Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Quickfire Hat-trick for McCoy

Last week’s Worcester raceday attracted a sell-out Senior Citizen’s crowd, contributing to the busiest afternoon meeting for several years. Seven hundred and fifty elderly people poured in as gates opened, to enjoy racing in the sunshine on the banks of the Severn.

Droitwich based company, Civicare were headline sponsors of this annual event and had 2 named races in which the horses chosen as Best Turned Out both returned victorious to the winner’s enclosure. One of these was the third in a quickfire, one hour, treble for champion jockey, AP McCoy. In the Rough, trained by Jonjo O’Neill, had also won a maiden hurdle at the course back in June.

McCoy’s second win was aboard Donald McCain’s Book Of Excuses, who gave owner Tim Johnson a memorable 24 hours having enjoyed success at Bangor the previous evening. Chesterfield (pictured) was also first past the post under the 19 time champion jockey, having his first run for John Ferguson and he is an interesting recruit to hurdling. A four-year-old former flat horse, the gelding was previously owned by Godolphin and has a win at Newbury under his belt.

An up-and-coming local jockey on the scene is Stan Sheppard, son of Ledbury trainer, Matt and point to point trainer, Nicky. Sheppard had his first outside ride aboard the Matt Sheppard Racing Club’s Iktiview in the concluding hurdle, and came a creditable third.

As the home of summer jumping, we like to keep an eye on Worcester winners going on to further success. Recent examples include Iguacu, trained in Hereford by Richard Price for Malvern owners, Derek and Cheryl Holder, who came out and won again at Stratford last week. Princesse Fleur, trained in Hereford by Michael Scudamore has a Worcester win and 3 seconds on her form sheet and managed to get her nose in front again, also at Stratford. Mr Satco, triumphant first time over fences at Pitchcroft last month for owner/trainer, Donald McCain went on to score in a beginner’s chase at Cartmel. Degooch, also trained by McCain, is a horse to watch, having followed up a recent Worcester win with another at Southwell on Tuesday. Degooch is owned by Paul and Clare Rooney for whom McCain has been busy buying horses all year, including spending 110,000 guineas on a three-year-old gelding by Sea the Stars at the Tattersalls July sales.

The meeting at Worcester tonight is special for 2 reasons. It is the annual Angel Hotel Pershore Plum Festival race evening, which marks the start of the month long, award-winning event in the town. It is also the evening when racing supports its own. We have a unique Grand Racecourse Ticket Draw in aid of Racing Welfare for which all 58 British racecourses have donated tickets as prizes. It is good to see all the courses coming together for the cause and presenter, Derek Thompson will be on hand to assist with proceedings.

The first race on a card which also features the legendary Land O’ Plums Chase, first run at Pershore in the early 1900’s, is due off at 5.50pm.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Spieta changes code to good effect

There was a furore of excitement at Worcester Racecourse last week. Well on the way to his 20th champion jockey title, AP McCoy, who has had more winners at Worcester this season than at any other course, was on a mission. Chasing friend and former trainer, Martin Pipe's record of 4,191 winners, AP only had 2 more to achieve.

A media circus followed him from his home in Lambourn to Uttoxeter for 2 rides, one of which was successful aboard the JP McManus owned, On The Record, and then he flew to Worcester by helicopter which enabled him to ride in races at both courses, just one hour apart.

The enthusiastic Pitchcroft punters willed him to win as he came out for each of his rides. Three Attheraces presenters, Mick Fitzgerald, Luke Harvey and Robert Cooper were on hand for the triumphant interview, should he succeed in his quest.

Unfortunately it wasn't to be that night. His results read 2nd, 3rd, 8th and 4th. Ironically, when it all came down to the last race, it went the way of Weather Babe, trained by Martin Pipe's son, David, beating the 32,000 Euro purchase, Think Out Loud, ridden by McCoy.

Finally, and I am sure much to McCoy’s relief, the target was reached on Saturday at Market Rasen in the £50k feature Summer Plate aboard recent Worcester success, It's A Gimme.

An interesting winner at Worcester last week was Spieta (pictured), victorious in the mare's maiden hurdle. It is the first time I can remember trainer, John Quinn having a runner at the course, and the second time in 2 weeks we have had a winner from Malton in Yorkshire.

Four year old Spieta is a half sister to the useful hurdler Big Eared Fran and was previously 0-10 on the flat for Luca Cumani. Often a change of scene and training regime can bring out the best in a horse and 7 weeks with John Quinn seems to have put Spieta in the right direction.

Trainer Don Cantillon's duel listed-winning, one-eyed mare, As I Am has given us several champagne moments at Worcester over the past year, winning three times. Sadly her run in June at the course was her last as also owner/breeder, Cantillon has decided to retire her to the paddocks following an injury. The six year old's 21 career runs included 8 wins, with decent victories also at Newbury and Cheltenham last winter.

The first race today is due off at 2.10pm, gates open at 12.10pm and there are fantastic packages available to the over 65's on this, our annual Senior Citizens' Raceday.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Money Doesn't Always Buy Success

It’s not the first time I have highlighted the fact that money doesn’t always buy you success when it comes to racehorses. This was further evident in the National Hunt flat race at Pitchcroft last week and offers encouragement to all of us enthusiastic owners on a strict budget.

Favourite to win the race, having never set foot on a racecourse before at the age of 4, with the star jockey booking of Tony McCoy and a trainer (John Ferguson) who has a 29% strike rate in this type of race, Shamal, who cost 160,000 guineas as a yearling had all the right credentials for a big racing debut. Unfortunately the gelding was beaten 15 lengths into 5th place behind the winner, Probably Sorry, who had travelled 173 miles down from Tony Coyle’s yard in Norton and only cost £1,800 in the sales last summer.

One of the most popular men in the weighing room returned to the winner’s enclosure at Worcester after a 2 month spell on the sidelines with facial injuries following a fall at Fakenham in May. Noel Fehily was delighted to get back on the score sheet for trainer Charlie Longsdon when steering Pure Style to victory in the Handicap Hurdle.

One of the most popular men in the weighing room of days gone by sadly passed away last week, just three days after his wife also died. Legendary Herefordshire jockey and trainer, Michael Scudamore, himself the son of a point to point trainer, was father to 8 times champion jockey, Peter, and grandfather to David Pipe’s stable jockey, Tom, as well as to Michael, who trains at Ross on Wye where his Grandfather was born in 1932.

At the Worcester meeting last week, there was a minute’s silence before the jockeys mounted for the first race, to remember the man who won the Grand National in 1959 on Oxo, who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on 1957 on Linwell and who rode 496 winners before a career ending fall in 1966, when Snakestone slipped up at Wolverhampton, permanently damaging Scudamore’s left eye. His career in racing continued as a trainer from 1967 when victories included the 1970 Grand Annual chase and the 1974 Mackeson Gold Cup.

Appropriately, the success of the Scudamore dynasty was highlighted on the same card at Worcester last week when Tom rode promising recruit from the flat, Conducting, to win the selling hurdle. The horse was bought in the subsequent auction for 9,000 guineas by Gloucestershire trainer, David Bridgewater.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The Man Of Steel Goes Full Throttle For Victory

The story of the day at Worcester last week revolved around the course's current leading jockey, AP McCoy and 3 horses under the guidance of our leading trainer, Jonjo O'Neill.

Things started well with a winner in the bumper. Costing £20,000 as a three year old in 2013, Ozzy Thomas runs in the same colours as John's Spirit who won last year's Cheltenham Paddy Power Gold Cup.

In the subsequent feature handicap hurdle, McCoy partnered the O'Neill trained favourite, Flemenson. Approaching the second last in the lead with every chance, the horse never took off and nose dived over the obstacle, firing McCoy into the ground and putting him unavoidably in the path of the horses following over the hurdle.

Thankfully, Flemenson, who was momentarily winded was soon up on his feet and McCoy limped back to the weighing room clutching ice to his chest. In obvious pain but ever the professional, he paused to sign a fan’s autograph in the pre parade ring.

Racegoers held their breath to see if McCoy would emerge out of the weighing room to take his place aboard the Jackie O'Neill owned, Full Throttle in the next race. Ride again he did and described by the19 times champion jockey as a 'steering job', Full Throttle (pictured) duly obliged and came home clear of second placed, Man of Steel, trained by Peter Bowen.

Grimacing as he was led back into the parade ring, it was clear for all to see that McCoy was in considerable discomfort. He struggled to dismount the horse, confirming he was standing down for the day. Barely able to raise his arms to lift off the saddle, and despite his obvious pain, he still posed for photographs at the horse's head and stopped to give an interview to attheraces front man, Luke Harvey.

The irony is that although Full Throttle beat Man of Steel in the race, reversing the result when the two horses met at Uttoxeter in a bumper last year, the man of steel, which undoubtedly gives him the edge over his rivals on a daily basis, is McCoy.

Other results from the meeting saw wins for trainers presently in good form including Lambourn based Warren Greatrex, and Richard Phillips who trains at Moreton in the Marsh.

Jeremy Scott and jockey, Nick Schofield enjoyed a double on the card, including Moorlands Jack who also won a race at Worcester last September.

In further news relating to Worcester winners, The Romford Pele, trained by Rebecca Curtis, who was successful at our recent Ladies Day meeting in the Valerie Lewis Memorial Chase, followed up in the listed class 1 John Smiths Summer Cup at Uttoxeter under Paul Carberry, earning decent prize money of £34,000 for connections. He still heads for the Galway plate.

Stratford's meeting on Tuesday saw Bob Keown, on whom McCoy won his 50th winner of the season recently at Worcester, and who is in the same ownership as The Romford Pele, beat evens favourite, Mister Dillon who also won at Worcester in May.

Tomorrow sees evening racing at Pitchcroft with the first race due off at 6.10pm.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Big plans ahead for the feature hurdle victor

Weeks don’t come much busier than the last one at Worcester Racecourse.  Two race meetings in 4 days were quickly followed by the West Midlands Area Point to Point annual awards dinner.

Racing highlights included the feature hurdle of the season which was the £18,500 Totepool sponsored handicap hurdle. The 14 horses who lined up for a race worthy of its billing include the one-eyed mare, As I Am, who won 3 races at Worcester last summer before going on to success in a listed mares’ races at Newbury and Cheltenham over the winter. Claines trained Bobowen, winner of the 2013 Market Rasen Summer Plate also took his chance in the race.

The eventual result of an exciting finish was a 1-2 for Irish owner, JP McManus with his second string horse, Vulcanite (pictured in the green far side below) defying top weight to beat the AP McCoy ridden, Join The Clan. Vulcanite now heads for the Galway Hurdle.
Hereford trainer, Richard Price enjoyed a winner for Worcester based owners, Derek and Cheryl Holder.  Iguacu shed his maiden tag over jumps going one better than his recent Uttoxeter run. Price formerly trained Flaky Dove to win the 1994 Smurfit Champion Hurdle, a horse who also ran at Worcester back in 1991.
Wolverhampton racecourse is currently having a new Tapeta all weather surface laid on its track and legendary trainer, Michael Dickinson who is currently overseeing this operation, was spotted enjoying a busman’s holiday at the Worcester family raceday. Dickinson is famous for not only training 2 Cheltenham Gold Cup winners, Silver Buck and Bregawn, but also for being the only person in history to train the first five home in a Gold Cup in 1983.
Mike Hammond who trains at Abberley had a rare Worcester winner ridden by Denis O’Regan.  Provincial Pride staged a rally having been booked for fourth place over the last hurdle.  The horse was formerly trained in Ireland by James Joseph Mangan, trainer of the 2003 Grand National Winner, Monty’s Pass.
The West Midlands Area includes 12 hunts, all of whom run annual Point to Points. The season which started last December and ended in June culminated in the annual awards dinner at the Racecourse on Saturday.
It was a good night for trainer/amateur jockey, Tom Weston. Weston picked up accolades for the leading Area point to point trainer, for leading horse with Soutine and finished runner up to Mark Wall for the top gentleman rider honours.
Racing resumes at Pitchcroft tomorrow when gates open at 12.20pm.