Thursday, October 9, 2008
RACING RETURNS TO WETHERBY WITH SPINAL RESEARCH CHARITY RACE DAY
MANBOW TO BID FOR FIFTH WETHERBY SUCCESS IN skybet.com SUPPORTING SPINAL RESEARCH BOBBY RENTON HANDICAP CHASE
Wetherby stages its first fixture of the new season on Wednesday, October 15, when the Yorkshire course will be hosting its 18th annual Spinal Research Charity Day.
Trainer Micky Hammond walked the course yesterday and is pleased with the condition of the ground. His Wetherby specialist Manbow is set to bid for a repeat victory in the skybet.com Supporting Spinal Research Bobby Renton Handicap Chase (see below).
Following the initial re-configuration of the racecourse last year due widening of the A1, further alterations have been carried out to the track prior to the coming season.
The chase fences in the home straight have been moved to the inside of the course and the hurdles have been repositioned to the stands’ side. The changes have resulted in a number of alterations to the official distances and starting points, including the £90,000 Grade Two bet365 Charlie Hall Chase over three miles and a furlong, one of the highlights of Wetherby’s season on November 1, which returns to its traditional start position in front of the main grandstand.
Wetherby’s new Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course Jonjo Sanderson explained: "Following on from last season’s initial re-configuration, we have moved the chase fences to the inside of the home straight with the hurdles moving in the other direction.
"The official distances have been altered slightly as a result and this means that the majority of races will revert back to distances similar to the 2006/07 season. We have also relocated an open ditch to the back straight, which will be the last obstacle down the back."
As well as moving the fences in the home straight, Sanderson has also been working with the British Horseracing Authority, its racecourse inspectors and trainers to ensure that course is able to host its full programme of fixtures this season.
Sanderson continued: "A delegation of the BHA’s Inspectors of Courses looked at the course on Wednesday and they were pleased with the results of our ongoing programme of aeration and watering where the course has been affected by the widening of the A1.
"Several trainers also inspected the course at the same time and they all agree that we are moving in the right direction but there is an acceptance that it will take time to fully settle."
"The ground is currently firm, good to firm in places. We will continue watering the course right through to Wednesday and I am looking forward to seeing great racing action throughout the coming season."
The fixture on October 15 is in aid of Spinal Research and is Wetherby’s 18th raceday for the charity. The fundraising day was set up and run by Rachel Wright, who injured her spine in a riding accident, until her death in early 2006. The "Friends Of Rachel" now continue to support the event, and more than £300,000 has been raised for Spinal Research over the last 17 years.
Organisers are hoping to beat last year’s total of £20,000 through fundraising activities throughout the day. A luncheon prior to the day’s racing action will include a charity auction, with top lots including a photo collage of racing legends donated by Richard Dunwoody and the chance to go and see Channel Four’s Morning Line live courtesy of John Francome.
Bad Girls and Emmerdale actress Claire King, an enthusiastic racehorse owner, will be supporting the event alongside the former three-day eventer Claire Lomas, who was left paralysed in a fall at Osberton Horse Trials in May, 2007.
A few lunch tickets for the Spinal Research marquee are still available (costing £45 including racecourse entrance), and can be purchased by contacting "Friends Of Rachel" via Jil Hartley on 01759 373700 or by e-mailing email@example.com.
The highlight of Wednesday’s seven-race card, which has attracted 195 entries, is the skybet.com Supporting Spinal Research Bobby Renton Handicap Chase, due off at 3.45pm. The £15,000 feature race returns to its former distance of an extended two and a half miles.
The contest remembers Bobby Renton (1888-1975), a Ripon-based trainer who won the Grand National with Freebooter in 1950. He rode in his last race at Hexham aged 75, and also trained the subsequent triple Grand National winner Red Rum before his retirement in 1971.
Last year local trainer Hammond saddled course-specialist Manbow to his fourth Wetherby victory in the contest. The Middleham-based handler, who inspected the course yesterday and was pleased with the progress of the ground conditions, is looking forward to seeing the 10-year-old gelding bid for a repeat success in this year’s race.
Hammond said: "We’ve entered Manbow in the skybet.com Supporting Spinal Research Bobby Renton Handicap Chase and he’s a definite runner. He won the race last year and he’s something of a Wetherby specialist.
"I think he loves the big fences and the galloping track. We probably raced him on ground that was too soft on his final two starts last season and he’ll love the going at Wetherby. He goes well fresh and loves the course so we would be hopeful of a good run from him.
"I walked round the track yesterday and I thought the ground was on the quick side but the course has improved well since last year. I’m hoping to have four of five runners there on Wednesday and I’m looking forward to another good season at my favourite course."
Manbow could face some stiff competition with 21 horses entered including last year’s runner-up Mandingo Chief, the 2005 winner Full House, who took the Ascot Stakes on the Flat at the 2006 Royal Meeting, and Or De Grugy, who won the Arthur Stephenson Novices' Handicap Chase on his last visit to Wetherby in November, 2007.
Richard Lee has entered Borora, who chased home subsequent Cheltenham Festival winner Mister McGoldrick here in the Listed bet365.com Handicap Chase last November, while Howard Johnson, Wetherby’s most successful trainer last season with seven victories, could be represented by Bestofthebrownies and Ellerslie George.
Wetherby’s next meeting is the prestigious two-day bet 365 Charlie Hall Meeting, which takes place on October 31 and November 1. Tickets are available by calling the course on 01937 582035 or online at www.wetherbyracing.co.uk.
JUMP JOCKEYS TO THE FORE AT GOODWOOD’S 2008 SEASON FINALE
HANNON TO RECEIVE DICK HERN AWARD
Jimmy McCarthy is looking forward to the rare thrill of riding around Goodwood’s unique contours in the Ucello II And Ubu III Trophy Handicap (2.00pm) over two miles on Sunday, October 12, the racecourse’s final fixture of the year.
The opening race on the card is restricted to National Hunt jockeys and has become a popular feature since its inauguration in 1995, when it was staged at Goodwood’s first Sunday fixture. The contest, switched to October in 2003, is supported by the Marquesa de Moratalla and honours her two Grand Steeplechase de Paris heroes, Ucello II and Ubu III, who captured many top prizes in France for trainer Francois Doumen.
McCarthy is something of a regular in the race, having won it on Father Sky for trainer Oliver Sherwood in 1997 and finished fourth last year on Moonshine Beach. This year he partners the Michael Blanshard-trained The Composer on whom he has finished second three times over hurdles.
The six-year-old gelding, successful on the Flat at Salisbury in July, was a length and three quarters fourth to Pseudonym over two miles, one furlong at Bath on September 29, having filled the runner-up berth at Kempton the time before.
McCarthy revealed today: "The race is a novelty and I always enjoy riding at Goodwood. It’s good to have a ride in the race and the people look after us very well down there, they always give us a nice bit of grub afterwards.
"The Composer would have to be in the shake up if you look at his last couple of runs. He won back in July and has been in good form recently. He was a good fourth last time so he would have a squeak if I can get tune out of him.
"I won on Father Sky as a prep run for the Mercedes Benz Chase at Chepstow and he went on to win that too. I’ve ridden in the race a few times and finishing fourth last year was the closest I’ve come to winning it again.
"The jumps lads enjoy the experience. Most of them do it for a bit of craic but at the same time it’s a competitive race and we all treat it as such."
Timmy Murphy, subsequently successful in the John Smith’s Grand National, took the spoils last year aboard Estate.
In 2000, top Flat jockey Richard Hughes, having previously ridden over hurdles, renewed his jumping licence to ride in the race and scored astride Samarardo. The rider, second in this year’s Flat jockey championship is set to have a mount again on the James Eustace-trained At The Money. Other jockeys likely to participate in the contest this year include Timmy Murphy, Jason Maguire, Colin Bolger, Christian Williams, Paddy Brennan and Andrew Tinkler.
Goodwood’s final race day of 2008 provides a fitting conclusion to yet another fantastic year at the picturesque Sussex course, which enjoyed many highlights through the season, notably the five spectacular days of Glorious Goodwood.
IDLE POWER SEEKS VICTORY IN "HIS" RACE
Five-time Goodwood winner Idle Power could bid to win the race named in his honour, the £12,000 Idle Power Handicap (4.20pm) over six furlongs.
The day’s feature race pays tribute to the 10-year-old, winner of the Stewards’ Sprint Stakes at Glorious Goodwood in 2005, whose latest triumph at the course came in the Goodwood Aero Club Handicap on May 30. That race was Idle Power’s 100th career start.
Trainer Peter Harris bought Idle Power for 33,000 guineas at Tattersalls in October, 1999. The Common Grounds gelding proceeded to win four races for the handler and his owners, The Dreamers, before again passing through the Park Paddocks auction ring in October, 2002.
His new owners, The Idle B’s, comprising some of the original syndicate members, sent Idle Power to Epsom trainer Jim Boyle, who saddled him for an initial Goodwood victory in the Goodwood Aerodrome Handicap in May, 2004, a race he would win again this year.
With 13 victories in a 103-race career, yielding over £140,000 in prize money, Idle Power is a firm favourite with his proud owners, who rank Goodwood as their favourite racecourse and are thrilled to have a race honouring their horse.
The fascinating seven-race card on Sunday also includes the seven-furlong EBF RUK "Finale" Nursery Handicap (2.35pm), the nine-furlong European Breeders’ Fund TurfTV Maiden Stakes (3.10pm), the Counters Gate Handicap (3.45pm) over a mile, the six-furlong TurfTV For Betting Shops Median Auction Maiden Stakes (4.55pm) and the concluding Valete Handicap (5.30pm) over a mile and a half.
HANNON COLLECTS DICK HERN AWARD FOR LEADING TRAINER
Richard Hannon is this year’s winner of the coveted Dick Hern Award, presented to the trainer with the most winners at Goodwood throughout the season.
Hannon is enjoying a fantastic year and his 15 winners at the course in 2008 put him nine clear of his nearest pursuers, John Gosden and Mark Johnston, with Sunday’s seven-race card still to come.
The East Everleigh handler, currently lying in second place in the trainers’ championship, has captured a hat full of lucrative prizes this term and enjoyed his biggest Goodwood success of the year when subsequent Group One winner Paco Boy won the Group Two Betfair Cup at Glorious Goodwood on July 29. Three days later, Hannon took another prestigious Group Two race when Prolific saw off Gallagher to win the Tristram Ricketts Memorial Richmond Stakes. He ended Glorious Goodwood as the leading trainer with four wins.
To mark the achievement, Hannon will receive a trophy from Peter Willett, who retires as a director of the racecourse on Sunday and is Honorary President of the Goodwood Racecourse Owners’ Group.
Seamus Buckely, Clerk of the Course at Goodwood, said: "I am expecting the course to ride on the easier side of good if the current settled weather continues."
Richmond Enclosure - £27
Gordon Enclosure - £19 (£14 for over 65s, 50% discount for NUS card holders)
Gates open at 11.30am.
ZARKAVA REIGNS SUPREME AT LONGCHAMP AS CARTIER COUNTDOWN INTENSIFIES
Breathless superlatives followed Zarkava’s triumph in the Group One Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Sunday, October 5, yet none served to adequately convey the sense of awed obeisance commensurate with the dominance of Longchamp’s new Queen, who leads the Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly standings on 152 points.
The Aga Khan-owned filly’s excellence in maintaining her unbeaten status with victory in European’s middle-distance championship event embodies the ethos of the Cartier Awards, which seek to emphasise and reward such supreme talent.
The Cartier Racing Awards are now in their 18th year and celebrate the champions of the Turf, plus one person who will receive the Daily Telegraph Award Of Merit. European horseracing’s equivalent of The Oscars will be presented during a glittering ceremony before an invited audience at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel on Monday, November 17.
Zarkava improved her already strong claim to the Cartier Horse Of The Year Award as Alain de Royer-Dupre’s charge is currently joint-second with Henrythenavigator in the points standings behind this season’s five-time Group One hero Duke Of Marmalade (184), with voting still to take place.
The coveted eight horse awards are determined by points earned in Pattern races (40 per cent) combined with the opinions of a panel of racing journalists (40 per cent) plus votes from readers of the Racing Post and The Daily Telegraph (20 per cent), a system which accurately rewards supreme excellence.
Facing colts for the first time in an already impressive career, Zarkava overcame a bump at the start of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe before showing exceptional acceleration in the final quarter-mile under a jubilant Christophe Soumillon to record a brilliant two-length victory over Youmzain (84), runner-up for the second year in succession.
Duke Of Marmalade, who heads the Cartier Older Horse category, suffered his first defeat of the year in finishing seventh behind Zarkava in the mile and a half showpiece.
Zarkava heads an exceptionally strong Cartier Three-Year-Old filly division this year. Lush Lashes (128), who took her Group One tally to three with success in the Matron Stakes at the Curragh on September 7, added to her points total when second to the German-trained Lady Marian in the Group One Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp on Arc day.
Halfway to Heaven moved to 112 points with success in the Group One Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket on October 4, while Group One Prix du Moulin winner Goldikova has 104 points and stanjamesUK.com 1,000 Guineas heroine Natagora increased her tally to 100 points when second in the Group One Prix de la Foret at Longchamp.
The Freddie Head-trained Marchand D’Or (112), second in the Older Horse division, strengthened his grip on the Cartier Sprinter prize with victory in the Group One Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp on Arc day. The five-year-old grey was completing a top-level hat-trick following triumphs in the Darley July Cup and Prix Maurice de Gheest.
Group One Ladbrokes Sprint Cup victor African Rose, trained by Criquette Head-Maarek, has 48 points, as does Prix de l’Abbaye third and Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes winner Borderlescott. Equiano, winner of the King’s Stand Stakes but only ninth in the Abbaye has 44 points, while Golden Jubilee Stakes hero Kingsgate Native is on 40 points.
Dual Group One winner Mastercraftsman lost his unbeaten tag when fourth to Naaqoos in the Group One Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp on Sunday but Aidan O’Brien’s charge still heads the Cartier Two-Year-Old Colt category with 84 points.
Bushranger (80) laid down a strong challenge for honours with victory in the Group One Shadwell Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on October 3. The colt had previously defeated Gallagher (36) to take the Darley Prix Morny. Shaweel also has 36 points, as does the John Best-trained Square Eddie, who secured a famous victory in the Grade One Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, USA, on October 4.
Rainbow View appears to be something special after another superb victory in the Group One Meon Valley Stud Fillies Mile at Ascot on September 27, and John Gosden’s charge heads the Cartier Two-Year-Old Filly standings with 56 points.
The David Wachman-trained Again (48), winner of the Group One Moyglare Stud Stakes in August, failed to make inroads on the leader when only 14th to the Head-Maarek-trained Proportional (32) in the Group One Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp on Sunday. Elusive Wave (24) took second.
The Rae Guest-trained bargain filly Serious Attitude (32) made it three wins from as many starts when out-pointing her rivals in the Group One 32Red.com Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket on October 3.
Bannaby (36) carried a major European prize across the Pyrenees when taking the Group One Qatar Prix du Cadran at Longchamp for Spanish trainer Mauricio Delcher Sanchez. The five-year-old held the fast-finishing Incanto Dream (32), with the great Yeats below par in fifth (64).
Triple Ascot Gold Cup winner Yeats still heads the Cartier Stayer Award category, 24 points clear of nearest rivals Geordieland and Coastal Path.
Henrythenavigator tops the Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt division on 152 points, 12 more than Derby winner New Approach. Raven’s Pass, who defeated Henrythenavigator in the Group One Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on September 27, has 106 points, while the improving Paco Boy took his running total to 80 with an impressive victory in the Group One Prix de la Foret. Tamayuz has 76 points.
Harry Herbert, Cartier’s racing consultant, commented today: "What a weekend! We have enjoyed a feast of action at Longchamp and Newmarket, with the highlight being the peerless Zarkava delivering a sensational coup de grace in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
"Championship performances abounded. Marchand D’Or emphasised his credentials in the sprint division, while the juvenile fillies, Serious Attitude and Proportional threw down the gauntlet to Rainbow View, who had seemed to be having things her own way in the Cartier Two-Year-old Filly category.
"The events of the past few days have really set the juices flowing ahead of what will surely be a sumptuous final few weeks of an exciting season. With Champions’ Day at Newmarket and the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita among the delights still to come, we can justifiably anticipate a few more pulsating moments before the results of the 2008 Cartier Awards are unveiled in November."
THE CARTIER AWARDS 2008
(up to and including October 5, 2008 - based on points earned in Pattern races)
CARTIER TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY
RAINBOW VIEW 56
SERIOUS ATTITUDE 32
ELUSIVE WAVE 24
CARTIER TWO-YEAR-OLD COLT
SQUARE EDDIE 36
CARTIER THREE-YEAR-OLD FILLY
LUSH LASHES 128
HALFWAY TO HEAVEN 112
CARTIER THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT
NEW APPROACH 140
RAVENS PASS 106
PACO BOY 80
CARTIER OLDER HORSE
DUKE OF MARMALADE 184
MARCHAND D'OR 112
PHOENIX TOWER 80
COASTAL PATH 40
INCANTO DREAM 32
MARCHAND D'OR 112
AFRICAN ROSE 48
KINGSGATE NATIVE 40
CARTIER HORSE OF THE YEAR
DUKE OF MARMALADE 184
NEW APPROACH 140
LUSH LASHES 128
For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink