It is remarkable that the North has been so dry at this time of year and this has greatly affected us as we cannot risk running the horses on unsuitable going. However, there has been some rain in the past week which has helped. The horses are running well and it is very good to have another winner on the board.
At Wetherby on Wednesday 17th October, in the two mile Handicap Hurdle, Aristo du Plessis had his first outing since breaking his pedal bone back in December 2017. Luck was not with us as officials decided to remove three hurdles down the back just minutes before the off. It seemed curious that this decision was taken as the sun was not in line with the obstacles but out to the side. Trainers were given no opportunity to withdraw a horse and the reduction of hurdles did not play to Aristo’s strengths as his jumping is so slick and he needs the obstacles to been seen in his best light. However, ridden by Nick Schofield he had a pipe opener finishing fifth and came home in good order. His handicap has also dropped 3lb.
Sleep in First does not know how to run a bad race and at Carlisle on Thursday 18th October in the two mile Handicap Chase, the gallant 12 year old jumped well for Steven Fox and stayed on up the hill to come fourth. Sleepy has been on the go all summer and will have a break when it gets softer. He has dropped 1lb over fences.
Three year old Foxey had his first start in the Junior Bumper at Market Rasen on Saturday 20th October. He travelled down and behaved very well in the preliminaries and turning in seemed to have every chance. However, when Nick Schofield asked him to quicken, he just seemed to hang into the rails. This could have been due to fitness, greenness or the ground and it’s too early to say exactly. He will have another Bumper run on softer ground.
On Saturday 27th October Civil Unrest made his comeback from a splint injury in the two mile Handicap Chase at Kelso. On a wintry day the large crowd enjoyed the improved facilities. There were a few anxious moments before the start, again due to the low sun, but the decision was made to include all the fences. It was a joy to watch our ‘auld soldier’ bouncing away in front and getting into a nice rhythm under Dale Irving who has already won on him five times. Poor Steven Fox lost out on the ride due to the new rule reducing weights in a small field. Turning in, unfortunately they lost a bit of space on the inside but rallied again magnificently, only to go down a short head (officially eight inches!) in a thrilling three way finish. It was disappointing to hear Dale had received a ban for some interference after the post which seems harsh after riding a tight finish on a blinkered horse. However, nothing could detract from from the joy of seeing our 12 year old nearly gaining a 12th win against rivals half his age.
Charmant has had a good preparation for his debut over fences. He is ridden out daily by Steven Fox who has done all the homework and Brian Hughes came to school last Saturday before Kelso and this went very well. So he was all set for the two mile Novice Limited Handicap Chase at Sedgefield on Thursday 1st November. He was relaxed in the paddock and was bto with Sarah Wilson. Ridden by Brian Hughes he had a nice lead on the first circuit but became a little bit keen running down the hill and when in front was jumping to the right and was a bit green but safe enough. When Brian was more positive into the last, he jumped straighter and won very easily by 13 lengths. Although it was only a small field, this was a very promising first performance over fences and he will be suited by a more strongly run race once he has more experience. Racing Post picked out Charmant as ‘Star Performer’ at Sedgefield .
Charmant schooling with BrianHughes
Charmant with Sarah Wilson
Briony then nobly went on from Sedgefield to Newcastle for the evening meeting with our two flat runners. I Am Dandy ran another good race in the mile Handicap and was again so unlucky to come up against a warm favourite. He was only beaten a length and really deserves to get his head in front. Ridden by the experienced Nicky Mackay, he encountered some traffic problems but the winner did it fairly comfortably.
Burns Supper has had a wind operation since his last run and it was good to see him much more relaxed in the preliminaries. In the six furlong Handicap, he had a good clear run on the far side but sadly this was short lived. However, it does sometimes take a run or two after a wind op for the horse to realise that it does not hurt to breathe. Overall it was a better result in terms of his behaviour but he would benefit from coming down in the weights.
An exciting new initiative by Scottish Racing is examining the establishment of permanent training and education facilities to encourage new racing staff based in Scotland. We are delighted that Adam Brook is representing James Ewart Racing on the Advisory Group and they recently held their first meeting at Musselburgh.
We have entries coming up at Musselburgh and Sedgefield next week so let’s hope that conditions continue to ease to enable us to have more runners.