Tuesday, 13 October 2015

It's not every meeting that Worcester Racecourse can boast a 'first' for racing but something was witnessed at last week's meeting that has never been seen before at Worcester or anywhere else.

Barry Geraghty rode in a selling race. The top Irish jockey is now first jockey to JP McManus and included in his book of 3 Jonjo O'Neill trained mounts, the ride aboard Church Field, a 7 year old who on his only previous start at Worcester back in May of this year, came 10th in a field of 16.

Down a grade, the horse who has now amassed £35,089 in prize money during his career to date, won the race by 2¼ lengths.

In the subsequent auction, there was a three way bidding war between trainers Phil Middleton, Neville Ender (trainer of Grey Monk who was bought back in by Ender for 14,500 guineas at Worcester's previous meeting), and Jonjo O'Neill. The horse was sold to Middleton for 7,000 guineas.

To count Wishful Thinking, Menorah and Captain Chris amongst your owned horses must be a great feeling. Local owner Diana Whateley, has a new Alflora 4 year old gelding in training with Philip Hobbs called Wishful Dreaming. The horse is a full brother to Wishful Thinking, a very successful horse who has earned his owners £466,638 to date.

Wishful Dreaming had his third ever start at Worcester last week, following up his listed Cheltenham bumper victory on New Year's Day by winning the 2 mile novice hurdle.  He is certainly an exciting recruit to hurdles and one to keep an eye on.

An ex locally trained horse who has very recently moved to a new trainer is enjoying his change of scenery.  Jayo Time, formerly trained in Claines by Richard Newland to win at Worcester in July, moved to Kerry Lee's yard on the Shropshire and Welsh borders, following a Worcester claiming hurdle in August.

The 6 year old achieved his second win in a month for his new trainer at Ludlow's first meeting of the new season last week.  Jayo Time is now partly owned by senior Channel Four commentator, Simon Holt, who had much pleasure in calling his own horse to victory at Ludlow.

With just 2 meetings still to go at Worcester to the end of the 2015 season, it is looking ever likely that Jonjo O'Neill will scoop the winning trainer prize again this year, and Richard Johnson will claim the top Worcester jockey honours, something he very much hopes he will emulate nationally at the end of the National Hunt season next April.

Next week's column will include a review of the 2015 Worcester season, building up to the final meeting on the 21st October.  The gates open for afternoon racing tomorrow at 12.20 pm.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Purple N Gold Comes Out On Top

Racegoers dug deep into their pockets at the recent Worcester meeting, donating generously to Macmillan Cancer Support, and raising a fantastic £5,335 for the charity.

Throughout the year, racecourses and racegoers together, raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for a wide range of charities.

The feature handicap chase on the day was a very competitive affair. Seven of the 11 horses declared for the race had previously run over the course and distance, and of those seven, five were former Worcester winners including last year’s race victor, the Irish raider, Nearest the Pin.

The David Pipe trained, Purple N Gold (pictured below) came out on top, following up his August Worcester win and seeing off the Sam Twiston-Davies ridden Benefit Cut by 3¼ lengths.

With the unofficial start of the winter jumps season being staged as a two day meeting at Chepstow this weekend, we are all looking forward to seeing how Barry Geraghty’s new position as first jockey to JP McManus progresses. Geraghty, who has only ever had 5 rides at Worcester, the most recent being 2½ years ago, came to Pitchcroft to ride four Jonjo O Neill trained horses at the last meeting.

Unfortunately, he was out of luck with all 4 mounts on that occasion but I am sure he won’t be out of the winner’s enclosure for long.

As a permit trainer, when you travel 347 miles to Worcester from Malton in North Yorkshire, to run one of the few horses you own and train in a selling hurdle, it is extremely unfortunate to have to go up to 14,500 guineas to buy your horse back in the subsequent auction. This is exactly what happened to Neville Ender, trainer of Grey Monk.  The horse beat previous Worcester selling hurdle winner, Marju’s Quest into third place.  The runner up, Wind of Hope, is trained by Lucinda Russell in Scotland.  Russell was the under bidder by telephone, which must underline how she rates her own horse.  The quality of horses running was above the usual selling hurdle standard.

The Worcester staff enjoyed a team building day at Southwell’s jumps meeting last week, but it was a long way to go to watch Worcestershire trainers win 3 of the 6 races on the card!

Youm Jamil, trained by Tony Carroll at Cropthorne ran at Worcester in 2012 and 2013 and won the opening Handicap Chase.

Claines based Richard Newland sent Cut the Corner to the Nottinghamshire course to go one better than the three second places he has achieved at Pitchcroft this summer.

Finally, the Big Dipper, trained at Hanley Swan by David Dennis, also bettered his third place at Worcester by winning the 3 mile handicap hurdle.

We look forward to another afternoon of competitive racing at Worcester on Thursday, when gates open at 12 noon.