Friday 13 December marked the annual Christmas Meeting, as well as the final fixture of 2019 at Bangor-on-Dee. Racegoers were treated to a range of Christmas fun, with a Festive Freebie giveaway and those in attendance were also encouraged to sport their finest Christmas Jumpers to support National Christmas Jumper Day in aid of Save the children. The Bangor-on-Dee team ran the exit collection for the charity, raising over £500.
Racing action got underway at 11.50am, with seven live races covered by Sky Sports Racing and ITV Racing. After considerable rain over the previous weeks, the ground was officially described as heavy on both the hurdle and chase tracks.
The Wrexham Lager Handicap chase kicked off the afternoon and saw a dominant display by the Mark Walford trained Miss Amelia. The mare tracked the leaders for most of the extended two-mile contest, before taking up the lead two from home under Brendan Powell, who only had to gently shake up his mount approaching the last, to extend even further clear to win by 17 lengths.
Storm Wizard was another wide margin winner in the DU Construction Handicap Chase for trainer Venetia Williams. The lightly raced seven-year-old seemed to relish the heavy conditions to pull clear from his opponents down the back straight and land his first win under jockey Charlie Deutsch.
The most exciting finish of the day came in the Alpha Aggregate Products Golden Spurs Handicap Chase. Bob Ford and Knockoura disputed the lead for the majority of the race, with King Uther and Serosevsky falling by the wayside, unable to lay up with the leading pair. Knockoura drew clear from his Alistair Ralph trained rival turning for home, and was always just doing enough despite Bob Ford rallying gallantly right to the line. The gelding has now notched up two wins out of his three runs this season under Ross Chapman for trainer Maurice Barnes.
The Geoff Done Memorial Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle had the largest field of the day with 10 runners heading to post for the two-mile contest. Baratineur took the spoils after taking over from the long-time leader Infiniti two out and effortlessly pulling clear under experienced Conditional Sean Houlihan. This was the eight-year old’s first success since February 2016, and winner number seven for Houlihan’s 2019-2020 campaign.
Televised on ITV, the Racebets Handicap Hurdle was a Challenger Stayers’ Hurdle Series Qualifier. The Donald McCain trained Same Circus was bidding to repeat the trainers’ success in the race from 12 months ago and was bounced out by Brian Hughes. However, the pair were outpaced turning for home by the eventual winner Doc Penfro, who stayed on well in the conditions to win for the inform Emma Lavelle and Ben Jones. Bryden Boy finished four lengths back in second with Same Circus fading into third.
A taking performance in the Consensus Workspace Novices’ Hurdle saw Cheddington win for owners Mr & Mrs Clarke. The Jennie Candlish trained gelding won a bumper back in March and went one better than his second place on hurdling debut. The four-year-old sat handy during most of the race before asserting his dominance to romp home by 19 lengths, eased down.
The final race of 2019 was taken convincingly by the locally trained Chuvelo. Already a bumper winner, he made all under Brian Hughes leading the field a merry dance to pass the post a staggering 23 lengths clear, hard held, the widest winning margin of the day. The son of Milan looks to be an exciting recruit for the leading trainer at the track, Donald McCain.
We would like to wish all of our racegoers a Merry Christmas and all of our best wishes for 2020. The next fixture at Bangor-on-Dee is Heritage Day on Friday 7 February. Ticket prices start from £7 in advance for adult racegoers, with children under the age of 18 and accompanied by a responsible adult admitted free of charge. For more information please visit the website at www.bangorondeeraces.co.uk or call the box office on 01978 780 323.