Richard Johnson is currently leading the jockey table for the season at Worcester, and deservedly so, after riding a treble at the course last week. Two of the wins were for trainers he regularly rides for. Risk a Fine is trained by Philip Hobbs for local Worcestershire owner, Diana Whateley, who counts Captain Chris and Menorah amongst her good horses. The jockey’s second winner, Colley Row was the first leg of a double on the night for trainer, Tim Vaughan. Johnson rides less frequently for Jonjo O’Neill and JP McManus, however his strength and experience were put to good use aboard American Legend in the handicap chase, and the horse won comfortably by 7 lengths.
A horse who clearly likes running at Worcester is At First Light. Bred and trained by David Weston, he is the owner’s only horse in training. The gelding has won both of his starts at Worcester this summer under Cheltenham Gold Cup winning jockey, Nico De Boinville and on both occasions he has beaten the David Dennis trained, Hawdyerwheesht into second place. Hawdyerwheesht is another horse who seemingly suits the track at Pitchcroft, having been placed a number of times and a winner himself at the track last week.
Claines trainer, Richard Newland has been in the news again this week. Renowned for his skilful placing of horses to win big races, he sent recent Worcester two-time winner, Gioia Di Vita and 2014 Worcester runner, Gran Maestro to run in the £35k Betfred TV Summer Hurdle at Market Rasen.
Both horses ran superbly well. Gioia Di Vita stayed on into 5th place under Sam Twiston-Davies and Gran Maestro held off the Barry Geraghty ridden Hammersley Lake, who ran in both the Cheltenham and Punchestown festivals this year, to win by a neck under jockey of the moment, Will Kennedy at a big price of 16-1. Gran Maestro has been knocking on the door of the big time. He ran a cracking race to come second behind Phillip Hobb’s Brother Ted in the Bet 365 handicap hurdle at Sandown in April at odds of 25-1.
The racing industry is firmly getting behind a very special charitable initiative and tomorrow that initiative comes to Worcester. Richard Farquhar, a lifelong racing enthusiast and father of four, is walking 3,000 miles between all 60 racecourses in mainland Britain between March 2015 and April 2016 and aims to raise £1.4 million to be split between Racing Welfare and Pancreatic Cancer UK. Farquhar lost his father, Peter to Pancreatic Cancer in 2012 and feels his father would wholeheartedly approve of this venture. The track walk at Worcester will start around 1.15pm with the aim of crossing the winning line at 1.50pm, shortly before the first race at 2.10pm. We will all be on hand to cheer him over the line.