The wet weather didn’t dampen the spirits of racegoers, with over 2,500 passing through the turnstiles at the Summer Meeting on Tuesday 4 June. Bangor-on-Dee played host to 6 races which produced some fantastic sport and some nail-biting finishes during the afternoon.
The meeting marked the end of the Bangor-on-Dee 2018-2019 season, with a short break until Ladies’ Day on 2 August. Donald McCain was crowned Leading Trainer for the 13th consecutive year; holding the title since he took over from his father in 2006. The Leading Jockey was Brian Hughes, who rode 9 winners at the North Wales track during the season.
The IML Marine Management kicked off the afternoon; Bempton Cliffs set a brisk pace up front for trainer Sam Allwood, his first runner as a licensed trainer, and managed to hold the lead until running out of steam three out. Dream Machine and Gunnery eventually fought out the finish, pulling clear of the rest of the field in a great battle. The Neil Mulholland trained Dream Machine passed the post in front, after finishing second on his hurdling debut just 21 days previously. In contrast, Gunnery was appearing on a racecourse for the first time in 1062 days, an impressive training performance from Nicky Henderson for a horse who has obviously had his problems. A steward’s enquiry was held, but the placings remained the same.
A tactically perfect ride from Alex Edwards saw Damut I’m Out win the Residential Estates Novices’ Handicap Chase in eye-catching style. Trained by Alastair Ralph, the nine-year-old was held up in the early stages and gradually made progress throughout the two-mile four-furlong contest before being shaken up to take the lead two out. He easily pulled three or four lengths clear and was eased down before the line. The favourite Court Duty finished second, after turning in on the bridle, he looked dangerous but failed to find much under pressure.
It was a 1-2 for Donald McCain in the Derek Burridge Golf and Racing Trophies Handicap Hurdle, but not in the order some may have expected. Wearing blinkers for the first time, Secret Escape virtually made all under Brian Hughes. The pair were reined in by rivals three from home but pushed clear again to win by almost four lengths at a price of 10/1; the first leg of a treble for the Cholmondeley yard. In second place came Wazowski, the joint favourite and previous course and distance winner, under Theo Gillard.
Another thrilling finish came in the Lindop Toyota Handicap Chase, with Steel Wave and Old Pride locking horns from the back of two out. Old Pride led the field a merry dance for most of the three mile contest, but was gradually brought back to the pack turning for home. Steel Wave joined the party, with previous course form, and fought all the way to the line to deny Alastair Ralph a double by half a length. Previously with Willie Mullins in Ireland, now locally trained in Tattenhall by Gary Hamner, Steel Wave has now won at Bangor-on-Dee on two occasions. The success also marked a double for jockey Tom Scudamore, who had ridden Dream Machine to success earlier in the afternoon.
Handy Hollow made it two winners on the afternoon for Donald McCain in the R D Owen Equine Clinic Handicap Hurdle. The six-year-old was keen in the early stages of the race, but continued to travel strongly into the home straight to join the eventual runner up It’s For Alan at the last and pull a couple of lengths clear on the run in. Now twice a winner at Bangor-on-Dee, he has been partnered by young jockey Lorcan Murtagh on all three of his career successes.
Lorcan Murtagh claimed two winners in the space of half an hour when riding The Character to victory in the Bangor Bet Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle. Blinkered for the first time, Murtagh kicked The Character for home turning in, soon making up a lead of around six lengths. After an untidy jump at the last, the gelding needed the line, but managed to hold on as the fast finishing Cape Fair swooped towards him close to the post. A thrilling finish to bring up a fantastic treble for Donald McCain, who will be aiming to retain his Leading Trainer title at what is his local track next season.
The next fixture at Bangor-on-Dee is Ladies Day on Friday 2 August. The seven-race card will be supported by a best dressed competition, with a range of fantastic prizes up for grabs! Ticket prices start from £7, with children 17 and under admitted free of charge. For more information and to purchase tickets online, please visit the website www.bangorondeeraces.co.uk or call the box office on 01978 780 323.