A few weeks on from the ever-popular Ladies Day fixture, Family Fun Evening made it’s return to Bangor-On-Dee, with plenty of good quality racing on show for racegoers to enjoy. The feature race of the day came at 6:40pm in the Donald McCain Racing Club Handicap Hurdle and ground conditions remained Good all over, with dry and overcast weather throughout the evening.
Race 1 – Family Fun Evening Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4, 4yo+, 2m 3 ½f)
A familiar story unfolded in impressive fashion during Race 1 of the evening, when yet another Donald McCain runner coasted home to victory, this time in the shape of Presentandcounting, the very short 1/10 Favourite. Straight into an early lead, Presentandcounting set a steady tempo under reigning champion jockey Brian Hughes, and soon extended his lead even further after the second-flight tumble from These Happy Daze left him well clear of the rest. With the SP Favourite racing in splendid isolation over 20 lengths clear, Quiet Thunder and Razzo Italiano were the only rivals left that could possibly threaten the leader, with Son Of Aliciaslady racing in last throughout and never managing to jump with any fluency. Not content to surrender the lead aboard the leader, Brian Hughes stepped up the gallop rounding the home turn and soon found his nearest rivals over 40 lengths behind. Pinging the final two flights, Presentandcounting never looked in any doubt and soon recorded an impressive victory, clearing away by a massive 55 lengths ahead of Quiet Thunder. A trainer in form, before this evening’s events Donald McCain’s five most recent runners had all finished either first or second. Could this be a pointer for the remainder of this evening’s racecard?
Race 2 – Donald McCain 16 Years Champion Trainer Bangor-On-Dee Novices’ Handicap Chase (Class 5, 4yo+, 2m 1 ½f)
In a competitive-looking novices’ handicap chase, the field were blown away in Race 2 by the Alastair Ralph-trained chaser White Turf, who finally broke his maiden tag at the 26th time of asking. Sharing 3/1 favouritism with White Turf, the Brian Ellison-trained Punxsutawney Phil could only last a few hundred yards during this contest, jumping awkwardly at the first fence and relegating his rider to the floor. Quick to skip round the riderless horse, Dunbar and hattrick-seeking Bempton Cliffs shared the early lead, with Barest Of Margins and White Turf content to sit patiently in midfield throughout; Right Destination brought up the rear in last place. Heading towards the penultimate obstacle with little change to the running order, Bempton Cliffs held a slender lead under firm pressure from Alan Johns. However, making up eye-catching late ground under a cool Tom Scudamore, White Turf quickly found himself in front having jumped the second-last and soon kicked more than a length clear of the weakening pack. With nothing in behind producing any real threat to the new leader, White Turf soared over the final fence and scooted clear to triumph by 9 lengths from Barest Of Margins; third place went the way of Right Destination, who made late gains from rear division. A stalwart of the weighing room, Tom Scudamore picked up a trio of Listed races in the 2021-22 season, including the London Handicap Hurdle at Ascot with the smart Soaring Glory!
Race 3 – Rachel Jones Memorial Handicap Chase (Class 3, 4yo+, 2m 1 ½f)
Starting at odds of 9/2, Master Malachy provided Donald McCain and Brian Hughes with their second winner of the evening in Race 3, prevailing by 1 ¾ lengths from the 2/1 market leader Shareef Star. Yet another McCain runner to race prominently, Master Malachy pestered early leader Animore for the first half mile of the contest, eventually overtaking and settling into a comfortable position. Satisfied to keep his mount held up, James Bowen brought up the rear aboard Shareef Star throughout the third race, sitting in behind the keen-travelling pair of Coal Stack and Elias D’Or with over a circuit still to go. With Animore and Wasdell Dundalk weakening away, Brian Hughes upped the ante aboard Master Malachy heading towards the home turn having jumped the third-last. Kicking away and attempting to steal a few lengths before the penultimate fence, the leader travelled well within himself and soon only had the late challenge of Shareef Star to worry about. Despite jumping the final two fences slightly awkwardly, Master Malachy responded well for pressure from his rider, and although momentarily challenged by Shareef Star with less than a furlong to race, always looked to be doing enough and kept on well in the closing stages. Having previously had great success with former Donald McCain superstars Peddlers Cross and Overturn, owner T G Leslie looks to have another progressive youngster with Master Malachy!
Race 4 – Donald McCain Racing Club Handicap Hurdle (Class 3, 4yo+, 2m 7f)
Fresh from bringing up the double, McCain and Hughes were at it again in Race 4 when talented mare Latino Fling strutted her stuff to run out a good winner by 1 ¼ lengths as the 9/4 Favourite. Although sweating quite profusely and running around at his hurdles, Jersey Wonder led the way throughout the early stages of the race, with recent Market Rasen Summer Plate (Grade 3) winner Francky Du Berlais racing in second alongside the long-absent Dead Right, and Latino Fling racing widest of all. Pulling hard against the reins, Latino Fling careered herself into the lead with a circuit to go before increasing the tempo halfway down the far side of the track. With Wbee and Eritage struggling to go with the leading pack after the shift in tempo, the contest truly began in earnest as Latino Fling led the field into the wings of the second-last flight of hurdles. Trying desperately to reduce the deficit, Francky Du Berlais fought strongly in the home straight under James Bowen, but ultimately couldn’t quite reel in Latino Fling, who stayed on well after the back of the last to hold off her challenger in the final 100 yards of the contest. Remarkably, since moving to the McCain stable in late 2021, Latino Fling is yet to finish worse than third place in nine runs, winning five of them!
Race 5 – Bangor-On-Dee Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (GBB Race) (Class 3, 4yo+, 3m)
Just four runners went to post in the fifth race of the evening, but racegoers were treated to another impressive winner when 7/4 shot Aviewtosea scored by 6 lengths under the classic Paddy Brennan drive. Racing in single file for much of the early stages, the four runners were headed by chasing debutant Farouk De Cheneau a couple of lengths in front of the 13/8F Charlie Uberalles, with Shetland Bus and Aviewtosea completing the line-up in rear. Upon jumping the third fence from home, Conor O’Farrell switched Charlie Uberalles alongside the early leader to make a stern looking challenge on the way down to the second-last, with Shetland Bus and Aviewtosea having to be bustled along to keep up with those more prominent. With the pressure being applied by Paddy Brennan, Aviewtosea soon found a second wind, staying on strongly to wrestle the lead away from Charlie Uberalles as the pair jumped the penultimate fence in unison. Having been headed, the SP Fav soon folded tamely into fourth place and left Shetland Bus to fight out the places with Farouk De Cheneau, who in turn had work to do to catch the new leader. Not to be denied, Aviewtosea stayed on strongly after jumping the last under Paddy Brennan’s urgings, and eventually won head-in-chest, being eased down in the final strides to provide Fergal O’Brien with yet another winner. A trainer-jockey combination on the rise, Brennan and O’Brien teamed up for two Listed Cheltenham bumper winners last season with talented filly Poetic Music and unbeaten mare Bonnttay!
Race 6 – IML Marine Management Handicap Hurdle (Class 4, 3yo+, 2m ½f)
Adopting similar tactics to Presentandcounting in the first race, Lewis Gordon steered State Crown to a dominant victory in the sixth race of the day, finishing 22 lengths clear of his nearest pursuer to win at odds of 9/1. Going clear after the second flight of hurdles, State Crown raced freely out in front and had no intention of being headed in the early stages, with Elham Valley sitting over 15 lengths back in second place, another seven or eight lengths clear of the remainder of the field. Looking to the rear of the pack, Red Vision (11/8F) raced in amongst horses behind the unexposed Rafiki, with Karannelle sitting last of all under Sean Bowen. Never looking likely to be caught, State Crown continued to bound further and further clear throughout the contest, jumping well until making a mess of the third-last. Still well clear before jumping the penultimate obstacle, Lewis Gordon stole a couple of glances in-behind to find that the race was at his mercy aboard the leader. Despite making a mistake at the final flight, State Crown showed no signs of stopping and kept on strongly to win eased down for trainer Evan Williams, with Red Vision a very long way back in second place, having made up a lot of late ground under pressure alongside Rafiki back in third. A trainer always to be respected, the 2021-22 season was an important one for Evan Williams, who trained his first Cheltenham Festival winner since 2008 when Coole Cody won the Festival Plate!
Race 7 – Summer Meeting 23rd August Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (Class 5, 4yo+, 2m 3 ½f)
Not happy with three winners, Brain Hughes and Donald McCain closed the meeting by claiming their fourth winner of the evening with previous course winner Simply Red, quickening clear to win by 7 ½ lengths as the 9/4 Favourite. Pulling his way to the front under a keen hold, Simply Red set the early pace at the head of affairs, racing a couple of lengths clear of Dicey Reilly in second and Getaway Glenda in third. Racing in mid-division, the well-backed 2nd Fav Sevenofus raced alongside Leading Theatre throughout, with Raven’s Raft and ‘Best Turned Out’ winner Blue Collar Glory bringing up rear. The complexion of the race remained the same for most of the contest, with the front five being covered by no more than five lengths rounding the home turn for the final time. Kicking clear off the bend towards the second-last, Simply Red maintained a comfortable lead and had victory in his sights with only a couple of furlongs to go. Trying valiantly to go with the leader, Dicey Reilly came under strong pressure from James Bowen before the penultimate flight and soon found themselves losing ground rather than gaining. Committed and full of running, Simply Red then skipped over the final hurdle in good style under Brian Hughes, eventually seeing off Dicey Reilly pretty comfortably in the end, with his rival finishing a well-beaten second ahead of Sevenofus. Donning familiar colours, Simply Red is part-owned by Lee Bolingbroke, whose colours have also been carried to success in the 2020 Edinburgh National with talented staying chaser Bob Mahler!
Race report by Adam Perkins