Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Half way through the 2017 season at Pitchcroft

We certainly enjoyed the luck of the Irish at Pitchcroft’s Irish themed race meeting last week and were blessed with perfect weather for the occasion. Traditional music from the Emerald Isle courtesy of the Wild Murphys had everyone toe-tapping between races and contributed to a thoroughly good atmosphere created by the 2,500 racegoers who came out to support the course on a Tuesday evening.

On the track, it also paid to follow the Irish. 

Of the 7 winners, four horses were bred in Ireland, and one each in France, Germany and England. Aidan Coleman, originally from County Cork was on flying form notching a treble on the night, the first race for Lambourn trainer, Jamie Snowden and the last two for Jonjo O’Neill, who himself originates from Co Cork.

The local success was the one of the stories of the night. Claines trainer, Richard Newland has always been a great supporter of his local track and this summer has sent Slim Pickens to run here four times.  The horse has been with Newland since May 2014 and first won a novice hurdle at Worcester under Sam Twiston-Davies in June of that year.

From 17 races, the consistent gelding has won 4 times and finished second 6 times. In his 5 runs at Worcester, he has never been out of the first two. In the previous 3 runs this summer he has come up against one just too good for him but has battled all the way to the line.  Finally, last Tuesday was his day.  In another exciting finish, he was driven out to beat Martin Keighley’s Buckle Street by a neck under a confident ride from conditional jockey, Charlie Hammond.  Just one and three-quarter lengths separated the first four horses home.

Another Irish jockey, Daryl Jacob had his first official ride as stable jockey to Bourton-on-the-Water trainer, Ben Pauling aboard Calva D’Honore at the same meeting. However, the jockey’s winner on the night came aboard 11/10 favourite, Taws for Rod Millman in the mare’s maiden hurdle, another qualifying race for the Fixed Brush Hurdle Series final in October.

The summer is flying by as it always seems to and so are the race meetings.  We have reached the half way point in the season and it is therefore timely to look at the leading jockey and trainer championships, both of which are proving to be fiercely competitive.

Champion jockey Richard Johnson leads Aidan Coleman by just 12 points at the top of the Cheltenham and Three Counties Race Club sponsored table. There are only 6 points separating the next 3 places occupied by Sam Twiston-Davies, Noel Fehily and Harry Skelton.

Jonjo O’Neill leads Dan Skelton and Nicky Henderson, both tying for second place in the Foran sponsored trainer’s competition, ahead of Richard Newland. We look forward to seeing how the second half of the season unfolds.

The gates open for afternoon racing tomorrow at 11.50am.