Please Note: Next Race meeting is Wednesday 9th October

Cobden double accelerates Championship claims

The wet weather has continued to play havoc with the racing programme, with much of Easter washed out. Even where fixtures have taken place, owners and trainers have been holding back seeking better ground rather than firing blanks in bottomless ground that can take a horse a while from which to recover.

So perhaps the only person sighing with relief as another Ludlow fixture on heavy ground took place last week was the head groundsman, with limited track damage from a paltry 31 runners over 6 races. Even by our own admission, it didn’t make for the most compelling entertainment.

Soft ground and a  muddling pace to ensure the field gets the trip can often result in a close finish, and so it proved in the Derek & Elaine Thompson 59th Celebration Handicap Hurdle, which produced a fifth career winner for Somerset-based Harriet Dickin, daughter of former trainer Robin. Now in her second season,  the credentials of her six year old Legionar were enough to secure the services of champion rider elect Harry Cobden, and it needed all Cobden’s horsemanship to maintain a rapidly diminishing length lead at the last to hold on by a neck against a sustained challenge from Bucksy des Epeires, a Venetia Williams inmate under a strong ride from Charlie Deutsch.

This was the second leg of a Cobden double, having had to work considerably less hard on Terresita in a match race for the opening Mares Handicap Chase. Terresita has enjoyed a productive season, with two victories and just one race finish out of the frame for trainer Lucy Wadham, also enjoying a good season. With 24 winners chalked up already, she can hope to beat her career best in numbers and prize money haul before the month is done. She may play her small part in allowing Cobden to reach a  maiden championship.

A third winner of the day for the distaff side concluded the card in the pen Hunters Chase over a shortened distance of 2m 4f. Hannah Roach, who trains pointers from a yard in Cheshire, made good here with her third winner of the season, and a second for stable star Iskander Pecos. So surprises here for layers or punters: at a 4/7 price this was an expected result, but amateur huw Edwards stepped up to deliver a 1l victory over Fergal O’Brien’s Before Midnight, and the winning distance belied an ease that suggests a hattrick is not beyond the realms of impossibility.

The menfolk of the racing game also played their part in this select band of runners on a murky Spring Tuesday. Toby McCain-Mitchell has been enjoying noticeable success between the flags, and that experience has stood him in excellent stead, not least in the feature 3m Boyne Cup Chase. Owned by his trainer, One True King has learned his way around Ludlow, this being his fourth consecutive run around the Shropshire track since McCain-Mitchell took on the ride in October. Two wins and two runner-up berths tell their own story of horses for courses.

Harry Derham is consolidating his reputation as one of the younger generation of trainers making their mark on the sport. With impeccable credentials as a product of the Ditcheat academy, he has already enhanced a first season noticeable by its high strike rate. A 38th winner here with Malambar, a Michael Bell maiden graduate to jumping, progressing naturally to handicap status in the 2m H R Smith Handicap Hurdle, tells of a stable seeking to be noticed.

It has been a tortuous 6 weeks for Seven Barrows, highlighted by health problems for Constitution Hill and the general wellbeing of the string that yielded a winnerless Cheltenham. However, even the most powerful yards cannot be totally halted by underperformance. Five year old mare Easy Peasy made light work of the mares’ novices hurdle to clock up her fourth win from five Rules races for owner Christopher Hanbury.

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