Flanked by musical performances from Coldplay and Elton John tribute acts, a competitive card of seven races provided the perfect middle ground for Bangor’s inaugural Glast-On-Dee Music Night. The feature race of the evening came at 7:23pm in the Camden Stout Handicap Hurdle (Class 3), with ground conditions consistently Good throughout the seven races.


Race 1 – Glast-On-Dee Music Night Handicap Chase (Class 4, 5yo+, 3m)

Overcoming a terrible blunder around a mile from the finish, Exmoor Forest (14/1) proved to be a very tough customer in the first race, staying on stoutly in the home straight to score for Nigel Hawke with James Davies in the saddle. Racing towards mid-division through the first couple of miles, Exmoor Forest did well to get back into stride after a huge mistake shortly after entering the second circuit, immediately ridden along to stay competitive. However, making rapid headway as many came off the bridle over the third-last obstacle, Exmoor Forest soon launched his attack around the home bend, challenging market leader Happy Du Mesnil (5/2F) upon entering the straight. Game under pressure, and sailing over the final two fences, Exmoor Forest readily put the race to bed in the closing stages, pushed out by James Davies to score by 1 ½ lengths. A trainer with a tidy CV, Nigel Hawke was also successful in Wales in 1998, taking the Welsh Grand National with Kendal Cavalier!


Race 2 – Beck’s Handicap Chase (Class 4, 5yo+, 2m 4 ½f)

Rediscovering the smart form of his younger days, Jerrash (17/2) ran out a most impressive 5 ½ length winner of the second race, easily seeing off his rivals under Gavin Sheehan for Welsh trainers Peter & Michael Bowen. Always prominent from the outset, Jerrash jumped well through the opening couple of miles, never far away from 12-year-old veteran Peacocks Secret (20/1) out in front. As the race began in earnest towards the final three obstacles, Jerrash moved up to challenge for the lead on the run down to the home turn, stalked all the while by market leader Steppenwolf (15/8F) with half a mile left to negotiate. Moving with menace and jumping the remaining obstacles with aplomb, victory was never in much doubt for Jerrash, readily coming clear down the home straight with never a moment’s worry; I Am Gonna Be (11/1) stayed on nicely for second place. Riding the crest of a wave at present, Gavin Sheehan rode a career best 91 winners last season!


Race 3 – Wynnstay Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 4, 4yo+, 2m ½f)

Breaking his maiden in comfortable fashion, Dog Fox (3/1F) proved to be a tough nut to crack in the third race of the day, readily seeing off his rivals by 3 ¼ lengths under Henry Brooke for the Greenall-Guerriero stable. Travelling strongly throughout, Dog Fox sat a couple of lengths off early leader Upagainstit (5/1) for the majority of the contest, sticking towards the inside rail as market principal Therapist (9/4F) settled towards the rear. As the leader came under pressure around the home turn, Dog Fox made his move to hit the front with two to jump, stalked all the while by Therapist, moving sweetly with Nico De Boinville in the saddle. Shaken-up and responding nicely for pressure, Dog Fox rapidly drew clear of Therapist between the final two obstacles, and after a tidy jump at the last, soon had the race in safe keeping under Henry Brooke. Off to a flying start with 20 winners already secured for the current season, Brooke rode 50+ winners last season for the second year in a row!


Race 4 – Camden Stout Handicap Hurdle (Class 3, 4yo+, 2m 3 ½f)

A former winner of the Northumberland Vase in 2021, Zeeband (13/2) showed all of his back class in the feature race of the day, routing his rivals by 11 widening lengths for Irish father-son duo Paul John Gilligan and Danny Gilligan. Content to race in midfield, Zeeband stayed tucked away for much of the fourth race, never too far behind the well-fancied Ballygeary (3/1JF) as El Borracho (20/1) and Made For You (14/1) took the field along at a steady gallop. Moving up to challenge the leaders at the third-last, Zeeband travelled ominously well for Danny Gilligan on the run down towards two-out, rapidly closing down the under pressure Made For You on the turn into the straight. Taking over at the second-last, Zeeband moved easily for Gilligan through the final couple of furlongs, sailing over the last before coming home eased down by his young pilot towards the line. A jockey on the rise, Danny Gilligan also scored at the Cheltenham Festival this year aboard Better Days Ahead!


Race 5 – Bangor-On-Dee Mares’ Maiden Hurdle (GBB Race) (Div I) (Class 4, 4yo+, 2m 3 ½f)

Scrambling home to justify cramped odds, Briefly (4/9F) was made to pull out all the stops in Race 5, ridden out by Sam Twiston-Davies to score by ¾ of a length for trainer Anthony Honeyball. Up with the pace from the outset, Briefly set a modest tempo out in front, followed closely by market rivals Walk The Roses (100/30) and Moon Lady (17/2) through the opening two miles of the contest. With the majority of her rivals bunched up closely in behind, Briefly looked to be a sitting duck around the home turn, ridden along to maintain her lead. However, despite a sticky jump at the second-last providing Moon Lady with a chance, Briefly fought on bravely in the final furlong and a half, pulling out extra in the closing stages to fend off Moon Lady in tenacious style. A trainer always to be feared, Honeyball trained 42 winners last season, including the Coral Trophy at Kempton with Forward Plan!


Race 6 – Bangor-On-Dee Mares’ Maiden Hurdle (GBB Race) (Div II) (Class 4, 4yo+, 2m 3 ½f)

Behind some smart bumper horses in her youth, Scarlet O’Tara (7/4F) proved to be a different proposition in the penultimate race, hurdling well to score by 11 lengths for Dr Richard Newland & Jamie Insole, with Charlie Hammond in the saddle. Settling nicely into mid-division, Scarlet O’Tara was in prime position through the first circuit and a half, racing less than five lengths behind leader My Girl Katie (14/1) as Beau Della (8/1) stuck to the inside rail under Conor O’Farrell. Ridden along and making rapid headway after the third-last, Scarlet O’Tara soon found herself challenging for the lead around the home bend, hitting the front on the approach to two-out. Hopping over safely and now in the clear, Scarlet O’Tara secured victory in a matter of strides, staying on smartly in the final furlong to see off Beau Della by a yawning margin. A long-time supporter of British jumps racing, winning part-owner Chris Stedman has also enjoyed Listed victories with smart chaser Vino Griego!


Race 7 – Horseradish Catering & Events Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (Class 5, 4yo+, 2m 7f)

Backing up a recent runner-up finish at the track, Home Sweet Highway (3/1) ran out a tidy 4 ¾ length victor under William Maggs in the final race of the night, securing yet another course victory for Donald McCain in the process. Never out of first place, Home Sweet Highway dictated matters from flag-fall in the seventh race, racing a little over a length ahead of Nora The Xplorer (33/1) through the first couple of miles, with market leader Grass’s Jet (5/2F) a further length behind. Swinging away out in front upon rounding the final turn, Home Sweet Highway was briefly challenged on his outside by Dynamite Kentucky (17/2) over two-out. However, kicking on smartly once ridden along more firmly, Home Sweet Highway found another gear in the final furlong, readily coming clear after the last and extending away up the run-in. A young jockey with a bright future, William Maggs secured 14 winners under rules last season, operating at a solid 14% strike-rate!

Race report by Adam Perkins