Enjoyed by a crowd of over 2,000, Halloween Day at Bangor-On-Dee certainly delivered in 2022, with plenty of family fun to take part in, along with an eight-race card, racegoers were in for a treat (or trick). The feature race came in the 2:55pm Nightingale House Hospice Novices’ Hurdle Race (Class 3), on a generally cloudy day in which ground conditions remained Good To Soft.
Race 1 – Free Placepot Every Saturday At tote.co.uk Novices’ Handicap Chase (GBB Race) (Class 4, 4yo+, 2m 4 ½f)
A pulsating conclusion to the first race of the day saw six-year-old chasing debutant Arizona Cardinal pull out by a neck under Ciaran Gethings for trainer Stuart Edmunds, just holding off the staying-on Mucho Mas at odds of 5/1. Jumping well out in front for much of the contest, Arizona Cardinal set a steady tempo under Ciaran Gethings, the pair mostly racing ahead of Operation Overlord, Bill Baxter, and Longshanks for the first circuit, with Mucho Mas and Latitude in mid-division ahead of the 9/2F Mot A Mot. With much of the field under strong pressure after jumping the third-last obstacle, Arizona Cardinal looked to be travelling best of all at the head of affairs, soon going clear with Mucho Mas upon entering the home straight. Jumping the second-last in unison, the leaders bounded clear of the remainder on their run down to the final fence, with Arizona Cardinal managing to steal a length upon jumping it. Not to be cast aside so easily though, Mucho Mas responded well for Kevin Brogan’s urgings to close down the leader once again with 100 yards to go, the pair now only a couple of lengths clear of the staying-on Latitude and Rocky Lake (eventually third and fourth). However, game under pressure, Arizona Cardinal pulled out more in the closing stages and just about held on in the shadows of the post. In a decent 2021-22 campaign for the trainer and jockey, Stuart Edmunds and Ciaran Gethings also combined for Listed success in the Pertemps Network Mares’ Chase at Leicester last season with the talented mare Maskada!
Race 2 – Halloween Handicap Chase (Class 5, 4yo+, 2m 1 ½f)
After the crunching fall at the third fence from Kepy Blanc left horse and jockey (Mr Ben Sutton) requiring medical attention out on the track, the second race of the afternoon was declared void by the raceday stewards. After being taken to hospital, Sutton had precautionary x-rays on his neck but was reported to be able to move all his limbs after the fall. We wish Ben a very speedy recovery!
Race 3 – £250k Placepot Guaranteed Every Saturday Handicap Chase (Class 4, 4yo+, 3m)
The third race on the card saw an all-out Irish raid at Bangor-On-Dee when Diegos Way proved much too good under the Irish trainer/jockey combination of Cian Collins and Sam Ewing, kicking clear in the straight to score by 4 ¼ lengths at odds of 100/30. With little change to the running order throughout the contest, the lead was mainly shared for the first circuit by Hidden Commander and Great D’Ange, the pair jumping boldly in front ahead of the prominent Diegos Way and Kayf Hernando, with recent course winner and 5/2F Methodtothemadness content to sit in rear-division. Upon jumping the third-last fence, it was clear that this was anybody’s race, with Animal now latching onto the back of the pack of five in front of him as the runners made their way down to two-out. One-by-one as the chasing pack came under firmer pressure, Hidden Commander and Great D’Ange still held a narrow lead jumping the second-last, with Methodtothemadness being played late by Derek Fox in-between the leaders. However, despite jumping markedly right at two-out and hampering Kayf Hernando in the process, Diegos Way began to lay down a stern challenge to the leaders as Hidden Commander gave way on the run down to the last. Jumping awkwardly again, Diegos Way gamely fought his way to the lead off the back of the last, and with no serious threat emerging from Methodtothemadness in second place or Great D’Ange in third, the new leader went on to score in comfortable fashion. In a season to remember for the teenager, Ewing also recently joined forces with Cian Collins to win the valuable Welsh Champion Hurdle with Effernock Fizz!
Race 4 – Nightingale House Hospice Novices’ Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 3, 4yo+, 2m ½f)
Stealing the show in the fourth race by 7 ½ lengths at a huge 80/1, Gwennie May Boy scooted clear up the home straight under Kevin Brogan to provide owner Ms Gwendoline Clarke with her first ever winner (from her first ever runner). In a bid to repeat his recent course victory 27 days ago, Keep Running (6/4F) led the way throughout the contest after the first flight exit of 7/4 2F Sergeant Wilson left him in control, but continually jumped right at his obstacles under Gavin Sheehan. Proving to be less trouble for his rider, King Ottokar sat in second place for much of the race, racing ahead of Iron D’Ex, Basford, and Gwennie May Boy as the runners eventually made their way down the far side of the track towards the final three flights of hurdles. Having approached three-out in a share of the lead, Keep Running soon found himself struggling in sixth place after yet another awkward leap, leaving Gwennie May Boy to challenge King Ottokar for the lead on the turn into the straight. As push came to shove on the front pair, it was Gwennie May Boy that seized the initiative upon negotiating the second-last, kicking a couple of lengths clear of the opposition with just the one flight to jump. In need of a good jump to seal the victory, the leader delivered, sailing over the final flight, and quickly scooting clear of a staying-on Iron D’Ex in second place and King Ottokar back in third. Successfully steering home 47 winners in the 2021-22 season, Kevin Brogan currently sits in the top 3 in this season’s PJA Conditional Jockeys’ Championship, already with 17 winners!
Race 5 – SP Or Better Guaranteed With tote Handicap Hurdle (Class 4, 4yo+, 2m 7f)
Alan King added to his impressive strike rate at Bangor-On-Dee by training the winner of the fifth race where Betterforeveryone kept on well to score by 1 ½ lengths under Tom Cannon at 8/1. Taking the nine runners along in the early stages, the 2/1F Prince Des Fichaux set a modest tempo under Sam Twiston-Davies, followed closely throughout by For Jim and Lily Glitters in prominent positions, with Betterforeveryone and Here Comes Henry towards the tail end of the field. With the field stringing itself out down the far side on the approach to the final three flights of hurdles, For Jim was soon beaten for pace and left Prince Des Fichaux to fight out the lead with Lily Glitters on the turn into the straight. Making late headway as the runners faced up towards the second-last, Betterforeveryone soon relegated the market leader to third place, with now only Lily Glitters in front of him. The pair locked in unison having flicked through the top of the final two flights, little separated them as they battled up the straight, but with half a furlong to go, Betterforeveryone pulled out more and kept Lily Glitters at bay in the final strides; Here Comes Henry finished an eye-catching third having raced in rear division throughout. Another useful recruit from the Alan King stable, the Scottish trainer has already managed to claim a big prize in the 2022-23 jumps season with the ever-popular and ever-consistent Sceau Royal in a Listed hurdle at Kempton Park!
Race 6 – Arthur Shone Memorial Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (Challenger Mares’ Hurdle Series Qualifier) (Class 4, 3yo+, 2m 3 ½f)
A year on from finishing third in this very contest, Getaweapon showed a nice attitude to win the sixth race of the day, keeping on well for pressure to score by 3 ¾ lengths under conditional jockey Kai Lenihan at odds of 7/1. In search of a hat-trick, Herewegohoney was keen to race in the lead under Connor Brace during the first circuit of the contest, racing ahead of the 15/8F Merry Poppins in second place, with Getaweapon also prominent throughout. In a race where it paid to be close to the pace, very few managed to get into the race before the second-last flight of hurdles, with only La Renommee coming from rear to pose a minor threat to the leaders upon entering the home straight. Having been under pressure for around a furlong, Getaweapon pounced at the second-last to take a slender lead under Kai Lenihan after Merry Poppins fluffed her lines and stumbled her way over the obstacle. With La Renommee and Herewegohoney folding tamely into eventual fourth and fifth place positions having been overtaken by a rejuvenated Sinndarella before jumping the last, the race was soon quickly in the safe hands of Kai Lenihan, who galvanised Getaweapon in the final half furlong and comfortably left Merry Poppins behind in the closing stages to record a stylish victory for trainer Kim Bailey. A trainer always to be respected during the jumps season, Kim Bailey scooped a pair of prestigious Grade 2 chases last season with the talented duo Does He Know and First Flow!
Race 7 – Download The At The Races App Open Maiden National Hunt Flat Race (GBB Race) (Div. I) (Class 4, 4-6yo, 2m ½f)
The penultimate race of the afternoon saw an impressive racecourse debut from the Sam Thomas-trained Lump Sum, who triumphed by 2 ¼ lengths under Sam Twiston-Davies, returning as the 5/4F. Blackhorse Lady led the way for much of the race under Sean Houlihan, only relenting the lead as the runners made their way into the final 3 furlongs of the contest. In a race eventually dominated by those towards the head of the betting market, SP Fav Lump Sum ranged up alongside the long-time leader just over 2f from home, travelling strongly and looking likely to play a big hand in the finish. Making ground all-the-while in behind the new leader, DJ Pete and 7/1 2F Doc McCoy soon looked to be the only challengers to the market leader as they entered the final furlong. However, still in second gear and never looking threatened, Lump Sum stretched clear in impressive fashion and quickly put the race to bed, ridden out to the line. With Lump Sum already looking one to follow for Sam Thomas, the trainer also claimed Welsh Grand National glory last season with Iwilldoit!
Race 8 – Download The At The Races App Open Maiden National Hunt Flat Race (GBB Race) (Div. II) (Class 4, 4-6yo, 2m ½f)
Former Point-To-Point second Realisation triumphed in emphatic style in the final race of the day, running out a 9 ½ length winner at odds of 10/1 under Jonathan Burke, for trainer Charlie Longsdon. Another race in which very few got involved, Realisation set a good pace out in front for much of the contest and barely saw another rival until the turn into the straight when challenged by 6/5F Peaky Boy on the outside. With 9/4 2F Vincenzo and Fiveonefive soon beaten over 2f out, Realisation kicked on again under Jonathan Burke, and quickly distanced himself from Peaky Boy who had nothing more to give in the final furlong and was left toiling in the wake of Realisation, who readily kept-on to score on racecourse debut. Fresh from a career-best British jumps season in 2021-22, Burke also enjoyed Grade 2 success at the Cheltenham Festival last season with Love Envoi!
Race report by Adam Perkins