Thursday, 28 September 2017

Dr Richard Newland continues his winning run at Worcester Racecourse

The Richard Newland success story with his horses at Worcester Racecourse continues. Going into last week’s meeting, the Grand National Winning Claines trainer had had 6 winners from just 13 runners this summer, and 21 winners at the course in the past 5 years.

Newland sent 2 horses to the meeting, both ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies who was having his first rides back after a short spell on the side lines with a collarbone injury.

Duke Street was having his first run over fences in the Worcester News beginners chase and managed a creditable third place, beaten only one and a half lengths by the 8/11 hot favourite, Wait for Me trained by Philip Hobbs.

Newland’s other runner was Vosne Romanee in the £20,000 feature race, the Sparkling Anja Potze Fine Jewellery handicap chase.  The versatile six-year old picked up well after the last and ran on to win his 9th race for his trainer, previously scoring twice on the flat, 4 times over hurdles and twice over fences.

Top Irish jockey Bryan Cooper, until recently retained by Gigginstown Stud and now riding freelance, made his first visit to Worcester Racecourse last week.

Cooper partnered Guiding Stars for trainer, Harry Whittington in the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce sponsored bumper.  Cooper, who won last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup aboard Don Cossack, gave Guiding Stars, a 16,000 Euro purchase as a 3-year old, a positive ride but was just touched off into second place by the 8/13 favourite, Hatcher, trained at Alcester by Dan Skelton.

The interesting upcoming horse of the day for me, was the well-bred, 4-year old Galileo gelding, Counter Shy who won the concluding maiden hurdle under a confident Richie McLernon ride.

Sent off at odds of 14/1, Counter Shy was kept up with the pace by McLernon and was seemingly undeterred by the thoroughly distracting antics of two very novicey horses ahead of him.

Counter Shy gave us a second link to the Cheltenham Gold Cup on the day, as his trainer, Jonjo O’Neill also trained his dam, Cross the Flags, a half-sister to the 2012 Gold Cup winner, Synchronised.

Current Worcester leading trainer, O’Neill invited me to his syndicate owners’ day at Jackdaws Castle last weekend.

Around 100 owners were treated to a champagne breakfast before visiting their horses in the yard and watching them work on the picturesque gallops, with far reaching views over the Cotswolds.

One of the challenges we face in racing is encouraging young people into the sport.  It was refreshing to see a group of 20 something year olds, enjoying the whole owners’ day experience, enthusiasm that I am sure they will transfer to the racecourse once their horse runs.

Tomorrow sees the annual Macmillan Cancer Support raceday at the course.  The popular coffee morning packages are now sold out but general entry tickets are still available on the gate and there are opportunities to support the charity fundraising in the marquee area, organised by the Ladies from Boots.

The gates open tomorrow from 12 noon.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Rain didn't stop play for a day of family fun & great racing action at Pitchcroft

Pitchcroft has seen plenty of racing action recently with 3 meetings in just 10 days.

The weather did its best to spoil the party on last week’s family fun raceday, but the annual mascot race in aid of the Children’s Trust to raise funds for children with brain injuries brought a ray of sunshine to an otherwise wet day.

Nine mascots representing a selection of local companies, events and sporting venues lined up for the Mascot Dash which was won in record time by Horti the Gardener from Vicarage Nurseries in Evesham, closely followed by the two ‘Wolves’ from Wolverhampton Wanderers.

On the horseracing front, we enjoyed somewhat of a reoccurring theme with a number of horses following up on previous Worcester wins.

Among these were Sonneofpresenting trained by Kim Bailey, Nicky Henderson’s striking looking grey mare, Turn Turk, the Kerry Lee trained Desertmore Hill and Shanksforamillion who is trained in Carmarthen by Debra Hamer.

Shanksforamillion is an 8-year old lightly raced gelding with just 11 outings under rules to his career.  Five of these were at Ffos Las, one each at Uttoxeter, Ludlow and Taunton and the other 3 were at Worcester in the last 2 months.

There has been a remarkable transformation in the horse since he moved in June to Hamer’s yard.  His previous form from 2013 to 2015 reads 8/pu/8/pu/pu/3/6/8.  Since joining Hamer following a long break, and being partnered on each occasion by 7lb claimer Richard Patrick, he has won all three of his chases at Pitchcroft.

Hamer is well known for finding lots of improvement in Tobefair and saddling him to win 7 races on the bounce last season, the first two of which were also at Worcester in June and July of 2016.

A large syndicate of local owners from the Brewers Arms in St Johns were in fine voice despite the rain, following the victory in the £10,000 feature handicap hurdle of Destiny’s Gold trained in Claines by Richard Newland.  Newland has now sent out 4 winners from 7 runners in handicap hurdles at Worcester this season.

The win was particularly notable for the ride given him by 20-year old conditional jockey, Charlie Hammond from Abberley, whose confidence is going from strength to strength and who notched up 4 winners last week.

The meeting was rounded off by a win in the conditional jockeys’ maiden hurdle for Wiltshire trainer, Dai Williams with Mister Mister, partnered by another upcoming jockey who rode a double on the day, 16-year old James Bowen.

Williams has sent 100 runners to Worcester since 1989 without a winner until now, and was understandably delighted, if not a little surprised to see his September Storm gelding beat some more fancied opposition.

The racing action continues at Pitchcroft tomorrow afternoon with the first race due off at 2.05pm.