What a relief it is to finally be out racing, and for the sun to (almost) be making an appearance! Yet again it was a very busy and action packed weekend with 7 runners at 2 meetings and a mixture of results. A training double at Godstone with both horses winning their first race of the season was the highlight!
We kicked off the weekend at High Easter with yard favourite Ravethebrave in the Ladies Open, under Izzie Marshall. The ground was a little soft for the gelding, but he still put in a great performance in a competitive 9 runner race. He jumped much better than his previous outing at Kimble, not running as fresh. However, along the bottom on the final circuit he hit the softest ground at the wrong time, causing a couple of errors, putting him out of the race. Izzie gave him a brilliant ride to gain 3rd place, and we will look for similar opportunities for success!
Next up was novice jockey and victor-last-time-out, on his other ride, Noah Brazg on his own Brian's Well in the Club Members Conditions race, over a further distance of 3m6f. The distance suited the horse and Noah followed the trainer's instructions which were to take up the lead if there was no pace. The pair set off in joint lead, with the slower pace and light to the fences allowing Brian to jump much better than his previous outing at Kimble. He lead over the second last and when he was taken on he fought back well to finish 5th by only 8 and a half lengths. It was a very good effort from the horse who tried hard and we will look for another long distance race in the coming weeks, perhaps Dingley.
Last to run was Dan Cherriman's ride Smadynium in an also hotly contested 6 runner hunt race. Dan gave the grey gelding a great ride; the horse enjoyed the ground and jumped very well. Over the last mile Dan took on the odds on favourite and Smadynium put in some excellent leaps, before being overtaken coming up the hill. However, he fought back hard racing towards the last, but landed a little tired and was just beaten, finishing 2nd. The trainer feels very positive after the competitive run and hopefully it will give Dan a good chance of success in the coming weeks.
On Sunday we headed to Godstone with 4 talented horses in hope of a successful day! First to run was quirky Man Of Steel on the quest for his first win of the season. Typically this horse always starts his season steadily, but builds up as the it goes on, achieving some creditable results. However, so far this season he has run some average races so we were hoping for a more positive performance. Due to the further distance of 3m6f the trainer took off the blinkers that Steel ran in last time, but their effect was still apparent, making the horse a lot sharper. National champion jockey Gina Andrews was on the gelding, and along with this positive factor, Alan felt that the ground, course and distance were all in Steel's favour. In hindsight the trainer says it was hard to see the horse getting beat during the race, as he always looked the winner. He jumped and travelled very well, and despite hitting the front earlier than ideal, he battled on once joined and won the race. Although the official distance was given as a head, both trainer and jockey felt it was a good and impressive win. He even made the front page of the Racing Post Weekender supplement! The main aim with Steel will now be to head to the hunter chase at Cartmel in hope of a victory for the 3rd year running, and we will look for one or two races before. It's great to see the horse back to his best and his winning ways.
"Man Of Steel travelled and jumped incredibly well, and he seemed to enjoy the undulating course. I was in front far too soon but he held on well in the end for a pleasing win!" Gina
Next up was owner/rider Gareth Henderson in the Open Maiden on his horse Desert Retreat. Unfortunately it was not the result we had hoped for, when at the fifth last fence Gareth was unseated whilst looking the winner. It was very disappointing for all concerned however we will look for a similar race in the next few weeks.
Our next runner was maiden winner this season Inmyday in the Restricted with Gina on board. He jumped off hot favourite and put in a front running performance, setting a good gallop and jumping impeccably. He was joined and overtaken at 3 out, but when making up his ground he sustained a heavy fall at the penultimate fence. This was a huge disappointment as he had been jumping so well throughout and this was his only mistake, exclaimed jockey Gina. Most importantly the young horse got up and walked away, and has come out of the race healthy. Gina stated that he will need a flatter course next time out as he didn't handle the undulations very well, so that is what the trainer will aim for.
Inmyday looking the winner before a heavy fall, and walking away happily after!
Our final runner of the weekend was point-to-point season debutante Velvet Cognac in the competitive 5 runner Intermediate. The gelding has been running through the winter in Lawney's National Hunt yard in handicap chases and getting placed - including a 2nd to the useful Colin Tizzard trained Wizard's Bridge at Fontwell. He has had a short break, and enjoyed his hunting over winter, to then be prepared for an intermediate with the hopes of heading to the final at Cheltenham. Gina gave the horse a great ride, with a fantastic display of jumping and he travelled better than even the trainer thought he would, to win! It was great to see the horse so confident and winning, as well as qualifying for the final at Cheltenham! We will look for one more race to run him in to prep him for the final.
"Velvet Cognac was very uncomplicated to ride and jumped very well to fight off a strong challenge from Indian Chance, winning well!" Gina
It was an eventful weekend, with a mixture of results, but great for two horses to win their first race of the season, and most importantly all runners and jockeys returned safely. We head to our local track at Kingston Blount this weekend, and after all the rain, and now finally some SUN the going should be perfect for an action packed day with plenty of runners! Click here to buy tickets for a fun filled family day out!