Fenney Brook takes the ladies’ breath away
Our annual ladies day produced more Best Turned Out awards than there were races, enhanced by some gorgeous Spring sunshine. Thank you to all our participants and for encouraging our accompanying menfolk to scrub up to keep up. Sartorial standards at Ludlow have never been higher!
On the track meantime, the handicapper could afford to give himself a pat on the back after the Jewson Builders Merchants Handicap Hurdle yesterday produced a blistering finish in which the first four were separated by just over 3l. The race produced another winner for Ludlow’s most local trainer in Henry Daly, with 20/1 outsider Fenney Brook, a neck winner with a terrific late surge of speed, over The Wild Wild Sea.
The previous race finish could hardly have been a starker contrast. Coleford and the Forest of Dean are not best known for racehorse training, but that hasn’t stopped the likes of John O’Shea producing a good horse at times. Fight For It followed up three winners on the flat to round off April, with a facile 8l victory in the Cameron Cam Hitchins Novices Hurdle. A Coolmore castoff, this son of Camelot has been tutored by Henrietta Knight, and that expertise looks to have paid off.
We are little more than a fortnight into a new season, but the seamless winner machine that is O’Brien McPherson Racing has continued with much the same pace as in their record-breaking last season, and the latest manifestation of their success, Ultimate Getaway, went about his business in a most professional way in the 3 runner Ludlow Golf Club Novices Chase. Venetia Williams’ Eminent Poet looked to have taken the initiative 3 out, but Connor Brace had timed his challenge perfectly to land the spoils with 1 1/4l to spare.
Worcestershire-based Henry Oliver has a 100% record in chases at this early stage of the season, and Reine Fee must have had a severe talking to before leaving the yard to overcome a 16 race losing sequence in chases. However, she put that right at last in the Jewson Mares Handicap Chase over 2m 4f to win a ┬ú10,000 first prize, 1 1/4l ahead of Evan Williams’ Astra Vie. Reine Fee also ran 16 times over hurdles with just a single victory, so let us hope she is beginning to learn the task a little faster before the next victory.
Team Skelton can look back with some satisfaction on the 2021-22 season, ending third in the Trainers’ Championship behind tutor Paul Nicholls, who believes he is a big threat to his top dog position. But when all the dials click back to zero, it’s time to start all over again. Latterly, the summer has been a relatively fallow period for Dan, preserving his quality horses for the gig autumn and mid-winter prizes. Despite this, his 29% strike rate this season means you oppose his runners at your peril, and one not to oppose was Sofia’s Rock, 9l winner of the Welsh Guards Association David Scrumpy Lewis Handicap Hurdle. Dictating the pace to allow breathers, Harry Skelton led much of the way, and under hard driving, drew clear before the last. Skelton was suspended for two days for vigorous use of the whip after the last, but in fairness, his mount was hanging, and looks as if he needs robust handling.
Beautician and trainer Sheila Lewis made the┬á best of the 5 runner Visit the Ludlow Farm Shop Today Novices Hurdle with Gris Majeur under Sean Houlihan, who ran out a 2l winner over 11/10 favourite Titikov, whilst in the last, the fine form of the Lacey stable continued when Stan Sheppard kicked home You Name Him by 3 1/2l in the concluding Heath Farm Meats Handicap Hurdle.