The Autumn Meeting – Bangor-on-Dee 29th September

The day was aptly named as there was a real feel of autumn about the day at Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse as we started a strong looking 7 race card with no fewer than 9 runners in every race and a particularly strong Handicap Chase with 15 due to go to post. The Ground was simply perfect jumping ground, described as good, good to soft in places and a credit to Andrew Malam and his staff, as evidenced by the strong list of entries.

We kicked off with the Yorton Mares Novices Hurdle, where 10 runners faced the judge, for a trip of just over 2 miles. There was good money for the Fergal O’Brien horse Tequila Blaze and as they prepared to jump the last Liam Harrison was ready to do battle on the 9/4f against the front running Saturn N Silk but sadly Tequila Blaze crumpled on landing and that opened up the chance for perennial 2nd Sinndarella (7/1) to fight the leader for the spoils. Tom Scudamore had a willing horse under him, as Saturn N Silk held off the strong challenge to win by a length and a quarter. Scudamore said “she is very game and travelled sweetly for me all the way around. She may have her limitations but attitude isn’t one of them”. As a footnote, the sponsors Yorton Stud, bred the winner which made for a unique presentation to Phil and Sue Truscott, the winning owners.

Our second race was the Support the Injured Jockeys Fund Novices Handicap Chase. A competitive field of 10 took to the track with Alastair Ralph’s Lost in Monmartre backed from an early 7/1 all the way into 2/1 favourite. Local pundit, Gerry Williams, felt strongly in his preview about the chances of last time out winner Richie Valentine, from the John O’Shea stable and after running out last time at Uttoxeter, jockey Chris Ward was keen to make amends, which he did in fine style. He told us “we were a little unlucky at Uttoxeter as we got forced wide and towards a gap in the rails and my lad felt that was the only way to go. No problems today though. We travelled well in behind and when he was going well and wanted to go to the front, I allowed him the chance to use his stride. He really enjoyed himself and ran strongly to the line. The key is to get him settled and today he did”. The second, First Revolution, has a win in him off this mark and in this grade and the 3rd, Lost in Monmartre, will probably win next time at much shorter prices than he was slated earlier in the day, as is often the case when a gamble goes astray.

Donald McCain is a great supporter of Bangor-on-Dee with numerous entries at every meeting and he showed further his support by sponsoring Race 3, a Maiden Hurdle over 2 miles and a good one it was. He saddled the favourite at 11/8, Fruit N Nut, who came off the back of two good bumper wins, but to win the race they had to fight off the attentions of the Nigel Twiston Davies, 91 rated flat horse, Stream of Stars (10/1). From a form perspective, the right two finished third and fourth some 9 lengths back, Brorson (11/4) and Unexpected Party (5/1). There was some substance to this race and the front two look to have a strong future. Assistant Trainer, Adrian Lane said of his winner “we like him a lot and think he has a strong future, he struck into himself during the race so there might be a small delay before we see him again while we get that right”. Let’s keep on the right side of this one and the second could be decent as well.

Our Fourth Race looked an open affair with now fewer than 15 runners in the Racing Welfare Handicap Chase. Hoot at Midnight went off the 11/4 favourite for Charlie Longsdon but had to settle for fourth place in what was a good tussle over the 3-mile trip. Massinis Dream (16/1) with Jack Tudor in the plate, fought out a protracted battle with For Jim (7/1) with the latter triumphing by a neck. Jockey Sean Quinlan was convinced the horse is getting “smarter” with racing. “He only does what he needs to do and is quite clever. He is also an owner and trainers dream as he only ever wins by small margins. His jumping is sound and he has some ability to keep finding a bit more. I’m not sure we have got to the bottom of him yet”.

Race 5, The Tote+ Handicap Hurdle was a very local affair with local trainer Gary Hanmer and former Chester Race Company Director, Dr David Pickering, teaming up to take the spoils with Hillview. That wasn’t the likely result with three to jump as jockey Sean Bowen was rousting the horse along at the back of the field, admittedly no more than 7 lengths from the leader but going like anything but the winner. However, his mount has stamina in abundance and over the 3-mile journey really only showed his best when under pressure. Hanmer thinks “chasing will be next on his agenda when the ground softens and he might just make in to a very useful novice over a decent trip”. Hillview was returned at 9/2, Oliver Greenalls, Furius De Ciergues, was second at 7/1 and the third place was taken by Zafar the 16/5 favourite.

The Tote also sponsored our sixth race, a Handicap Chase, which was for Conditional Jockeys over 2m4f. Punters got this 9-horse contest spot on with the joint 4/1 favourites Northern Bound and Joly Maker all out at the finish and separated again by just a head. They came close together at the finish but in the end Luca Morgan on the Ben Pauling mount, Northern Bound, triumphed in a head bobber, from Kevin Brogan, who was seen to excellent effect on the “tricky” Joly Maker for Jonjo O’Neil. Morgan was “impressed with the attitude and whilst we missed the first, after that, in the main, his jumping was sound”. The third place was filled by the 9/1 shot Arcade Attraction.

Our final race was again sponsored by Donald McCain Racing and it was a decent National Hunt Flat Race over 2m. Surtitle, whose Dam sister was Oscar Whisky, was on the race track for the first time and acquitted himself well, returned at 15/8 he finished third and his time winning will not be far away. Minella Plus, (13/2), for Donald McCain, outran his price. He had looked okay in his sole bumper start and ran a big race to be challenging the favourite with a furlong to go but he had to give best to Nicky Henderson’s, At Poets Cross, who had gone off favourite when he finished second at Lingfield and was the 6/4 favourite for this race. He rewarded favourite backers with, in the end, a comfortable 9 length victory, showing that stamina is indeed his forte. We will watch him in the season ahead with interest.

It was an excellent card, with lots of entries. The ground was ideal for racing and the large midweek crowd thoroughly enjoyed their day. With local tipster Gerry Williams sending them away with 2 winners and a decent priced each way placed horse, honours today went to the punters.