in mind for a long time but we didn't say anything as we thought Richard [Fahey] would want him. Richard's been brilliant to me and a lot of credit has to go to him for letting me use this lad. I owe him one. These owners have been with me since the very start and I couldn't be happier for them.”

 

GETTING THE POINT

The final day of York’s Ebor meeting wouldn't be the same without the Gimcrack Stakes and this year couldn't have had a worthier winner. The Charlie Appleby-trained BLUE POINT, described by jockey, William Buick as ‘one of the best two-year-olds I have ridden’, didn't have to raise too much of a sweat to claim the six-furlong sprint by three lengths. After this performance Wiliam Hills drastically reduced the odds of this Godolphin-owned son of SHAMARDAL to 10/1 (was 20/1) for next year’s 2,000 Guineas. That's taking into account that the last horse to complete the Gimcrack-Guineas double was the Aidan O'Brien-trained ROCK OF GIBRALTAR in 2002. BLUE POINT's next port of call looks like being the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on September 24 where he will take on COVENTRY and CARAVAGGIO, both trained by the Ballydoyle king

 

The winning jockey comented: ‘He's doing everything right at the moment, he's not put a foot wrong. He has so much pace.”

 

SATURDAY 20th AUGUST

 

THE NICK OF TIME

It's not horse racing news as such but equestrianism of the highest order. At the age of fifty-eight Nick Skelton has gone into the history books as Britain's oldest Olympic gold medallist in any sport. The Warwickshire-born rider certainly began his chosen career as he meant to carry on. As long ago as 1975, at the age of eighteen, he gained an individual gold medal and two team silvers at the Junior European Championships. In fact, when he made the first of his total of seven Olympic appearances in 1988, hardly any of his Team GB colleagues were born. He was aboard his trusty BIG STAR four years ago when he won team gold. The incredible thing is that he broke his neck in two places after a horrible fall shortly before the Olympics in Sydney sixteen years ago was told by his doctors that he would never ride again but he had his own ideas on that and made a successful comeback.

 

Nick Skelton does admit, however, that the end is near, commenting: "This has really capped my career. I've been in the sport a long time and to win this now at my age is amazing. I've always wanted to do this – I nearly did it in London. I've had European medals and world medals, but to win this is pretty emotional for all concerned in my team. It's the perfect way to end my career. My groom has been with me for 31 years but if you see how many hours he spends with my horse you'd be amazed. He only looks after that one horse and he's with him nine hours a day constantly. I was first to go and I thought that I had to go as fast as I could but be he is an absolutely amazing horse. You can trust him, he wants to do it and he has all the right attributes. For me he's the best horse I've had and will ever have. I'm not going to stop now but I only ride Big Star and when he stops, I'll stop for definite. Someone else will do it in four years. I'll never have another horse as good as Big Star and I'll be too old. I've not had a worry all week and I really knew this horse would win it. I knew if I kept my cool this horse would do it and he did. I knew if I did not make a mistake, he wouldn't either."

 

PAUL MECCA DO IT AGAIN!

Paul Mulrennan did it again aboard the Michael Dods-trained five-year-old. MECCA'S ANGEL showed she still has what it takes and probably produced a career-best performance in her second successive victory in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York yesterday. The grey mare proved to be the speediest in training over five furlongs and was just too fast for the other top sprinters, even the Henry Candy-trained LIMATO, winner of the July Cup at Newmarket in July. The Darlington-based trainer, who bought the DARK ANGEL filly for 16,000 gns. as a yearling had been worried about the state of the ground but was more relaxed after walking the course prior to the race.

 

Michael Dods commented: ''I was concerned that the rain wouldn't come in time. She's not at her best on good to firm but on good ground has extra gears. She had the race won two out. She's fantastic.''

 

The winning jockey added: “She's not complicated, I just point her in the right direction and she takes off – she’s like an aeroplane. 'She's given me my first two Group Ones. She's very special to me.''

 

BY GEORGE. I DO BELIEVE HE'S GOT IT!

The Aidan O'Brien-trained Gold Cup winner reappears at the Curragh today after a midsummer break. ORDER OF ST. GEORGE takes on four rivals in the Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger Trial, a Group Three contest this progressive four-year-old won by seven-and-a-half lengths last year, following that up with a decisive victory in the Irish St Leger itself a month later. The GALILEO son has continued on a high, with a win in the Seamus & Rosemary McGrath Memorial Saval Beg Stakes at Leopardstown in June and the aforementioned triumph at Royal Ascot

 

Aidan O'Brien commented: "Order Of St George had a break after Royal Ascot and is just back ready to start. The plan with him after Ascot was to start back at the Curragh this weekend and we'll get over that first, but hopefully then he will go back for the Irish St Leger."

FRIDAY 19th AUGUST

 

FAIR COP!

The Lowther Stakes at York yesterday was won by a daughter of the fabulous FRANKEL as everyone expected. Yes that's true but not quite as anticipated. The winner was another filly sired by the son of the great GALILEO. The Roger Charlton-trained FAIR EVA, unbeaten in two career starts, even heading the betting for next year's 1,000 Guineas, was the clear odds-on favourite to claim this six-furlong sprint but she was ultimately outrun in the last hundred yards by QUEEN KINDLY, with two wins and a third to her credit, trained by Richard Fahey. The Jaber Abdullah-owned two-year-old, with Jamie Spencer aboard, proved the more powerful in the final stages and even beat the Aidan O'Brien-trained ROLY POLY, albeit the latter was three pounds heavier, leaving FAIR EVA another three-quarters of a length in their wake. The two FRANKEL fillies from the first crop of the unbeaten twice world champion, both kept towards the back of the field in this eight-strong contest and slowly edged their way forward to provide an action-packed conclusion to this eagerly awaited contest.

 

The winning jockey commented: "The odds never reflected her chances. Every time you ride her she's chunkier and more powerful and she never missed a beat today. She was gutsy and tenacious and very professional. I pitched up at Catterick to ride her twice and a three-hour drive to ride her is a joy! She's a gorgeous filly and Richard fancied her. I think the Frankel factor is great for racing. It has caught everybody's imagination. I am just glad to get on one! Everyone has heard of Frankel. Probably the two most-asked questions from people who don't have a clue about horse racing are, 'Have you ridden Frankel?' or 'Have you won the Grand National?'. He was a joy to watch and it is good that his legacy is living on."

 

Richard Fahey added: "We felt she didn't have a good experience at Ascot so were quite happy to drop her back in grade at Catterick and it's done her no harm today. She's getting stronger and her best piece of work was last week. She's in the Cheveley Park and we'll discuss that. You would be worried on the pedigree on the dam's side whether she would be a Guineas filly, but we will see."

 

Pat Smullen, riding FAIR EVA's for the first time, said: "I never really felt comfortable. She got quite warm before the race, not worryingly, but she sweated up a bit. Maybe something will come to light as I expected her last furlong to be her best and it was her worst - she just didn't pick up. It rode like a flat run."

 

HEAVEN COULDN'T WAIT!

The master of Ballydoyle's wish was granted yesterday when he notched up his fourth Darley Yorkshire Oaks triumph and, again, it wasn't the GALILEO daughter who was expected to win. The bookies and the jockey booked to ride indicated that there was no doubt that the Aidan O'Brien-trained FOUND, one of only two horses to get the better of last year's winner of the Epsom Derby and the Prix del Arc de Triomphe, GOLDEN HORN, was the one to beat. That's not how it panned out, however. The shock winner's name would indubitably describe the County Tipperary-based trainer's feelings about winning. It was the three-year-old SEVENTH HEAVEN, with Colm O'Donoghue aboard, who provided the two-and-three-quarter length victory. Given a patient ride the bay filly picked up well as the runners entered the final furlong and there was no stopping her after that.

 

The winning jockey commented: "She's a very good filly and was a Classic winner getting the weight allowance [8lb] from the older fillies. She's tough and genuine with a great temperament and beautiful action."

 

Aidan O'Brien added: "Colm gave her a beautiful ride and she'd come forward lovely since the Irish Oaks. We thought the track, ground and trip would suit her well here. She is a beautiful traveller and a big, rangy filly. She handles fast ground well and has plenty of class. She has a lot of options and I'd say she's going to make a real four-year-old."

 

THIRD TIME LUCKY?

This Bawtry, near Doncaster-based trainer will be hoping it's third time lucky in today's Group One Nunthorpe Stakes at York. David Griffiths has had his problems with his stable star, TAKE COVER. Two years ago in this race the son of SINGSPIEL banged his head on the superstructure of the starting stalls and struggled to come in eighth. Last year the nine-year-old sprinter didn't even get to race as he managed to squeeze under the gates and gallop off. Yet the Bawtry stables resident has put o such good performances including last month's start-to-finish victory in the prestigious King George Stakes at Goodwood, making it his second success in three renewals.

 

David Griffiths commented: “He’s generally got two speeds – stand still or flat to the boards! It was an excellent performance at Goodwood. At the furlong pole they looked to be stacking up to take him on but, when everything is right, he is so hard to pass because when they come to him he will stick his head out and find an extra gear. I think horses know when they’ve won and he’s been happy, bouncing. I’ve never known him to come out of a race better.”

 

 

 

THURSDAY 18th AUGUST

 

FIRST-CLASS POST

Roger Varian proved he was right about his stable star on both accounts. POSTPONED not only came back fit as a fiddle after a short respiratory illness but also took the shorter trip in his stride when winning the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes over ten-and-a-half furlongs. This victory was this DUBAWI son's fourth Group 1 triumph and he, thereby, made his claim to the 4/1 favourite for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in October, overtaking the Dermot Weld-trained HARZAND, currently at 6/1. The Kremlin House Stables' trainer had the contest worked out to a T and everything went according to plan with stable companion, KING BOLETE, acting as pace maker. After going ito the lead nearing the final furlong the five-year-old hung towards the nearside rail a bit but he stayed on under pressure from Aidan O'Brien's HIGHLAND REEL and won by one-and-a-quarter lengths. The William Haggas-trained MUTAKAYYEF came in third, perhaps a little unfortunate as he seemed to have been somewhat hindered when the eventual winner moved over to the rail. POSTPONED was also getting revenge for not being able to defend his King George crown earlier due to illness and, thus, surrendering it to HIGHLAND REEL.

 

Roger Varian commented: "He's an incredible horse and I'm very lucky to train him," said Varian. We didn't have long to get him ready and he only really turned the corner two weeks ago. In the last seven days he'd looked to have blossomed and the change in him over the last week gave us confidence he was right. I trusted in the horse's condition and he's delivered."

Postponed looks set for another small break as next on the agenda appears to be a trip to France for the Arc on October 2. Let's get him home and check he's okay. I'll talk through plans with his owner but I'd think it would be unlikely he'd run again before the Arc, so that gives us plenty of time to tune him in again for that race."

 

FOUND SEVENTH HEAVEN!

The Ballydoyle trainer is shooting for his fourth Yorkshire Oaks success this afternoon and with that in mind he will be saddling a quartet of contenders. The two runners that could bring this victory about for Aidan O'Brien are FOUND and SEVENTH HEAVEN who are currently first and second favourites. The former, since defeating GOLDEN HORN in the Breeders' Cup Turf in October, has had a busy season. The GALILEO filly had the distinction of being runner-up tp POSTPONED in the Coronation Cup and is reverting to a mile and a half in today's British Championship Series. One slight concern is that the ground is described as Good to Firm and the last time she had to deal with such conditons was back in June 2015 when she was defeated by the Jean-Claude Roget-trained ERVEDYA the Coronation Stakes.

 

Aidan O'Brien commented: "The plan was to bring Found back from her break in the Royal Whip at the Curragh on Sunday, but that changed as US Army Ranger is going there. We need to get a run into her and, while she's in good form, we expect her to improve a good bit from the run. Seventh Heaven came out of her Irish Oaks win well. We're happy with her and this looked the obvious race. Even Song was disappointing in the Irish Oaks but came out of the race fine and we're happy with her."

 

FOR EVA AND EVA

The fabulous FRANKEL dominated the track and now seems to be asserting his influence over British racing as a stallion. It certainly looks that way with the number one heroine, FAIR EVA, who is aiming for her third win in a row at York today in the Group 2 Lowther Stakes. The two-year-old filly certainly looked every bit a star when winning the Group 3 Princess Margaret Juddmonte Stakes at Ascot last time out and is the hot 4/11 favourite to present her owner Khalid Abdullah and trainer Roger Charlton with a victory at the track where her Sire produced one of his most outstanding achievements in the Juddmonte International in 2012.

 

         

 

WEDNESDAY 17th AUGUST

 

WATCH HIM LIKE A HAWK!

It's the Yorkshire Ebor Festival again and, what is more, the prestigious Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes features on the first day. All the owners with an entry in this race will be coveting this prize but none more so than Godolphin who must be quietly confident that it has finally got back to a situation where it can dominate this Summer's major racing scene. Today this confidence revolves around their rising star HAWKBILL, who hasn't lost a race for over a year, since claiming his maiden victory in the British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes at Lingfield Park. The son of KITTEN'S JOY didn't look back from that success and delighted Sheikh Mohammed and connections further by winning their first British Group One of the year when he beat Aidan O'Brien's THE GURKHA by half a length in the Coral-Eclipse at the beginning of last month. The three-year-old's chances are enhanced even more because there are certain doubts about the favourite, POSTPONED, because he was out of action for a while due to a respiratory infection. This DUBAWI son is also being asked to drop back to a ten-furlong trip which he hasn't done since May 2015.

 

A COTE OF MANY COLOURS

This Beverley-based trainer distinguished himself at the York Festival back in 1997 when he saddled FAR AHEAD who went on to win the Tote Ebor Handicap. Les Eyre continued his winning ways when his COTE D'AZUR won the attheraces.com City Of Ripon Stakes yesterday. This son of CHAMPS ELYSEES was originally handled by Sir Mark Prescott and as a result of his three-in-a-row success was sold privately to Billy and Steven Parker who seem to have acquired a progressive three-year-old.

 

The winning trainer commented: "He's a lovely horse and I have to thank Sir Mark because he didn't want to sell him. I don't think he liked the track and they went no pace so he's done well to win. We need to settle him down but David was delighted with him. He could be a Cambridgeshire horse."

 

500 GRAND FOR THE GRAND

Next year's Irish Grand National prize money has been boosted by Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) and Fairyhouse Racecourse. The prestigious race was worth €275,000 this year (about £237,000 in real money!) Next year the lucky winning owner will pocket €500,000 (over £430,000), making it the most valuable race of its type in Ireland.

 

Peter Roe, general manager of Fairyhouse race track commented: “We are very happy that this globally-renowned race with such a long and illustrious history is now truly a huge rival to the greatest National Hunt races. The €500,000 prize fund places us up there with the likes of the Cheltenham Gold Cup and will definitely attract more and more of the best horses out there, as well as greater crowds, especially from Britain. We are delighted that an Irish firm like Boylesports are renewing their sponsorship with us for a further three years and are matching our ambition. We are thrilled to work with a partner who is keen to support our fast-paced industry and use this platform as part of their growth strategy over the coming years.”

 

Top Irish trainer, Willie Mullins, welcomed the announcement as a significant boost to a fixture that has been rather overshadowed by other Spring festivals recently. The Irish Grand National is, in fact, one of the few major races that the County Carlow trainer has not won and this jackpot might well provide that extra incentive to finally put his name on it.

 

Willie Mullins added: “It’s not been the luckiest race for me over the years,” Mullins conceded. Hopefully we can change that now that it has really, really decent prize-money. I’m delighted to see that. Fairyhouse needs a boost, it’s getting sandwiched a bit between Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown so a major prize like that for handicappers is fantastic. Easter at Fairyhouse is always a traditional meeting and this might bring back the real class horses.”

 

TUESDAY 16th AUGUST

 

NOT SO FAR-FETCHED!

It's not unthinkable that the Roger Charlton-trained PURE FANTASY, owned by the Queen, will end up in the winner's enclosure at Ripon this afternoon. This daughter of FASTNET ROCK has the advantage of being bottom weight in the feature attheraces.com City Of Ripon Stakes and now is certainly the time for three-year-olds, especially fillies, to take make the most of their weight-for-age allowance. The Sean Levey-ridden filly got her first win on the cards on her first outing this season in the Racing UK Free Trial Limited Time Fillies' Handicap at Nottingham. Then perhaps connections expected too much of her too soon when they ran her in the nine-furlong EBF Stallions Breeding Winners Ladies' Evening Fillies' Handicap at Salisbury at the beginning of July. The handicap company or the distance proved too much for her and she ended up fifth, fourteen lengths behind the winner, SHARJA QUEEN. The lesson seems to have been learned, however, as next time out Roger Charlton saddled PURE FANTASY in the Gews Ltd Handicap over a mile-and-a-half at Ffos Las and that seems to have been a good decision as she was only beaten into second place by half a length. Although she's back to ten furlongs today, the royal filly gained from the experience and could make Her Majesty the happy recipient of £7, 246.

 

ALL CHANGE!

First impressions were that all was not well at the Hambleton Lodge stables when trainer, Kevin Ryan, announced that Danny Tudhope and not Jamie Spencer will be aboard THE GREY GATSBY when he takes on the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes at York tomorrow. Jamie Spencer has ridden the five-year-old son of MASTERCRAFTSMAN in his last six races, including this Ebor Festival contest a year ago whereas Danny Tudhope has only scored once for the Thirsk-based trainer in the past five years, although he has just made the headlines by partnering MONDIALISTE to victory in the prestigious Grade 1 Arlington Million for David O'Meara, who also, coincidentally, trains for Frank Gillespie, THE GREY GATSBY's owner.

 

Kevin Ryan commented: "I made the decision to replace Jamie Spencer on The Grey Gatsby as the horse needs a fresh pair of hands. Danny is riding plenty of winners at the moment and hopefully they can gel well together. I've no issue with Jamie and he was the first to know about the change. He's riding for me at York on Wednesday and I'll continue to use him as I always have since he came over from Ireland all those years ago."

 

ON HIS WAY WITHOUT DELAY

Kevin Ryan certainly has more to think about than just changing jockeys, though. Tomorrow’s opening day highlight of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival, the Juddmonte International will welcome the re-appearance of the Roger Varian-trained POSTPONED, winner of the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot and the Prix Foy at Longchamp last season when he was being handled by Luca Cumani. This son of DUBAWI, after going great guns at the Dubai Carnival, was due to continue triumphantly by retaining his King George title last month but was unable to compete due to a respiratory infection.

 

Roger Varian commented: “We are looking forward to dropping back to 10 furlongs and this race has been an objective of ours since the start of the season. He is a colt with terrific turn of foot and a high cruising speed. These attributes and the manner in which he has been winning over a mile and a half suggest that the drop back in trip shouldn’t be a problem. The nature of the track at York should play to his strengths. With five other Group One winners in the race, this looks a strong renewal but he seems fully recovered from the setback which ruled him out of the King George. He looks well and his work has been very pleasing.”

 

                                 MONDAY 15th AUGUST

 

HE WOULD SAY THAT, WOULDN'T HE?

Yesterday's half-a-length victory in the Group One Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville prompted trainer Richard Fahey to hail his son of IFFRAAJ as the best horse he has ever trained. The object of such eulogy was RIBCHESTER who conveyed William Buick to the winning post ahead of the Andre Fabre-trained VADAMOS and, more importantly, it was first time in three outings that this Godolphin-owned three-year-old had beaten Hugo Palmer's 2,000 Guineas winner, GALILEO GOLD. A further opportunity to establish RIBCHESTER as one of the all-time greats couold come on October 15 at Ascot, when the other big names will line up for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on British Champions day.

 

Richard Fahey commented: ‘He is the best we have ever had. He has got everything. He was a little immature in his mind and he took a little managing early on but we are getting there. We feel he is getting stronger and better. He had to dig deep today and came out with flying colours. I still think there is more physically and that next year he could be the real deal. He is definitely staying in training. It is just lovely to get a group one into him.’

 

The winning jockey, William Buick added: “The race worked out well for us. He has a lot of qualities. His cruising speed is amazing but I was impressed with how he saw it out.”

 

THE KING'S DAY

The son of NOTNOWCATO proved it definitely was the right time to strike. On his last outing before heading Down Under, the Mark Johnston-trained REGAL MONARCH lived up to his royally double name by claiming the totepool Live Into Download The App Handicap at Pontefract yesterday. Flourishing the Highclere Thoroughbred Racing colours and with Franny Norton aboard, the three-year-old struck made this his fourth victory this season.

 

Paul Morrison commented for part owners East Layton Stud: "He's just a lovely genuine horse and he's off to Australia now. Highclere have bought him. We still own a quarter share in him. He's off Down Under for two carnivals - the Sydney Carnival and the Melbourne Carnival. He's going to be trained by Chris Waller."

 

GOING FOR IT!

This aspiring Stobart Champion jockey may well have said that chasing the crown was not the be-all and end-all of his life. The speed with which Jim Crowley hot-footed it out from Newbury, however, to head seventy-seven miles across country for five rides at Lingfield Park, perhaps tells a different story. The former jump jockey began Sunday on 59 winners in second place behind reigning champion Silvestre de Sousa who leads with 68, but one ahead of James Doyle in third, with Ryan Moore on 57. The decision to go to make the trip to Lingfield proved to be a good one, adding another three wins to his total.

 

Jim Crowley, who switched from National Hunt riding to Flat racing ten years ago now says: “I'll definitely give it a go and will go anywhere for a ride.” 

 

                                   SUNDAY 14th AUGUST

 

WARRIOR GAMES

This Galway Hurdle winner went back to racing on the Flat when he tried his luck in the Grade 3 American St Leger at Arlington Park yesterday and an excellent performance it turned out to be, too. The Willie Mullins-trained CLONDAW WARRIOR clearly hadn't lost any of his earlier skills but perhaps found the rapid pace of US racing a bit of a challenge in the early stages of the contest when he was galloping full pelt towards the rear of the field. By any standards the nine-year-old is a tough and talented gelding and was kept consistently to the task of picking off his rivals one by one by his jockey, Seamie Heffernan. One opponent, however, proved 'a bridge too far', the Michael Maker-trained DA BIG HOSS, ridden fluently by Florent Geroux, and so the son of OVERBURY had to settle for second place.

 

Seamie Heffernan commented afterwards: "He ran a lovely race. He was a bit slow from the gate, but the American horses are usually quicker than us, but he's a very sweet horse and he ran a lovely race."

 

The winning jockey added: "He just loves to win. He always finds a way to find the wire and it doesn't matter where he is, when you ask him to go, he goes."

 

RICHARD NOT EMILY!

The apple cart was really and truly upset at Newbury yesterday. Godolphin's second string went and upstaged his more illustrious rival in the Betfred Hungerford Stakes. The John Gosden-trained RICHARD PANKHURST hasn't had his head in front since winning the

Betfred TV EBF Stallions Conditions Stakes at Haydock last September and it was beginning to loo as though he had lost his lust to win. Then, surprise, surprise! The son of RAVEN'S PASS, who had been loitering for quite a while at the back of the field, suddenly started to make headway two furlongs from home. Jockey, Rab Havlin, managed skilfully to steer the four-year-old between horses as they approached the furlong pole and from there the gallant duo stayed in the lead to beat the Hugo Palmer-trained HOME OF THE BRAVE by a length. l

 

The winning jockey commented: “He’s always shown us a high level of ability but he’s had niggling problems throughout his career. He’s just lacked that bit of confidence.”

 

ANOTHER WORLD

Another surprise victory was achieved in yesterday's Arlington Million. The David O'Meara-trained MONDIALISTE surged to the front in the home straight and carried jockey Danny Tudhope to victory and the $1 million first prize and, what is more, became the first European to win this prestigious event since Aidan O'Brien's CAPE BLANCO in 2011. This GALILEO son is also no stranger to racing in North America, having won the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile and coming second in the Breeders' Cup Mile in September and October last year.

 

The winning jockey commented: "We went over the race so many times beforehand, but you just don't know how it's going to go, but we couldn't have asked for a better run, really it was perfect. He seems to love it over here and he thrives over here."

 

David O'Meara added: "We stepped him up to a mile and a quarter at York and he ran a really good race, and once we saw that he handled the trip okay, we had this race in the back of our mind. We thought we'd bring him over because he performed so well this side of the water last year." 

SATURDAY 13th AUGUST

 

WIN FOR THE MISSUS.

This HELVELYN filly made it four in a row yesterday at Newbury when clinching the Bathwick Tyres St Hugh's Fillies' Stakes. The Jonathan Portman-trained MRS DANVERS took the Weatherbys Super Sprint by one-and-a-quarter lengths last time out at this Berkshire track and had no problem stepping up in class for this Class 2 contest. The two-year-old grey, with Luke Morris aboard, was content to stay with the early pace set by the Adam Kirby-ridden BARROCHE until just inside the final furlong, when she went for home and won by two lengths.

 

The winning trainer commented: "I'm very proud of the filly and delighted for everybody involved. She certainly handled the ground fine and she quickened nicely off it. There are only really two options for her in September - the Flying Childers at Doncaster or we could go to Chantilly for a Group Three. Both are in the middle of the month. We don't have to go anywhere in September, really, because knowing she likes the soft we could sit tight until the autumn, but even then there isn't a huge amount. If I was very bold one could think of running her in the Abbaye as a two-year-old with the weight allowance, but that's probably several steps too far. The Cornwallis (Newmarket) has always been our obvious autumn target. There's little pressure to do anything until then. If she comes out of this race well and is kicking we'll look at either Doncaster or Chantilly."

 

A FLYING DISMOUNT AT FORTY-FIVE!

This Milan-born jockey, who seems to have been around on the racing scene for ever, finally notched up his 3,000th British winner. Frankie Dettori reached this impressive number when he won the last race of the evening, the James Hardie Cladding At U Plastics Handicap, riding the John Gosden-trained PREDILECTION to a half-a-length victory at Newmarket. The son of FIRST DEFENCE made all the running in this mile contest. As expected, though now forty-five years old, the triumphant rider still treated the enthusiastic racegoers at his local track to his trademark flying dismount as he entered the winner's enclosure. This was a significant occasion for other reasons because Frankie Dettori has experienced a profitable partnership with trainer John Gosden, most notably when he won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, aboard last year's Derby winner, GOLDEN HORN.

 

Frankie Dettori commented: "It's special. I'm very emotional because my family are here as well. I got a tremendous cheer, it was brilliant. I didn't ride all week purposefully because Newmarket is where I'm from. I'm very pleased for it to have happened at Newmarket because this is where I landed 30 years ago. Who ever thought 30 years later I would have ridden all of those winners? It's not a big meeting, it's not a Royal Ascot - it's a mundane Friday night with 20,000 people! I'm relieved and very humble."

 

ONLY THE BRAVE

Trainer Hugo Palmer has a score to settle when he saddles his HOME OF THE BRAVE in the Betfred Hungerford Stakes at Newbury today. The son of STARSPANGLEDBANNER has to make up for his narrow defeat in the Lennox Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last time out when he was outplayed by DUTCH CONNECTION. Perhaps the one concern for the Kremlin Cottage Stables' trainer is that the last race was only just over two weeks ago.

 

The Newmarket-based trainer commented: "We normally try to give him a little more time between his runs than this, but the racing programme is such that all these seven-furlong races come in the space of three weeks, so we don't have a lot of choice," said the Newmarket trainer. He seems in good form. I'm very happy with him and it's fingers crossed."

Jim Crowley comes in for the mount as Home Of The Brave's regular partner, James Doyle, is serving a suspension and Godolphin's other retained rider, William Buick, will be on his way to Chicago for the Arlington Million.

 

Jockey Jim Crowley added: "I'm really looking forward to it. It's a nice ride to pick up and Hugo's horses have been running well. Hopefully he can win. He likes to make the running. Newbury is a nice front-runners' track so hopefully it should suit. I've been riding some of Hugo's two-year-olds this year but hopefully Home Of The Brave can give me another winner."

FRIDAY 12th AUGUST

 

FIZZLED OUT

There was no return on investment for supporters from last October's Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf winner in the Invesco Pension Consultants Desmond Stakes at Leopardstown yesterday. The Aidan O'Brien-trained, HIT A BOMB, just fizzled out on his seasonal comeback. The WAR FRONT colt was aiming at four wins in a row but the target seemed was out of his range. Even though he had been absent from the track for a good ten months the three-year-old was the 13/8 market leader and this support by his favourite backers seemed well justified. Indeed, Seamie Heffernan seemed to have everything under control as he urged his mount into the lead as they came into the last furlong. Then, for some reason, perhaps he was out of practice, he ran out of steam and was easily passed by the Jim Bolger-trained TRIBAL BEAT and even his stable companion, COUGAR MOUNTAIN, ending up two lengths adrift in third place.

 

EAU, EAU! THE H2O!

Watering is a touchy subject among trainers, jockeys and punters. That's because when the going turns out to be softer than originally advertised, then watering is generally considered to have caused the change. The problem is that any change in the running surface doesn't often come to light until the first race has been run, when jockeys have had a chance to try out the track. Unfortunately, that's a bit late for punters who have placed their bets based on the available information, which may be erroneous.

 

Richard Birch, who is a tipster for the Racing Post, commented: "Watering should only be allowed to promote grass growth, not to radically alter the going, which happens on a depressingly regular basis at some tracks."

 

Professional punter Ken Pitterson added: "You've done all your homework and then you get to the course and find the clerk has overwatered and it's softer than you anticipated. I've got no argument with watering to maintain the ground, but I hate it when they water and change the ground. In the height of the summer you expect fast ground. As soon as we get good to firm in the ground, clerks of the course water, which doesn't give fast-ground horses a chance. The soft-ground horses have had their chances at the start of the season. Someone who isn't attached to the racecourse would give everyone an independent view of what the ground is like. I think that would be fairest."

 

DOUBLE BILL

This Godolphin jockey accomplished a rare double six years ago and he off to see whether he can pull off the same again this week-end. First of all, William Buick is off to Arlington Park to ride the Charlie Appleby-trained TRYSTER in the Grade 1 Arlington Million, then he comes back and crosses the Channel to have another crack at the Prix Jacques le Marois in France aboard Richard Fahey's RIBCHESTER.

 

The five-year-old son of SHAMARDAL has drawn the short straw with a wide draw in a field of 13 in the Chicago contest but his trainer, Charlie Appleby, doesn't seem too perturbed, commenting: "His breeze on Wednesday morning went very well. He does have a wide draw but we won't change his running style, and he will come from off the pace. He will need some luck in running but I couldn't be happier with his preparation.

 

Trainer, Richard Fahey, is keen to saddle his Royal Ascot winner, in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville on Sunday. RIBCHESTER, who had the dubious distinction of finishing third to the Hugo Palmer-trained GALILEO GOLD both in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.

 

The Malton-based trainer commented: "I'm very, very happy, couldn't really be any happier. He did a little-half speed work, a leg stretch rather than anything more serious, and he is as fit as a bean, anyway. I don't think much went wrong at Goodwood and we're looking forward to having another crack. The track shouldn't make any difference. I think this is a proper Group One horse and hopefully he'll become that sooner, rather than later."

THURSDAY 11th AUGUST

 

THREE OUT OF FOUR

ADOOL, sporting Hamdan Al Maktoum's colours, trimphed in the Irish Stallion Farms Hurry Harriet Stakes in Gowran Park last night, thus giving Dermot Weld his third success in four years in this nine-furlong contest. This three-year-old daughter of TEOFILO was making only her third career start had to contend with the problem of coming out of stall thirteen but she had benefit of a determined Pat Smullen on board and so found extra reserves in the closing stages to beat off the challenge from the Charles O'Brien-trained SANTA MONICA.

The winning trainer commented: “She’s a decent filly. This was only her third run and Pat said she’s still a little bit green. So there should be more improvement to come. A mile and a quarter is her right trip. She’s a progressive filly, group-placed already and now a stakes winner. I’m very hopeful of winning a Group 3 with her before the end of the season.”

 

SORRY YOU HAVE TO GO, BRO.

This top jockey's sister has expressed her relief that her 'idol' has retired in one piece. Nina Carberry, who is also a multiple champion rider and one of the most talented amateur jockeys commented: "Paul was brilliant," the 32-year-old said of her elder sibling. "He would have been my idol growing up – the person I tried to shape my riding on. He was so talented that I don’t think he ever knew how good he was. I was in awe of him. Bobbyjo’s win in the Grand National was a lovely thing for my family to have. He has had a fantastic career and it is great that he is in one piece at the end of it, although obviously he hasn’t got a great leg. I remember one day at Naas just before Cheltenham when I was a five-pound claimer. I was riding for Eddie Cawley and I thought I had the race won, and Paul came up and literally pipped me on the line. I was, like, ’typical – it would be you!’ He just said sorry after the line and I said, 'yeah, right, you’re sorry – whatever!’ He beat me by a nose, so that taught me a lesson!"

Father's tribute

 

His father, Tommy, added: "It is sad, because he enjoyed it and he did it well. No one can go on forever and we all have to put up with that. It was good to see him riding the way he rode. We have very fond memories of Bobbyjo; that was a great ride and we were delighted to see him get such a big winner so early in his career. We were all up in the air for a while after that!"

 

A NEW RIDING KOREA

Trainer Michael Bell is to explore pastures new next month for British Racing. He is planning to send his promising FRANKLIN D to South Korea for the inaugural runnig of the Keeneland Korea Cup. The son of MEDAGLIA D'ORO will be taking on a new distance and will travel over 5,500 miles to join the runners in the new nine-furlong race to be staged on sand in the capital Seoul on September 11. With a total prize money of 1 billion South Korean Won (nearly £700,000), the Grade 1 fixture will be the most valuable race run in Korea and, as well as featuring a this contestant from Britain, it is expected that there will also be participants from Japan, Singapore, the UAE and Hong Kong. The progressive Franklin D went up ten pounds after winning the Betfred Mile at Goodwood and is now on a mark of 109. Darryl Holland, who has just returned from a successful season in South Korea, as already been booked for this historic ride.

 

WEDNESDAY 10th AUGUST

 

LUCK NOT A LADY LAST NIGHT!

This eighty-six-year-old horse-owner doesn't seem to have any luck winning races as was demonstrated again at Lingfield. In May, Bill Davis thought AYR OF ELEGANCE had produced his first victory for more than 20 years, only to have the result reversed after an appeal. Last night the four-year-old filly was at the same track to run in the two-mile Follow Us On Twitter At 188Bet Handicap for which she was the 11/4 joint favourite but fate intervened again. It seemed the daughter of MOTIVATOR was delayed getting away by a stalls' malfunction and was left trailing the rest of the field until she was pulled up by jockey, George Baker who then then decided to dismount, fearing his mount had suffered an injury. In a subsequent interview that starter, James Stenning, conducted with trainer, Philip Hide and jockey George Baker, it was revealed that the unfortunate filly had wedged her nose in the grill of the stall, which stopped it from opening.

 

James Stenning commented: "As I've effected the start Ayr Of Elegance anticipated it, and as the stalls opened the horse has had her nose wedged between the rails (the vertical bars in the upper part of one side of the gate), so as the gate opened it actually pulled it back on itself. From where I was I was happy that the gates had opened correctly, and so it wasn't a stalls malfunction and therefore not a false start. It's never happened to me before but it's not unheard of."

 

In the minutes after the race there was general disarray and punters were told to hang onto their betting slips until a decision was made as to whether AYR OF ELEGANCE was classed as a runner. The course stewards ultimately ruled that Bill Davies's hapless horse was, in fact, a starter, and therefore anyone who backed her was not entitled to get the stake back. Some bookmakers, however, such as BetVictor and BoyleSports, offered refunds as a gesture of goodwill to their customers.

 

ANOTHER STAR ON THE WANE

As has been very evident just lately, horse riding can be a dangerous sport and can cause its participants to suffer all kinds of injuries, sometimes even life-threatening. It has just been announced that Paul Carberry has also joined the ranks of the retirers. This Dubliner couldn't fail to become a jockey as he is the product of a legendary racing family. His father was a former top jockey, and leading trainer, Tom Carberry and his sister Nina and brother Phillip are both successful jockeys. One of the top National Hunt jockeys, Paul Carberry, must have broken just about every bone in his body, at least once, but he always came back. This time, however, a broken leg which he incurred at Listowel last September refuses to mend well enough and quickly enough to enable him to continue. The supremely talented forty-two-year-old rider won just about every Irish jump race worth winning and a good few more in the UK, including fourteen at Cheltenham and the Grand National. One of his most appreciated triumphs was undoubtedly winning the world’s greatest steeplechase in 1999 aboard BOBBYJO, trained by his father. Paul Carberry is a colourful character, known sometimes for getting up to unusual antics. Once ten years ago, for example, he was sentenced to two months in prison, having been accused of setting fire to a newspaper on a flight from Malaga to Dublin. In 2009 he was suspended for 30 days by the Referrals Committee of the Turf Club after failing an alcohol breath test. It was on the track where he got really serious, though. He was renowned for his so-called 'waiting tactics' which he carried to perfection, much to the chagrin of his rivals, who nicknamed him ‘Alice’ because invariably he would announce his approach by singing Smokies' ‘Living Next Door To Alice’ and then cruise past them to another victory. Ross-on-Wye-based trainer, Michael Scudamore, also has good reason to be grateful for Paul Carberry's equestrian skills because he partnered the Eccleswall Court star, MONBEG DUDE, to victory in the 2013 Coral Welsh National, even beating another retired racing legend, Tony McCoy, by half a length.

 

MAYBE I'LL STAY A WHILE”

Remember yesterday's report about KINGSGATE NATIVE's being given one more chance to redeem himself or be retired? Well the 11-year-old son of MUJADIL took the threat seriously and went on to win the ebfstallions.com Conditions Stakes by half a length! After that surprise victory it now seems that connections have decided to suspend their original plan to put their former star out to pasture. Even trainer Robert Cowell had admitted that it was the end of the line for his two-time Group One winner "unless he bolts up" but has now had to reconsider as that is just was the Cheveley Park Stud-owned gelding did.

 

The Six Mile Bottom-based trainer commented: "I wasn't quite expecting that. He travelled really well and was always going to win. He didn't feel like an 11-year-old today. He's an absolute legend of a horse."

 

Cheveley Park Stud owners' MD, Chris Richardson, added: “Every time you think maybe he's had enough he proves that he hasn't. He's a horse that thrives on being in training. Robert has done a fantastic job. We might consider the Beverley Bullet or another conditions race."

TUESDAY 9th AUGUST

 

SIBLING RIVALRY

There are twelve days to wait to see whether a SCAT DADDY son and daughter will go compete against each other in the Prix Morny at Deauville. After the Aidan O'Brien-trained CARAVAGGIO's rip-roaring four-length triumph in the Phoenix Stakes on Sunday, it was revealed that the two-year-old grey had notched up a speed of 45mph on the gallops, the fastest ever recorded at Ballydoyle stables. The Wesley Ward-trained LADY AURELIA is no slouch, either, having carried off the Queen Mary Stakes by seven lengths in the middle of June, for which achievement the bay filly earned a Racing Post Rating of 123, the highest ever awarded to a two-year-old over five furlongs.

 

Wesley Ward commented yesterday: "Lady Aurelia has one last bit of work here Thursday or Friday and then she will fly over Saturday. Everything has been going awesome. I have been following Caravaggio. If he does go for the Prix Morny, we're ready. If he doesn't, we're ready too. Six furlongs will be no problem either."

 

Aidan O'Brien added: "Caravaggio came out of the race well. We have the option of going to France with him, but we won’t make our minds up for a while yet. He might go straight to the Middle Park. We want to do the right thing by the horse. He seems very happy this morning and we won’t rule out France, but there is a chance he'll go straight to the Middle Park. When Seamie [Heffernan] let him go on Sunday, he nearly stumbled, he went to go so fast. We’ve never had a horse with that sort of speed, so I don’t know if he'll ever get a mile. We have had duels on the Downs, but if Caravaggio and Lady Aurelia line up at Deauville then the Match of the Morny is on.”

 

YOU GOTTA HAVE HARZ!

Racegoers could have the pleasure of seeing this dual Derby winner racing again as early as next month. It is reported that the Aga Khan-owned HARZAND is preparing to run in the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on September 10 and then trainer, Dermot Weld has the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on October 2 in his sights. This year the prestigious event takes place at Chantilly, one hour's drive away, as the Longchamp Racecourse is being refurbished.

 

Dermot Weld commented: "I've had Harzand back in for a couple of weeks and he probably looks better than ever. The present plan is that he's likely to run at Leopardstown in the Irish Champion Stakes and then the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe."

 

GOING NATIVE?

The popular Cheveley Park Stud-owned son of MUJADIL has something to prove today in the five-furlong ebfstallions.com Conditions Stakes at Nottingham. The result of this contest could decide whether the Robert Cowell-trained KINGSGATE NATIVE goes into retirement. The dual Group 1 winner hasn't had his nose in front since the end of May 2015 at Haydock. The now eleven-year-old gelding first caught the racing world's attention when winning his first Group 1 contest, the Nunthorpe Stakes at York back in 2007, when he was trained by John Best. The following June, as a three-year-old, he claimed the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot and was then retired to stud at the end of 2008. This new career was short-lived, however, as there were, it seems, fertility problems and he went back into training, this time with Sir Michael Stoute. With Robert Cowell since 2102, KINGSGATE NATIVE's other triumphs include the Group 2 Temple Stakes twice and a success in the King George Stakes at Goodwood.

 

The Six Mile Bottom-based trainer commented: "He's nearing the end of his career, this will tell us whether to keep going with him for a few more runs or if that's it. We might keep going if he wins, but otherwise retirement beckons, though obviously we'd discuss it fully with [owners] David and Patricia Thompson first."

 

MONDAY 8th AUGUST

 

A BRUSH WITH STARDOM

This son of SCAT DADDY brushed off the competition with a four-length victory in the Group One Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at The Curragh yesterday and thereby threw down the gauntlet for next May’s 2,000 Guineas. The Aidan O'Brien-trained CARAVAGGIO is clearly the new star of the Ballydoyle yard after the disappointing performance (reported below) of AIR FORCE BLUE, winner of last year's event. Earlier in the week his regular jockey, Ryan Moore, who had hoped to be aboard the two-year-old grey, announced that he had been advised to take a break to give his injuries time to sort themselves out. So it was Seamus Heffernan who had the pleasure again for the first time since he partnered CARAVAGGIO on his winning debut at Dundalk in April.

 

An obviously delighted Aidan O’Brien commented: “He’s very pacey and has a great mind. He’s so relaxed he could get further but I’d say we’ll have a look at the Prix Morny [Deauville, 21 August]. He’s the fastest we have ever had and I’d not be in a rush to go over seven furlongs. He could always go for the Middle Park [Newmarket, 24 September] after the Morny.”

 

PASSING THE BATON

The Qatar Racing & Equestrian Club Phoenix Sprint Stakes at the Curragh just added insult to injury for the Aidan O'Brien-trained AIR FORCE BLUE, last year's champion juvenile, who had already failed to score in the English and Irish Guineas and even came seventh from last in the July Cup at newmarket. In this contest the three-year-old son of WAR FRONT was slow to make his mark, although he did manage to catch up and track the leaders but when Seamus Heffernan asked his mount for some effort, the response was not forthcoming and he just trailed behind the field and came last. So the Group Two prize on this occasion went to the Michael Halford-trained TOSCANINI, who was clearly determined to improve on his second place last season. In fact this son of SHAMARDAL didn't need any coaxing by his jockey, James Doyle and boldly got the better of the Richard fahey-trained EASTERN IMPACT a length and a quarter.

 

The winning trainer commented: "He always had ability but only now has he fully grown up. He had his ground conditions today and that is his trip. He was a bit weak and immature and used to travel with such ease but didn't finish his races. We always thought he was a high-class horse. It was a great ride from James as he did terrific to get across from where he was."

 

CHAMPING AT THE BIT?

This champion jockey hopeful has made it clear that his life is not going to be one constant pursuit of winners wherever they can be ridden. James Doyle is just three wins behind this year's champion, Silvestre de Sousa, and neck and neck with Ryan Moore on 57 in the Stobart-sponsored championship. As Ryan Moore is temporarily out of action, the Cambridge-born twenty-eight-year-old is the 4/1 chance to gain the crown but, it is acknowledged that he is fortunate to be receiving more support than usual from the Godolphin empire and getting more rides because his colleague, William Buick, has been working off the thirty-day suspension he was given by French stewards recently

 

James Doyle commented: "I've made it clear that while I'm very close I've had the power of both Godolphin stables behind me while William Buick was banned. Now that he is back things will be tougher, but I will keep rolling as many winners as I can. At the same time I won't be charging around the country trying to chase winners."

 

SUNDAY 7th AUGUST

 

EMMA CHISIT?

Jockey Club Racecourses now offers £20,000 bonus to help a deserving female jockey advance her career. First, however, she has to win one of the races restricted to female riders at Carlisle's special Ladies' Night fixture which took place last Monday. Then she has to succeed in the Betfred Haydock Ladies' Trophy which happened last night. The winner of both of these contests was Emma Sayer who is now receiving valuable assistance in planning the next stage of her future involvement in racing. She followed up last Monday's victory with an impressive piece of equestrianism aboard the well-backed Brian Ellison-trained I AM NOT HERE, winning comfortably by a length ahead of GABRIAL'S KING. This marked the fifth triumph since Emma became an apprentice rider. She had recently announced that she had been offered a job as a P.E. Teacher but this award had changed her mind and she would now be back in the saddle.

 

The winning jockey commented: "I can't believe it. Brian (Ellison) has been so good to me and probably put me on the best horse in the race. I don't know what I'll spend the money on yet. A working holiday would be good, or maybe invest in some more racing gear or I'll possibly look to pay for my trainer's licence courses. This is my last ride as an apprentice. I'm going back to the amateur ranks after this as soon as my licence comes through."

 

John Baker, Regional Director of Jockey Club Racecourses North West, added: "It was a superb race and the competition between the ladies was even higher with the prize on offer. A huge congratulations to Emma for taking the win and beating a fantastic jockey, Rachel Richardson. We look forward to speaking to Emma about how she will be spending the development award and supporting her in the future."

 

A TWO-EDGED TRIUMPH

Another female jockey grabbed the headlines yesterday, this time in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup at Ascot. Hayley Turner came out of retirement specially to compete in this unique event and had a dream of a return to the saddle, although her victory wasn't sufficient to bring about a second successive victory for Girls Team. The 33-year-old, hailed as Britain's most successful female jockey, achieved her win on the Harry Dunlop-trained EARLY MORNING, beating Joe Fanning aboard EMELL by half a length.

 

The Nottingham-born rider also plans to ride in the Leger Legends race for retired jockeys which is scheduled for September 7 at Doncaster. Yesterdays success was a two-edged sword, however: on the one hand she gained the Dubai Duty Free Ride of the Day but on the other she received a four-day ban for excessive use of the whip.

 

Hayley Turner commented: 'I think my celebrations showed how much it meant to me. I nearly fell off the horse as I was waving and blowing kisses to everyone. If only everyday was like this. It is the day-to-day grind (of being a jockey) that puts me off.”

 

OWNER STAY HOME!

The Richard Hannon-trained NATIONS ALEXANDER, third in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at the July meeting, had a very determined Pat Dobbs aboard who urged him to make every yard of the Sweet Solera Stakes at Newmarket yesterday. Though it was noticeable that this daughter of DARK ANGEL was feeling the strain a little but just kept running ahead of the field. There was a little excitement when the Charlie Appleby-trained GRECIAN LIGHT flashed out of the pack to mount a bold challenge but only came to within a length and a half of the eventual winner.

 

The winning trainer, Richard Hannon commented: "We will supplement her for the Moyglare. The last grey filly I supplemented for the Moyglare went and won the Guineas (Sky Lantern). She seems to go on any ground and is improving. She showed a lot of speed today. Peter and Ross Doyle picked her up for 50,000 guineas and she is proving a good buy. Noel O'Callaghan (owner) didn't see her win but did come over and see her when she got beat, so I might tell him to stay at home again next time! She goes on any ground and is lovely filly. She will let you do what you want with her. I think she will be a nice filly for next year. There are races like the Calvados over in France and the Rockfel and Fillies' Mile back at Newmarket. She is clearly improving and getting better with racing."

 

SATURDAY 6th AUGUST

 

THE WINNING STROKE?

This Aidan O'Brien-trained son of SCAT DADDY hasn't looked back since winning his debut race in the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Maiden on the all-weather track at Dundalk in April, the Cold Move European Breeders Fund Marble Hill Stakes at the Curragh a month later and the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at Ascot in June. Now connections are upping the ante for CARAVAGGIO's fourth outing by entering him for the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Kildare track tomorrow, hoping he can join the long roll call of Ballydoyle superstars to have landed this prestigious prize, which the Ballydoyle master has won no fewer than fourteen of the last eighteen renewals. The honours lists conjures up such magical names as JOHANNESBURG (2001); GEORGE WASHINGTON (2005); HOLY ROMAN EMPEROR (2006) and AIRFORCE BLUE last year. Now a colt named after a sixteenth century painter must prove that he has powerful enough brush strokes to make his mark on the champion canvass.

 

Aidan O’Brien commented: “Caravaggio has been in good form since Royal Ascot and everyone has been happy with him. He has just been continuing his routine, but it has gone well and we are pleased. He had an easy time since Ascot and has slowly built up again. We’re very happy with everything he’s doing so far.”

 

A MERRY DANCE

This daughter of MASTERCRAFTSMAN hasn't had a win since January 2015 at Doncaster so a lot of hopes were pinned on the outcome of yesterday's Archerfield Cup at Musselburgh. The Karl Burke-trained INTENSE TANGO was a 15/2 shot for this £25,000 feature race. Apprentice jockey, Clifford Lee, benefiting from his seven-pound claim, was determined not to make things too complicated, content to let the five-year-old shadow the pace-setting, Mark Johnston-trained ZAND before deciding to make for home on the final bend. The rest of the field put on a brave challenge in an effort to catch the new leader and even the joint-favourite GABRIAL THE HERO's bold threat in the final furlong couldn't deny victory to the deserved winner.

 

The winning trainer commented: "I'm delighted with that and I thought Clifford gave her a very good ride. It's a good job he won by a head instead of getting beat a head, though, as he was putting up 2lb overweight! She's a good mare who has always had plenty of ability, she's just had one or two little issues that have been holding her back, but hopefully we've ironed those out now. She came on from her last run when she was second at Newcastle and it's great to get her winning again. It was a nice prize, too. We haven't made any big plans, we'll just stick to handicaps and see how far she can go. I would imagine the owner will be keen to go back over hurdles at some stage."

 

CRACKING THE WHIP

There was fierce on-going debate about the use of the whip following the German Derby last month, when Dario Vargiu and Freddy Tylicki both received heavy penalties for using the it nine times during the contest and were also made to forfeit 75 per cent of their prize-money share. As a result, German Racing has now introduced stringent new rules concerning the use of the whip which will result in hefty fines and extended bans for jockeys who breach the limit of five strikes a race. From tomorrow if a rider strikes a horse a sixth time he will be banned for fourteen days and receive a fine to the value of at least 50 per cent of his riding fee. The penalties will be increased dramatically for seven or more strikes. If the offence is committed a second time then a minimum 21-day ban will be imposed, increasing to twenty-eight days for a third infringement and so on. One jockey who is not pleased by these developments is Andrea Atzeni as he is off to Dusseldorf this weekend to compete in the Preis der Diana, or German Oaks.

 

The Sardinian-born jockey commented: "It's definitely a worry. You're riding in a Group 1 and you only have five smacks. Fair enough, punish someone if they go over the limit but to give them two weeks and lose 50 per cent or more, I think it's rubbish really. When you get a ride in a Group 1, a big race like the Oaks on Sunday, you have to go and you just have to make sure you don't go over the limit. I'd probably rather give my horse four on Sunday, not even five, just to be safe."

 

FRIDAY 5th AUGUST

 

A HEALING BREAK

Even a former champion jockey has to take a break sometime. Ryan Moore was hoping that a couple of days off would be enough for him to still ride CARAVAGGIO in the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday. It seems that specialists have other ideas, however, and the Brighton-born rider has been advised to take a complete break from race riding. Ryan Moore had a fantastic week at Goodwood, receiving the Racing UK-backed award for the week's top jockey after scoring eight wins, with a double initiated by MINDING in the Qatar Nassau Stakes. He has, however, been noticeably absent from the track since Sunday. Many people have commented on the fact that he seemed to be limping rather awkwardly and there was speculation that something was wrong with his hip. Now the news is that he is taking a short holiday in Portugal with his family,

 

The three-time champion jockey (2006, 2008, 2009) commented: “I have been a bit sore for the last couple of weeks and been advised by a specialist that complete rest is the best option. I'm not going to rush it as I want to be 100 per cent for all the major races (particularly the Ebor Festival at York where he rides minding) so I'm going to play it by ear, but hope to be back soon.'

 

WILLIAM WINS ON WILLIAM

Alan King's success as a trainer of National Hunt champions is well-known but now it is becoming noticeable that the Swindon-based handler is becoming quite a dab hand at winning big races on the Flat. Yesterday was a case in question at Brighton when WILLIAM HUNTER triumphed in the frost4cars.co.uk Brighton Challenge Cup Handicap, well ridden by another William – Twiston-Davies. Last time out at Sandown, the son of MAWATHEEQ had problems with the mile-and-three-quarter trip but handled the three furlongs shorter distance with no difficulty and romped home by a length and a quarter.

 

Assistant trainer, Dan Horsford, commented: "He has improved no end at home and with every race he has run. He didn't quite get the mile and three-quarters at Sandown but this mile and a half looks his trip. There was a big question mark about him handling the track as he is a big horse, but he handled it, while he was in front plenty soon enough. Today was a big prize for him and I am sure the boss has got a smile on his face.”

 

CRACKLIN' ROSIE GET ON BOARD”!

At Newmarket this evening trainer John Gosden is hoping his RAVEN'S PASS filly can make it the old one two by claiming the Tamdown EBF Stallions Fillies' Handicap. DAZZLING ROSE got off the mark three weeks ago on the July Course with a three-and-a-half length victory in the SCWS Fiftieth Anniversary Maiden Fillies' Stakes, after coming a close second on her debut at Lingfield back in February. The fact that the Newsells Park Stud-owned three-year-old had been absent for the best part of five months didn't seem to cause any problems as she went into the lead from early on in the mile contest, finishing well clear of her rivals. Although this wasn't an oustanding victory for the chestnut filly by a long chalk, she inevitably attracted the attention of the handicapper who has been perhaps a little heavy-handed and given her a starting mark of 88. Connections, however, do not seem unduly concerned, obviously thinking that, with the help of the booked jockey, Frankie Dettori, there is more to come from their budding flower.

 

THURSDAY 4th AUGUST

 

DIPLOMATIC COUP

The David Loughnane-trained BRITISH EMBASSY was determined to show who's boss in the Jayne And Steve Robinson - Your Local Bookmaker Handicap at Pontefract yesterday. The son of CLODOVIL and EMBASSY BELLE made all, under the North Yorkshire jockey, PJ McDonald (seems not to have any first names!), in this mile contest and was well clear three furlongs from home. Though pressed hard in the final yards by the David O'Meara-trained MIME DANCE the four-year-old gelding held onto victory by half a length. In fact the leading pair ended up eight lengths clear of of the third horse, JOHN CAESAR, trained by Rebecca Bastiman.

 

The winning trainer commented: "He gave everything. He's a bit quirky. We have to do a lot with this horse to get him right and he's finally coming now. He loves a challenge and is tough as nails. He loves something to come and fight him. We'll get him something again straight away. He's a horse that loves to race. You wouldn't want to hang about with him."

 

MATTER OF CLASS

This Godolphin DUBAWI son is going up in the world and joins Class 5 company this evening at Sandown on his third career outing. The Charlie Appleby-trained FRONTIERSMAN, who faces four rivals tonight in the Fizz-Fridays At Slug And Lettuce Handicap, certainly deserves better than the Class Three event he won recently, if his breeding is anything to go by. After all, his dam is the multiple Group One winner OUIJA BOARD, which makes him a half-brother to English and Irish Derby winner, AUSTRALIA. So Charlie Appleby's trainee is one to keep an eye on in the future and this evening's race should give a clear indication as to whether the three-year-old brown colt has put his juvenile ways behind him and can serve it up with the big boys.

 

ANGEL'S DELIGHT

The Qipco British Champions Sprint at Ascot on October 15 could well be the last time the Michael Dods-trained MECCA'S ANGEL will be seen on the racetrack. The daughter of DARK ANGEL will first of all go up to York on 19 August for the Ebor Festival where she will endeavour to retain her Nunthorpe Stakes crown. Then the Darlington-based trainer thinks the Ascot sprint in the Autumn could be the most fitting way to conclude the five-year-old's racing career, which comprises thus far nine Wins and four Seconds from seventeen outings.

 

Michael Dods commented: "If everything is right on the day we'd be keen to have a crack at it [the British Champions Sprint]. This will be her last season before she goes off to stud and we felt she deserved the chance to go for six and this race fits the bill. It will be interesting, I think she will stay. It's been difficult to give her a run over the six because of the targets she's already got over five. We considered the July Cup this year but I just felt the Newmarket track would not really suit her as well as somewhere like Ascot. A lot of people tried to get us to supplement for the Champions Sprint last year. We thought long and hard about it, but decided we wouldn't because we were going to go for the Abbaye. Then that didn't work out because of the ground."

 

WEDNESDAY 3rd AUGUST

 

IT'S SHEER SHERGAR

The Shergar Cup, the annual horse racing event held at Ascot Racecourse, is named in honour of Shergar, the horse that won the 1981 Derby and was originally sponsored by Shergar's owner, the Aga Khan, now by Dubai Duty Free. The competition was first held in 1999 at Goodwood Racecourse but has been held at Ascot since 2000. The names of the riders in this year's event on Saturday have just been published. There are some familiar and a few new faces anticipating taking part in one of the he world's top jockey competitions. Last year made a bit of history as it marked the historic victory for The Girls team. Canadian rider, Emma-Jayne Wilson, who captained the winning team in 2015, is in charge again. Her team consists of Hayley Turner, who has temporarily suspended her recent retirement so that she can complete in her tenth Shergar Cup and an aspiring new young jockey, Josephine Gordon, who at the moment heads the Stobart Apprentice Jockeys' Championship in Britain.

 

The Rest Of The World team comprises Brazilian-born Silvestre de Sousa, the current Champion Jockey in Britain who will be the captain. He will be joined by two newcomers; Gavin Lerena, the South African jockey who won the Longines International Jockeys' Championship in Hong Kong last year and the leading Japanese jockey, Kenichi Ikezoe, who has been aboard the great ORFEVRE in all his races in Japan.

 

Another jockey, making his tenth appearance in this competition and who will captain Team Europe, is by Frankie Dettori. The latter will be assisted by two of France's leading jockeys, Pierre-Charles Boudot, a regular rider for trainer, Andre Fabre and Thierry Jarnet, famous for partnering the great TREVE to two victories in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. These two are both making their debut in this event.

 

The Great Britain & Ireland Team consists of three jockeys, also appearing for the first time . The captain is Joe Fanning, aided and abetted by Martin Harley, winner of the 2015 King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot on GOLDREAM and Oisin Murphy, who is Qatar Racing's retained rider.

 

A CORKING DISPLAY.

This DUBAWI filly made it three successive victories after scoring in the Listed Platinum Stakes at Cork. The Dermot Weld-trained ROSE DE PIERRE achieved this after successfully stepping up in trip to join handicap company over a mile. The Moyglare Stud Farm-owned three-year-old was quite naturally sent off the 7/4 favourite and and her regular jockey, Pat Smullen, held her in a good position tracking the leader, IN MY POCKET, leaving the rest of the field straggling behind. When it was decided to kick for home some distance out, however, a fair amount of work was still necessary to seize the lead but, having got there, ROSE DE PIERRE held on to win by half a length.

 

The winning jockey commented: "That was a fair effort from an outside draw and to get across. She travelled supremely well, probably in front plenty long enough on her. There was a lack of experience and greenness there as she was just wandering around a little bit in the last furlong but ability got her out. She is a filly that needs an ease in the ground. Just at the moment when that presents itself you have to take it. All the more reason the performance was quite pleasing against some old warriors there. She did it very well. I like her and I think whatever we get this year will be a bonus and she will make a beautiful four-year-old.

 

THANKS A MILLION!

This trainer and jockey were the most popular guys in Roscommon last night when three of their runners scored in a long-shot gamble. Charles Byrnes and Davy Russell began their momentous evening with a win in the Paul Byron Shoes Maiden Hurdle by the 16/1 shot, WAR ANTHEM, who put behind him his two disappointing recent starts, and left his nearest rival three-and-a-quarter lengths in his slipstream. Half-an-hour later it was a former trainee of John Gosden, MR SMITH, who did the honours in the two-and-a-half mile J.F. Hanley Handicap Hurdle and this time the winning distance was four-and-a-quarter lengths. Earlier in the day this GALILEO son was on offer at 12/1 but, by the time the race took place, he was the 7/4 favourite. Punters who had gone for the treble could now hardly wait for 20.10 race, the Class Grass Handicap Hurdle when the County Limerick trainer was saddling TOP OF THE TOWN who hadn't won a race for more than a year. Fortunately for all concerned, the eight-year-old son of CRAIGSTEEL, hadn't forgotten how to get his head in front after all this time and won by five lengths to complete the 3,314-1 treble.

 

The winning trainer commented: "After Galway we needed it. I did my brains with Sea Light twice and Crystal Pearl getting brought down. It's just the way it turned out. I won't say that I planned this. I just had a bunch of six or seven horses that hit form and I thought, to hell with it, I may as well throw three or four of them in together and we only put it together in the last couple of weeks. To do something like this long term is impossible I think."

 

Paul Binfield commented for Paddy Power: "Even though we were onto the treble quite early, we've paid out well into six figures between the three of them. Well done to Charles on a well orchestrated gamble!"

 

William Hill's Jon Ivan-Duke was clearly not a happy bunny, commenting: "It was an industry-wide move and all bookmakers, especially online, have been stung. Our traders were on top of the move early and mitigated the gamble but it is still a hard pill to swallow, especially given the previous form on the horses. “

TUESDAY 2nd AUGUST

 

WIN/WIN FOR THE LADIES!

The winner of the first race at Carlisle last night was a female jockey. That's not surprising as every race was won by a female jockey! After all, this fixture has been a lady riders' only card since 2011. The contest that caught the eye, though, was the PPM Ltd (Pro-Am Lady Riders' Race) Ladies Riders' Handicap. Not only did it feature Josephine Gordon, who, as mentioned yesterday, is leading in this year’s apprentice championship title race but also the recently retired Hayley Turner, who is back in the saddle, ( Just this once she says!) to prepare for the Shergar Cup that takes place at Ascot on Saturday. While these two will be teammates later this week, there were no holds barred as they went head to head in the most valuable race of the evening. Josephine Gordon, riding the John Quinn-trained MOONLIGHTNAVIGATOR, stayed well with the pace, whilst Hayley Turner decide it was best to tarry in the rear with the Ruth Carr-trained DUBAI DYNAMO. The latter produced a last-minute rallying finish but it wasn't enough to beat the four-year-old son of HENRYTHENAVIGATOR who managed to stay in front and won by half a length.

 

Josephine Gordon commented: "I would probably have been better making the running myself, but I got hassled a bit early on. I got a nice run down the rail in the end and we got there. This year is going really well - I didn't expect it to go this well - and hopefully I'll keep on kicking. I'm really excited about the Shergar Cup. It's a big day and I'm privileged and honoured to be there."

 

MOVING ON

Rising star in the training world, Rebecca Menzies, has moved her five-strong operation to the Darlington-based yard of retiring handler, John Wade, after spending the last three years at her Brandsby stables. The 27-year-old served her racing apprenticeship in North Yorkshire with Ferdy Murphy and is planning to saddle her first runners from the new Howe Hill Stables later this 
week. The new yard, conveniently situated very near to Sedgefield racecourse, will eventually be the home for about thirty horses and is also well placed for access to the new all-weather track at Newcastle where plans to also run horses on the Flat.

 

Rebecca (Becky) Menzies commented: “I will always be grateful to Peter Beaumont and his family for giving me the chance to start my training career at Foulrice Farm. They have given me fantastic support, but this is too good an opportunity to turn down at a time when I’m hoping to expand. The transport links to the new yard are very good, and the proximity of the all-weather at Newcastle will be an advantage.

Menzies and her five-strong team completed their move at the weekend.

 

WHERE HUGO? TO FRANCE?

The son of PACO's recent strong performance may have earned him a run at Deauville on August 14. The Hugo Palmer-trained GALILEO GOLD competed in the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last week and was denied victory by a neck, finishing runner-up to Aidan O'Brien's THE GURKHA. The three-year-old chestnut colt scored at Ascot at the end of last month in the St James's Palace Stakes which has obviously started connections thinking where he should go next. Generally it looks as though thoughts are in the direction of a trip to France perhaps to have a shot at the Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques le Marois in September.

 

The Newmarket-based trainer commented: "I'll have to see how the horses are this week. The opportunities are fairly obvious. Galileo Gold is in the Jacques le Marois and we'll discuss it and make plans. I haven't seen much of him since the race."

 

MONDAY 1st AUGUST

 

CHAMPION REINED IN.

This sixty-eight-year-old Curragh-based trainer has been champion since 1997 but was finally ousted from the top slot yesterday. Dermot Weld was denied his nineteenth straight victory by Willie Mullins on the last day of the Galway races Summer Festival. The County Carlow king saddled seventeen horses in fifteen races and notched up nine winners, the climax being CLONDAW WARRIOR's triumph in the Galway Hurdle on Thursday. Yesterday's results clinched it, though, when the former six-times amateur jockey now trainer scored a double on the final day, courtesy of the superb riding of his regular jockey, Ruby Walsh, who steered bothe ALELCHI INOIS and DEVILS BRIDE to victory. The deposed champion, openly admitting that his string of horses was not as good as in previous years, claimed six winners by the end of the week. Other awards went to Ruby Walsh who was crowned top National Hunt rider, with seven winners to his credit and Pat Smullen was named the best on the Flat with six successes.

 

Ruby Walsh commented: "We didn't have that huge a team of horses but thankfully they were in great order and a lot of them hit the target. It was a dream come true to ride such a big winner for some of your closest friends - it was a great kick."

 

GOOD EVANS!

Momentous moments were also being recorded this side of the Irish Sea this week. It's barely two years since apprentice jockey, Nathan Evans, came over from the Emerald Isle to start a new career at trainer Mick Easterby's North Yorkshire stables in Sheriff Hutton. On the last day of Glorious Goodwood, nevertheless, the nineteen-year-old former show-jumper pulled off the biggest win of his life so far by claiming the first race of the day, the Qatar Stewards’ Sprint on HOOF IT. The latter also gave his connections something to celebrate as it was five years exactly since the nine-year-old sprinter won the Stewards’ Cup and he was notching up his eleventh victory from fifty-one career starts.

 

The delighted winning jockey commented: “That was a lovely birthday present. To have a winner at Glorious Goodwood on Stewards’ Cup day, on Hoof It as well, is brilliant. He’s a great horse. He’s been good to me – it’s a dream. We came out of stall 11 and the boss deliberately chose as near to the inside as he could. We jumped out nicely but, for a long way, he didn’t travel that well for me. He stuck at it very well though. I don’t know why he loves it here so much. He’s getting old now – he’s a nine-year-old, and maybe a bit of cut in the ground suits him better nowadays. I think that helped him. It’s unreal and I couldn’t ask to do it on a better horse – he’s just incredible. The boss is a great trainer and everyone in the yard who look after Hoof It does a great job to keep him right. We got racing quite early but he just keeps battling and staying on.”

 

YES. TONIGHT, JOSEPHINE!

It wasn't only Glorious Goodwood and the Galway Festival grabbing all the headlines last week, either. The villagers of the little-known village, Chittlehampton in North Devon, it seems only had eyes for their local hero, Josephine Gordon, apprentice jockey, who has gone into the lead in this year’s championship title race. The 23-year-old rider claimed two winners at Ffos Las on Thursday, making her current total in the championship race 28 wins from 220 rides, which is one ahead of her main adversary, Tom Marquand (27-247) who, unfortunately, hasn't had any success in the past week. This evening, Josephine Gordon has the opportunity to increase her lead even further. For the first time in her career she will be riding at Carlisle, the only race meeting in the world that has a fixture entirely devoted to female jockeys. This event is now in its sixth year and the evening of Flat races consists of seven contests in which the riders compete for the Durdar Trophy. The Chittlehampton heroine has four rides booked in the apprentice championship, sponsored by Stobart, and the results will be based on the winners from 30 April to the last race at the Qipco British Champions Day meeting on 15 October. If Josephine Gordon is successful she will follow in the footsteps of Amy Ryan, who won the prestigious prize in 2012. Of course, there's still a lot to play for. The lead could change just as quickly again. For instance, Josephine Gordon has nothing on Tuesday whereas Tom Marquand has five rides at Salisbury.

 

The aspiring female champion commented: “I’ve a strong book of rides at Carlisle tomorrow night, and I’ve heard the fixture has a really good buzz about it. It’s a really good initiative to support female jockeys and I also think it can help lead to further opportunities, as you ride for trainers you wouldn’t normally and who may use you again if you do a good job. Obviously things are going really well at the moment and winning the apprentice title would mean the world, but we’re only really halfway through the season at the moment. Therefore, I try not to let the thought of the title get in the way of my job. I like to remain focused, riding well and hopefully more winners.”

 

SUNDAY 31st JULY

 

ALL IN THE MIND

This GALILEO daughter, already rated as the world’s joint best-three-year-old filly, notched up her sixth successive Group 1 victory by adding the Qatar Nassau Stakes to her score card. The Aidan O'Brien-trained MINDING, competing in Europe’s richest race for fillies and mares, additionally presented his Ballydoyle handler with his third success in this feature contest. Ryan Moore steered a good course for most of the ten-furlong event, only getting into slight trouble in the straight after being short of room and dropping back to last. This is where the three-year-old's star quality came into play as she consistently fought her way back into the lead and, the 1/5 favourite still had sufficient in reserve to keep going all the way to the line, taking the prestigious prize by a length and a quarter.

 

Aidan O’Brien, savouring his fourth win of the week, commente: “She was very well coming into the race. We were happy with her at home. We knew it was going to be a small field today and that it was going to be tactical. It was rough enough for her but Ryan negotiated it brilliantly and got through it. Hopefully, she’ll be fine and OK after the race. I was nervous watching it and a lot of things can happen and race riding can be dangerous at the best of times at the speed they’re going, but we had the right outcome today. She is a great traveller, she quickens very well, she stays very well. She looks after herself when she gets to the front. She is thriving and she has a great mind. She is an unusual filly who can cruise, relax and quicken. She has always been a big powerful filly but physically she is doing very well. She was big, strong and powerful today. This is a great filly. She has danced every dance. She was special as a two-year-old, won well in the 2000 Guineas and has kept on progressing. She gets a mile and a quarter very well but when she gets there, she doesn’t do much more so it is difficult to assess her.”

 

DANCING QUEEN

It's was definitely Ladies' Day today but the equine variety. The Andrew Balding-trained DANCING STAR became the first filly to win the Stewards’ Cup at Glorious Goodwood yesterday. This daughter of AQLAAM, clocking up a fourth win s from just five runs this season, whom jockey, David Probert, quietly kept in a handy position, until she was ready to

dominate the rest of the field with as they approached the final furlong with a display of dazzling to win the five-furlong sprint by one-and-quarter lengths.

 

The winning trainer commented: “We are very blessed and lucky to have a filly as good as this. After her busy spell she should have a holiday at the Littleton Stud and then we can bring her back for the big sprint on Champions Day at Ascot. She will be an even better filly next year and we have much to look forward to. I’m also thrilled for Jeff (owner), who has been the most loyal supporter of the yard.”

 

IN FOR A WIN?

You win some, you lose some. Connections will be hoping that today it's the former. The Mick Appleby-trained DANZENO hasn't had his nose in front since last September when he won the Breeders Backing Racing EBF Sprint Conditions Stakes at Mussleburgh by two-and-half lengths. The Newark-based handler, however, seems to have some kind of justification for the son of DENOUNCE to get back into winning ways in the Manor House Stables Queensferry Stakes at Chester. At least the promising five-year-old seemed to have started his season on the right foot when coming third in the Duke of York Stakes but, there again, failed to consolidate that success next time at Salisbury in Listed British Stallion Studs EBF Cathedral Stakes where he finished runner-up, whereas his second crack at the July Cup proved a disater as he finished ninth. The decision to drop in company seems reasonable as DANZENO needs to build up his winning confidence and, on a mark of 112 , he should have some advantage on ground conditions that he favours.

 

SATURDAY 30th JULY

 

MIND BLOWING

This champion filly is still maintaining her dominance of peers and elders. The Aidan O'Brien-trained MINDING won the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket in May, the Oaks at Epsom in June and then had the audacity to show older horses where to get off, by winning the Pretty Polly Stakes by four-and-a-half lengths at the Curragh three weeks later. Now this daughter of GALILEO is bidding today to add a sixth Group 1 victory to her credits when she takes on three three- and one four-year-old in the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood. Not surprisingly the bay filly is the hot favourite to continue her spectacular success at the Sussex track and provide her trainer with a prize that he has surprisingly won only twice before, with PEEPING FAWN in 2007 and HALFWAY TO HEAVEN in 2008. One new factor is that MINDING will have to deal with the fastest conditions she has handled so far this season but this is not seen as a problem by connections, especially as Goodwood had some heavy rain on Thursday.

 

The Ballydoyle king commented: "She's great, isn't she? I'm not sure if we've had a more resilient filly and we've been delighted with her this season. I'm not sure what her best distance is. We know she has the pace for the top league at a mile and we know she gets a mile and a half. She's also comfortable in between at a mile and quarter, which is lovely. It's very unusual to be so adaptable. She's progressing with every run and is a very strong traveller.

"We are very happy with her going into Saturday, but have not looked beyond it. It's one race at a time, let's see how she comes out of the race."

Minding is set to encounter the fastest conditions she has faced so far this season, but

 

Kevin Buckley, Coolmore's UK representative added: "She handled it (10 furlongs) perfectly last time. She's the perfect racehorse - absolutely fantastic. She's so versatile and can handle anything. You can never count your chickens, but it's the perfect race for her."

 

BOOKIES BASHED

What is good for punters and not bookmakers is a fixture where five of the seven favourites win and that happened yesterday on the fourth day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival. It has been estimated that the betting industry could face a loss of up to £10 million. William Hill goes so far as to say that the financial damage incurred is one of the worst weeks of the year for betting firms. It all began with THE GURKHA'S triumph in the Sussex Stakes on Wednesday, followed by BIG ORANGE's success in the Goodwood Cup on Thursday. Before the bookmakers had time to lick their wounds, another major gamble came off when the Michael Bell-trained FRANKLIN D claimed the Betfred Mile by a head. To add insult to injury Ryan Moore kicked off the day, partnering the Sir Michael Stoute-trained KINGS FETE to victory in the Betfred Glorious Stakes before going on to present the same trainer with a second victory with POET'S WORD in the last race of the day, the Betfred Mobile Stakes.

 

Jon Ivan-Duke, a spokesman for William Hills, commented: "It's a horror show for bookmakers. Franklin D was a seven-figure loser in its own right and we estimate the five winning favourites have cost the industry £10m."

 

TAKE TWO

Another double winner at Goodwood yesterday. This time for a SINGSPIEL son. The David Griffiths-trained TAKE COVER let it all hang out when winning a second victory (last year he was runner-up) in the Qatar King George Stakes. The nine-year-old, an 8/1 chance, clearly couldn't wait to get the job done and set off at a sharpish pace under the capable steerage of David Allan and it was soon obvious that he preferred the fast ground to the testing conditions he endured at Ascot in the middle of last month which did his reputation no good whatsoever.

The Norcroft Park Stud-owned gelding still held onto his ongoing lead in the last five furlongs, albeit not so great as earlier, and succeeded in holding off last-minute challenges from both WASHINGTON DC and GOLDREAM to score by a neck.

 

The winning jockey commented: "He's just got raw speed and he really battles in the finish, as well. He loves to get on with it, but when something comes at him in the finish, he doesn't half dig in. He's still improving, I think."

 

Trainer, David Griffiths added: "He's a wonderful horse – unbelievable. He's still as good as ever at nine (years of age) and I'm just delighted. He's a bit mad (at home) but he's calmed down a lot. We came here with as much confidence as you can in a Group Two. It's just one of those amazing days. He's come right back to his best. That (Nunthorpe) will be the plan, all being well - he loves it at York."

FRIDAY 29th JULY

 

WALSH WARRIOR

This Count Kildare jockey scored twice at Galway yesterday but the one that made his day was surely his triumph in the Guinness Galway Hurdle. This was one feature race that had strangely eluded Ruby Walsh up to now. He set the record straight this time, however, by riding the Willie Mullins-trained CLONDAW WARRIOR to a two-and-three-quarter length victory. This son of OVERBURY was sent the 9/2 favourite but was well out of the action in the early part of the contest, leaving his stable companion, BAMAKO MORVIERE to make all the early running. In fact, most of the competitors seemed to content to bide their time and things didn't really get interesting until two from home when PRINCELY CON, ridden by Rachel Blackmore, decided to make for home. Ruby Walsh was well prepared for this move and made his challenge at the final hurdle and had kept enough in reserve to beat off any opposition. The icing on the cake must have been that the winning jockey's wife, Gillian is a member of the Act D Wagg Syndicate, owners of CLONDAW WARRIOR.

 

Willie Mullins commented: "Ruby was doing a Houdini act again after another horse here the other day. When I saw him with, I think, four horses behind him passing the winning post, I thought to myself 'he's going to need more than a miracle to get out of that position'. He just bided his time, waited and waited and he obviously got through. He was just brilliant from the last home, he was very strong on him."

 

CALIFORNIA (NOT) DREAMING

This John Gosden-trained AZAMOUR filly justified her going up in grade by winning the Markel Insurance Fillies' Stakes (probably better known as the Lillie Langtry Stakes.) at Goodwood yesterday. CALIFORNIA was last on the track three weeks ago when she easily won the Class 3 EBF Breeders' Series Fillies' Handicap but this Group Three contest was new territory for the four-year-old. There didn't seem to be any problems, though, as jockey, Robert Havlin, kept the 9/2 shot handy throughout the race, allowing stable companion, MILL SPRINGS, to be the pacesetter. The result was by no means cut and dried. All was fairly open as the runners came into the final furlong. The eventual winner, however, handled the one-mile-six-furlong best and and denied the Paul Cole-trained TIOGA PASS victory by a length.

 

The wining jockey commented: "We knew she would appreciate the step up in trip. She was staying on well last time and she'd run over a mile and six furlongs before. She's really blossomed in the last month."

 

A LOT AT STAKES

Connections of this son of INVINCIBLE SPIRIT will surely be hoping their horse can live up to his sire's name and claim the Group 2 King George Stakes for a second time at Goodwood today. The William Haggas-trained MUTHMIR triumphed in this five-furlong sprint last year and hasn't won anything since, even though he has run in three Group 1s, a Group 2 and two Listed events. So everyone is hoping that it will be lucky seven for Hamdan Al Maktoum's six-year-old. The bay gelding's problem seems to have been the ground which has always been good or slower, and his trainer is expecting today's quick surface will be in his charge's favour when he attempts to win the prize for a second time, a feat that hasn't been achieved since 1993 and 1994 when the Ian Balding-trained LOCHSONG made the record books.

 

William Haggas commented: "Muthmir has rarely had his conditions since he won last year but he should have them here. He doesn't like soft ground but he ran very well last time on ground too loose for him."

 

THURSDAY 28th JULY

 

REVENGE!

This GALILEO son was no shirker when it came to the Group 1 Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood yesterday. The Aidan O'Brien-trained THE GURKHA was clearly out to avenge defeat in the St James's Palace Stakes at Ascot by Hugo Palmer's GALILEO GOLD and he did it in scintillating style. The market also seemed to have a premonition of what was in store as the three-year-old was heavily-backed before the off and the gamble paid off when Ryan Moore, after fortunately being presented with a gap that made a strong challenge possible inside the final furlong, claimed victory by a neck. It looked like it might be a mirror image of what happened at Ascot as Frankie Dettori urged his mount in similar front-running tactics, aided by the fact that his big rival was hemmed in on the rail but he didn't get away with it this time.

 

Winning jockey, Ryan Moore, commented: "Frankie got the run of the race and they're two very good colts. Mine enjoyed the ground and he will be better on even faster. I think he's had a tough campaign and he's thrived on it. It all points to him being an exciting horse for the rest of the year."

 

Aidan O'Brien, claiming his fifth victory in this feature contest added: "It has been tough on him. We were worried coming here after Sandown, but the lads said he was thriving. I was worried because he's had such a big career crammed into a short space of time. He didn't race last year, but he's danced every dance since. I think he'd go back and get a mile and get a mile and a quarter, but he's probably a miler. He has a lot of options. He has the mile races in France [Prix Jacques le Marois and Prix du Moulin], he has the Champion Stakes and he has York [Juddmonte International]."

 

SIXTEEN SECOND RECORD!

Another trainer who was delighted to see his charge put two defeats behind him and triumph was Mark Johnston. His YALTA surged first out of the gates in the Group 3 Victoria Racing Club Molecomb Stakes, made all, stayed on strongly, and remained unchallenged in this five-furlong contest and came home a three-length winner.

 

The winning trainer commented: "To be honest, I was a bit devastated when he got beaten the last couple of times as we thought so much of him. Although James McDonald had told me to bring him back to five furlongs after his last run, I couldn't really believe him as he's got so much size and scope and doesn't look like a sprinter."

 

Not only did YALTA win the race but he also set a juvenile track record for the distance, clocking in at 57.14 seconds, beating the previous record of 57.30 seconds, established by the Charlie Hills-trained COTAI GLORY in 2014.

 

GIVE ME SOME SKIN!

Last year's Goodwood Cup winner is defending his crown today. The Michael Bell-trained BIG ORANGE is off to the Sussex Downs following his front-running triumph in the Princess of Wales's Stakes at Newmarket three weeks ago when he beat THE GREY GATSBY by two-and-a-half lengths.

 

Michael Bell commented: "Visually it was a career-best at Newmarket last time and the handicapper agrees - he's on a career-high mark now of 117. You could argue he should be a little bit higher on some form lines. It was a good effort and he certainly does not look to have gone backwards. He didn't lose much weight and obviously there was no travelling involved. It makes it much easier when you are playing at home. We are the highest-rated in the race and he deserves to be favourite provided the rain stays away. He's very effective on fast ground. The bigger the horse, the longer they take to fill their frame, just like a human. He will probably be at his optimum physically as a six or seven-year-old, but then it's a question of whether the engine is as good.”

 

WEDNESDAY 27th JULY

 

ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT ...”

If recent events are anything to go by, then last year's winner will do the honours again in today's Sussex Stakes at Goodwood. A month ago in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Hugo Palmer-trained GALILEO GOLD beat two of his biggest threats this afternoon, the Aidan O'Brien-trained THE GURKHA, winner of the French Guineas and Irish Guineas victor, AWTAAD, trained by Kevin Prendergast. The big question is, can he do it again? Niggling doubts are starting to be expressed as to whether Frankie Dettori will be able to dominate the proceedings as on previous occasions. The thing is that the Berkshire track was officially described as soft whereas the two earlier starts when he won the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and then at the Curragh, going conditions were good to soft. The son of PACO has triumphed before on good to firm, last year at Salisbury for instance but his big wins were on good to soft and unless conditions change rapidly (the forecast has a 10% precipitation probability) then things may not go according to plan. A key factor is that THE GURKHA seems to take any ground in his stride, having won the Group 1 Poule D'essai Poulains at Deauville on 'good' going but, there again, he was beaten into second place by Charlie Appleby's HAWKBILL on similar terrain in the Coral Eclipse at Sandown at the beginning of the month. It's possible, though, that the GALILEO son found the step-up to a mile and a quarter too much. Out of the three rivals AWTAAD may be the one to find the conditions a little bit too testing.

 

PIPES UP

There was no sleeping on the job for this son of RIP VAN WINKLE at the Galway Festival yesterday. The Andrew Slattery-trained CREGGS PIPES claimed the COLM QUINN BMW Mile Handicap, making it her a fourth successive victory in a row. The four-year-old chestnut filly can, it seems, do no wrong just lately, having won the Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Cairn Rouge Stakes at Killarney two weeks ago, after to two big wins at the Curragh in May. The well-backed favourite, partnered by Declan McDonogh, set off with a strong gallop and when she turned for home she was still well ahead and beat the challenging Brian Ellison-trained TOP NOTCH TONTO by a length and three-quarters.

 

The winning trainer commented: "She is a great filly to train and has won her last four now which is not an ideal preparation for a premier handicap. She's tough and Declan said she didn't handle the track and was hanging. She's in the Matron Stakes (Leopardstown, September 10) and we'll probably let her take her chance now. That will probably be her next race. She keeps improving and, while she goes on any ground, she loves soft ground. She loves racing, and if you leave her out in a paddock she will try to come out over the railing. She will be kept in training next year and may go to Royal Ascot. We always felt she was a mile-and-a-quarter filly, and she will step up to that trip next year. She has such a high cruising speed that she could make all over five furlongs."

 

IT'S WAR!

This American-bred colt battled bravely for the Ballydoyle master at Goodwood yesterday, also taking revenge for an earlier Leopardstown defeat. The Aidan O'Brien-trained WAR DECREE regained his winning ways with a dominant display in the Qatar Vintage Stakes.

The son of American parents, WAR FRONT and ROYAL DECREE, was sent off the 6/4 favourite and comfortably tracked the leaders under a confident, patient, ride by Ryan Moore. It seemed to take a while for the two-year-old to get speed up but once he did there was no doubting the outcome, an easy one-and three-quarter lengths ahead of the Saaed bin Suroor-trained THUNDER SNOW and more importantly two-and-three-quarter lengths ahead of Charlie Appleby's BOYNTON who had robbed him of the bet365 Superlative Stakes

at Newmarket at the beginning of the month.

 

Winnng jockey, Ryan Moore commented: "Like all of Aidan's two-year-olds he's improved a great deal from Newmarket and with every run he's progressed. He's a very well-balanced horse and a very good mover. He's a nice type and he was still green when he got to the front. I'd say he'll improve again. I felt we could (reverse the form with Boynton), getting 3lb and just inexperience cost him the last day.

 

Kevin Buckley, the UK representative for Coolmore, added: "Ryan was very complimentary. He's definitely improving and has come on a lot since the Superlative. He's still learning and he's still a bit on the green side, but he did that really well."

 

TUESDAY 26th JULY

 

A FLAMING RECORD!

On the face of it, yesterday's five-furlong FCL Global Forwarding Making Logistics Personal Maiden Stakes at Wolverhampton yesterday was nothing to write home about. Nine runners and Tom Dascombe was saddling the 6/4 favourite, GERRARD'S RETURN and nothing untoward was expected. But “Life's just a horse race. You never know what you're goin' to get”, to paraphrase Forest Gump in the eponymous movie. The winner turned out to be a 200/1 shot who became the second longest-priced winner in the history of British racing. The Jose Santos-trained DANDY FLAME joined EQUINOCTIAL in the record books. The latter holds the record, having won the Grants Whisky Novices' Handicap Hurdle at Kelso back in November 1990 at odds of 250/1. His owner-trainer, based at Lambourn, clearly still had faith in this son of DANDY MAN, even though he came last in his maiden outing at Windsor on 11th July.

 

The winning trainer, a retired Chilean jockey commented: "We've always liked him. He's not that big but we thought he would run well on his first start at Windsor, but he was green and his rider said that he was changing his legs on the ground. He has always shown plenty of speed at home and I hoped he would win this evening. I had a bit on, but I'm not a big gambler. I have only ten horses in and four of them are two-year-olds. Last year we had nine winners on the Flat and one over jumps but I've less horses this season and this was only my third win."

 

GOING DUTCH

It's the first day of you-know-what today and the feature event is the Qatar Lennox Stakes, a Group Two contest that the sponsors are keen to have upgraded, eventually, to Group One status and the £300,000 prize money on offer has certainly tempted the owners of a few decent horses to take part. One horse that catches the eye is the Charlie Hills-trained DUTCH CONNECTION who could well become Glorious Goodwood's first-day star. The seven-furlong distance can sometimes pose something of a problem for a couple of reasons. The sprinters in the field have to be careful they have enough stamina left for the extra two furlongs whereas the milers have to draw on inner reserves to meet the pace. The son of DUTCH ART, however, has already proved himself over this distance, having won the Group Three Jersey Stakes over the distance at Ascot last year before later competing in this contest, albeit he had to settle for runner-up on that occasion. His hungerford-based trainer then decided to up the trip to a mile then stepped him up to a mile for the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes at kentuck's Keeneland track last October but the ground was not right. Since then, on three subsequent outings, the Godolphin-owned four-year-old hasn't produced any good form over eight furlongs. Last time out in Ascot's Summer Mile he still seemed unable to cut the mustard so connections' decision to revert to one-under-the-eight seems reasonable. One thing in DUTCH CONNECTION's favour, and this is important for Goodwood, he has scored at a track where previous course experience is a definite benefit.

 

BACK TO DONNY!

This five-year-old scored his first goal of the season in the William Hill Bet On Your Mobile Handicap at Ayr yesterday tempting his Yorkshire-based trainer to consider returning to Doncaster in November for another crack at the November Handicap. The Declan Carroll-trained BUONARROTTI cruised to a two-and-three-quarter-length victory, partnered by Danny Tudhope, whose luck day it also was as he had picked up this spare ride at the last moment. This GALILEO son was runner-up to the Joseph Tuite-trained LITIGANT in last year's November Handicap, on what turned out to be Hayley Turner's final ride before she retired from the saddle.

 

The winning trainer commented: "The soft ground is key to him and it can't be soft enough. Last time out was the first time he had that ground this season and he was unlucky that day. When we got him from Ireland he was quite highly rated, and he showed us he was a good horse in the November Handicap last year when he ran a cracking race to finish second. We will see what the handicapper does, but we might just keep him for the back end of the season. I'd probably look towards the November Handicap being the long-term aim again."

 

MONDAY 25th JULY

 

OCH AYE, THE NOO!

That's the phrase, perhaps flippantly, attributed to Scotsmen meaning 'Oh yes, just now' and never was it more apt for the appropriately named son of HAWK WING. Now was about the time that the ten-year got his nose in front, having not won a race since 4th August 2012 at Goodwood. The Jim Goldie-trained HAWKEYETHENOO, with a gap of forty races in between victories, made amends yesterday by winning the Ascot seven-furlong Longines Handicap Stakes, a contest for lady amateur riders, ridden by former three-time amateur women's champion Carol Bartley, who has triumphed in this event on two previous occasions. The ten-year-old, the most senior in a field of eighteen runners, was on his seventy-fifth career start, was held up in rear for a while but then made steady progress two furlongs from home, chasing and getting the better of the leader, SAKHEE'S RETURN in the final hundred yards and winning by one-and-three-quarter lengths.

 

The winning trainer commented: "It's been a long time between drinks and I'm chuffed to bits with him. The problem after his Stewards' Cup win and second on Champions Day was that he went up in the handicap but he wasn't a Group horse and was stuck in that twilight zone. He lost his confidence and had a few niggly issues but he's always been a class horse and it wasn't as if he hadn't been running well as he finished third in the Victoria Cup last year. It was the first time Carol has ridden him but her husband Gary won the 2011 Victoria Cup on him and I'm quite sure she's seen the video a few times, so I didn't need to tell her how to ride him. It was one of Carol's best days and it was great for her as she had been struggling for a winner and her daughter Kayleigh led him up, so it was an emotional victory."

 

LOOK HUGHES BACK!

A year after his final ride at his favourite track this former three-time champion jockey is back at Goodwood this week. This time, however, it is trainer, Richard Hughes, who will saddle up to four runners in this midsummer festival, starting tomorrow. The forty-three-year-old Dubliner has two possible races for his two-year-old PACO'S ANGEL, who won the EBF Stallions Median Auction Mdn Fillies' Stakes at Windsor at the end of last month. The two-time Brighton winner, NIGEL, will hopefully compete on Saturday and others are on the cards for ELYSIAN FLYER and RUSSIAN REALM, the five-year-old DANSILI gelding who provided the rookie trainer with his first winner as a trainer at Goodwood in April.

 

Richard Hughes, with fifty-six Goodwood winners to his credit commented: “It was a great day last year but I did the right thing and went out on top. We have had 31 winners since November. I am delighted the way things have gone considering how the stable is made up. The two-year-olds will start coming out now. I have 60 horses and 40 are two-year-olds. Because of my budget, I had to buy horses for the future because I am trying to build a team. It would have been nice to have some flying two-year-olds but I am thinking long-term. There are huge responsibilities training and I don’t sleep as well as I used to but I am enjoying it. When I was riding, I had to win. It was an obsession. I had to be to be champion jockey. Now a winner is more rewarding.’

 

IT'S GG TIME!

Tomorrow sees the first day of Glorious Goodwood. Where did the year go! One of the highlights of the day is the Qatar Lennox Stakes where one of Godolphin's three entries, HOME OF THE BRAVE, is scheduled to run. The Hugo Palmer-trained son of STARSPANGLEDBANNER was last in the news when he made all in the Timeform Jury Stakes at Haydock at the end of May and sadly had to forego a possible crack at the July Cup due to a minor problems. James Doyle will be back aboard the four-year-old for a sixth time in the horse's ten career starts.

 

John Ferguson, who is Godolphin's CEO and Racing manager commented: "We have Home Of The Brave, who will love the ground and the track, Dutch Connection, who ran well in the race last year, and Birchwood, who goes there off the back of a Listed win at Chester. We have three happy trainers, and three good chances, in a high-profile race that is always competitive.

 

SUNDAY 24th JULY

 

NO MOORE FOR QUEEN

Even if you are a Queen and you don't win, you are not news. After yesterday's renewal of the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes, all the racing headlines are about the incredible Ryan Moore and HIGHLAND REEL. If Her Majesty's horse, DARTMOUTH, had won, it would have been her second win since AURELIE won in 1954, the year after the Coronation, but it wasn't to be. The fact that the Sir Michael Stoute-trained DUBAWI colt came third, four lengths behind the winner, doesn't even merit a mention. No, undoubtedly, the king of the day was the thirty-two-year-old Brighton-born jockey who proved yet again that he is the man for the big occasion. Punters clearly had complete faith in him and and backed his mount, HIGHLAND REEL into the 13/8 favourite , trusting he would avenge himself against the Queen's horse, who had denied him victory by a head in the Hardwicke Stakes at this Berkshire track in the middle of last month. The trust wasn't just emotional, either. The evidence was in the form book. You don't let this GALILEO colt get too far into the lead because he is a difficult horse to beat at the best of times. He demonstrated this talent even as a three-year-old when he claimed the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park in Chicago, after dominating the race from the word go. Ryan Moore, who has been aboard the four-year-old a few times before, was clearly well aware of his capabilities and kept his mount in front the off, at first setting no more than a steady pace, then gradually but surely dominated the proceedings and even had time to give him a breather around halfway. Then it was time to go for it when they entered the straight. The John Gosden-trained WINGS OF DESIRE made a valiant challenge but the eventual victor had enough in reserve to hold him off by a length and a quarter.

 

Celebrating his second success in this prestigious race, Ryan Moore commented: "He is a straightforward horse who runs a mile and a half well and loves fast ground. He is slightly underrated because he won in Hong Kong and beat a very good horse that day. He made it easy for me. He was very comfortable and when he felt Wings of Desire come to him and I got stuck into him he found plenty."

 

Trainer Aidan O'Brien, notching up his fourth victory in this race (GALILEO (2001); Dylan Thomas (2007) and DUKE OF MARMALADE (2008), added: "He is a unique horse really. So versatile and will travel anywhere. He is getting better both mentally and physically and can go anywhere between a mile and a quarter and a mile and a half. Ryan gave him a great ride and said going out he was happy to make it."

 

THE 'F' WORD AGAIN!

This FRANKEL filly seems determined to keep her honour intact, having won her maiden contest, the Longines Irish Champions Weekend EBF Novice Fillies' Stakes by four lengths at Haydock Park at the beginning of June. This time it was Group 3 six-furlong Princess Margaret Stakes in which the Roger Charlton-trained FAIR EVA demonstrated once more her prowess, proving she is just about ready to step up to Group 1 level in the Moyglare Stud Stakes in September. With Franjie Dettori aboard the Khalid bin Abdullah Al Saud-owned chestnut filly proceeded quietly and confidently until approaching the final two furlongs. Then when asked to go, she effortlessly speeded up, leaving the rest of the field trailing in her wake, winning by four lengths - providing her Sire with his first pattern-race success as a stallion.

 

The winning jockey commented: "She's a very, very good filly. It took her 50 yards to get into top gear, but once she got into top gear at the furlong marker she put four lengths on the field. It's only her second run, so she's a work in progress. When the penny dropped she was very exciting."

 

Roger Charlton added: "I'm so pleased for Prince Khalid (Abdullah, owner). He bred a great racehorse in Frankel. It brought a lot of people into racing and it's just tremendous that his progeny are doing so well. "That was a huge performance, I thought. She's got that very professional way about her, she's a great walker and a great mover. Sometimes people say chestnut fillies can get a bit hot and bothered, but this filly has always been really good. She's a charming character to deal with and goes about her business like a real pro. Frankie doesn't do many flying dismounts for me, but it's nice to have one!

 

THE KING WINS FOR PAT

The first race of the day at Ascot was another memorable occasion. It was the Listed Wooldridge Group Pat Eddery Stakes, run for the first time in memory of all-time great jockey, following his death last November. A plaque in the 11-times champion jockey's honour was also unveiled in front of his friends and family before the race took place. The Ed Dunlop-trained APEX KING, had the honour of winning this auspicious contest. The son of ZODIAC had, in fact, disappointed connections on his debut at Leicester, finishing way down the field. The bay colt made amends the next tine out, however, at Newmarketwhen he scored in the Royal Ascot Betting At 188Bet EBF Stallions Novice Stakes. Aboard for the first time, Andrea Atzeni was content to settle his mount in midfield before deciding to go wide and throw down the gauntlet in the final seven furlongs. APEX KING lived up to his name and galloped home, winning by a neck.

 

The winning trainer commented: "He'll never run over that trip again as he wants a mile now. He did exactly what he did at Newmarket, but beat better class horses this time. All being well, subject to the owner's approval, he'll go for the Royal Lodge (Newmarket, September 24). I think he's shown he goes on any ground. It's fantastic winning the first running of the race in honour of Pat Eddery. I knew him from the moment I was born, with him having ridden so many great horses for my father (John Dunlop)."

 

 

Pat Eddery's daughter, Nicola, added: "It's an absolutely wonderful honour for my dad and us as a family. Ascot was my dad's favourite racecourse and it is my favourite racecourse. He had some of the most amazing moments here and he just loved riding at the racecourse. The whole day is quite emotional. I still can't believe he is not here. It still feels weird coming back remembering all his wins. It's such a shame he cannot celebrate it with us."

 

Friend and rival jockey Willie Carson said: "The memories would take me six months to talk about. Pat was a great friend and he is dearly missed by a lot of people. It's nice he has got some recognition. Even though it's only plaque on the wall, it recognises one of the greatest jockeys to ride winners here, year in year out. He was taken from us a little bit sooner than we all expected but it is nice of Ascot to do such a thing. Pat was very naturally gifted on a horse and he was one of the greatest jockeys that has ever lived."

 

SATURDAY 23rd JULY

 

DENIED VICTORY

The Carraig Insurance EBF Stallions Breeding Winners Valiant Stakes at Ascot yesterday saw tempers flare after the race and the winner demoted to third place. The James Tate-trained NAMHROODAH was actually first-past-the post but he stewards deemed that the favourite, IRISH ROOKIE, ridden by Ryan Moore, was severely hampered in the final furlong when he went for a gap between the long-time leader, ridden by Jamie Spencer, and the far rail. As a result of the incident the AZAMOUR filly came third. After the race Ryan Moore was seen in heated argument with Jamie Spencer and shortly thereafter a stewards' enquiry was called, the result of which was that the Sir Mark Prescott-trained RED BOX was promoted to first place.

 

Steward Paul Barton commented: "We considered Irish Rookie would have beaten Namhroodah without the interference, all that momentum she had built up disappeared with the interference. Namhroodah has to go behind Irish Rookie which means Red Box gets the race - that's just the way the rule works. For it to be improper riding Jamie had to know that Ryan Moore was there, we didn't consider that [was the case] but we considered he was careless as he should have checked to see if anybody was on the rail.

 

Trainer of the hampered horse, Martyn Meade, commented: "That was the last thing we wanted - we wanted her to enjoy it. But that's racing for you, sometimes you have bad luck and sometimes good luck. She seems to be okay but it's just the sort of thing where she could have got a puncture wound."

 

It was a double whammy for former champion jockey, Jamie Spencer. Not only was he found guilty of careless riding but he received a three-day ban to run from 5th - 7th August which means that will miss the Shergar Cup, where he was due to captain the Great Britain and Ireland team.

 

EVERYBODY'S GOT TO BE SOMEWHERE!

The Queen's granddaughter hopefully has set the tone for today' big race in which the royal runner has a chance to make history. Zara Tindall's SOMEWHERE TO BE, trained by Martin Keighley, only came fifth in the Derby Telegraph Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race at Uttoxeter but it was a very encouraging debut. With Richard Johnson in the saddle, connections had high hopes that this son of GOLAN would give some kind of indication of his future prospects and they were not disappointed. The four-year-old mounted a brave solitary challenge to the eventual winner PRIMO TIME and there were a few brief moments when it looked as though he might pull it off. Unfortunately the effort proved the chestnut gelding's undoing as he got tired in the last couple of furlongs but managed to keep on for a well for a slot outside the frame, although denying his owner the princely sum of £191 handed out to fourth place. It remains to be seen whether grandmother can fare any better this afternoon when her DARTMOUTH competes in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes, a race the Queen last won in 1954, the year after her coronation.

 

THIS HORSE HAS A PEEL!

There are seventeen confirmations for the next Thursday's Qatar Goodwood Cup and one of them is last year's winner, the Michael Bell-trained BIG ORANGE. History could repeat itself as this son of DUKE OF MARMALADE repeated his success with a front-running victory performance in the Princess of Wales's Stakes at Newmarket at the beginning of July. The five-year-old was also an encouraging fifth in the Melbourne Cup in November before being narrowly defeated( a neck) in the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan on 26th March. All valuable grist to the mill, however, and everyone is expecting the reigning champion to staunchly defend his Goodwood crown.

 

FRIDAY 22nd JULY

 

SILK ROAD

The John Guest Brown Jack Stakes could be the one for Lucy Wadham at Ascot today. The Newmarket-based trainer plans to saddle NOBLE SILK in the two-mile event worth £30,000 to the victor. The son of SIR PERCY has proved to be a good stayer in the past, though it has been quite a while since he was last in the winner's enclosure. It was May 2014 at Haydock Park, in fact when he claimed the Betfred Edward Wallis Handicap by two lengths. That is not to say that the seven-year-old hasn't run well since that time. At the beginning of this month, in fact, at this Berkshire track, the grey put up a strong performance in the Close Brothers Property Finance Handicap which must have pleased his trainer and persuaded her that upping the trip back to two miles was the way to go. That's quite a step-up, but the FOPS- owned gelding shouldn't be daunted by that, as he has done it before in a similar sort of staying race, also at Haydock, when he was running off the same mark of 91. Add to that the fact that the competent Josephine Gordon will be aboard, taking off a useful three pounds, and there's a good case for victory, despite the prospect of fast ground.

 

MCDONALD'S ON THE MENU

Godolphin's number one rider in Australia is over here again, enjoying another successful stint. James McDonald, mainly substituting for the suspended William Buick, is adding to the success of the time he spent three years ago riding for Charlie Hills. Although his main job is working for Sheikh Mohammed, the twenty-two-year-old New Zealander has been much in demand by a few Newmarket trainers recently. He had a highly profitable time at Newmarket's July Festival when he scored on the Michael Bell-trained BIG ORANGE, following up with further winners for Charlie Appleby, another for Michael Bell and Hugo Palmer. The Yorkshire-born William Haggas was quick to realise that there was an opportunity to be seized and he booked James McDonald to ride GRAVITY FLOW yesterday

in the Doncaster's Sky Bet Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival Handicap and wasn't disappointed. The progressive daughter of EXCEED AND EXCEL, although held up for some time at the rear in this six-furlong trip, galloped to a one-and-a-half length triumph.

 

The winning jockey commented: "Gravity Flow handled the fast ground really well and seems to be progressive - she's certainly in the right hands to improve anyway!"

 

TANTALISING TRIO

Racegoers at next week's Glorious Goodwood could witness a fascinating rematch of this year's three major Guineas winners, GALILEO GOLD, THE GURKHA and AWTAAD who are among the fourteen entries left in Wednesday's Sussex Stakes. The English 2,000 Guineas winner, GALILEO GOLD, came back and triumphed in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot last month despite coming off second best to AWTAAD at the Curragh. Trainer, Hugo Palmer is clearly expecting to duplicate that Royal Ascot form.

 

The Kremlin Cottage Stables' trainer commented: "Galileo Gold continues in fine form at home prior to his intended run in the Qatar Sussex Stakes next week. He is still getting bigger and stronger by the week, and hopefully that physical development will translate itself to the track at Goodwood."

 

Aidan O'Brien's THE GURKHA has also had to deal with adversity as he lost by half a length to the Charlie Appleby-trained HAWKBILL in the Coral Eclipse, while Kevin Prendergast's AWTAAD hasn't run since his Royal Ascot appearance when he finished third, beaten a length and three parts by the aforementioned adversaries. 

THURSDAY 21st JULY

 

A ROYAL CHANCE

Roger Varian has had to make the unenviable decision not to run the 1-2 favourite, POSTPONED, in Saturday's King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. The Newmarket-based trainer announced yesterday that his five-year-old star has a respiratory infection, after providing an unsatisfactory scope. This is a clear disapointment for connections but particularly for his owner, Sheikh Mohammed Obaid, who had enjoyed successes in the Dubai Sheema Classic and Coronation Cup and was expecting a winning week-end.

 

Roger Varian commented: "Up until this point, Postponed had not given us any worry during his training regime. However, we felt Postponed did not work with his usual zest this morning and a subsequent scope showed he is suffering from a respiratory infection. This news is obviously very disappointing and it is a real shame for Sheikh Mohammed Obaid, the team and the racing public that he will not line up on Saturday. But, as is always the case, the interests of the horse must come first. If he is not 100 per cent, the only sensible thing to do is not to run. We will let the horse recover from this setback before making a plan of where he runs next. We still have many big days ahead to look forward to."

 

This news has obviously caused quite a stir among bookies and punters ahead of Saturday's contest. One owner, in particular, although naturally sympathising with conections is the Queen. Her Majesty's Hardwicke Stakes winner, DARTMOUTH, has now become the 2/1 favourite. A win for this other son of DUBAWI would provide the Queen with her first win in the race, named after her parents, since her AUREOLE scored in 1954, the year after her Coronation.

 

HISTORY IS WRITTEN BY VICTORS”

An up-and-coming GALILEO colt features in today's Japan Racing Association Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown. The Aidan O'Brien-trained CHURCHILL, already with the Chesham Stakes to his credit, is the memorable name in this six-runner field. At first sight it may not seem an inappropriate nomenclature for a race horse. It may now not be well-known, however, that Winston Churchill, when Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1925, presided over a revolutionary change in racecourse procedures and introduced the idea of a tax on betting. As well as that, over the next decade or so, he became one of the most successful racehorse owners and breeders in England. So the two-year-old bay colt has a lot to live up to and has certainly made an impressive start, already the head of ante-post lists for next year's Epsom Derby and the hot favourite in this evening's Group Three contest, which Aidan O'Brien won with KING OF KINGS in 1997, RIP VAN WINKLE IN 2008 and GLENEAGLES in 2014.

 

DAD VERSUS SONS

Another Leopardstown race catches the eye today because of the names involved. Veteran, Aidan O'Brien, takes on his sons, rookie trainer, Joseph, and jockey, Donnacha, in the Jockey Club Of Turkey Silver Flash Stakes. The Ballydoyle master has won this Group Three contest a record eight times before and will be aspiring to be in the winner's enclosure again today with PROMISE TO BE TRUE who triumphed in the Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Fillies Maiden at the end of last month. Meanwhile son Joseph who rode two of his father's winners in previous renewals, will be pinning his hopes on INTRICATELY who scored her first career success at Gowran park in the middle of June in another Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Maiden. Who-ever wins, there will be family celebrations today!

 

WEDNESDAY 20th JULY

 

THIS HORSE IS FOR REEL!

Another GALILEO son is on course to go for a hat-trick of wins in the £100,000 Group Three Betfred Glorious Stakes, which features on the fourth day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival. The Ralph Beckett-trained KINEMA is due to make his debut in this highest level 12-furlong contest, following a first success at Royal Ascot when he claimed the Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap over a mile and a half. The five-year-old has proved himself at the Chichester track a month before that when he won the Al Basti Equiworld Handicap by a length ahead of the Roger Varian-trained MONOTYPE.

 

The Andover-based trainer commented: "Kinema will probably run in the Glorious Stakes over a mile and a half next Friday. He came out of Royal Ascot in good shape and we are looking forward to running him. We gave him an entry in the Goodwood Cup, but we don't want to run him over two miles yet. He has won his last two starts but is rated 107 now and it's difficult to say whether there is more improvement to come from him."

 

MORE STRINGS TO THIS BOWE.

Whenever the Galway Plate is mentioned inevitably big names in the horse racing world come immediately to mind. That's because for the last five years the likes of Willie Mullins, JP McManus, Michael O'Leary or Alan Potts have helped themselves to this £185,000 feature race. Not any more if Colin Bowe has anything to do with it. The County Wexford trainer is planning to confront the representatives of this list of the rich and famous with his secret weapon, SHANTOU FLYER. Odds on offer for this son of SHANTOU are currently available at 12/1 and 16/1 and as such do not do him any favours. It's true that Colin Bowe isn't a familiar name or face at race tracks but those in the know will be aware that he was crowned champion point-to-point handler for a fourth time earlier this year. Colin Bowe has proved himself time and time again with top quality horses such as ASKANNA, LITTLE KING ROBIN and GLIBIN. The thing is that equine inhabitant worth his salt at the Enniscorthy stables presents a business opportunity and is soon sold on. As it happens, SHANTOU FLYER's owner is not interested in selling. His six-year-old bay gelding has scored in three of his four starts up to Grade Two level and even acquitted himself well, though not winning, in Grade One company at Punchestown in April.

 

Colin Bowe commented: "He is in good form. The plan is to run in the Plate. He is going well and should hopefully get his ground. The majority of National Hunt horses that jump fences would prefer a bit of ease and he is no different, but he will go on any ground bar heavy. He handled the track well there last year and came up the hill well - he likes a good test. Road To Riches is a very good horse - he won the race two years ago - but, if he stays there, we are left with a lovely weight. Shantou Flyer came as close as he could without winning at Down Royal, so we were delighted with that. He travelled sweet, and, although he came back a little sore, it was only for a day or two. He has been fine ever since."

 

LIFE OF BRIAN

This four-year-old, with two earlier successes at Carlisle and Market Rasen, went on to win the Racing UK Now In HD! Handicap at Musselburgh yesterday and may have, thereby, bagged a place at next week's Galway Festival. The Brian Ellison-trained OUR KYLIE didn't give her supporters an easy time, however, as, after being prominent with the chasing group, she seemed to lose heart at about three furlongs from home. It took some hard work from apprentice jockey, Ben Robinson, before this JEREMY filly got the message and made the required effort to snatch victory from the eleven-year-old MERCHANT OF DUBAI by a head.

 

The winning North Yorkshire-based trainer commented: "The lad (Robinson) has given her a great ride - it was probably ride of the month and she was never really going. She's a tough mare and I think she probably just wants further. There is a mares' hurdle at Galway next week for her. We'll see how she comes out of it, but we might look at that if she seems OK."

 

TUESDAY 19th JULY

 

GOT IT ALL OFF PAT

Ballinrobe last night was a double pleasure for this eight times winner of the Irish flat racing Champion Jockey title and this year's Derby winner. The second race of the evening, the Bet Online At thetote.com Maiden, was the first victory for thirty-nine-year-old Pat Smullen who was aboard the Dermot Weld-trained BURMA STAR in this ten-furlong contest. This SHAMARDAL filly was sent off the 2/1 favourite in the twelve-strong field and, after tracking the leaders until after the five-furlong pole, challenged the Harry Rogers-trained REMARKABLE LADY two hundred yards from home and went on to win by one-and-a-quarter lengths. The County Offaly-born rider repeated his talent for bowling a maiden over in the last race of the day, the Tote Best Value For The Galway Festival Maiden. This time he was riding the Joseph Murphy-trained SWAMP FOX in this thirteen-furlong. The four-year-old son of WINDSOR KNOT lived up to his name and outfoxed his nine rivals, leaving them eight lengths in his slipstream.

 

THE CHAMP'S BACK

It has just been announced that the Willie Mullins-trained 2015 Champion Hurdle winner, who has been sidelined since February due to injury, could start preparing for the new jumps season as early as next week. Punters were in no doubt that FAUGHEEN would retain his crown last season but they hadn't counted on the son of GERMANY'S suffering a suspensory ligament injury that would deny him the defence of his title. It is interesting to note that even though the eight-year-old bay gelding never ran at any of the major festivals last season, he still ended up as the highest-rated hurdler in Britain and Ireland, on a mark of 176, due mainly to his dazzling performance in the BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in January.

 

Patrick Mullins, assistant trainer to his father Willie, commented: "Faugheen looks great. He spent the summer out in the field on our farm and the good weather has helped him and a lot of our horses. He may begin work next week and we'll take it from there. It's very early days but I'd imagine he could take a similar route to what he has been doing the last two seasons. But we haven't made any decisions yet."

 

TWO-TIMERS!

Since it was first run in 1951, only two horses have won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes twice in consecutive years. The first was in 1973 when the Maurice Ziber-trained DAHLIA captured the mile-and-a-half trophy, doing the honours again the following year, when ridden by the legendary Lester Piggott. It would be more than twenty years until the next dual winner appeared on the scene, when the Saeed bin Suroor-trained SWAIN claimed the prestigious prize for Godolphin in 1997 and retained it in 1998, this time partnered by Frankie Dettori. On Saturday a five-year-old colt will make a bid to become the third horse in history to gain a prominent place in Ascot's history. POSTPONED won the non-age restricted Classic last year when trained by Luca Cumani but this year it will Roger Varian's turn to see whether this five-year-old can make the grade. This son of DUBAWI has won a couple of Group Twos and Group Ones and is naturally the odds-on favourite to become the third ever dual winner. The time is certainly propitious as it seems this feat is only happens every twenty years or so.

 

MONDAY 18th JULY

 

VERSE GETS BETTER

This son of BYRON was the well-versed winner of yesterday's Group 2 Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh. The oldest runner in the field, three-time Group 1 winner, GORDON LORD BYRON, showed his younger rivals how to run a race and kept his head in front by half a length as they crossed the line. Under Billy Lee's confident control the eight-year-old travelled well throughout the contest, showing resilience when challenged in an on-going ding-dong with the long-time leader, TOSCANINI. The 16/1 Tom Hogan-trained bay gelding hasn't won much over the last two seasons but his victory yesterday made it two out of two for his current rider.

 

The winning trainer commented: "If he was right I thought he was well capable of beating all of those, because I wasn't sure that there was a genuine Group 1 performer in the field, whereas he definitely is on his day. "On his work he had shown me that he was back close to his best. He's had life-long problems with allergies and in the spring we thought we might have lost the battle, but we're winning it now. Billy said he was keeping a bit to himself, so we know there's plenty more there. We'll probably come back here for the Group 3 Phoenix Stakes in August and we'll tip away with him," he said. "He'll definitely go for the Sprint Cup at Haydock again and if we get any invitations later in the year sure we might head off again. It's great for all the lads at home that have put so much in to keeping him right. He takes as much attention as ten horses but he's worth it."

 

ANGEL OF THE NORTH

Another trainer who has been heartened by his horse's return to top form is Michael Dods. After the dominant performance by his MECCA'S ANGEL in the Kilrush Stud Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh, the Darlington-based trainer is looking forward to going back to York for the Nunthorpe Stakes next month. This daughter of DARK ANGEL was an outstanding winner of the Ebor Festival feature contest last year but was very disappointing later in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot. Connections were at a loss as to why, apart from the fact that it might have been a combination of her coming into season and very soft ground.

 

Michael Dods commented: "There were nervous times but it was a great relief to see her win so well. Connor Beasley, who rides her at home, said it was the best he'd felt her for two years before Ascot, but it just didn't happen. She was in season in the stalls and Paul (Mulrennan) wasn't happy after a furlong and a half. It just wasn't her at all but I keep saying that she doesn't want it too soft and I felt it was too soft at Haydock (when second to Profitable in May) and it was definitely too soft at Ascot. Put the two things together - the ground and her being in season - and it undid her. We'll never know the exact reason but I walked the track at the Curragh on Saturday and was delighted with what I saw. Good racing ground, just on the easy side, very similar to Longchamp and York when she won last year. I said to Paul that if she doesn't perform today then she's retired - I couldn't have her any better. She'd only done gentle work and might come on a little bit for the run, but he knew going down to the start that she felt great and said she was very strong at the line."

 

WE'RE OFF TO SEE THE KNAVESMIRE!

Michael Dods is not the only trainer with an eye on the Nunthorpe Stakes! After THE TIN MAN's steely performance in the Hackwood Stakes at Newbury on Saturday, James Fanshawe is weighing up whether to let his four-year-old have a crack at the five-furlong sprint. This EQUIANO son finished a commendable fourth in the Qipco British Champions Sprint at Ascot last season and produced a two-length victory in the Weatherbys Private Bank Leisure Stakes at Windsor in May. Hopes were somewhat dashed last month at Ascot, however, when the well-fancied bay gelding came last-but-one in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. The Pegasus Stables' boss is, however, not in a hurry to commit his stable star to any particular race but he has let it be known that he is not averse to letting his sprinter tackle five furlongs for the first time on the Knavesmire on August 19.

 

James Fanshawe commented: "He pulled out fine this morning and we'll just play it by ear as to what we do next. We'll see how the horse is in the next week or 10 days and go from there. He is in the race at York and he's also in the Phoenix Sprint at the Curragh (August 7). The races I really want to go for are the Sprint Cup at Haydock (September 3) and the Champions Sprint at Ascot (October 15), those are the races I'm targeting, so it's just a case of where we go in between. He's never run over five (furlongs), but he doesn't lack speed and Equiano was effective over five. I just think the way six-furlong races are run suits him."

 

SUNDAY 17th JULY

 

JUST HEAVEN!

The name of this year's winner of the Darley Irish Oaks must surely sum up the feelings of the Ballydoyle king who notched up his his fifth victory in this Irish Classic at the Curragh yesterday. The winner, however, one of the four runners saddled by Aidan O'Brien, wasn't the one that everyone expected. The 4/5 favourite, EVEN SONG, proved to be the disappointment of the day (seventh out of eleven runners) whereas her stable companion, SEVENTH HEAVEN, confidently ridden by Seamie Heffernan, put behind her the disappointing effort in the Investec Oaks and slowly but surely came from the rear of the field after two-furlong pole, picking off her rivals one by one, and claimed the prize by two-and-three-quarter lengths. The Hugo Palmer-trained ARCHITECTURE, did make a structured challenge inside the final furlong and, for a few moments, it looked as though he might be able to build on this approach. The GALILEO filly, however, proved invincible as she cruised over the line.

 

The County Kildare-born winning jockey commented: "It was a Group One and we went at a Group One paceAt The Races. I was always travelling great, but if you'd given me the choice before the race I'd have given back half the prize money to ride Even Song. That's the way it can be with fillies though. Sometimes they just don't turn up."

 

Aidan O'Brien added: "I had to train her(Even Song) hard for Ascot and sometimes when you have to train them hard, they just don't quite fire the second time. Ryan said she was slowly away and just never travelled, but she's a good filly and she'll be okay. She won well at Lingfield and she has confirmed that form here with the filly who was second that day (Architecture) but Ryan said afterwards that he wasn't sure she would handle the track at Epsom," O'Brien explained. We decided to take the chance because it was the Oaks, but Ryan was right and she didn't enjoy it at all. However, Seamie said she would appreciate this galloping track more and he gave her a very confident ride. He had second pick and he chose her. Obviously the flat track suited better. She loved the ground and the flat track. She was always a high-quality filly and Seamus gave her a lovely ride. They went a good gallop and on the different track we saw improvement. She's probably progressing.”

 

ON HIS METTLE

This son of EQUIANO was off to win the Hackwood Stakes at Newbury yesterday and did so in a wizardly way, although the winning distance of a head belies the ease of victory. Even Sportinglife says the runner-up was 'flattered by proximity to winner.' When you get down to the heart of the matter, however, victory belonged to THE TIN MAN. Tom Queally held the James Fanshawe-trained four-year-old at the back of the field for the first part of the contest but he soon started to cut inexorably through the pack and only required a slight nudge from his jockey to assert his dominance by just that short winning distance.

 

Tom Queally commented: "He has to be ridden like that. Things didn't go to plan the last day. He has to be ridden with confidence. I think he's different gear when he's on form and I have huge aspirations for him going forward. We've already had a go. He wasn't disgraced on Champions Day last year. We had our excuses the last day and he's won that as cosy as I've ever won a sprint of that calibre. I think he's a force to be reckoned with. It was a brave, bold call by James. A lot of people would have been pushed into running in the July Cup and we didn't. "We'll wait for the big races at the back-end. He's very exciting."

James Fanshawe added: "I'm relieved more than anything. This horse has got enormous talent. He had an interrupted preparation before Ascot, so after the disappointment there we decided to come here rather than the July Cup. Tom was brave and this horse has a great turn of foot and he quickened up well.

 

SIBLING SUCCESS

Warwickshire-based brothers teamed up yesterday at Market Rasen to claim two big Summer jumping prizes. Trainer, Dan and brother, Harry, kicked off the day by winning the Betfred TV Summer Handicap Hurdle in which their mount, RED TORNADO, finally took up the running from about two furlongs out and stayed on strongly, holding off a fast-finishing MINELLAFORLEISURE to score by one-and-a-quarter lengths. This was the son of DR FONG's fifth success since coming to the Skelton yard from France. Then only half an hour later the Lodge Hill stables duo were back in the winner's enclosure again when LONG HOUSE HALL claimed the £50,000 Betfred Summer Plate. On this occasion, however, jockey, Harry, played it cool, as TONY STAR went off at a frantic gallop, opening up a considerable lead by the first obsatcle but soon ran out of steam. Eventually, however, the son of SADDLER'S HALL, when push came to shove, came clear by eight lengths.

 

SATURDAY 16th JULY

 

SONG IN TUNE

The Ballydoyle master is bidding for his fifth victory in the Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh today. Three of these wins were in consecutive years – ALEXANDROVA (2006), PEEPING FAWN (2007) and MOONSTONE (2008). Aidan O'Brien is not taking any chances this time, however, as he will be saddling four horses in this mile-and-a-half feature race. The Coolmore king is undoubtedly rooting for EVEN SONG who won the Ribblesdale Stakesat Ascot in the middle of June. It is intetersting to note that quite a number of fillies have followed up their Royal Ascot success with a bid for this Irish Classic but only three have made it – ALYDARESS, trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil in 1989, the barry Hills-trained BOLAS in and BRACELET, handled by you know whom, two years ago.

 

Aidan O'Brien commented: "Even Song is in good form. She had a short break after Ascot and we've been happy with her since. She seems to handle most types of ground and we're looking forward to running her."

 

Trainer Hugo Palmer, seeking a second win in this race with ARCHITECTURE, the second favourite, added: "Even Song is a very good and unexposed filly, but facing her is certainly not as daunting as taking on her stable mate Minding, that's for sure. And we got to within two lengths of her at Epsom."

 

GREAT SCOT!

This son of TEOFILO has had a promising second season so far, only finishing once out of the first two and so could be a Newbury nap. The Charlie Appleby-trained SCOTTISH, winner of the Brigadier Gerard at Sandown in late May, was bought by Godolphin and moved from Andrew Balding's stable to Charlie Appleby's. The four-year-should find the mile-and-a-quarter trip ideal as he has already demonstrated his skills over this distance and the ground shouldn't be a problem. Also another decisive factor is the fact that the Newmarket trainer is currently on a win ratio of 25%. Punters have not been slow in spotting this possible banker for this afternoon as the odds have retracted to 11/8.

 

TAKE HEART!

The Group Three Hackwood Stakes at Newbury this afternoon looks a fiercely competitive contest which a number of horses have a chance of adding to their credits. One particular entrant catches the eye, though. The James Fanshawe-trained THE TIN MAN, the highest rated on official ratings, could well be the one to beat. This son of EQUIANO progressed well last season, notably producing a four-and-a-half length victory in the Class Two Winning Post Bookmakers Bristol Handicap at Ascot in October. Admittedly the last time out the four-year-old didn't fare so well in Group 1 company, coming last-but-one in the Champions Sprint Stakes on his final start of the season but it was obvious that he didn't have the easiest of runs and may be forgiven that disappointment. If THE TIN MAN has recovered from that setback then he may well be in the winner's enclosure at tea-time.

 

FRIDAY 15th JULY

 

KNIGHT HAS GOOD DAY

This four-year-old son of GALILEO was denied victory last time out by a short head in the Group 3 Investec Diomed Stakes and was clearly on a mission to make amends. The previously Roger Varian-trained DECORATED KNIGHT, now with another Roger – Charlton – certainly did that in no uncertain fashion, under the capable stewardship of a confident George Baker. James Doyle looked like he thought the race was his when he surged into the lead on Royal Hunt Cup winner, PORTAGE, but he clearly hadn't counted on the chestnut gelding's jockey. Without too much effort DECORATED KNIGHT went impressively into the lead and won by two lengths.

 

The winning jockey, George Baker commented: "It's my first time at Leopardstown, I've never been here before. Fran Berry gave me plenty of advice about the track and I have to thank him. I've sat on him at home and spoke to Andrea Atzeni, who is banned. He said he's very straight-forward now and the quick ground was a help. He wouldn't want to be in front too long and my plan was to sit in behind but I was going to get pushed three wide on the bend so rode him with confidence and took him back. He arrived very strong and quickened up well. I wouldn't say it was the strongest Group Three but he couldn't have done it any smoother. I'd say Mr Charlton has a plan for him and while the ground is quick he could step up in class."

 

TIME FOR VICTORY

This son of SOLDIER OF FORTUNE stayed perfectly in tune for his victory in the Killarney Grand Live Music Venue Handicap Hurdle. The Edward O'Grady-trained TIME FOR MABEL was sent off the 6/1 shot, defying a steep rise in the weights for winning a conditions event at Limerick earlier in the month, and seemed to have no problem coping with this £21,000 two-mile-one-furlong contest, the most valuable event on the fourth and final day of the County Kerry track's summer festival.

 

The winning jockey, Andrew Lynch, commented: "I thought they would have gone quicker and while he was always doing going too much, he quickened up well," said the winning jockey. I thought it was harsh that he received 7lb for winning the last day, but it obviously wasn't and Edward's horses seem to be in good order."

 

FIRST WINNER, CHIEF!

Not quite a FRANKEL but beginning French sire, AIR CHIEF MARSHALL. notched up his first Group 1 winner yesterday when his son, MONT ORMEL, won easily in the twelve-furlong Grand Prix de Paris at Saint-Cloud. The three-year-old bay colt, trained by Pia Brandt and owned by Gerard Augustin-Normand, triumphed in the Listed Prix Ridgway by six and a half lengths on his last outing, and this time showed a clean pair of heels to the British challenger, RED VERDON. It may be a little surprising that this sire could produce an offspring who could win over twelve furlongs, as he, himself, was a three-time winner over seven furlongs, including the Group 3 Minstrel Stakes and runner-up in the six-furlong Phoenix Stakes. But that's the question mark about the influence of pedigree.

 

 

THURSDAY 14th JULY

 

OFFALY GOOD JOCKEY

Eight-time Irish flat racing Champion Jockey has demonstrated his superb racing skills on many occasion before now but yesterday's performance must rank as his most amazing yet. Pat Smullen rode the Peter Fahey-trained XSQUARED to victory in the Malton Handicap at Killarney, winning by one-and-a-half lengths. Nothing extraordinaryin that, you might say but if you had watched the race you would have seen that from about eight furlongs marker the son of EXCEED AND EXCEL's saddle slipped but still the Offaly-born jockey managed to stay aboard for more than a circuit in this two-mile-one handicap. In what was otherwise not a race to write home about, this remarkable feat of getting the well-backed 7-4 favourite mount around this sharp track in this predicament, earned the winning jockey the biggest cheer of the day as he walked back into the parade ring - holding the offending saddle.

 

A smiling Smullen stated: “Never, as long as I can remember, have I had a saddle slip as bad. He was just very strong for the first two furlongs, far too keen. He’s got no withers and the saddle slipped up his neck and I was out of control turning into the straight the first time. Luckily my colleagues let me out and let me go to the front, otherwise I was in danger of clipping heels. I was out of control the whole way, to be completely honest, until we got to the two-furlong marker and, from there, I just tried to sit still and try to keep the saddle in place. Thankfully, he had the ability to hold on. As they turned into the straight I was very much in fear of coming off him but, when he straightened up I realised they weren’t going to get to me. It was just one of those things.”

 

The winning trainer, Peter Fahey, joked: “I suppose I may learn how to tack-up. I thought for a minute I was going to injure the champion jockey. The saddle slipped up the horse’s neck but fair play to Pat. I’ve known him since we were pony racing together and he’s a good family friend, and I think this is his best year ever. He’s showing everyone what he’s really capable of.”

 

THE RACING QUEEN

Another filly maintained the on-going record of champion sire, FRANKEL, at Catterick yesterday. The Richard Fahey-trained QUEEN KINDLY, with Jamie Spencer aboard, starting at odds of 1/16, brooked virtually no resistance from her four rivals to win the five-furlong British Stallion Studs EBF Novices’ Stakes by three-and-a-half lengths. The chestnut filly came third in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot last month and is likely to go for the Group Two Lowther Stakes at York on August 18. The John Gosden-trained SEVEN HEAVENS is another GALILEO 'granddaughter', the sixth individual winner for FRANKEL, hoping to uphold the family name when she runs at Glorious Goodwood, possibly in the six-furlong Group Two Richmond Stakes.

 

Teddy Grimthorpe, owner Khalid Abdullah's racing manager commented: “We’re very pleased with him. It’s a very good, encouraging debut.”

 

MAYBE MINISTER!

When not discussing matters of state with the Queen at her weekly meetings perhaps the newly-elected Prime Minister might turn the discussion to horse racing, something she has in common, it seems, with the monarch. It has been revealed that Theresa May and her husband, Philip, were members of a small syndicate that owned DOME PATROL, who scored twice at Lingfield in 1994 and 1995. More than twenty years later the original trainer, William Muir, still recalls Prime Minister May's trips to the races: "She came racing twice with her husband - they were in a small syndicate with a few other people from London. They were introduced to the yard by an old owner of mine called Duncan Wiltshire, who has unfortunately since passed away. Dome Patrol did okay for them - he wasn't a world-beater but he did win us a couple of races. She was always very, very pleasant when she was at the races and always very nice when I met her.”

 

WEDNESDAY 13th JULY

 

FALLEN OUT OF LOVE

Former champion apprentice and all-weather champion jockey is one more rider this year who has decided to call it a day and surrender his licence. Chris Catlin, who partnered Cheltenham Champion, KAYF ARAMIS, on the bay gelding's second-ever career ride at Windsor in 2005 and last rode him to a runner-up slot at York in 2007, will join the Godolphin team as a work-rider. The 34-year-old, with 1,218 winners to his credit in Britain and many others in other countries, has, it seems, lost his love of race-riding. Barnet-born Chris Catlin's biggest success was notched up in 2006 when he won the German 2,000 Guineas on the Mick Channon-trained ROYAL POWER and his last ride was at Chelmsford in February for trainer, Rae Guest.

 

Chris Catlin commented: "I don't have a licence at the moment as I'm taking some time out from race-riding, which I've rather fallen out of love with in recent years. The lifestyle that goes with it involving all the travelling was getting a bit much and the opportunity came along to join Godolphin, so I took it. Saeed and the team are really nice to work with and I'm riding some nice horses so I'm enjoying life again. I think I've ridden approaching 1,300 winners in total, having first started out with Ken Ivory before joining Mick Channon. My biggest win was in the German 2,000 Guineas but I won a number of Group 3s, including on Mick's old horse Imperial Dancer."

 

Saaed Bin Suroor added: "Chris is a great addition to Godolphin and helps us a lot in the mornings with the feedback he gives after he has ridden work. He's a very good jockey, a very good work-rider and it's great to have him on the team."

 

LEGER LINES

At least one runner of the last eight renewals of the St Leger has come from the John Gosden stables, producing three winners so far – LUCARNO (2007), ARCTIC COSMOS (2010) and MASKED MARVEL (2011). The sixty-five-year-old Newmarket-based trainer will be there again the first week in September and seems to have a few noteworthy candidates for the contest, one of which is MUNTAHAA. This DANSILI son only kicked off his career this season and has had four outings so far, producing a First, a second and two Thirds. This indicates that he is certainly more inexperienced than many of his rivals who will line up at Doncaster. The King Edward Stakes, his last appearance, proved to be the appropriate preparation for the St Leger as four of the last eleven winners of this Classic also ran in this Group Two Royal Ascot feature race. An interesting statistic is that each of the subsequent winners failed to strike at the Berkshire track but finished in the first three as John Gosden protégé did.

 

WE SHALL FIGHT THEM ON THE RACETRACK!

The current 2017 Derby ante-post favourite could in the meantime have a crack at the Group Three Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown in a week's time. The Aidan O'Brien-trained CHURCHILL, already 14/1 for next year's Epsom Classic after his impressive win in the Listed Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot, will be going up a class for this Dublin débacle in the Ballydoyle trainer's bid to claim the prize for a tenth time; his first success came in 1995 with CHRISTY ROCHE, folowed more recently by RIP VAN WINKLE (2008), CAPE BLANCO (2009), GLENEAGLES, (2014) and DEAUVILLE last year.

 

Coolmore's UK representative, Kevin Buckley, commented: "Churchill has come out of the race at Ascot well. He is well above average and is a serious horse. He is high up there with the best of them. We could look at the Tyros Stakes now with him."

TUESDAY 12th JULY

 

TREMILA!

This forty-five-year-old Italian jockey is hoping to clock up his 3,000th British winner at Glorious Goodwood at the end of July. Frankie Dettori, who rode LIZZY HARE, his first British winner, to victory at Goodwood twenty-nine years ago, will be aboard the Hugo Palmer-trained GALILEO GOLD in the Qatar Sussex Stakes. The Milan-born rider has ten to go before reaching this magical target and believes the son of PACO BOY offers him the best chance of winning this feature contest for a fifth time.

 

Frankie Dettori commented: “It would be great journey of my life as it would be ironic if I can make it 3,000 winners at Goodwood. The track is a very special place and you never forget your first winner. I had a great meeting at Goodwood last year when I rode six winners. The ground beat us in the Irish Guineas, but he redeemed himself at Royal Ascot where he won the St James’s Palace Stakes. We beat The Gurkha at Ascot and I hope when can do the same again, with a bit of luck in running. He won at Goodwood last year which should be in our favour.”

 

SHE'S BACK!

This country's most successful female jockey, who retired at the end of last season, is thinking of getting back into the saddle again. Hayley Turner insists, however, this will not be a permanent arrangement. On August 6 the Nottingham-born rider has agreed to ride for the women's team again in the Shergar Cup at Ascot because the Melbourne Cup-winning jockey, Michelle Payne, has been forced to withdraw due to injury. Hayley Turner played a major part in the team's success last year.

 

Hayley Turner commented: "I've been riding out and keeping quite fit while I've been off. I've stepped up over the last three weeks. Race-riding and riding out are completely different things. Hopefully in a couple of weeks someone will give me a ride or two to blow the cobwebs away. I've not got any rides lined up but I spoke to Conor Dore. He is running Desert Strike in a couple of weeks and it would be nice to get a ride on him. I also half-thought about going to America for a few weeks. At the moment, I am happy I'm just coming back for the Shergar Cup as I'm enjoying my new role. There is no plan to make a big comeback, but I will see how I feel after that (Shergar Cup)."

 

BUILT FOR SPEED

The Molecomb Stakes at Glorious Goodwood on July 27 will see the Charlie Hills-trained BARRINGTON drop back to five furlongs again. The son of CASAMENTO finished way back in the field last week in the six-furlong July Stakes at Newmarket and his Hungerford-based trainer has decided that his protégé is built for speed so more suited to the shorter distance.

 

Charlie Hills commented: Another horse who could be heading to Goodwood for the Molecomb is Barrington. He showed plenty of dash in the July Stakes, but ran out of steam. We've been struggling with dirty scopes with him, and his scope after the race still wasn't perfect. Once we get him right he could be a serious horse."

MONDAY 11th JULY

 

DEAL AT DITCHEAT

A last-minute deal has been struck by the champion National Hunt trainer to retain two of his top stable stars at Ditcheat. Owner, Jared Sullivan, announced a few days ago that he was giving up his interest in jump racing and that all his top horses, including SILVINIACO CONTI and ZARKANDAR, trained by Paul Nicholls, would go to auction. Now both of these champions, with eleven Grade One wins between them, will stay at Manor House Stables

 

Paul Nicholls' assistant, Harry Derham, commented: “It is obviously disappointing to lose Jared as an owner, but we are delighted that other owners in the yard have offered their support. Horses like Clan Des Obeaux, Arpege D’Alene, Frodon, Mister Mix and their like will all be staying in the yard alongside the old favourites which is great news for everybody at Ditcheat.’”

 

ENDE GUT, ALLES GUT!

Hamburg-Horn was the scene of one of the most exciting finishes for its 147th running of the £550,000 Classic Deutsches Derby. The heavy ground, desribed as "like glue" by several jockeys, obviously caused problems for many of the runners and, particularly the Aidan O'Brien-trained LANDOFHOPEANDGLORY, who dropped right out in the straight and came last-but-one. Some runners managed to cope very well, however. With just a hundred yards to the finish, all the main contenders were virtually in a line but the Andreas Wohler-trained ISFAHAN, ridden by Dario Vargiu, still had more in reserve and held on by a head from the fast-finishing Freddy Tylicki-ridden SAVOIRE who, in turn, was a neck ahead of DSCHINGIS SECRET. It was all so close that the result had to be determined by a three-way photo finish.

 

The winning jockey commented: "I wanted to come as late as possible and I probably hit the front too soon, but still it's a great result. "

 

The winning trainer added: "Isfahan doesn't really need ground as heavy as this, but he certainly needs it soft, and his defeat in the Italian Derby can be excused, where it was much too fast."

 

THREEMENDOUS!

This Kiltale-based trainer made it a treble at Fairyhouse yesterday. Ger Lyons saddled winners in the first and last race on the card with his regular jockey Colin Keane. The last race was a particularly exciting three-runner affair where LUSTROUS LIGHT set the pace and beat the Aidan O'Brien-trained COOK ISLAND by two and a half lengths. The day's duo had already claimed the first race with NOIVADO in the Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Median Auction Maiden. It was just left for Gary Carroll on board QUEEN CATRINE, to clinch the Group 3 Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Brownstown Stakes, which the trainer won last year with AINIPPE who wasn't up to it this year, only managing fifth out of the six runners.

 

SUNDAY 10th JULY

 

FRANKELY SPEAKING

First it was CUNCO and then QUEEN KINDLY in the news as FRANKEL'S first successful progeny now there are two more to add to the Juddmonte Farm's sire. Yesterday another two-year-old filly made the grade by winning a seven-furlong fillies' maiden at Clairefontaine in France and this was the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained TOULIFAUT, bred out of the DARSHAAN mare Cassydora, winner of the Listed Lingfield Oaks Trial and runner-up in the Group 1 Nassau Stakes. Interestingly this filly was listed as unsold at 285,000 guineas at last year's Tattersalls October Yearling Sale. The great FRANKEL had another representative at the French track yesterday. His son, LAST KINGDOM, finished second in a seven-furlong contest. All-in-all it was a successful long week-end as on Friday he John Gosden-trained SEVEN HEAVENS gave his sire another winner with a length victory in the six-furlong Helical Bar EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes at Ascot. That means incredibly that the Banstead Manor Stud resident has now produced seven winners from eight runners in Europe, with six of those scoring on their first appearance on a racetrack. FRANKEL'S early successes as a sire compare well with other superstar horses FRANKEL's as a sire but he has certainly got off to a good start.

 

SWEET VICTORY!

Henry Candy's LIMATO won the Darley July Cup by two lengths at Newmarket yesterday. There was an anxious moment when the son of TAGULA drifted across the course in the final yards but he was comfortably ahead for that not to affect the outcome. The four-year-old bay gelding had something to prove as he would have to live down no fewer than three fruitless attempts in Group One races and was up against three rivals that had won top-class races at Royal Ascot last month.

 

Henry Candy commented: “He’s exciting, isn’t he? Absolutely amazing to watch,” said Candy, who had mocked himself beforehand for a “42-year losing streak” in the July Cup that is now at an end. “Absolutely wonderful. In a year when things haven’t gone great, it’s doubly wonderful but to see a horse perform like that is just very exciting. I thought he ran a cracking race in the Lockinge, he settled very well. I keep on saying it a thousand times, the horses weren’t right at the time, the ground wasn’t quite right but I thought he got the mile. I’ve been training him pretty much to stay as it is. It didn’t look like it today, did it, but we’ve had the Summer Mile very much in mind. So I have been trying to teach him to settle as much as possible. OK, a couple of times this week, I’ve let him fizz along, just to try and get the fizz out of him and let him enjoy himself but I’ve been trying to train him to stay all through the year. I think he’ll probably do it OK.”

 

LAST TO FIRST

A German-bred horse put on an incredible performance in the Racing Goes On Griffin Plate at Sha Tin racecourse. The Tony Cruz-trained PAKISTAN STAR made a dreadful start in the 1200 metre contest and was soon at least twelve lengths behind the early leaders. Three-hundred yards from the finishing line Jockey Matthew Chadwick faced a huge task as he was still last of all 14 horses in the race. But then the two-year-old gelding, bought for a $1 million in March, produced an amazing run the outside of the field and went from last to win by two lengths. This victory bagged $77,600 for his owner, and gave hope for a triumphant future.

 

His jockey wasn't so sure, however, as he commented: “I don't think he beat anything special, the griffin races haven't been that impressive so I did say to the owners that I thought he had a blowout chance today.”  

 

SATURDAY 9th JULY

 

THE HILLS ARE ALIVE ...

MUHAARAR won the the July Cup for Charlie Hills last year and the Hungerford-based trainer is aimingto score again with either MAGICAL MOMENT or COTAI GLORY. The former came fourth behind TWILIGHT SUN in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes and is vying for favouritism at 6-1 with this old rival.

 

Charlie Hills commented: "I'd like to think the quick ground will help him and he's seems to have a nice draw with plenty of pace around him. I've been delighted with him since Ascot and he hasn't got much to find with the likes of Twilight Son.

 

COTAI GLORY who came second in the King's Stand is more of an outside chance at 33/1 but will provide a big day' run for the Labourn trainer's apprentice jockey, Michael Murphy.

 

Charlie Hills added: "He's got to stay six furlongs, but the ground will suit him a lot better than Ascot," said Hills. "There's no reason he can't get six, but it is a stiff six. He looks very well. It's a big ride for Michael and he deserves it. He rides the horse a lot at home and gets on with him, so it makes sense for him to ride."

 

ROOKIE, YOU'RE GOOD!”

Another rookie trainer got off to a flying start in his new career yesterday. Robbie McNamara saddled the 12/1 CHADIC to win made a dream start the Mallow Maiden Hurdle at Cork last night. The Limerick-based trainer's riding career came to an abrupt end when he suffered severe spinal injuries from a fall at Wexford in April 2015. He got his training licence in May and plans to saddle Flat and National Hunt horses from his base in County Kildare. CHADIC owned by Dr Ronan Lambe, with whom McNamara enjoyed great success during his riding days.

 

Robbie McNamara commented: 'I rode an awful lot of winners for Dr Lambe and before I got the fall he said he'd support me when I go training.

'I can't thank him enough and he has a lovely bunch of six horses in my yard - I have 19 in total and only four of those were ready to run.'

 

FRIDAY 8th JULY

 

AWESOME FOURSOME!

Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning scored in the first four races at Leopardstown yesterday. The first victory for the County Kilkenny-based trainer was chalked up when debut runner, RADIO SILENCE, broadcast his arrival by winning the Racecourse Of The Year Race by two lengths.

 

The seventy-four-year-old handler commented: "He's the first War Front I've had and he has potential. He'll either go for the Tyros back here or might go to the Curragh for the Anglesey."

 

Forty minutes later the dynamic duo were back in the winner's enclosure after CIRIN TOINNE showed who was mistress in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden. It was the three-year-old GALILEO daughter's first appearance on the County Dublin track but she soon dominated the proceedings and went on to win by a length and three-quarters.

 

Jum Bolger commented: "She's my last Galileo. I had two nominations that year and she's the last one. She just needed a little bit of time. She was a very late foal and we didn't really train her last year, she was a little bit slow to learn. We'll look for some black-type and then she'll be a broodmare. Going up or down in trip wouldn't matter to her."

 

Number three on the board, the Jack L Handicap, was a much more closely run affair. BRONTIDE, although he established dominance early on, was strongly challenged from about one furlong out and lost the lead temporarily inside the final two hundred yards but managed to stay on and claim victory by a nose. The four-timer was perhaps a little unexpected and was certainly a heart-stopper. In the feature race, the Irish Stallion Farms EBF 'Nasrullah' Handicap the 2/1 favourite, QATARI HUNTER, was held up in the rear of the field until the approach to the home turn and it looked like he had too much to do to make any impression on his nine rivals. When Kevin Manning asked the ultimate question at the furlong pole, however, the three-year-old son of FOOTSTEPSINTHESAND produced a finishing kick that proved unchallengeable and the result was a win by a head.

 

The winning trainer added: "I've had a few five-timers, but I'm not sure if I've had four out of four before. They are firing on all cylinders and it's lovely to have a night like this."

 

BIG APPEAL

The Princess Of Wales's Stakes at Newmarket yesterday was won by a horse who had to be brought back from the gallops in a horse ambulance just over a week ago. The Michael Bell-trained BIG ORANGE allayed his connections' fears and frustrations, however, by producing a 'career best' effort to win this one-and-a-half mile feature event for a second year running. The son of DUKE OF MARMALADE had to be pulled out of the Royal Ascot Gold Cup as he doesn't like rain-softened ground. Then the Newmarket-based trainer was faced with fact that his stable star would never run again as he had twisted a shoe and was so lame that it was feared he had sustained a fracture.

 

Michael Bell commented: “He was hopping lame and the team at home have done a fantastic job to get him back. This latest win is hardly likely to encourage the handicappers to err on the side of leniency. Not being able to run the stable flagbearer has been very frustrating but he must have summer ground. He is a bigger, stronger horse this year and he has beaten some good horse's there easily. It is probably a career-best run. Whether he goes to Melbourne depends on what weight he is given. He had quite a lot last year and lugging top weight there is not easy.'

 

'SUDDENLY THAT NAME ….'

Ideal conditions are expected today at Newmarket for the David O'Meara-trained AMAZING MARIA making her seasonal appearance where she is expected to repeat her last year's success by winning the Group One Tattersalls 250th Year Falmouth Stakes. When the daughter of MASTERCRAFTSMAN was last at this track in May she was beaten by more than five lengths by the Andre Fabre-trained USHERETTE, who is her rival again today. The only difference is that the five-year-old grey mare is back to her more comfortable one-mile trip and, if she can produce the top form she demonstrated when she won the Prix Rothschild Stakes at Deauville, then her connections should be celebrating at around 4. 30 this afternoon.

 

THURSDAY 7th JULY

 

HORSES FOR SALE!

Jared Sullivan, major owner of Potensis, the specialist construction and property recruiter, is to give up his interest in jump racing and put his best horses on the market. The forty-three-year-old businessman proposes to sell his Paul Nicholls-trained SILVINIACO CONTI, winner of the King George VI Chase and the Nicky Henderson-trained BUVEUR D'AIR who triumphed in the Grade One Novice Hurdle at Aintree’s Grand National meeting in April. This has come as a particular shock to Paul Nicholls, whose stable is sponsored by jared Sullivan’s company. Others who will also be affected are trainer Harry Fry and jockey Noel Fehily, who has ridden many of the Potensis boss's horses as also acts as his racing manager. There is a possibility that the trainers will be given the chance to find buyers for their horses otherwise they will be sold on the open market.

 

Noel Fehily commented: ‘I think he is taking a break for a while. He will definitely be cutting back a fair way. There might be a few left but it will definitely be a big cut back. I would have thought Buveur D’Air will be sold on and Silviniaco Conti. There are a few nice horses but they are in partnership so they will be sold It will be a big loss (to me). I have ridden some nice horses for him over the years but racing does not stand still. You enjoy the good days and there is no good moaning now.’

 

A GREY DAY

Today's Princess of Wales's Arqana Racing Club Stakes at Newmarket will give racegoers the opportunity to see the Kevin Ryan-trained THE GREY GATSBY back in action again in the mile-and-a-half contest. The son of MASTERCRAFTSMAN hasn't had a win since claiming the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown ywo years ago, although he had a few good performances to his credit last year, including runner-up in both the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown and the Juddmonte International at York.The four-year-old had to be withdrawn from several races due to the unsuitability of the ground. He eventually made his seasonal appearance at Ascot last month in the Prince of Wales's Stakes but once more couldn't handle the testing conditions and came fourth.

 

The Thirsk-based Kevin Ryan commented: "He's in great form and has got his ground at last. It's the first time he's had his ground in 12 months - since the Eclipse last year - which is ridiculous really. He ran great at Ascot, he just can't cope with that soft ground. He has no turn of foot in it. Going up to a mile and a half won't be a problem and we're looking forward to running him. We're just taking it one day at a time."

 

NOT SO TERRIBLE!

Unusually the former American jockey now trainer is being a little downbeat about the prospects for his runner at Newmarket today. Wesley Ward has thus far established a successful record for the two-year-olds that he has run in this country the juveniles, his last victory being the impressive heroine of the Queen Mary Stakes Royal Ascot, LADY AURELIA. The forty-eight-year-old Washington-born trainer, however, seems not so confident about OH SO TERRIBLE, who makes her racecourse debut today in the British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes.

 

Wesley Ward commented: "Having glanced over the race, it looks like it could be pretty strong. There are some well-bred horses, some top trainers and top jockeys in there. This filly would want a little bit further than she's going to run on Thursday, but that's good. We've been putting some speed into her in her training. I think she'll do good things later in the year, she'll be up on the pace, but I don't think she'll go out there all guns blazing from the front like a lot of mine. "She has a chance to win, but if there's a star in there she might do better on her second start."

 

WEDNESDAY 6th JULY

 

STONE ME!

The Kevin Ryan-trained BROKEN STONES could be one to keep an eye on in tomorrow's July Stakes at Newmarket. The son of REQUINTO ran his first race at York in May and won by an impressive length-and-a-half, in what was considered one of the highlights of the day. The two-year-old colt, ridden by Jamie Spencer, originally destined to run in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot but pulled him out due to soft ground, took a while to get his act together but when he did, he quickly dominated the proceedings. As the conditions at newmarket are currently listed as fast, connections decided that this was the place to go.

 

Kevin Ryan commented: "The ground was just not right at Ascot and you have to be 100% sure when running there. Missing the race will not be a problem at all and he has been working well at home, it also gave him a couple more weeks to mature which is always good with two-year-olds. Obviously it looks a good race and both Ardad and Mehmas were impressive at Ascot but we are very happy with Broken Stones. He was impressive on debut and will have learnt a lot for the run and has improved from it."

 

DAM GOOD

SPIRIT RAISER did just that at Pontefract yesterday when she won the Listed Weatherbys GSB Pipalong Stakes for trainer, James Fanshawe, and, thereby, matched her dam, MACADAMIA's triumph in 2003. The daughter of INVINCIBLE SPIRIT had something to prove as she failed to score at Royal Ascot last time out in the Royal Cup, also claimed by her dam thirteen years ago. Although jockey, Freddie Tylicki, dropped his whip as he approached the line, it didn't affect the outcome with the five-year-old proving too strong for the Richard Hannon-trained BLACK CHERRY in the closing stages.

 

The winning trainer commented: "I've pretty much had the family since I started training. The Pipalong used to be 10 days before Ascot and Macadamia won this before the Hunt Cup. She (Spirit Raiser) didn't go on the ground at Ascot, but she had won well at Nottingham. Obviously she's come back to that form today and Freddie's ridden a lovely race on her. It's great and important to get black type. She's won a Listed race and now we have to find a Group race for her. We got away with the ground today. She wouldn't want it any softer than this. It was a bit dead today and she prefers faster ground.

 

Freddie Tylicki added: "She's a good filly and has been running in some very competitive handicaps. Everything went to plan today and I'm delighted to be associated with her. She was Hayley's (Turner) ride and she filled me in on how to ride her the last time and she's improving."

 

ADDING INSULT TO INJURY!

How unlucky can you get! Northern Ireland jockey, Chris Meehan, was kicked in the face and knocked out falling from his horse during a hurdle race at the Merano track in Italy. Then the racecourse ambulance that was sent to assist him came up alongside and reversed onto his leg and broke it. In addition, the County Down jockey suffered a dislocated ankle, a broken nose and a gash that required 27 stitches. The irony is that that his father teaches ambulance drivers back in Northern Ireland and other members of his family work for the ambulance service

Chris Meehan commented: "The starter came over to help me because I was on my back and choking on my blood. He put me in the recovery position, with my right leg out straight. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the racecourse ambulance came up alongside us and reversed up onto my leg. They stopped it on top of my leg so I started screaming. It broke it straight away. Everyone around me had to push it off me. You have to laugh really. What makes it worse is my father, brother, auntie - they’re all ambulance people! My father actually teaches most people in Northern Ireland and England how to drive the ambulance! It’s bizarre, you couldn’t make it up.”

 

TUESDAY 5th JULY

 

DIVIDED WE (DO NOT) FALL!

A North Yorkshire-based trainer was doubly delighted when it was decided to divide the Racing UK Day Pass Just £10 Handicap at Ayr into two. Ruth Carr had two runners for this event and she was thus able to run one in each division – and won both! The first victory was gained by DANISH DUKE, with Jimmy Sullivan aboard, who coped well with the rain-soaked ground at the Scottish track and even overcame a six pound penalty, which made him top weight, to seize the prize by a neck. The single very quickly became a double thirty-five minutes later when eight-year-old HAB REEH, also ridden by Jimmy Sullivan, dominated his six-furlong heat to beat the Jim Goldie-trained GONINODAETHAT by a length and a quarter, making it his second success at this racecourse in two months.

 

Ruth Carr commented: "We were very pleased when the race divided. I thought they would both have a good chance when I made the entries but it's not very nice having to run them against each other. One (Danish Duke) needed to run with the penalty and the other one (Hab Reeh) likes the track, so it ended up perfect for us. Danish Duke was stuck in a pocket and didn't half stay on well to get up in the shadow of the post. He's in really good form. We've had the big, grey horse (Hab Reeh) a long time now and he recovered from a nasty foot injury last year. It was touch and go whether he would make it, let alone get back to the racecourse, so that's pleasing for the owners who have been loyal and patient. He likes the course and the ease underfoot probably helps him these days as well. I won't run Danish Duke with a double penalty and we'll see how Hab Reeh is when he comes home and see what there is for him."

 

FALLON ON HARD TIMES

Some of the leading lights in horse racing, including Sir Michael Stoute, Frankie Dettori and Richard Hughes yesterday paid tribute to Kieren Fallon, after the unexpected announcement that he had retired. The six-time champion used to be stable jockey to the Barbadian-born knight and rode five British Classic winners for him, including two Epsom Derby triumphs – KRIS KIN in 2003 and NORTH LIGHT in 2004. He also rode the latter to victory in the Irish Derby three weeks later.

 

Sir Michael Stoute commented: "Kieren had a power that could propel horses to go faster than they thought they could. A very gifted rider and a horse lover. I wish him well and thank him for his great contribution to the stable."

 

Frankie Dettori added: "I've known and ridden alongside Kieren for the past 30 years. He's always been at the top of my list as the most ferocious competitor, and over the years we've gained great respect for each other. It's sad to see Kieren finish and I wish him all the best."

 

Ex-jockey Richard Hughes, former jockey turned trainer, said: "It's sad news as Kieren has been a good friend for many years and I feel for him. For a man of his calibre the mounts he's been getting just lately would make anyone depressed, but I wish him all the best. I quit the saddle when I was 42 so for him to keep going until he's 51 has been a great achievement."

 

MIND CANDY

Punters and bookmakers alike got all excited yesterday about one entry for the July Cup on Saturday after comments from his Wantage-based trainer. Henry Candy made some enthusiastic comments about LIMATO's chances in the Newmarket feature race that got the market buzzing. The Kingston Warren handler will also saddle the current favourite, TWILIGHT SON in Saturday’s big sprint.

 

Henry Candy commented: “It would not surprise me if [Limato] did beat him as the British Horseracing Authority rate him 2lb higher than Twilight Son, which is fair enough,” Candy said. “Twilight Son is a stroppy brute on a racecourse. Limato wears his heart on his sleeve and is a tough little fighter. I do think he has progressed from Ascot. Going on what Ryan Moore has said, he will improve with that run. “The attitude and his work have been very good. Obviously it is a short time between two Group Ones so we have not done a lot of work. I think it will be a stronger race than the Ascot race. He will need to be a little bit better than at Ascot but I am hopeful that he will be. Limato is a very free worker. He is a nightmare but, when he is in a good mood, he is a sweet horse and a great character. He has never been easy to saddle and the lad that rides him every day is brilliant with him, he knows what to do and when to leave him alone.”

 

MONDAY 4th JULY

 

LUCKY THIRTEEN

Thirteen three-year-old fillies, several with notable sires and dams, will run in this evening's Maiden Fillies' Stakes at Windsor. One that catches the eye is the Michael Stoute-trained JANTINA. This daughter of DUTCH ART admittedly didn't get off to a good start at Nottingham at the end of March but she might be forgiven that result as she did slip badly on the bend and was unable to recover. The Ted Durcan-partnered filly has also in her favour that her dam is a PIVOTAL mare which should help the required speed. Opposing her is the John Gosden-trained and Godolphin-owned LAUGH ALOUD, a daughter DUBAWI, the successful Darley stallion. This three-year-old filly has has been runner-up twice from her three starts to date, and, considering that she was only pipped to the post by a length behind Listed runner WILAMINA, she could well be the one to beat.

 

FIRST TREBLE

This County Meath trainer had to wait thirty-three years for such a result, Eddie Lynam notched up his first treble of his training career at Naas yesterday. The first success came in the Caremark Kildare & West Dublin Apprentice Handicap when FUTURE ICON, with Anastasia O'Brien aboard, scored with one-and-three-quarter lengths to spare. It took this son of ACCLAMATION sixteen attempts to break his duck which he managed eleven days ago, also at this County Kildare track.

 

The winning trainer commented: "As you can see from her swishing her tail (in the parade ring afterwards), she is not completely straightforward. Ana was good on her but Oisin (Orr) will be sick as he had the pick of the two (and rode Frosty Dream, unplaced).

 

Another success came in the very next race when the 3/1 favourite, OTTILIE managed to overhaul the leading GIRL OF THE HOUR in the last hundred yards of the Irish Stallion Farms Fillies Maiden.

 

Eddie Lynam added: "She had a bit of a hold-up after her last run, and I was hoping she would win. Wayne (Lordan) thought she was nice and it's nice to train a winner for Lady O'Reilly again. She will go for a handicap."

 

The long-awaited treble came thirty-five minutes later in the Micheal Higgins & Co Handicap. WHISKEY SOUR won this race by a short head.

 

The County Meath handler commented: "He battled like he did in Galway last year. He won't let you down in a fight. Pat said he just got stopped at a crucial time halfway up the straight and would have been an unlucky loser. Pat liked him and he'll probably go for the mile handicap for three-year-olds at Galway, although I don't think we'll get the same jockey the next day. I'll be pleasantly surprised if Dermot (Weld) doesn't have anything. I've been training 33 years and this is my first treble. It's a special day."

 

TAKING A FENCE

Waterford-born Dylan Robinson also had something to celebrate yesterday at Limerick. He bagged his first win over fences. The 7lb claimer's had already won twice over hurdles but this was new territory. He was riding the Henry De Bromhead-trained THE KING OF BREGA in the Galway Plate Trial Handicap Chase and certainly proved he had what it takes over the bigger obstacles and beat experienced professionals to boot. He kept the son of COURT CAVE close to the pace established by KING LEON and ARANHILL CHIEF and decided three from home to go for it and galloped imperiously to a twelve-length victory.

 

The winning trainer commented: "His jumping was superb and Dylan gave him a brilliant ride. I said 'go out and be positive' and he came alight and broke their hearts. I'm delighted for Dylan as he is a good member of my staff and is a nice guy and a good rider. I'll speak to the owners and see what they'd like to do - I'd say he'll struggle to get into the Plate but could go for the Galway Blazers."

SUNDAY 3rd JULY

 

BILL PAID 

A £30,000 supplementary entry at the start of the week eclipsed the other six runners to claim the prestigious prize, making it six wins in a row and, into the bargain, giving Godolphin a fifth success in this £525,000 feature event at Sandown Park. Before the running of the Coral-Eclipse, all eyes were on the Aidan O'Brien-trained THE GURKHA as the runner to provide the Bally doyle stables with the crown. Previous Godolphin winners had all been trained by Saeed bin Suroor but this champion was home-grown and was a first for the Newmarket-based trainer Charlie Appleby. At the line only half a length separated the William Buick-ridden HAWKBILL from the heavily backed THE GURKHA, with Ryan Moore aboard, but that was enough for the three-year-old son of KITTEN'S JOYS to take the cream.

 

Godolphin's CEO, John Ferguson commented: "I love Charlie, Saeed and our own trainers but the important thing is for the team as a whole to be winning races worldwide. That's what Godolphin is all about. We are having a great time in Australia and America so it's very important to be winning big races here too whoever they are trained by."

The winning trainer added: "He has been a challenging horse but he has got some racing under his belt and mentally got stronger with each run. At Ascot he was very warm before the preliminaries but he did what we thought he could do."

 

BRANDO'S THE WILD ONE

Earlier in the day the Kevin Ryan-trained son of PIVOTAL secured a successful transition to Group Level company by claiming the Coral Charge at Sandown. Sent off the 2/1 favourite BRANDO, denied MONSIEUR JOE the prize by a short head. The four-year-old chestnut gelding, who lost out by a head in the Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot in the middle of last month, was determined to get his revenge and, astutely partnered by Tom Eaves, he was soon in a prominent position ready to surge clear inside the final two furlongs.

 

The winning jockey commented: “He could've done with something to take him further, but he travelled so well and in this [soft] ground I wanted to keep the momentum going. I could've done anything on him and he's quite uncomplicated. He's versatile and a joy to be around. It's testing ground, but he's got a massive heart."

 

ROD NOT SPARED

All the action seemed to be concentrated on Sandown yesterday. The first race of the day, the Coral.co.uk Handicap, was another race not to be missed. The Rod Millman-trained SIR RODERIC continued his successful season by making it a hat-trick. With the Esher track officially rated as soft, this seven-furlong race proved to be a test of stamina, increased by a heavy shower during the event. This didn't seem to worry the son of RODERIC O'CONNOR who was able to deliver whatever his jockey asked and was soon in a prominent position to go on to score, one-and-a-half lengths ahead of the Simon Crisford-trained SILK CAVEAT whom even Frankie Dettori couldn't urge to do any more.

 

Rod Millman commented: "He's a lovely horse to have in the yard and he has enough size about him to go on and be a good horse. He was a big two-year-old and has just matured a bit this year. He ran some nice races last year and we quite fancied him in his maiden at Windsor on his last run of the season, but the ground was heavy and he just got a bit behind and he didn't like the kickback. The handicapper will have his say but at the moment we are making hay.”

SATURDAY 2nd JULY

 

WHO'LL ECLIPSE WHOM?

On the face of it the Aidan O'Brien-trained THE GURKHA is the one to beat in today's Group One Coral-Eclipse at Sandown. The son of GALILEO had a disappointing run at Royal Ascot last month but made up for it at Deauville when he won the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains by five lengths. On the basis of that result it looks as though the step up in distance today will not cause any problems. The one concern is undoubtedly the good to soft ground conditions at Sandown as the going was described as soft at Ascot whereas it was good in France. Connections of the Roger Charlton-trained TIME TEST, on the other hand, think the surface should be suitable. The DUBAWI colt has won two of his last three starts, although he was trounced in the Breeders Cup at the end of October. The contest may well be resolved by the recent Prince Of Wales's Stakes winner My Dream Boat who has twice finished in front of Western Hymn this season. The Clive Cox-trained of LORD SHANAKILL was a surprise winner last month and seems to be going from strength to strength and will appreciate the easy ground conditions.

 

A NEW CHANNEL

It has just been announced that later this year a new television channel is to be created to service high street betting shops. A new partnership between the Arena Racing Company (ARC) and seven independent racecourse, to be known as The Racing Partnership (TRP), will cover racing from around 650 fixtures in the UK each year as well as all South African racing. The new TV channel is set to be launched at the beginning of September, startng off with racing from South Africa. Then six Arc courses - including Doncaster, Southwell, Lingfield and Wolverhampton will be included in the channel's broadcasts on January 1, 2017. Other ARC-owned racecourses and independent venues (Fakenham, Ffos Las, Hexham, Newton Abbot, Plumpton, Ripon and Towcester) will be added towards the end of next year. Meanwhile all racing from Arc tracks will continue to be shown on At The Races.

 

Martin Cruddace, ARC's CEO commented: "We have worked incredibly hard to produce a compelling and valuable product for the retail betting sector. This is an exciting development and offers the LBO market a new and much more efficient way to purchase racing pictures for their customers. Under the new structure all betting operators will be able to work directly with TRP which will help create a more effective market structure which will benefit all parties. We look forward to working with the retail sector to maximise the value of the product for their businesses."

 

Pat Masterson, Newton Abbot's MD added: "We are delighted to be working with Arc to form The Racing Partnership. This provides the independent racecourses with new opportunities to collaborate and support each other in order to ensure we can safeguard and develop our racecourses."

 

GALA PERFORMANCE

The outcome of the Listed Ambant Gala Stakes at Sandown Park yesterday never really seemed in doubt. The Roger Charlton-trained AYRAD dominated the contest from the word go. Jockey Andrea Atzeni urged the son of DALAKHANI into the lead from the moment the stalls opened and and dictated a steady gallop in this ten-furlong contest. Only Brian Meehan's SPARK PLUG presented any real threat as the pace quickened but the eventual winner proved the stronger as they went up the hill climb to the line, leaving his rival three-quarters of a length in his wake.

Roger Charlton commented: "I think he deserved it. He ran disappointingly in France. We think a mile and a quarter is his trip and not a mile and a half and even better ground will help him, I think. Andrea felt that he was always going to win and that he didn't really get at him until the last furlong and a half, although I am not sure I did watching it. He will probably go for a Group Three over a mile and a quarter now. The Rose of Lancaster at Haydock could be an option."

FRIDAY 1st JULY

 

GOING FOR SIX

Tomorrow's Group One Coral-Eclipse at Sandown has been won five times by Aidan O'Brien: GIANT'S CAUSEWAY (2000), HAWK WING (2002), ORATORIO (2005), MOUNT NELSON (2008) and SO YOU THINK (2011). Not surprisingly the Ballydoyle king would like to make it half-a-dozen so he will be saddling two challengers: THE GURKHA and stable companion, BRAVERY. The GALILEO colt who won the French 2000 Guineas now steps up in trip to mile and a quarter for the first time. The one to beat is probably the Clive Cox-trained MY DREAM BOAT fresh from his victory in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot at the beginning of the month. An interesting entry is the Roger Charlton-trained TIME TEST who goes for his first Group One prize. This son of DUBAWI missed his planned run in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh because of the ground but made up for that by winning the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown four days later. Testing conditions also prevented him from running at Ascot. Earlier in the week the Esher track was waterlogged but the weather has improved so things are more hopeful.

 

Teddy Grimthorpe, owner Khalid Abdullah's Racing Manager: commented: "When we took him to Ireland for the Tattersalls Gold Cup, the ground was genuinely soft and we didn't think he would enjoy that. It was a similar situation at Ascot, especially over the first five furlongs of the mile and a quarter - it was pretty soft. We've got to the stage now where it's probably going to be good to soft (at Sandown) and that will certainly be within his scope. We're looking forward to going."

 

OAKS OK?

Another trainer determined to add to his string of successes is John Gosden who has declared two runners in tomorrow's bet365 Lancashire Oaks at Haydock in a bid for a seventh win. His first was back in 1997 with SQUEAK and his most recent was two years ago with POMOLOGY. One of his hopefuls is FURIA CRUZADA, the triple South American Group who put on her best show so far when runner-up to the Andre fabre-trained USHERETTE in the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot on 15th June. The problem here is that race was over a mile and tomorrow's contest is nearly a mile and a half so it could be a challenge. The other John Gosden entry is stable-companion, LADY OF CAMELOT, who returned from a year-and-a-half break to score in a Maiden Stakes at Leicester at the end of May. The significance of that win is that the horse she beat, AJMAN PRINCESS went on to come second in the Ribblesdale Stakes two weeks ago.

 

TRUE TO FORM

A gloomy night at Tipperary last night was brightened somewhat by the Aidan O'Brien-trained PROMISE TO BE TRUE who won the Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Fillies Maiden in a manner that indicated that there is more to come. This GALILEO daughter was part of a three-prong Ballydoyle attack and, although naturally showing signs of inexpreience, she on the mile-and-a-half event by a length. For a while it looked as though rookie trainer, Joseph O'Brien might steal the glory from his Dad when his PERPLEXITY, ridden by brother Donnocha, tried to make all but but it wasn't to be as the daughter of MASTERCRAFTSMAN came under pressure from DECISIVE INTENT as the runners turned for home. At this stage the Ballydoyle trio were still some way back in the field. Approaching two out it seemed things could get verse for the eventual winner when ELIZABETH BROWNING, ridden by another O'Brien – Anastasia – posed a challenge. PROMISE TO BE TRUE was then being pushed along in last place turning into the straight, with some 150 yards to go, but jockey Seamie Heffernan saw his chance and persuaded his mount to go for it and she did in the most eye-catching fashion.

 

Aidan O'Brien commented: “She’s a very well-bred filly, and Seamus gave her a lovely ride – he was very kind on her. She learned a lot in that race, and could go to the Debutante Stakes next. She isn’t entered in the Moyglare because she wasn’t named in time.”

 

THURSDAY 30th JUNE

 

SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS

ARAMIS was certainly in the air at Worcester yesterday but not the perfume but the Michael Scudamore-trained ZAYFIRE ARAMIS, who, on his twelfth attempt after four good placings, scored his first victory. The son of ZAFEEN was competing against ten rivals in the grand Central Handicap Chase over two-and-a-half miles. The distance was right but there had always been a slight question mark over the ground. Yesterday it was good and the seven-year-old clearly had no problems. As seems to have become the regular strategy, the chestnut gelding was given a patient ride at the rear of the field under rising star, Brendan Powell jnr. Not until the ninth fence did the Ross-on-Wye resident start to make some headway. By this time it was noticeable that three or four of the runners were starting to have a problem and, indeed, four of them were eventually pulled up around four out. ZAYFIRE ARAMIS systematically picked off the the weakening leaders one by one and went clear after the last obstacle. Then there was no stopping him and he still seemed to have a lot left as he surged past the post, ten lengths ahead of his nearest rival. A much awaited and well-deserved win.

 

TIME TO RUN

The Coral-Eclipse at Sandown will not take place without this Beckhampton-based trainer's entry. TIME TEST may have missed a planned run in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot earlier this month due to soft ground but Roger Charlton insists he has every intention of running him on Saturday. The son of DUBAWI has only had one race so far this season, the Brigadier Gerard Stakes, which he just won by a neck but connections are confident that the four-year-old is well prepared to to take on the the mile-and-a-quarter Group One contest.

 

Roger Charlton commented: "The plan is to run Time Test, as it was before. Everything has gone to plan and the horse is absolutely fine. His last bit of work went perfectly well. It's all been said before about why he hasn't run and people can read into what they like, but it is frustrating. Let's wait until Saturday to see what the ground is like as there is no point guessing. "It could be an exciting clash with The Gurkha, but I am not going to make any bold statements about it."

 

Andrew Cooper, Sandown's Clerk of the Course added; "I think we continue to improve here. In terms of a going report, at the moment I've left the round course as good to soft as that is what it was when I walked it this morning. Since then we have had some patchy drizzle, but no more than that. It is a pretty overcast day and I am not anticipating us getting a great deal in terms of rain. It doesn't look like it is going to be as soft as we thought earlier in the week based on where we were and the forecast we have been given.”

 

PUNISHMENT AS A REWARD?

The problem with winning a race too easily is that it puts the victor at the mercy of the handicapper and trainer, Ann Duffield, is hoping that her BROCKHOLES will not be penalised too heavily for her effortless three-length victory in the £25 Free Bet At 188Bet Handicap at Catterick yesterday. It was the daughter of EQUIANO's second outing for the North Yorkshire-based trainer since leaving Richard Fahey's yard and the the three-year-old chestnut filly was the lowest rated in the field at 69. What looked initially like a very competitive seven-furlong handicap developed into a procession lead by the PJ McDonald-ridden winner, ironically beating her former trainer's INVERMERE.

 

Ann Duffield commented: “She's done it very well. Her first run for us at Carlisle was promising and it turns out it was a very warm race, the winner was second in a Listed race the other day. She's obviously handled the soft ground very well, but she's also gone on quick ground so she's very versatile. She's done well physically and now we'll just have to see what the handicapper does. It's nice to finally have a winner. We've been having lots of placed horses and it's been frustrating. I think we worked out that from 105 runners, 54 had been in the first four, yet we've not had many winners. The weather certainly isn't helping the fillies, that's for sure."

 

WEDNESDAY 29th JUNE

 

SEEING DOUBLE

Punters could literally be seeing double in the latest development in horse racing. Two foals who have not even set foot on a racecourse could make history if they race against each other. The reason is that they are twins. They were a result of a pairing between MADEIRA MIST and the three-time Grade 1 winner, JOSHUA TREE, at the Castlemartin Stud run by Lady O'Reilly. The twins have been named MAGIC MIST and MADEIRA MOON. It is rare for a thoroughbred to produce twins but it is even rarer that both of the progeny would prove capable of going through the rigours of training. In this case, however, it seems it might just be possible.

 

Chryss Goulandris or Lady O'Reilly commented: "It was a surprise for everybody. When they were born one was much bigger than the other and it was supposed that the smaller one might not make it. But they've both made it and the smaller one grew and now they're very similar in size, albeit with slightly different markings. One looks rather compact and is a stronger, speedier type, while the other is a little rangier and looks as if she'll take longer. One looks more of a sprinting type but you never know, they're only two-year-olds, so it could happen. We could race them against each other just for the history books!”

 

WHATCHA KNOW JOE?

After a veteran sprinter's impressive victory at Hamilton yesterday, his trainer could decide to run him again at Sandown on Saturday. The Paul Midgley-trained MONSIEUR JOE claimed his first victory of the season in the EBF Stallions Soba Conditions Stakes at the South Lanarkshire track. The son of CHOISIR was actually supposed to be second string to his stable companion, LINE OF REASON, but the nine-year-old surprised his connections by making an impressive assault on this five-furlong contest and triumphed by three-quarters of a length.

 

The winning Yorkshire-based trainer commented: "He is an absolute legend of a horse and is a thorough gent. Words can not describe him highly enough. He is very straightforward and wears his heart on his sleeve. He has been worth his weight in gold and has given us lots of pleasure. To be honest, he hasn't done a lot wrong this season. He ran well first time out at Naas, then the ground dried up in France. Things didn't go his way in the Dash at Epsom and the same happened at Musselburgh. The bit of rain they had here got into the ground and that helped him. I would say as long as he is fine in the morning and in the run up to Saturday I am sure he will go down to Sandown. He loves the soft ground and with some of those entered not going it opens up the door for him."

 

PUT TO THE TEST

The Superlative Stakes at Newmarket next week could be the target for the Andrew Balding-trained SOUTH SEAS based on his impressive eight-length win in his debut, the Newcomers' Maiden Stakes, at Windsor nine days ago. The son of LOPE DE VEGA, owned by Qatar, certainly handled the soft conditions very well but the Newbury-based trainer would like to see whether the two-year-old can deal with quicker ground.

 

Andrew balding commented: “He was impressive, they looked like the clocked a pretty good time and he looks an exciting horse. We liked him before but you never quite know first time out, we managed to get Elm Park beaten first time so he's done well to break the tradition of our horses needing a run. He'll probably have an entry in the Superlative Stakes next week, I think he wants seven furlongs, Oisin (Murphy) thought that. Obviously he might have to encounter faster ground but we'll have to try that at some stage.

 

TUESDAY 28th JUNE

 

Gary Phipps 

 

Phipps from the Greek philhippos means someone who loves horses

And Gary was never happier than when appearing at race courses

Particularly if Kayf Aramis was on a winning run,

Being the proud owner gave him a lot of fun.

When he entered the Winner's Enclosure at Cheltenham in 2009

His horse was a Champion and he was on Cloud Nine! 

 

MONDAY 27th JUNE

 

MINDING HER PS AND QS

The Aidan O'Brien-trained daughter of GALILEO, was on her best behaviour in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh yesterday, thus claiming her fifth Group One success. Three-year-old MINDING was taking on four four-year-old rivals in this ten-furlong contest and put on an impressive display to win by four-and-a-half lengths. For a short while it looked as though the Jessica Harrington-trained BOCCA BACIATA might upset the apple cart by assuming the lead as the five fillies turned for home but the Ballydoyle king's runner had more class than the daughter of BIG BAD BOB and sailed effortlessly to victory. Her other Group 1 victories were the Moyglare Stud Stakes last September, the Dubai Fillies' Mile in October, the Qipco 1,000 Guineas in May and the Investec Oaks three weeks ago. MINDING is the second foal produced by the Group 1-winning LILLIE LANGTRY, who, since retiring in 2013 at the end of her three-year-old racing career, has been covered by Coolmore's leading sire, GALILEO, and all four of her offspring are fillies.

 

DON'T YOU JUST LOVE DREAMS!

After an impressive debut when the son of DREAM AHEAD was a clear winner in the maiden Stakes at Hamilton twelve days ago, trainer Mark Johnston is encouraged to think that his LOVE DREAMS can provide a repeat performance in today's EBF Stallions Spindrifter Conditions Stakes at Pontefract. In the 5th of June contest, as seems to be the plan with many of the Middleham trainer's runners, his two-year-old colt was sent straight into the lead and and stayed there until the end, revealing an abundance of talent and clearly had something to spare. Mark Johnston, in fact, is enjoying a good year with his two-year-olds, with 40 juvenile winners on the board so far this year and today's entry looks well above average.

 

THIS HORSE HAS THE EDGE

The Queen's Vase winner ten days ago kept up his winning streak with a top-notch two-length winning performance in the Coral.ie Curragh Cup at the County Kildare course yesterday, thereby giving trainer, Aidan O'Brien a Group-race four-timer. It now looks as though SWORD FIGHTER is destined for the St Leger at Doncaster in September. This GALILEO son out of TARBELA, dominated this one-mile-six-furlong race from the start and laid down his terms to the end. Jockey Seamie Heffernan kept finding more from his mount as both his stable companion, LANDOFHOPEANDGLORY and the Dermot Weld-trained ALVEENA tried to overtake him.

 

Aidan O'Brien commented: "He's a very genuine horse. He really wants it, and stays very well. Seamie gave him a great ride, just like Colm (O'Donoghue) did in Ascot. It's my fault that Ryan rode the other horse. "He'll have a little break now as he's had a tough few weeks, and he's made for the English Leger (September 10)."

SUNDAY 26th JUNE

 

HARZAND FLOWERS

This year's Epsom winner did it again yesterday at the Curragh, making it the dynamic Derby double. The Dermot Weld-trained HARZAND, ridden by Pat Smullen, managed to fend off the forceful challenge from Aidan O'Brien's IDAHO a furlong from home and win by half a length. The son of SEA THE STARS, owned by His Highness The Aga Khan, joins the esteemed ranks of seventeen other horses who have completed the Epsom-Curragh double. The October Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is likely to be the next target, a race won by his Sire in 2009.

 

The winning jockey commented: "He's such a great horse, he's got such courage and determination. Ryan (came with one good determined run, I needed this horse to dig deep for me and he did - how good is he? This matches Epsom, in front of our home crowd. The pressure was on and we pulled it off."

 

THE SOUND OF MUSIC

TOSCANINI brought music to his trainer's ears yesterday at the Curragh, when, steered by Shane Foley, he just about made all the running in the the Dubai Duty Free Jumeirah Creekside Dash Stakes. The Mick Halford-trained sprinter headed off into the lead on the stands rail and maintained a relentless gallop, holding off a last-minute challenge from the Jim Bolger-trained FLIGHT RISK to claim the prize by a head.

 

Mick Halford commented: "We always knew that he was a talented horse, but he just needed to get stronger. Turning four helped him and we gelded him when he came back from Dubai.

"He relaxed today. He just tried to do it all in one breath at Cork. We took the cheekpieces off today and put a hood on. He was a bit weak last year. He's such a cruiser that people were disappointed when he came off the bridle. He battled it out today though and Shane said when the other horse came to him he wanted it. He's a decent horse and hopefully that will do his confidence good. We'll stick to six furlongs with him. Today was the plan and we'll see from here."

 

FOUR AGAINST ONE

The Aidan O'Brien-trained MINDING, breaks new ground today at The Curragh when she opposes four older rivals for the first time as she goes for a fifth Group 1 victory in the Group 1 Sea The Stars Pretty Polly Stakes. This GALILEO daughter, winner of the Newmarket Qipco 1,000 Guineas in May, is the only three-year-old in the line-up. Aidan O'Brien has won this contest three times before with PEEPING FAWN (2007), MISTY FOR ME (2011) and DIAMONDSANDRUBIES (2015).

 

The Ballydoyle trainer commented: "Minding hasn't done a whole lot since Epsom but she's in good form and we're happy with her. She doesn't like extremes of ground, but ground on the slow side of good will be fine for her."

 

Luca Cumani, who saddles KOORA in today's contest added: "We're up against it. Minding is a very good filly, as she has shown in the Guineas and Oaks, and, on top of that, she's also getting 12lb. She's practically unbeatable. We're just hoping to run a good race and will be delighted if Koora can finish second or third."

SATURDAY 25th JUNE

 

VICTORY ON THE PLATE

What more could happen that beats the momentous events of the last couple of days -