Ralph narrowly denied a treble
It was a red letter day for Alistair Ralph yesterday, who missed out on a treble by the small trifle of 2 1/4l in the main feature of the day, the Forbra Gold Cup.
Alistair Ralph is homing in on a personal best season, and his horses are running hot currently. Based between Bridgnorth and Cleobury Mortimer, he is further evidence of the growing strength of trainers in the Welsh Marches. 16 winners to date this season leaves him 10 short of last season’s best, and three winners in the space of 3 days illustrates a strong well being in the stable.
Ralph has produced 8 of Jay Tidball’s 10 winners this season, and two-thirds of his rides. Tidball duly delivered in the opening handicap hurdle restricted to conditionals on the maiden Thankyourluckystar, who outran Light In The Sky for Chris Down and rider Ben Ffrench-Davis by 1/1/4l
Just over an hour later, it was the turn of Jonathan Burke on Let’s Go To Vegas. Committing early turning into the straight, Burke was hard pressed by Brian Hughes and Mary Poppins on the inner. It looked like Hughes might have got the upper hand 150 yards out, but Burke conjured an extra effort from Let’s Go To Vegas to win by a head.
Burke was less able to dictate the race in the Flowfit Novices Hurdle later in the afternoon, and despite some sketchy jumping from both first and second, couldn’t peg back a rare Jumps winner for David Evans, with Robbie Dunne in the plate. But for Evans’ brief foray back into Jumping from the more familiar territory of sprinters, it would have secured a treble for Shropshire.
Another exciting race ensued in the Forbra Gold Cup, a close-fought contest in which Jane Williams secured a narrow 1l victory with Le Cameleon under David Noonan, who has picked up the rides for the stable since Chester Williams’ injury in the autumn. This, despite losing his stick after the second last, showed some excellent horsemanship from Noonan. Quoi de Neuf can consider himself an unlucky loser.
A rare 8 runner field in the Nightjar Novices Handicap Chase didn’t prevent the jolly from prevailing as Kerry Lee’s Kestrel Valley made pretty much all to win by 3 1/4l from Born At Midnight. This was a first win with Kestrel Valley since a change of stable which seemed to freshen up the 9 year old mare.
Richard Newland is never a trainer to trumpet his triumphs, but he can be relied upon to clock 40+ winners a season and ┬ú1/2m in prize money regular as clockwork. 2022-23 may not prove to be a vintage season, but La Renommee kept the winner tally ticking over in the 1985 Cool Crisp Lager Mares Novices Chase. Pressed by Fortune’s Melody and┬á Cotton End up the straight, the French-bred mare made it third time lucky in her chase career, putting 1 1/4l between her and the second. Newland’s 29 winners show a lower strike rate than in recent seasons, which may have as much to do with others emulating his strategy as a deterioration in his own methods.
Philip Hobbs is a stable that has not been performing to the high standards we’ve come to expect, but the Sandhill winner machine is still working, even if big winners have been elusive. Energy One produced just a 22nd winner of the term in the closing novices handicap hurdle, being one of the last offspring of Kayf Tara.