Monday, 25 July 2016

Local Trainer Swoops To Victory

Despite the recent scorching temperatures, it was great to see all 94 stables occupied at Worcester last week.  Following measures introduced in similar heat during 2015, including significant additional water available in all areas for both the horses and racing staff plus additional veterinary cover, trainers and owners are showing their confidence in running their horses at the course even when the weather warms up.  Added to this, we have the benefit of being able to irrigate the track sufficiently to produce safe ‘good’ ground.

Alcester trainer, Dan Skelton has been a big supporter of Worcester again this year and indeed his four year-old Alcock and Brown has run at the course three times in four weeks, posting a second and two wins.  This has helped to propel his trainer into the leading position in the Worcester trainer’s table this week.

Richard Johnson, celebrating his 39th birthday on Thursday’s raceday made it one to remember by producing Noel Williams’ Authorized Too on the line to beat recent course winner, Destiny’s Gold and give Williams his first winner from his new yard in Blewbury. Johnson leads Sam Twiston-Davies by two points in the jockey’s table.

Claines trainer, Richard Newland is enjoying a successful spell currently, and brought a large syndicate of owners from the Value Racing Club to enjoy watching their horse Trafalgar Rock (pictured above) follow up his recent winning debut over hurdles at Uttoxeter with a victory in the 2m 4f novice hurdle.

The racecourse is pleased to engage with a large number of charities on a regular basis, helping to raise thousands of pounds every year through activities at Pitchcroft.  We were therefore delighted to welcome Antony Lewis-Crosby to the course last week who is visiting every racecourse in the UK and Ireland in alphabetical order to raise funds for Cystic Fibrosis.  The challenge began in 2009 and will be completed at York on 4 September.  Thanks to the generosity of the Worcester racegoers, a further £800 was added to the fantastic total of £55,000 already raised.

Tomorrow evening’s meeting is always a highlight in our calendar.  The Pershore Plum Festival race night, first staged 6 years ago in 2010, features revived races steeped in Victorian and Edwardian history that date back to 1899.  The Land O Plums Chase was first run to celebrate Pershore’s plentiful supply of plums at the now long gone racecourse on Weir Meadows.  The Tiddesley Wood Yellow Egg Plum ‘National Hunt’ maiden hurdle and the Angel Hotel Pershore Pensham handicap hurdle also have historic significance from a bygone era in Pershore.

The race night marks the start of the August Plum Festival which highlights the strong commitment the town still has to this day, to its fruit growing heritage.

Racegoers are invited to join us in sporting the colour purple for the evening which starts with gates opening at 3.40pm for the first race at 5.40pm.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Emma Lavelle Flying the Flag for Female Trainers

With male trainers dominating the leader board of National Hunt racing, it is always good to see an in form female trainer. Emma Lavelle has trained near Andover in Hampshire for 17 years, but this year she moved her string to Bonita Stables in Ogbourne Maizey, near Marlborough. Lavelle purchased the property, which includes 154 acres of private gallops and 54 stables, from retired trainer, Peter Makin.  Former trainers based at Bonita stables have included Bill Marshall and Sir Gordon Richards. Now settled in her new home, Lavelle is concentrating on training winners which has proved to be the case at both July Worcester meetings to date.  The eye catching Casino Markets followed up his Stratford success and Uttoxeter second place with a win in our feature £12.000 handicap chase on Senior Citizen's raceday. Last week, Let's Hope So also got her nose in front in the mare's maiden hurdle, much to the delight of all the members of the Cottage Stables Racing Club who came to cheer her on. On both occasions, Aidan Coleman was the man in the saddle.  I am sure he is looking forward to continuing the association and riding more winners for Lavelle over the summer.

Another trainer enjoying current success is Robert Stephens who trains at Caldicot. Stephens chalked up three winners in 4 days last week, at Stratford, Worcester and Uttoxeter respectively.
The Worcester victory came courtesy of the mare, Tir Dubh who at 10/1 beat the Philip Hobbs trained favourite, Spillers Dream by three and three quarter lengths in the concluding maiden hurdle.  This was a much better run than her previous 4th placed attempt at the course back in July 2015.
At the half way point in the Worcester season, the scores on the jockey, trainer and owner's 'doors' have never been closer.

Richard Johnson leads Sam Twiston-Davies by 2 points, with Tom Scudamore only 6 points behind, and Sean Bowen, Harry Skelton and Aidan Coleman all tying for 4th place. Nicky Henderson and Philip Hobbs share the top trainer's spot this week, with last weekend's Summer Plate winning trainer, Dan Skelton and also Peter Bowen snapping at their heels.

Myroundorurs, trained at Alcester by Robin Dickin, ran at the course last week for the third time in as many months.  His first two runs were both winning ones, but unfortunately, he found one too good last week.  Bottes Des Mottes (pictured above), also trained at Alcester but by Dan Skelton, was in command at the last over long time leader Myroundorurs, who had been put up by 22lb for his previous wins at the course.  The second place was however enough to secure this week's top place in the leading owner contest for his owner, John Nicholls.

The gates open at 11.50 am tomorrow for afternoon racing starting at 1.50pm. There are EIGHT races on the card.

Monday, 4 July 2016

The resilience of National Hunt racegoers

Rain doesn’t stop play at the racecourse.  The meeting last Wednesday was one of the wettest for some time and yet we were very pleased to see the maximum possible number of horses declared to run (94) for the first time this season.  National Hunt racegoers are a resilient lot and a drop of rain simply means donning a waterproof coat and a flat cap for the show to go on.

Last week we worked with the charity Racing Welfare to celebrate National Stable Staff week.  It was a chance to highlight the very important job done by the sometimes unsung heroes of the racing industry and we were delighted to be involved.

Gathering together a luxury hamper, we organised a prize draw, inviting all the stable staff attending the meeting to take part.  The winner was Laura Wright (pictured below with Jenny Cheshire) from Kerry Lee’s Herefordshire yard, who led up Definite Future in the handicap chase.

The £10,000 feature handicap hurdle was won by Newton Geronimo (pictured below), trained at Bourton-on-the-Water by Ben Pauling, a former assistant to Nicky Henderson.  The Brian Boru 7 year-old has previously been a monkey at the start, refusing to race on a couple of occasions, however there was no such antics on Wednesday, and defying a 7lb rise for his recent Fontwell success, the horse won going away by 16 lengths. 

Those who listened to Radio 4 on the morning of racing will have heard an unlikely tipster recommend a horse on the Worcester card that day.  Absolutely Fabulous actress, Joanna Lumley was asked who punters should get behind and with her usual aplomb, she recommended Sporting Milan in the novice handicap hurdle.  The five year-old, who ran into fourth at the course earlier in the month on Ladies Day, rallied near the finish to win by a neck.

Noel Fehily has been out of action for a few weeks following a bad fall at Newton Abbot in early May.  His first ride back from injury was at Worcester last week for trainer, Harry Fry in the mares’ bumper.  Fehily was just touched off into second aboard Raveloe.  The well-bred Midnight Legend filly is out of Over Sixty, formerly trained by Alan King to success in a number of races including a fourth place in the Cheltenham mares’ bumper behind the legendary, Quevega.

Peter Bowen has long time been known for his success with summer jumpers and this year is no exception.  Winning the opening handicap chase last week with Kinari has propelled him into second place in the Worcester trainer’s table, just 3 points behind Nicky Henderson. 
A mere 8 points separate Sam Twiston Davies, Sean Bowen, Tom Scudamore and Richard Johnson in the jockey’s list this week, and the Troubled Pink Partnership, John Nicholls and JP McManus are still tied on 20 points for the owner’s honours.

The meetings are following in quick succession currently, and gates for the Senior Citizen’s raceday open today at 12 noon, with the first race due off at 2pm.