On a day full of competitive racing and wide-margin winners, punters came in their thousands to Bangor-On-Dee’s Summer Meeting on Tuesday 23rd August 2022. The feature race of the day took place at 2:45pm in the tote Never Beaten By SP Handicap Chase (Class 3), with previous course winner Go On Chez bidding to claim his sixth win in 12 months. Ground conditions were Good (Good To Soft in places) and weather conditions remained dry throughout the afternoon.
Race 1 – Tote Placepot, Small Stakes Big Possibilities Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (Class 4, 4yo+, 2m 7f)
First race of the day, first Donald McCain winner of the day! Admirable veteran Blakeney Point proved that age was just a number in the opening race, scooting clear by 5 ½ lengths to score at odds of 4/1. Recent course winner and 11/4 market leader Lelantos was eager to take the early lead under Nico De Boinville, with D’Jango keeping close company after the opening couple of hurdles. Looking to mid-division, Mason Jar raced mostly alongside Imperial Sachins throughout the contest, the pair only marginally ahead of Mr Yeats and Blakeney Point towards the rear of midfield. With three hurdles to negotiate, Mr Yeats made rapid headway to join Lelantos for the lead, the pair travelling notably well in comparison to much of the remainder, including Mason Jar who eventually pulled up on the run to the second-last. As Nico De Boinville began to get more animated aboard Lelantos before the penultimate flight, Blakeney Point appeared on the scene almost out of nowhere under a confident Abbie McCain, who sent her mount to join the leader upon jumping the obstacle. Merely having to pe pushed out on the run to the final hurdle, Blakeney Point quickened away from the opposition in grand style, sailing over the last and running out a comfortable winner ahead of Lelantos in second and Mr Yeats in third. Owned by T W Johnson & G Maxwell, Blakeney Point has won 11 of his 55 races across both jumps and the flat, a feat also achieved by the owners’ William Of Orange, who won the valuable Two-Mile Hurdle Series Final Handicap Hurdle in 2018!
Race 2 – Yorton & Goffs UK Sale 8th September Mares’ Maiden Hurdle (Class 4, 4yo+, 2m)
Not content with one winner, Donald McCain struck again in the second race of the day when Sweet Auburn took apart her rivals with ease under the reigning champion jockey Brian Hughes, at odds of 11/8. Upon jumping the first flight of hurdles, there was a big scare for 11/10F Masked Matgil who after being bumped by Madam Miller, made a bad mistake, and found herself in a distant last place, a position she never quite managed to improve on. Setting the pace at the head of affairs, Ultimate Fame held a narrow advantage over One Last Dance and Sweet Auburn in the early stages, the trio travelling much more comfortably than their remaining two rivals all the way up until the third-last obstacle. After One Last Dance became the first to crack under the increase in pace, Ultimate Fame shortly followed in the same vein, neither able to live with Sweet Auburn who cantered past her rivals with ease before the second-last. Jumping it well, the new leader accelerated away smartly from One Last Dance and despite flicking through the top bar of the final hurdle, ran on strongly to win going away by an impressive 13 lengths, with Brian Hughes simply steering his mount across the line. After a record-breaking season in 2021-22, Hughes is currently operating at a strike rate of 25% for the 2022-23 season, whilst McCain’s strike rate sits at 27%. This year could be another good one!
Race 3 – Tote Never Beaten by SP Handicap Chase (Class 3, 4yo+, 3m)
The third race of the day saw another comfortable winner, this time with Red Happy who despite occasionally jumping to his right, ran out a cosy 7-length winner at odds of 7/2 for trainer David Pipe. Soon into an early duel for the lead, Red Happy and previous course winner Flying Verse set a modest pace from the front end, leading the way ahead of rank outsider Creaden Grae and Go On Chez after Starsky fell at the third fence. Another prone to jumping right on occasions, Go On Chez seemed content to sit in rear division throughout under Henry Brooke, a tactic that saw the horse win 5 of his last 6 starts under rules for the Greenall-Guerriero stable. However, with three fences left to jump, the field was soon reduced to three after Creaden Grae’s mistake caused Ned Fox to be unseated from the saddle, leaving Red Happy in a clear lead and travelling comfortably. Soon after turning into the home straight and Flying Verse had faded away into third, Tom Scudamore stole a few more lengths on the field aboard Red Happy, fiddling his mount over the second-last fence ahead of Go On Chez who determinedly tried to reduce the deficit. Upon jumping the last, the lead was down to just over a length, but after outjumping his rival and responding well for pressure, Red Happy powered clear up the run-in and went on to win in style, with Go On Chez settling for a solid second place. A team that has been successful for many years over jumps, Tom Scudamore and David Pipe also teamed up at Cheltenham in April to scoop the valuable Catesby Estates PLC Mares’ Handicap Hurdle with smart mare Panic Attack. Congratulations to David, Tom, and Red Happy!
Race 4 – Nightingale House Hospice Handicap Chase (Class 3, 4yo+, 2m 4f)
Course experience paid dividends in the fourth race of the day as previous Bangor chase winner Northern Bound ran on impressively to record a winning distance of 9 ½ lengths under Luca Morgan. Another Pipe-trained horse keen to blaze the trail, Al Roc raced keenly out in front for much of the early contest, followed in second place by 3/1JF The Golden Rebel, and Yccs Portocervo in third. Opting to be held up behind the leaders, Northern Bound raced alongside Fat Sam towards the tail of midfield with only Armattiekan behind, who struggled to regain any lost ground and subsequently pulled up before the fifth-last fence. As Armattiekan did so, the lead held by Al Roc soon crumbled away with relentless speed, the 11-year-old soon fading away to leave Yccs Portocervo to fight for the lead alongside Fat Sam and Northern Bound. Rounding the home turn having jumped the third-last fence, the leading trio soon found themselves well clear of the remainder and were locked in battle a long way from home. However, travelling best of all under and yet to come seriously off the bridle, Northern Bound swiftly relegated Yccs Portocervo to third place as he gradually hunted down the leader Fat Sam. On the run down to the last with Fat Sam now under strong pressure, Northern Bound edged ahead before flying over the final fence and quickly separating himself from his nearest pursuer, ultimately being eased down in the closing stages after a confident glance in behind from Luca Morgan revealed the inevitable victory. Having also trained Global Citizen to win the Grand Annual at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, Ben Pauling certainly has his stable in good order, managing 5 winners from his last 11 runners alone. Congratulations to Ben and the team!
Race 5 – GBR Everyone’s Turf Handicap Hurdle (Class 4, 3yo+, 2m)
After displaying improved form to finish second here at the end of July, Faro improved even further to win stylishly by 7 ½ lengths in Race 5 of the day, coasting home under Henry Brooke for joint-trainers Oliver Greenall & Josh Guerriero. Establishing a lead from the outset, Mordred set the pace in the opening couple of furlongs, pestered all the while by the 5/2F Zamond and Courtandbold. Racing towards the rear of the field, previous course winner was the early back marker, struggling from a fair way out and always a few lengths behind Seaborough and Faro who latched onto the chasing pack. It was not until the field reached the third-last flight of hurdles that the complexion of the race started to change, with Courtandbold folding under the increase in pace and soon being replaced by Faro as the biggest threat to Mordred towards to front. As the runners made their way to the penultimate flight of hurdles, Faro kicked clear from home under Henry Brooke, and quickly went a couple of lengths in front of Mordred and even further clear of Zamond. After negotiating the second-last, Zamond and Seaborough looked to be staying on with good purpose, but they were soon fighting for minor money as Faro pinged the final flight and quickly drew clear in the final 100 yards to record a smart success. A training duo that already look to be making promising inroads, Greenall & Guerriero recently scored at Listed level in France, with Henry Brooke also steering the talented Gesskille to victory in the Prix Xavier De Chevigny Chase at Auteuil in June!
Race 6 – Nightingale House Hospice Charity Collection Handicap Hurdle (Class 5, 4yo+, 2m 3f)
Not only did the final race of the day showcase another wide-margin winner, but it also brought up a double for Luca Morgan and Ben Pauling when recent Uttoxeter scorer One Touch cruised to an 11-length victory at odds of 4/1. Keen to establish an early lead, Genever Dragon dictated the pace from the front end under Brian Hughes over the first few flights of hurdles, racing a couple of lengths clear of One Touch, Kolisi, and Charming Getaway. Looking towards the rear of the field, the 3/1F Bridge Road seemed content to stay held up behind the leaders, with a further few lengths back to the outsider of the field O’Grady’s Boy, who remained in last place throughout the contest. As Genever Dragon led the field over the third-last, One Touch crept ever closer on the inside rail and soon challenged for the lead before turning into the straight towards the penultimate flight. With Bridge Road also on the improve and One Touch now overtaking the lead, Genever Dragon began to flounder under pressure and was soon being challenged for second place by the 3/1F. Stealing a cheeky look in behind, Luca Morgan pushed the button aboard One Touch, all the while remaining on the bridle and in no apparent danger. After flying over the last and having one more look behind for good measure, Luca Morgan sat motionless as One Touch cruised away up the run-in, leaving Bridge Road well behind at the line. With yet another winner on the board for Ben Pauling, the Gloucestershire trainer is now operating at a remarkable 31% strike rate this season, with 24 wins!
Race report by Adam Perkins