Tuesday, 30 July 2013

A review of racing on 24th July and a look ahead to 30th.

Back in 1964, the Beatles told us money Can’t Buy Me Love and as I have highlighted in the past, it can’t always buy success either.

At Pitchcroft on Wednesday, there were five horses running who have changed hands at some point in their careers for over 100,000 Euros. None of these have recouped their purchase price to date.

Petroupetrov trained by Tim Vaughan was the first of these and unfortunately he finished lame in the opening chase.

In the fourth, we had Naledi and Royal Trooper.    Naledi is trained in Hereford by Richard Price and prior to this meeting, had only won one race from 58 starts.  Indeed the form in the racecard read: ‘Poor maiden hurdler who is unlikely to gain his first success here.’  However, with skilful steering by Thomas Garner, he was involved in a driving finish with AP McCoy aboard Royal Trooper.  McCoy looked the certain winner between the last two hurdles but Naledi stuck his nose out to win by a very close margin.  At the age of 9, he will never be a world beater, but something’s finally clicked.

This brings me to the other two horses, both of whom ran in the final hurdle of the day.

Record Breaker was from the Donald McCain yard, and Advisor is trained much closer to home at Hindlip by Martin Weston.

Advisor is an ex flat horse who used to be owned by the Royal Ascot Racing Club.  Now at the age of 7 his jumping career has included a spell with Paul Nicholls during which time he was ridden by Ruby Walsh to 11th place in the 2010 Triumph hurdle at Cheltenham.

Having been placed 3rd at Worcester in June, he travelled on the bridle for the trainer’s son, Tom to record an easy 12 length victory, his first since winning at Hereford in December 2011. Record Breaker finished fifth.

Jonjo O’Neill’s Another Hero was potentially the best horse on the card.  The 4 year old is unbeaten and has won both his bumpers as well as two novice hurdles.  O’Neill is quoted as saying the horse loves the summer ground, so it will be interesting to see if he can also cope with softer conditions in the winter and realise his potential.

Tony McCoy rode his 50th winner of the season at Stratford. His target of riding 50 winners before this week’s Galway Festival is all the more remarkable when you think he missed the first six weeks of the new season through injury.

A Galway bound horse on Wednesday, is Claines trained Changing the Guard who is going to the meeting with a good chance.  A former Worcester runner up, the horse won the 2 mile novice chase at Newton Abbot last week, continuing the current run of good form for his trainer, Richard Newland.

Tomorrow evening sees a special annual meeting at Pitchcroft, the Pershore Plum Festival Family evening.  All races are sponsored by different Pershore businesses, and with the re-running of the Land O’Plums chase, the Pensham Selling Hurdle and the Tiddesley Wood Yellow Egg Plum handicap hurdle, there is a real local flavour to be savoured by all racegoers.


Evening racing at Worcester continues tonight with gates opening at 3.50pm.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

A review of racing on 17th July and a look ahead to 24th.

The heat has different effects on us all, equine and human.  For some, it improves our performance and for others, we do things which we would not normally do.

On the hottest race day of the year at Worcester so far, Lawney Hill who trains in Oxfordshire ran Cap Elorn in the opening novice handicap chase last week.

The horse’s results to date were 0 from 11 starts and the expectation of a win was therefore, understandably not that high.

However, with the stable in good form, win he did, having been well beaten at the course the previous week.

The trainer clearly thought she was safe in announcing she would jump into the large plastic pool in the middle of the parade ring, which is intended for cooling horses, if he did get his nose in front.  It was a good job she was wearing shorts for her dip!

The current warm spell is undoubtedly having an effect on the number of horses running at all the courses, as some trainers wait for the weather to break.

Declarations at Worcester have held up better than some, with 73 horses intended to run at the course last week, and entries for tomorrow’s race afternoon looking strong.

The very successful Jonjo O’Neill / Tony McCoy machine marches on.  Arriving at Pitchcroft via helicopter after a combined afternoon win at Uttoxeter, O’Neill and McCoy teamed up at our evening meeting for a JP McManus owned double, courtesy of Whistling Senator and Don’t Be Late.  O’Neill summed up the wins as ‘a good day at the office’.

Another trainer currently at the top of his game is Peter Bowen, whose only Worcester runner last week, the flat bred G’Dai Sydney followed up his Stratford win with a victory in the bumper contributing to his trainer’s current strike rate of almost 40%.

There were big celebrations in Claines over the weekend when Richard Newland’s Bobowen won the listed Market Rasen Summer Plate over 2 miles and 6 furlongs.

Newland ran 3 horses in the race and was rewarded with top honours by the Sam Twisten-Davies ridden Bobowen, who also ran at Worcester earlier in the month.

Indeed, the first 3 horses home in that feature race, including the winner, Paul Nicholls’ Woolcombe Folly who came second and third placed former Cheltenham Festival winner, Finger on the Pulse, trained by Jonjo O’Neill have all run at Worcester this summer.

This warm weather takes me back a few years to a trip during the same week to Jersey’s Les Landes racecourse, for what was a very hot Channel Islands Champion hurdle day.

For anyone who has never been to this delightful course, I can highly recommend a visit.  The track sits balanced on the cliff tops overlooking the sea and a sloping bank of grass provides the ideal viewing spot, negating the need for a Grandstand.

The 2013 Champion hurdle run at the course last week was won by I Had Him, owned by a delighted Sir Alex Ferguson, who described himself as ‘over the moon’ with the result.

Afternoon racing at Worcester continues tomorrow with gates opening at 12.20pm.




Tuesday, 16 July 2013

A review of racing from 10th July and a look ahead to 17th July.

The old adage, if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again finally bore fruit for owner, James Boughey at last week’s Worcester meeting.  Boughey, who has waited 27 years for his first winner was rewarded for his faith when the Nick Mitchell trained Band of Thunder beat champion jockey, Tony McCoy on Chosen Dream by 8 lengths in the novice handicap hurdle.  The success was also a relief to the trainer who had not saddled a winner for 9 months.

A filly who has already had her nose in front at Pitchcroft this summer is Alan King’s Fairyinthewind.  The four year old chestnut followed up her mare’s maiden hurdle victory in April with another impressive performance under Wayne Hutchinson in the handicap hurdle, appreciating the quick summer ground.

Tony McCoy is now well established at the top of Worcester’s leading jockey table and added to his tally with victories aboard the Jonjo O’Neill trained Whistling Senator and Rebecca Curtis’ Scoter Fontaine.  Whilst Scoter Fontaine’s win was not unexpected, O’Neill was surprised and delighted to see Whistling Senator cajoled to win under a masterful ride as he had ‘run a stinker last time and had shown very little at home.’  O’Neill had considered not even running the horse.

We are at the half way point in our summer racing season and the meetings just seem to have flown by.  What a difference a year makes. Currently enjoying a rare heat wave, a year ago the meeting scheduled for this week was lost to a waterlogged track following 9mm of rain falling in just 30 minutes onto already saturated ground on the day of racing.

A different kind of effort is going into producing the ground conditions for this year’s meetings.  Whilst last year we had to deploy pumps around the course to divert the standing water to the basin in the centre, this year the ground staff are watering the course daily, abstracting the water from the River Severn to keep the surface safe for the horses.  It is ironic when you think back just a few months to the winter flooding when river water was really the last thing we wanted on the track.

In a week when a certain royal birth is on everyone’s minds, I am delighted that one of our mares at home has just been confirmed in foal to Malinas.  My husband bought Kicks Milan at the November Fairyhouse sales as a foal and now at the age of six she has had three recent bumper runs for us.  The mare is well bred, a cousin to the useful David Pipe trained Junior, but as we all know breeding is not guaranteed to bring racecourse results and a career as a brood mare now beckons.

Malinas sired Medinas, the six year old winner of the Coral Cup at Cheltenham this year.  If Kicks Milan and Malinas can produce a similar sort of result, it would truly make our day!

Weekly racing at Worcester continues tomorrow evening with the first race at 5.50pm.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Free Radio Worcestershire Walk for Kids - Sunday 7th July.

What do you get when you cross a well organised charity walk from Malvern to Worcester, a gloriously sunny day and a lot of happy people relaxing in the sunshine at Worcester Racecourse?   Answer : The Free Radio Worcestershire Walk for Kids on Sunday, which raised a fabulous £124,070 for three really worthy local charities: Acorns Children’s Hospice, Megan Baker Home and New Hope.  The Racecourse was proud to host the finish of this wonderful event for the second year running, in which 3,000 men, women and children signed up for the walk to raise money for the charities.  The Racecourse was a sea of bright green, as the walkers dressed in lime green wigs, skirts and t-shirts were greeted by well wishers and supporters, all enjoying the live music outside the Grandstand.  Free massage offered by the University was even on hand to ease weary limbs.   All in all, it was an excellent day and we look forward to welcoming many of those who enjoyed their day here on Sunday, back to the racecourse for the race days and evenings this summer.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

A review of Family Fun Day (23rd June) and a look forward to racing on July 3rd

It has been a rather royal month in one way or another and we all feel that bit better for it.

The Racecourse's Fireman Sam day last Sunday was promoted at the Malvern Royal Three Counties Show, resulting in the largest crowd for a family raceday since 2010. Royal Ascot was nothing short of a delight. To see our Queen watching her filly, Estimate win the Gold Cup was heart warming to say the least. Alongside her racing manager John Warren, who was unable to control his infectious enthusiasm as the filly approached the line, the Queen's smile spread like warmth on a cold day and it was simply a pleasure to witness.

Another person delighted with his winner at the royal meeting was Worcester's leading trainer, Jonjo O'Neill. Defying odds of 9-1, Well Sharp beat the Lady Cecil trained favourite, Tiger Cliff. 

Summer specialist, Peter Bowen celebrated a treble at Worcester in the week, to help cement his position in the national trainer's table. The day began with decent stayer Buachaill Alainn winning his first novice chase. Bowen rates the horse highly and has aspirations he may be a Grand National prospect for the future.

King's Theatre filly Handmaid, related to Ascot Chase winner Hand Inn Hand, won the first division of the mare's bumper, while first time visored Mighty Clarets took the handicap hurdle giving Bowen his 10th winner from the last 19 runners - five others having been placed.

High profile owners continue to win at Worcester. Bloodstock agent to Quatar Racing, David Redvers was represented at the course last week by his mother Mary, who stepped up to receive the trophy won by Redvers' Pectora in the second division of the bumper.

Diana Whateley added to her recent success at the course with Tornado Bob when the Philip Hobbs trained Keki Buku won Wednesday's feature chase under Richard Johnson.

It is rare to see an Andrea and Graham Wylie owned horse run at Worcester, so it was good that Roger Beantown trained by Paul Nicholls won the recent feature novice chase in the hands of Daryl Jacob.

Claines trainer, Richard Newland has his small string in superb form at the moment. Anton Dolin had two visits to the course in three days, coming a close second at the first attempt and going one better at the second time of asking. Sam Twiston-Davies is riding a number of the Newland horses now and he was on the mark with the trainer's Changing the Guard, the first leg of a local double at Newton Abbott in the week.

Changing the Guard was having his debut over fences and they must be to his liking as he saw off Tom George's smart horse, Baby Mix by 7 lengths in the 2 mile novice chase. The second leg of the double went to Green Lightning trained by Martin Weston at Hindlip, who has been placed at Worcester twice this summer. Ridden by son, Tom, Green Lightning won the selling handicap hurdle on the bridle and was subsequently bought by Peter Bowen for 7,400 gns.

Weekly Wednesday racing at Worcester continues tomorrow afternoon when gates open at 2.20pm.

Buachaill Alainn (Jamie Moore)