With a bumper crowd of more than 3,500 people, Ladies Day 2023 was a resounding success at Bangor-On-Dee. On a warm and sunny day, the feature race came at 3:55pm in the Genesis Wealth Management Handicap Chase, with ground conditions remaining Good throughout the afternoon.
Race 1 – Aceodds Bonus Codes Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle (Div I) (Class 5, 4yo+, 2m 7f)
Having shown a likeness for the track last month when in the care of Shark Hanlon, Camilla’s Choice (4/1) finally broke her maiden tag under rules when taking the first race in decisive fashion under Tabitha Worsley, the 7-year-old providing yet another course victory for local trainer Gary Hanmer. Always prominent towards the head of midfield, Camilla’s Choice sat on the inside rail through the first circuit, directly in the slipstream of the 2022 winner of the contest Fine By Me (16/5), with Oneway Express (16/1) challenging for the lead ahead of the likes of Zafar (11/4F) on the outside of runners. Managing to avoid Fine By Me attempting to run out before jumping the fourth-last hurdle, Camilla’s Choice made her move to challenge the leaders on the run down to the third last, soon readily booting a couple of lengths clear as the runners rounded the turn into the straight. Running on strongly with the race at her mercy, Camilla’s Choice pinged the final two obstacles without hesitation and eventually came home a very commanding winner, with Fine By Me merely plugging on for second ahead of Oneway Express in third. Talented in the saddle, Tabitha Worsley’s finest hour to date came aboard Top Wood in the 2019 Randox Health Foxhunters Chase at Aintree!
Race 2 – Aceodds Bonus Codes Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle (Div II) (Class 5, 4yo+, 2m 7f)
Rallying well under a never-say-die ride from Joe Williamson, Dakota Beat (11/1) stuck to his task determinedly to take the second race of the day, scoring for the first time under the care of trainer John Norton having previously been successful in Ireland with Gavin Cromwell. With Buto (9/2) and Punches Cross (28/1) well clear of the remainder of the field throughout the first circuit of the contest, Joe Williamson kept Dakota Beat quiet in mid-division for the most part, keeping company with Taragrace (11/4F) and in line with the ever-consistent Sinndarella (5/1) in third place. Looking tapped for toe as Punches Cross led the field over the third-last flight, Dakota Beat remained a good 5 lengths behind the leading pack around the home turn, Taragrace now taking charge at the head of affairs with the final two obstacles looming. Seemingly in command after negotiating the second-last, the lead soon looked to be short-lived for Taragrace as Sinndarella stayed-on well to challenge at the final flight. However, rallying strongly out of almost nowhere, Dakota Beat kept-on straight and true down the centre of the track in the final furlong, willingly responding to her rider’s urgings to edge his way into the lead with less than 100 yards to go to record his second win over hurdles. Securing his ninth winner of 2023, Joe Williamson is operating at a strike-rate of 12% this season!
Race 3 – Charlotte’s Special Birthday Mares’ Maiden Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 4, 4yo+, 2m 3 ½f)
Opening up at 100/30, On Cloud Nine (15/8F) eventually proved to be well-found in the market by punters far and wide as the 5-year-old mare readily took apart her opposition in Race 3 by a widening 7 ½ lengths under Brian Hughes, securing yet another course winner for Donald McCain. Setting off in the lead from the off, On Cloud Nine travelled well in herself for the most part at the head of affairs, generally racing a couple of lengths clear of Gamesters Girl (11/2), Sunday Soldier (15/2), and Maggie O (14/1) throughout the contest. Leading the field a merry dance as they came towards the home turn, On Cloud Nine travelled with ease on the run down to the final two flights of hurdles, the chasing pack under stern pressure to bridge the gap. With no challenges coming from behind and apparently in a world of her own out in front, On Cloud Nine galloped on powerfully down the home straight, jumping the final two flights with the minimum of fuss and going on to register a very straightforward victory; Maggie O stayed on to edge out Gamesters Girl for second place. A first victory of the season for winning owner Charlotte McCracken, her colours have also been carried twice to Listed success with fellow Donald McCain stablemate Bannixtown Glory!
Race 4 – Close Brothers Handicap Hurdle (Class 4, 4yo+, 2m 3 ½f)
Clearly benefitting from a recent wind operation, Bucko’s Boy (11/2) ran out a smooth winner of the fourth race under Gavin Sheehan, the 8-year-old gelding now securing his fourth victory under rules for trainer Jamie Snowden. Content to race behind the early leader Lighthouse Mill (13/2), Bucko’s Boy remained prominent under Gavin Sheehan for much of the race, racing ahead of Presenting Pete (6/1) on the inside and Well Educated (16/1) on the outer. With little change to the running order as the well bunched field negotiated the third-last obstacle, there was significant scrimmaging for racing room on the turn into the straight as the runners did well to avoid the safety screens surrounding the sadly stricken Clody Flyer (3/1F). The leading pack now spread out wide across the track, plenty still looked to be in with a shout on the run down to two-out, with Bucko’s Boy in prime position to strike along the inside of Presenting Pete. As Lighthouse Mill faded away into fourth place, the race was soon left for Presenting Pete and Bucko’s Boy to fight out as the final flight came into view, the latter travelling nicely. Hopping over the last in tidy style, it was Bucko’s Boy who found extra in the closing stages, the 8-year-old ridden out to make sure by Gavin Sheehan and readily coming home 3 ¾ lengths to the good. A trainer-jockey combination always worth following, Sheehan and Snowden combined for two Grade 2’s with smart mare You Wear It Well last season!
Race 5 – Genesis Wealth Management Handicap Chase (Class 3, 4yo+, 3m)
A mammoth weight of 12-0 provided to be no hinderance for Brief Times (5/1) in the fifth race, the 7-year-old readily backing up a recent victory at Southwell to score by 3 ½ lengths under Harry Cobden, providing Neil Mulholland with his fourth winner in 14 days. As with nearly all his wins over obstacles, Brief Times held sway in front throughout the contest, always a couple of lengths clear of the opposition, headed for the most part by Topofthecotswolds (8/1) and Saint Arvans (5/1). Giving a bold sight out in the lead, Brief Times continued to jump well through the first circuit and into the second, still holding a lead of a couple of lengths on the run towards three from home. Jumping it well, Brief Times travelled strongly with two fences left to negotiate, pursued all the while by the under-pressure pair of Saint Arvans and Topofthecotswolds as much of the remainder failed to live with the leader’s turn of foot in the home straight. Sailing over the final two obstacles and still with plenty left in the tank, Brief Times powered home under Cobden in the final furlong, his rider simply having to push him out to record a facile victory; Saint Arvans stayed on best of all for second place. A rider to follow during the 2023 summer jumps programme, Harry Cobden also recently claimed the valuable Summer Plate Handicap Chase at Market Rasen aboard Born Famous!
Race 6 – SG Estates Handicap Hurdle (Div I) (Class 5, 3yo+, 2m ½f)
It was a case of déjà vu in the sixth race of the afternoon when last year’s victor Long Call (7/1) once again came home in front on Ladies Day at Bangor-On-Dee, the 10-year-old veteran of the field holding on by ½ a length under Lilly Pinchin to score for trainer Tony Carroll. Towards the rear of the field for much of the race, Long Call settled well under Lilly Pinchin, racing behind Fandabidozi (13/2) in mid-division, with the field taken along by My Brother Jack (10/1), Gavin (5/4F) and Trick Of The Tail (4/1) who interchanged the lead in the early stages. The eight runners still well grouped as My Brother Jack led them around the final bend towards two-out, Gavin was the first to crack under in the increase in tempo, rapidly falling away through the field as Long Call made a bid to challenge out wide. Readily circling the field, Long Call edged into a narrow lead upon jumping the second-last, ridden along to maintain his position as Fandabidozi closed the gap on the run down to the last. Quick and nimble over it, Long Call stayed-on well for pressure in the closing stages, and despite the best efforts of Fandabidozi, the leader was simply not for passing under the Lilly Pinchin drive. Having enjoyed a career-best 24 winners in 2022-23, we wish Lilly the very best for 2023-24!
Race 7 – SG Estates Handicap Hurdle (Div II) (Class 5, 3yo+, 2m ½f)
Another horse synonymous with Bangor-On-Dee’s winners enclosure, Simply Red (4/1) recorded his third victory from three starts at the track when coming home 2 lengths to the good in the seventh race of the day under Peter Kavanagh, bringing up the double for the McCain stable in fine style. Content to let Zamond (9/4F) lead the way with Toronto (3/1) through the opening mile, Kavanagh kept Simply Red in a comfortable position towards the rear of midfield alongside Eagle’s Realm (20/1) for much of the contest, the field size rapidly declining as many began to struggle on the way down the far side of the track. Gradually on the improve and running on past beaten horses, Simply Red soon found himself in a position to challenge stablemate Zamond for the lead on the run down to the final two flights, the leading pair followed closely by the ridden along Eagle’s Realm. Quickly beaten having been passed by Simply Red and Eagle’s Ream before two-out, Zamond soon faded into third place after jumping the penultimate flight of hurdles, Simply Red now in full command on the run down to the last. Jumping well and with stamina to burn, Simply Red was not for catching in the closing stages, kicking on strongly towards the line with Eagle’s Realm unable to claw back the deficit in time. Getting ever closer to riding out his claim, Peter Kavanagh has now ridden a total of 39 winners in his fledgling career, operating at a healthy 14% strike-rate this season alone!
Race 8 – RW Hough & Sons Handicap Chase (Class 4, 4yo+, 2m 1 ½f)
Fresh off the back of a commanding 16-length victory at Market Rasen in late July, The Big Jetaway (3/1F) survived a late scare at the final fence to run out a good winner of the final race on the card, keeping on by a length under Theo Gillard and providing Donald McCain with a treble on the day. Adopting his usual front-running tactics, The Big Jetaway set a solid pace out in front under Theo Gillard, the 7-year-old holding a marginal advantage over Barton Knoll (16/1) through the opening mile of the contest, followed by recent winners Getaway Luv (6/1) and Gold Link (9/2). Extending his lead over the fourth and third fences from home, it looked to be plain sailing for The Big Jetaway as the race came to a close, with many of the runners unable to maintain their positions. Now under a firm ride from Gillard and having negotiated two-out, The Big Jetaway took a liberty at the final fence, stumbling on landing and handing a big chance to Getaway Luv. However, game under pressure, the leader regathered his momentum and went on to score in plucky style. Having racked up more than 100 winners for two seasons in a row, Donald McCain means business again in 2023-24!
Race report by Adam Perkins