Giant tack sale to help Moorcroft Racehorse Welfare Centre

A GIANT second-hand tack sale is being held at Moorcroft Racehorse Welfare Centre, at Huntingrove Stud, Slinfold, near Horsham on Good Friday, April 3, starting at 8.30am and finishing at 2pm.

It’s a good date for the diary because there will be a huge selection of rugs, saddles, boots, numnahs for sale, plus much more at very low prices. Moorcroft has become renowned for this event which offers quality items at unbeatable prices. All proceeds go to help retrain the ex racehorses at the centre so thay can on to lead active lives outside racing.

There will also be the opportunity to buy tickets for a giant raffle to be drawn at Moorcroft in May- this will raise money to help fund Moorcroft in 2016, following shock withdrawal of a lon-established funding system by Retraining of Racehorses charity after the end of this year.

Tickets are now on sale for the raffle where the prizes include:

2 tickets to Plumpton racecourse for a day of your choice during 2015 plus lunch in the Paddock Restaurant;

Champane breakfast for four and a morning on the gallops with top Flat trainer Olly Stevens and his wife Hetta at Robins Farm Racing Stables, Chiddingfold;

Raffle prize offers chance to see top horses like these in action  at Robins farm Racing Stables with Olly and Hetta Stevens Photo: Jeannie Knight

Raffle prize offers chance to see top horses like these in action at Robins farm Racing Stables with Olly and Hetta Stevens
Photo: Jeannie Knight

 

1 week holiday in lovely two bedroom cottage in Newquay, Cornwall in September 2015;

Fontwell Park racecourse prize for four people worth £ 120- Premier Enclosure admission for four, racecards, meal and hot drink for each from Premier Cafe plus £2 Tote bet each at any Fontwell Park meeting in 2015;

Two tickets to Festival of Horsemanship in West Sussex in September 1015;

Two tickets to Lingfield Park Racecourse on date of choice with champane afternoon tea;

Photo session for your horse with equine photographer Mark Beaumont; ARC- two membership badges giving free entry to any racecourse for remainder of 2015; Luxury Hamper, Case of wine, home made cakes,

Two tickets to ridden demonstration day at Moorcroft on July 11, with talk/demon from Bridgefield physiotherapy….. and many other outstanding prizes.

Tickets are £10 for a book of five or £2 each. Buy yours now by sending a stamped addressed envelope with cheque for £10 made out to Moorcroft Racehorse Welfare Centre, to Moorcroft,Huntingrove Srud, Slinfold, Horsham RH13 ORB West Sussex.

Uramazin may run in marathon qualifier

West Sussex trainer Philip Hide is hoping Uramazin can step forward again in the £19,000 32Red Conditions Stakes at Lingfield Park this Saturday, February 28. Run over just short of two miles, it is a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £150,000 32Red Marathon on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, April 3.

Uramazin has had two improved runs over the course and distance during the All-Weather Championships, most recently taking second behind Anglophile in a Fast-Track Qualifier on January 21.

Philip Hide outside his indoor boxes at Cisswood Stables, Findon

Philip Hide outside his indoor boxes at Cissbury Stables, Findon  Photo Jeannie Knight

The nine-year-old had previously recorded a decisive half-length victory over Planetoid(Jim Best) in a £19,000 handicap on December 28, which was his first victory since landing a nine-furlong Group Two on turf at Sha Tin, Hong Kong, in February, 2010.

Philip Hide, who trains at Findon, said: “I need to speak to Sean (Woods, owner) but the plan is to run Uramazin at Lingfield as there is a nice gap between Saturday’s race and the Marathon final.

“He is very good at the moment and needs to have a run. There are not too many options for him and, although there are a couple more highly-rated among the entries, I am hoping we can get a bit more out of him.

“He is a nine-year-old and I know it sounds crazy to say that, but he gets the trip well and he has historically been rated a lot higher than what he is now. I think he has a bit more up his sleeve than we have been seeing.

“He has got toe but when George Baker rode him over 12 furlongs at Wolverhampton, he thought he would get further.

“It is difficult holding a horse up over a mile and a quarter when everything is quickening and you are trying to make up three or four lengths. At least over two miles, it should not matter what pace they go because he can switch off and hopefully close them down.”

Godolphin has claimed both Marathon Fast-Track Qualifiers so far, courtesy of Anglophile and Hidden Gold. It has three entries this time around, headed by Ladbrokes St Leger fifth Marzocco (John Gosden). Charlie Appleby has two contenders in Gold Trail, who is chasing a four-timer, and Listed winner Pinzolo.

Other notables include John Reel (David Evans), who has won three of his last four starts, and the consistent Double Discount(Tom Dascombe).

A seven-race programme at Lingfield Park starts at 1.50pm and finishes at 5.15pm.

World Horse Welfare’s record re-homing figures

World Horse Welfare ‘s best rehoming perfomance of equines for a decade in 2014 has carried on through January. The charity has drawn on the success of the blockbuster 50 Shades of Grey to emphasise the plight of many equines, saying while Christian Grey may actively enjoy pain and suffering, the sad reality is that its own pin-ups have their own much less alluring stories of genuine anguish.

“Mercifully, we can promise all of the horses, ponies, donkeys and mules in our ’50 Shades of Grey’ montage a life with no more pain, and plenty of gain thanks to our rehoming scheme,” said the charity.

Bumble set for rehoming from Wolrd Horse Welfare Centre.  Photo courtesy of Wolrd Horse Welfare

Bumble is looking at a bright future thanks to WHF charity. Photo courtesy of World Horse Welfare

Following last year’s ten-year-rehoming-record where more than 300 horses found new homes (compared to 216 the previous year), 2015 is set to be another run-away success.

“January is historically one of the most difficult months to find homes for our horses because people are getting back into the swing of work and school, the weather is cold and the nights are long. However during the first month of 2015 we have found ideal new homes for around 30 horses and ponies, which is a very encouraging sign for the year ahead,” said deputy head of UK Support Sam Chubbock.

“These figures confirm that people really do see rehoming a horse as a safe and viable option,” she added.

So for those who are seeking a calm sensible horse need look no further than World Horse Welfare’s Paul. Contrary to the mules’ traditional reputation he has a lovely temperament and is good to handle. He is loyal, easy to care for and willing to please and with a kind, patient handler could be brilliant at horse agility.

Paul Photo courtesy World Horse Welfare

Paul has a wonderful temperament and excells at agility- also  he would reward a loving new owner with loyalty
Photo courtesy World Horse Welfare

“Rehoming not only assures loving new homes for once-abused or neglected horses, it also frees up space in our four Rescue and Rehoming Centres for those who desperately need our care and expertise,” said deputy chief executive Tony Tyler He explained that large groups of 10 or more horses are coming into the centres with alarming regularity:

“We are encouraging owners to think carefully before putting their mare into foal. Our Need to Breed? message has never been more important as frustratingly the number of horses needing urgent rescue and rehabilitation far outweighs the number that we are rehoming,” he said.

The charity is always looking for rehomers who are able to give a safe and caring home to a once-abused or neglected horse or pony. Find out more at www.worldhorsewelfare.org/rehoming

 

Coombelands Equestrian has outstanding facilities

ONE of the most outstanding equestrian locations in the South East is Coombelands Equestrian at Pulborough, run by Gaye Harwood. Gaye has ensured that facilities she offers for riders on the Coombelands estate have kept pace with competitive needs by adding to the long standing cross country schooling course with other facilities over the years.

Not only are there more than 100 fences, ranging from 2ft to 3ft 6ins to cater for all standards, open for most of the year, but there are show jumping, schooling facilities, dressage arenas on grass, and all weather gallops also available for hire.

Coombelands has a fine all-weather jumping arena Photo Luke Gee LRG Photography

Coombelands has a fine all-weather jumping arena Photo Luke Gee LRG Photography

Recent investment has brought an all weather warm up arena to add to a main all-weather arena installed three years ago- and all facilities have stunning views across downland to the Sussex coast.

“I’ve had the main arena for three years now and in the last couple of years it has been used for well-supported clear round jumping and show jumping events. But I want to introduce unaffiliated competitions too next year, to cater for other riders. Unaffiliated events will encourage some riders back into competition, who would be overfaced by having to compete in affiliated events after being out of competitions for a period,” Gaye explained.

Southerly Roberts and Photo: Leni Dowling LRG Photography

Southerly Roberts and Tinx winning the 90cm event
Photo: Leni Dowling LRG Photography

The warm-up arena has been a huge attraction, and Gaye also provides a ‘play-pen facility’ for very young riders coming off the lead rein, where they can also learn to go up and down small banks in a safe environment.

“British Equestrian Federation event riders like to jump on all-weather surfaces and we held an event for them each month last year. There are a number of One Day Events, Hunter trials and clinics which are held throughout the year, as well as a British Eventing Horse Trials with classes from BE80 to Novice Standard in October. Clear Round jumping is always popular and brings out riders who have not competed for a while and want to see if they can get round,” said Gaye.

In a recent BE event, Southerly Roberts had an outstanding day, winning with Canny Shannondale Z in the first section of the 90cm. Riding Tinx, she finished second in the 100 and won the second section of the 90cm, while Fizz IV was third in the second part of the 90cm.

Chiddingfold,Leconfield and Cowdray Pony Club members enjoying a training day at Coombelands. Photo:Jeannie Knight

Chiddingfold Pony Club members enjoying a training day at Coombelands.
Photo:Jeannie Knight

Gaye added: “Horsham and District Riding Club has been using facilities here for a long time and has had a hunter trial one-day-event organised by Carol Porter for a number of years. We also welcome pony club events and one day events and now have a main showing show here which has moved from Eastlands. One of my main objectives is providing events for youngsters-pony clubs do so much. I am running Junior BEF shows- I had one last year and have four for this year.”

Olivia Watts riding Agher Spotted, known as  Dooley. The duo won the 80cm and were second in the 90cm.  Photo Luke Gee LRG Photography

Olivia Watts riding Agher Spotted, known as Dooley. The duo won the 80cm and were second in the 90cm. Photo Luke Gee LRG Photography

Gaye has five nephews and nieces who all love show jumping- children of her sisters, trainer Amanda Perrett whose racing yard is based at Coombelands, and Lucinda Crowley, whose husband Jim is a Flat jockey. “I know at first hand what type of things they want and enjoy,” she said. Gaye also encourages pony clubs to enjoy the facilities, and one club recently travelled from the Isle of Wight to enjoy a competition day in one of the arenas.

Gaye and her horse Jimmy Photo: Jeannie Knight

Gaye and her horse Jimmy
Photo: Jeannie Knight

She has also held hunter trials in the past to cater for those who who did not want to do show jumping. There is a UK chasers course around the farm, which at 2,800 metres is the longest novice course for BE eventing and includes a section of the grass gallops. Horsham District Riding Club holds a hunter trial and team chase event there and top event riders including Tina Cook and Pippa Funnell use it to prepare their horses for an event.

Gaye has a horse of her own 14.2hh horse Jimmy (11), a Connemara, who took part in his first show at Sands Farm, Warnham recently and will be tackling a few unaffiliated events for fun.

Coombelands Equestrian also has a range of top clinics coming up, hunter trials and wide range of competitions. For details see www.coombelands-equestrian.co.uk/events

David Bridgwater celebrates Plumpton double

David Bridgwater made the journey from his Stow-On-The-Wold stables to Plumpton worthwhile yesterday by scoring an impressive double. He initiated it when he sent out Nomadic Storm at 3-1 to win the two mile one furlong handicap chase with Tom Scudamore on board.

Tom Scudamore with Nomadic Storm in the winner's spot. Photo: Jeannie Knight

Tom Scudamore with Nomadic Storm in the winner’s spot. Photo: Jeannie Knight

He said:”That is now three wins and three places from this horse.  He won that well. He coped with conditions well . It was hard work but it was wet and the horses were getting through it”

Tom Scudamore reported that the Nomadic Way gelding had travelled well throughout the race, taking the lead at the fifth and said that the horse had jumped soundly. This in-form rider later went on to complete his own double, riding for a different trainer.

Ongoing investment in the track and facilities at Plumpton rewarded racegoers with a good day of racing, and Tom Scudamore was quickly back in the winner’s spot in the following race- the two mile handicap hurdle- when he partnered Rathealy for David Pipe.

Tom Scudamore with Rathealy  and connections  Photo: Jeannie Knight

Tom Scudamore with Rathealy and connections Photo: Jeannie Knight

The four-year-old gelding made all, testing the remaining  six runners and despite mistakes at the last two flights, won at 9-1 by a comfortable six lengths from odds-on favourite Syrop De Menthe ridden by Lucy Gardner.

Then it was a delighted David Bridgwater’s turn to celebrate a second win, when 7lb claimer Jake Launchbury rode a well-judged race on board  Ringa Bay at 11-4 to take a three length lead two out from favourite Paddy The Oscar,trained by Grace Harris,and holding on to to win by over a length.

Ringa Bay with  owners Mahli &Co with trainer David  Bridgwater and rider Jake Launchbury. Photo: Jeannie Knight

Ringa Bay with owners Mahli &Co with trainer David Bridgwater and rider Jake Launchbury. Photo: Jeannie Knight

Champion jockey Tony McCoy had kicked off the meeting with a win in the opening Maiden Hurdle race on board Slowfoot, trained by Jim Best. He said: “He was good, considering, because he raced a little bit gassy early on. He was a little bit fresh and you could tell he hadn’t run for over a year.”

Tony McCoy after the victory Photo: Jeannie Knight

Tony McCoy after the victory
Photo: Jeannie Knight

The seven-year-old had made a late start in jump racing, having come from Germany, but got the better of Keys ridden by Daryl Jacob and in third place, Santa’s Secret, trained by Oliver Sherwood, and ridden by Leighton Aspell. The latter was undoubtedly the pick of the paddock and should be winning soon.

West Wratting trainer Sarah Humphrey made the trip to Plumpton pay off when she sent out Flemi Two Shoes with 3lb claimer James Banks in the saddle to take the three mile one furlong handicap hurdle race by just a nose. The unlucky runner-up was Lucy Wadham’s Aviador ridden impressively by 10lb claimer Luke Ingram- and the remainder of the field were 18 lengths adrift.

Trainer Anthony Honeyball was another to celebrate a double when he sent out 8-11 favourite Cresswell Breeze, ridden by Aiden Coleman to an easy 14 length victory in the handicap hurlde over two miles five furlongs by an easy 13 lengths from Young Cheddar.The second half of the double came in the National Hunt Flat race which Rachel Green won partnering his potentially useful mare Act Now.

Make a date in the diary for the next Plumpton fixture- the Aspen Insurance Anglo-Irish Raceday on Monday March 9, which has a special Cheltenham Festival Preview before racing.

 

 

 

 

 

Plumpton gets go-ahead for today

An interesting and competitive card is promised at Plumpton today when racing goes ahead after a precautionary inspection.

Clerk of the course, Mark Cornford, said the going would be heavy and testing but there was no reason why racing should not take place.  The day was expected to be generally fine, with some sunshine and an odd shower. Races are well subscribed.

Plumpton has excellent racing facilities

Plumpton has excellent racing facilities

Seven races start at 2.05pm with eight runners in the maiden hurdle race where Keys, trained by Tony Carroll and ridden by Daryl Jacob finished second at the track last time out on heavy ground. The one to beat could be the Oliver Sherwood-trained Santa’s Secret with Leighton Aspell aboard, which finished third at an earlier Plumpton meeting, but on better going.

Five runners compete in the two mile one furlong handicap chase where Nomadic Storm would be the obvious choice, trained by David Bridgwater and ridden by Tom Scudamore, but this will be his first outing since last June. Mr Muddle trained at Lewes by Sheena West and ridden by Mark Goldstein is a course and distance winner, but has not won on heavy ground.

Hold The Bucks with trainer Daniel Steele is a Plumpton specialist Photo: Jeannie Knight

Hold The Bucks with trainer Daniel Steele is a Plumpton specialist
Photo: Jeannie Knight

Hold The Bucks, trained locally by Daniel Steele, has won four times at Plumpton on soft ground and has a chance of making this his fifth course and distance win with usual rider Freddie Mitchell on board in the two mile Cheltenham Handicap Hurdle if the ground is not too heavy.

Amateur riders will be competing for the Gaye Kindersley  Memorial Salver in their handicap chase and two course and distance winners are in the line up- According To Them, stablemate of Hold The Bucks, and Ballyvoneen trained by Neil King. According To Them ran a blinder on heavy ground to win in January, while Ballyvoneen has won on soft but never heavy ground.

According To Them won impressively last time out at Plumpton

Bredon Hill Lad enjoys heavier conditions and is a main contender for the three mile one furlong handicap hurdle for trainer Sue Gardner with daughter Lucy on board. But Chris Gordon’s Sweet Boy Vic, with Tom Cannon back in the saddle, is the one who could thwart his bid for victory. He loves heavy ground and has done well at Plumpton, and his last run there without his usual rider, when he was pulled up, was too bad to be true.

Jockey Tom Cannon

Jockey Tom Cannon

The Mares’ Handicap Hurdle is an easier task for trainer Anthony Honeyball’s Cresswell Breeze, than when she won a 14-runner ordinary handicap hurdle on soft. But she has to shoulder top weight of 12.2 as a result of that with Aiden Coleman on board. Wiltshire trainer Godfrey Maundrell sends out course winner Tambura, and this five-year-old has also won on heavy ground. Another big plus is she has in-form jockey Tom Cannon on the saddle.

The meeting concludes with an eight-runner National Hunt Flat race.

 

 

Kilcooley wins the National Spirit Hurdle in fine style

HORSHAM trainer Gary Moore won the Josh Gifford  Memorial Novices Chase at Fontwell Park for the third successive year on Sunday- and champion trainer Paul Nicholls had to settle for second place for the third time in as many years.

Gary Moore’s previously won the Josh Gifford Trophy with Fruity O’ Rooney (2013) and Via Sundown (2014) and was delighted to take the trophy for a third time.Jockey Jamie Moore rode Leo Luna to a fine victory in the race as heavy rain, originally predicted for Sunday night, began to fall.

Jamie and Gary Moore in top form at Fontwell Park

Jamie and Gary Moore in top form at Fontwell Park

Despite the extremely testing conditions, Leo Luna, like stablemate Sire de Grugy when winning on Saturday, was foot perfect and fluent throughout and was never under pressure. He finished, 15 lengths clear of the Nicholls runner, 8-11 favourite Wilton Milan with Sam Twiston-Davies on  board.

Miss Oscarose,  a 14-1 shot trained by Paul Henderson ridden by Richard Johnson, finished 49 lengths further back in third place, while the only other runner, Richard Rowe’s Tang Royale was pulled up after three fences from  home.

Despite heavy rain making conditions even more testing,  5-4 favourite The Kerry Man, which joined trainer David Bridgwater only recently,  won the second race, a two mile six furlong handicap chase for the Certain Justice Challenge Trophy, under Tom Scudamore.

Jockey Tom Scudamore Photo: John Simpson

Time To Think had won this last year for trainer Seamus Mullins but could finish only a distant third, 64 lengths behind second placed Regal Flow, sent out by trainer Caroline Keevil and ridden by James Best.  The fourth horse contesting this race,  Herecomesthetruth was pulled up before the last when tailed off.

The 50th running of the National Spirit Hurdle saw only six runners go to post , with the odds-on favourite Silsol representing Paul Nicholls and ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies. Despite having won on heavy ground at Ffos Las at the end of January, Silsol was under pressure in the closing stages when 3-1 shot Kilcooley trained by Charlie Longsdon, stepped up the pace.

Winning jockey Noel Fehily

Winning jockey Noel Fehily

Under a well-judged ride Noel Fehily,  this horse left Silsol unable to match him and the favourite finished almost three lengths back in second place, while third horse, Cannon Fodder trained at Lewes by Sheena West was 32 lengths further back in third place.

One horse which simply loved the ground at Fontwell was Whichwoods Brook, trained by Evan Williams and ridden by Adam Wedge. This winner of the valuable Peter Marsh Hurdle at Haydock in January last year put in a fine performance, making every inch of the running, to take the Novice Hurdle race over two miles six furlongs and first prize.  He beat 2-4 favourite Rock The Kasbah, trained by Phillip Hobbs by four lengths with third-placed  Princeton Royale at 10-1 a further 26 lengths back.

Jockey Adam Wedge Photo: PA

Jockey Adam Wedge
Photo: PA

Only three went to the post in the Foxhunter Trial for the Whitelaw Challenge Cup over three miles two furlongs, headed by 1-3 favourite No Loose Change ridden by Mr James King and trained by Paul Nicholls.  This horse had finished second only a few days earlier at Taunton  but went on to give Paul Nicholls his only winner at the meeting. Second-placed Minella Theatre, trained by Alan Hill was ridden by amateur Joe Hill, son of trainer Lawney Hill, had led for most of the way .  Lucia Akinci was on board Mrs Heather Kemp’s horse En Suite- but came to grief earlier in the race.

The winning Fontwell combination of trainer Chris Gordon, jockey Tom Cannon and Very Noble had the two mile two and a half furlong handicap hurdle handed them on a plate when Lucy Gardner on board Sirop De Menthe thought she still had a circuit to go when he would have been the certain winner.

The horse was still on the bridle and stewards at a subsequent inquiry ruled that she didn’t ride a finish enabling Tom Cannon to do so and win on Very Noble. Lucy Gardner is a capable rider and was mortified when she realised her error in the race distance. She received a 14 day ban from stewards.

Fontwell Park’s next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday March 4 when hopefully the rain will have stopped and the course dried out for what should be a good mid-week fixture with six races starting at 2.10pm. Gates open at 12.30pm.  Don’t miss out an get  discount by booking your tickets now at  http://www.fontwellpark.co.uk/whats-on/fixtures/

Fontwell’s National Spirit meeting goes ahead today

Fontwell has passed an early morning inspection today and the Totepool National Spirit card at Fontwell will go ahead, despite an overnight frost.

Clerk of the course Ed Arkell said: “The track has taken the rain we got on Thursday and Friday very well. We had a light frost but the sun is up and it is coming out of the ground very quickly.

“I think it will be testing, but I think they will get through it as we have fresh ground on the bends, which we have saved since October, and we have moved the racing lines on the hurdle and chase courses, so there is a decent covering of grass all over. It will be tough, but it could have been worse.”

With the race going ahead, the feature race of the Totepool National Spirit Hurdle race, Grade 2, worth more than £28,000, has just six contenders, But Welsh Champion Hurdle winner Silsol will love the ground and is likely to give trainer Paul Nicholls a third victory in five runnings of the Grade 2 contest. Other runners are John Flint’s Kayf Moss, Fox Cub, Tom Symonds, Kilcooley ( Charlie Longsdon, Cannon Fodder ( Sheena West) and Kayflin ( Linda Jewell).

Fontwell's National Spirit meeting is subject to inspection at 8am tomorrow

Fontwell’s National Spirit meeting goes ahead today

Unfortunately the  card has only four runners left in the opening Josh Gifford Memorial Novices Chase- Leo Luna ( Gary Moore), Tan Royale ( Richard Rowe), Wilton Milan ( Paul Nicholls) and Miss Oscarose ( Paul Henderson).

The late Josh Gifford rode his first winner as a jockey for Capt Ryan Price at Fontwell Park in March 1961 on Do Not Disturb, two and a half years after his initial ride at the track. He was a regular visitor and supporter of Fontwell Park with numerous winners and also opened Fontwell’s new Grandstand in 2010.

Mrs Althea Gifford, with son Nick and daughter-in-law Ruth presenting the trophy

Mrs Althea Gifford, with son Nick and daughter-in-law Ruth presenting the Mad Hatters Trophy to owners Nick Peacock and Nick Roach, whose horse Via Sundown won the race last year

This trophy was originally known as the Mad Hatters Trophy, presented for an amateur riders Flat race, won by Althea Gifford riding for Josh in 1979.

The two mile six furlong chase for the Certain Justice Trophy has five entries- Regal Flow ( Caroline Keevil), Time To Think ( Seamus Mullins), De Kerry Man ( David Bridgwater), Herecomesthetruth ( Chris Gordon) and Morestead ( Brendan Powell).

The novice hurdle race over two miles six furlong has two entries of the five entries from in-form trainer Chris Gordon,  with Tom Cannon riding top weight Kerry Maur, and Marc Goldstein bottom weight Lady H.

The Foxhunter trial has just three entries while the last two races, a handicap hurdle and National Hunt Flat race look the most competitive of the day with seven runners in each.

Meanwhile a date for the diary is Wednesday March 4 when a Spring Afternoon fixture is being held at Fontwell Park with the first race at 2.10pm.  Also racing is scheduled in Sussex tomorrow (Monday) at Plumpton where the going is currently heavy and soft in places, a precautionary inspection will be held at 8am because of uncertainty about amounts of overnight rain.

 

 

 

 

Jockey George Baker reflects on a successful week

Flat jockey George Baker, writing in his February blog, says that the countdown to All-Weather Championships Finals Day on Good Friday at Lingfield Park is ticking along quickly and the leaderboards are looking very competitive and full of quality.

“Things are looking up for me. I’ve been busy riding a few winners. Six wins last week included a treble on Wednesday with two at Lingfield – Star Asset for Michael Wigham and Loraine for Jamie Osborne then Skidby Mill for Laura Mongan at Kempton,” he said.

Ambassador for All-Weather racing's  series, Jockey George Baker

Ambassador for All-Weather Racing series, Jockey George Baker

He followed up at Wolverhampton on Friday night when  he won on board Jeremy Gask’s Trending at 3-1 to lead by a head on the line.

“Saturday’s card at Lingfield was really good quality and very exciting with two Fast-Track Qualifiers both on Channel 4, including the coral.co.uk Winter Derby Trial,”continued George.

“Just a quick observation, it was interesting that Godolphin flew William Buick in to ride Festive Fare at Kempton on Wednesday.  He literally just flew in to ride and win well, then straight back on a plane to ride at Meydan the next day.  They obviously think a lot of the horse he’s had two runs and two nice wins.

“Just to end, I have to mention AP McCoy, I know so much has already been said, but from a personal point of view it really is sad to see him go – he’s riding better than ever.  However, it is a very difficult decision he’s had to make, but it has to be the right one, going out on top.  He’s got nothing to prove and I doubt there’ll ever be another 20 times Champion Jockey on either code.”

Alben Star ready for all weather return tomorrow

All-Weather champion Alben Star is set to return in the £45,000 Listed Unibet Cleves Stakes (1.45pm) at Lingfield Park tomorrow, Saturday.The six-furlong contest is a Fast-Track Qualifier for the Unibet All-Weather Sprint Championships over the course and distance on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, April 3.

Alben Star defied a starting price of 25/1 to land the £150,000 prize on Good Friday last year and proved it was no fluke with a series of good efforts on turf subsequently. The Richard Fahey-trained seven-year-old was fourth in the Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot and third in the Stewards’ Cup at Glorious Goodwood.

Alben Star to return to Lingfield Park Photo: John Simpson

Alben Star to return to Lingfield Park tomorrow
Photo: John Simpson

He has not run since coming 13th behind Gordon Lord Byron in the Group Two QIPCO British Champions Sprint at Ascot in October. Fahey said: “All being well, Alben Star will go to Lingfield on Saturday.He has had a holiday since Ascot, which he was entitled to because he was on the go for over a year, and seems in good shape.

“He needs to run three times to qualify for Finals Day and there are only three races left he can run in, so he has to run at the weekend.”

There are 11 other entries for the Unibet Cleves Stakes, notably Instransigent(Andrew Balding), who took the Listed Unibet Golden Rose Stakes over the course and distance in November, the returning Rivellino (Karl Burke) and impressive Wolverhampton winner Foxtrot Romeo (Marco Botti).

Top class racing at Lingfield Park this weekend   Photo:

Top class racing at Lingfield Park this weekend Photo: ARC

A seven-race programme is topped by the £45,000 Listed Winter Derby Trial (3.25pm) over 10 furlongs. Among the 13 entries are last year’s winner Grandeur (Jeremy Noseda), who also took the £200,000 Coral Easter Classic over the course and distance on Good Friday, and 2011 Group One Dewhurst Stakes victor Parish Hall (Jim Bolger IRE).

Other notables include Cloudscape (John Gosden), who was a promising three-year-old on turf last season, and Group Three winner Graphic (William Haggas). Prolific handicappers Don’t Be (Sir Mark Prescott), Shyron(George Margarson) and Rich Again (James Bethell) could all clash in the other £45,000 contest on the card, the Ladbrokes Handicap (2.15pm, 22 entries) over seven furlongs.

Racing gets underway at 1.15pm and concludes at 4.35pm