Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Byron Flys home for victory in the feature race

With two meetings in just 4 days, it has been a busy week at the Racecourse.  One of the feature races of the season, a class 2 handicap hurdle for horses rated 0-150 carrying £20,000 in prize money, was won by the Ian Williams trained Byron Flyer.  Williams trains at Alvechurch and has enjoyed 4 consecutive victories in two months with 5 year-old Byron Flyer.

Herefordshire based former assistant to Nicky Henderson, Tom Symonds has just two horses in training for the summer.  Delighted with the rain softened ground, Symonds faith in keeping Kaki De La Pree in training paid off with a first win over fences in the Novice Chase on the Sunday card.  The talented horse described by Symonds as ‘fragile’, was having his first run since November, as lameness prevented him taking up his entry in the Welsh National.

Joint owner of State of Play and Alvarado, Angela Rucker from Knightwick was on holiday for her 53rd birthday last Wednesday and missed watching her Mr Kit Kat win the novice hurdle.  The horse won last time out at Sedgefield in May and has benefitted from wearing a hood in his races.

Another winner at Worcester on Wednesday, also successful on the same Sedgefield card was San Benedeto (pictured above).  In a master class of riding, Sam Twiston-Davies was in third place by 6 lengths over the last fence in the opening novice chase, but managed to galvanise the Paul Nicholls trained five-year-old to get up on the line by a neck.  In a thrilling finish, just one and a half lengths separated the first 4 horses home, with the lead changing several times on the run in.  Presenting Arms ridden by Richard Johnson was unlucky to be caught and had to settle for the runner up spot for the second time at Worcester this summer.

Twiston-Davies and Johnson are currently vying for leading national hunt jockey status which is an interesting new phenomenon as Tony McCoy has so dominated this contest in recent years.  Johnson’s progress has been hampered by 4 separate two-day whip suspensions between May 25 and June 7.

The same tussle is reflected at Worcester with Twiston-Davies leading the way from Sean Bowen and Johnson, but only 8 points separate the trio.  Twiston-Davies’ victories so far this season have been mainly spread across horses trained by Paul Nicholls, his father, Nigel and Claines based Richard Newland. 

The other ‘scores on the doors’ at Worcester after the last week show Nicky Henderson retaining his lead over Phillip Hobbs thanks to wins by Only for Love and Turn Turk, and JP MacManus joining the Troubled Pink Partnership and John Nicholls at the top of the owner’s table.

Racing resumes at the course tomorrow when the first race is due off at 12.20pm. A division to the conditional jockeys handicap hurdle.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

King of Worcester on Ladies Day

The hugely popular, annual Ladies Day meeting lived up to all expectations in terms of revelry, warmth and numbers through the gates.  It was also an opportunity for two May winners to return for further glory, one under new ownership.

Castlemorris King (pictured) was claimed out of a hurdle race on the 19th May by David Pipe for father and son owners, Stuart and Simon Mercer.  The 8 year old held on to win the £10,000 Handicap Hurdle, much to the delight of his new owners who had flown to the course in David Pipe’s helicopter. Worcester Ladies Day is traditionally staged on the same day as the Epsom Investec Derby. Ironically, in 2011 as just a 3 year old, Castlemorris King ran in the Derby at odds of 150-1.  On that occasion, he came in 12th of 13 runners.

Myroundorurs also recorded his second victory of the new season at Pitchcroft.  Up 16lb from his previous win at the course, the Robin Dickin trained gelding fought off the challenges of Paul Nicholls’Amento. Claines trainer, Dr Richard Newland treated his staff to hospitality dining in the St Richard’s Hospice marquee. Newland reportedly delighted many of the guests in the marquee by tipping up a number of the winners including his own One More Go, a former stayer on the flat having his second run over hurdles. 

Two things have come to light in the week, relating to May meetings at Worcester – one more light hearted than the other. It transpires that trainer Nigel Twiston-Davis, based 30 miles from the course at Naunton in Gloucestershire chose not to take the conventional route of travelling in his lorry to Pitchcroft, but instead donned his bicycle clips and headed out on a two and a quarter hour ride to witness his Better Days win the final race of the evening on 27th May.  History relates that Twiston-Davies and his bicycle returned to the yard in the comfort of the lorry. 

We also learned this week that Carrigkerry, winner of a handicap hurdle on 19th May was stripped of that win after an inquiry at BHA headquarters was held following an objection raised by Graeme McPherson QC, trainer of the second place Charlie Cook.  The objection centred around the fact that the rules state a horse must be in the care of a trainer for 14 days prior to a run.  Unfortunately, Carrigkerry had run in a hunter chase at Newton Abbott, trained by Charlotte Fuller on 5th May and only went into training with Jamie Snowdon on the 6th.

On a lighter note, this week’s ‘Scores on the Doors’ show that Sam Twiston-Davies is 12 points ahead of Richard Johnson, and the local Troubled Pink Partnership (Thoonavolla) are tying for first place with John Nicholls (Myroundorurs) in the owner’s table. Nicky Henderson and Philip Hobbs share the week’s top spot for trainer’s honours.

Free pony rides for young racegoers top the bill at the Father’s Day Family Fun raceday on Sunday when the gates open at 12.20pm and the first race is due off at 2.20pm.

Friday, 3 June 2016

The Old Vic a star attraction

Champion trainer, Paul Nicholls has started the new National Hunt season as he means to go on, with plenty of winners.   The 2015/2016 championship went to the wire, with Nicholls and Willie Mullins going head to head to the final day at Sandown in April. 

Nicholls is now making every winner count and already leads the new title with over £100K in accumulated prize money.  The trainer has around 20 horses for summer jumping this year which means we will certainly see more of his runners at Pitchcroft, confirmed by his multiple entries for tomorrow’s meeting.

Nicholls’ only runner at last week’s Worcester meeting made it a winning one.  Southfield Vic (pictured) is a four-time hurdle winner and managed to record his first victory over fences in the novice chase to bring his total prize money to date to over £69k.   Former jockey and now Nicholls’ assistant trainer, Harry Derham commented afterwards that the Old Vic gelding who took the race on the bridle by 25 lengths, prefers a sounder surface and that he will have an entry at tomorrow’s meeting in another novice chase.

A less successful but equally interesting runner at the same meeting was Comely. Bred at Hanbury by Robert Chugg, the Midnight Legend filly was sold as a 3 year old for £36K to the Queen.  There were high hopes that she would emulate the Queen’s last runner and bumper winner at the course on Ladies Day in 2014, Special Agent, but unfortunately it was not to be and the half-sister to Banjaxed Girl was beaten by 48 lengths into fourth place.

An event we always look forward to is the annual presentation of the Richard Davis Award to the up and coming conditional jockey who has accumulated the most points from rides at Worcester, Cheltenham, Chepstow, Ludlow, Stratford, Towcester and Warwick racecourses.  Davis was a former jump jockey from Flyford Flavel, and his family presented the award to Cieran Gethings last Friday.  Former recipients of this award include Sam Twiston-Davies, Aidan Coleman and Sean Bowen.

A new addition to my column is a regular update of the ‘scores on the doors’, incorporating the latest standings of our leading trainer, jockey and owner competitions.  After three meetings, Philip Hobbs and Sean Bowen are at the top of the trainer and jockey tables respectively, while The Troubled Pink Partnership heads the owner’s table.  I am certain there will be a good juggling of positions as the season progresses.

Tomorrow is the highlight of the racing season at Worcester.  Ladies Day, traditionally staged on the same day as the Derby, has attracted 138 entries including local interest from the yards of David Dennis, Richard Newland, Tony Carroll and Ian Williams.  Worcester winners Thoonavolla, Myroundorurs, Carrigkerry and Castlemorris King are amongst those who could well share the increased prize money on offer for the meeting this year.

Gates open at 11.30am.

Thursday, 2 June 2016


Worcester Racecourse celebrates CrownGate Ladies Day this Saturday, and will be marking the occasion with a £3,000 donation to St Richard's Hospice.

Based in Worcester and established in 1984, St Richard's Hospice offers care for patients with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, and their families, throughout Worcestershire and has been the official charity of Worcester Racecourses popular Ladies' Day since 2005.

Saturday's donation, courtesy of The Reuben Foundation, will see the total raised since the beginning of this partnership reach £120,000. There will be a formal presentation of the donation during Saturday's fixture, which will also feature Best Dressed competitions, as well as live music, which is anticipated to attract a bumper crowd.

Executive Director of Worcester Racecourse, Jenny Cheshire, said, "We are delighted to once again be supporting St Richard's Hospice on Ladies Day. The charity is an invaluable asset to Worcestershire and has been a key part of our Ladies Day since 2005. We hope that this further donation on behalf of the Racecourse and the Reuben Foundation will go even further to help local people."

Fundraising Director at St Richard's Hospice, Tricia Cavell, said, "We are hugely grateful to Worcester Racecourse and the Reuben Foundation for this donation and for all the assistance they have offered us since 2005. This contribution will make a big difference to the people of Worcestershire, and we look forward to a brilliant day's racing on Saturday."

For more information about Worcester Racecourse and for tickets, please visit www.worcester-racecourse.co.uk