Please Note: Next Race meeting is Wednesday 24th April 2024

Aintree here we come for Arizona Cardinal

It’s not often that a small country track plays host to big race contenders, more so since the advent of Premierization. Yet there are still gems to be found among the mid-week races, and in last week’s Forbra Gold Cup, another may yet lurk.

Among the track’s most valuable contests, the handicap chase run over 3m hasn’t a glamorous record of creating big race winners, but that could change with the 14l romp of Arizona Cardinal, trained by Stuart Edmunds, who, despite a bad mistake at the 14th, was shaken up to assert quickly 4 out, and that was that. Smiles all round for trainer and rider Cieran Gethings, surely assuring them a place in the Topham Trophy at Aintree in April.

Syndicate manager Peter Borg-Neal told the Racing Post, “We’re wanting to go to Aintree to the Topham so that’s helped us. We needed to get his mark up a few pounds and he might have just done that. He did it well – I don’t think he liked the ground which was a bit sticky but he battled on.

“He made one mistake, which is quite unusual for him, but still he picked the bridle back up again and won nicely. He jumps so well so the Topham should be a good race for him.”

There was a welcome change of luck for rider Bryony Frost in the Mares Novices Handicap Chase to conclude the day. Riding for Lucy Wadham, Frost’s mount, Game On For Glory, was far from foot-perfect, but her skill was seen to best effect, and the 2 3/4l victory had something in hand for trainer Lucy Wadham to work on.

Frost’s 18 winners this season are a far cry from the dizzy days of 3-4 seasons ago, when Saturday mounts made her a hot property. The very public spat with Robbie Dunne, played out through the media, has done her no favours in an introspective world where everyone knows everyone, and where problems are generally sorted behind closed doors. Nevertheless, Frost’s talent remains undimmed, and it is to be hoped she will regain the support of more owners with high profile horses, as she deserves.

Local lad Henry Daly has been running into a seam of form recently, illustrated in a winner at our last fixture, and re-emphasized here with his fourth winner in under a fortnight, when Jour d’Evasion found winning ways at the sixth time of asking after runner-up berths here in December  and in January at Huntingdon, under Sam Twiston-Davies. Owner Sir Thomas Pilkington is typical of Daly’s owners; a former Senior Steward of the Jockey Club, he is what is commonly described as an “old-fashioned type of owner”, prepared to give his horses (and trainers) time.  Would that there were more of them.

The third chase on the card saw a continuation of the fine form enjoyed across the full season by Venetia Williams, as 10 year old Supervisor relished the soft conditions to win by 12l over Fashion’s Model from Sheila Lewis. After a brief flat spot last month, the team at Caradoc Court is breathing fire presently, just in time to excel at the Spring festivals. The stable is well on track for its best ever prize money haul, being one of just four trainers whose total runs to seven figures.

The variety of racing’s participants is one of its great joys, ranging from toothless old stockmen like Peter Easterby to millionaires like Clive Boultbee-Brooks. The latter has only lately turned his hand to training horses, having made a  fortune on property development, but his eye for the main prize is already much in view. As yet, this small stable has yet to turn out 100 runners, never mind 100 winners, but 6 year old Della Casa Lunga added to that tally with a ready 8l victory over Lucy Wadham’s Pretending in the George Rickards Birthday Mares Handicap Hurdle over 3m, and may well defy a penalty in similar company. Claimer Cameron Iles was in the plate, picking up his 10th winner of the term.

The trophy for the opener might not be one to grace the Pilkington dinner table, but owners Premier Plastering may not be so fussy. Dylan Johnston, another conditional with an eye to a fully-fledged career in the game, showed his talents to best effect when just lasting home on Olly Murphy’s Hara Kiri in the Prestigious Loo of the Year Awards Handicap Hurdle, a boys race, by just a nose.

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