The September Meeting featuring Flash: A Tribute to Queen had something for everyone at Bangor-On-Dee in 2023, with competitive racing, plenty of sunshine, and a 90-minute concert after racing that Freddie Mercury himself would have been proud of. The feature race of the day came at 3:00pm in the Carr & Associates LLP Handicap Chase, with ground conditions Good throughout.
Race 1 – The September Meeting Handicap Hurdle Race (Class 4, 4yo+, 2m 7f)
Continuing his solid run of form this season, Halifax (5/1) proved to be a fairly comfortable winner of the opening contest under Conor Ring, the 6-year-old gelding staying on resolutely in the closing stages to secure the victory for trainer Grace Harris. Content to race in the middle of the pack, Halifax travelled smoothly alongside previous course winner Finisk River (5/1) through the opening circuit of the contest, the lead dominated by fellow course winner Butler’s Brief (17/2) as the runners made their way down the far side of the course towards the final three obstacles. Cruising into a more prominent position as Butler’s Brief rapidly faded out of the picture, Finisk River appeared to be travelling best of all upon negotiating the third-last, challenged on his outside all the while by Halifax, the new leading pair now clearing away from a staying-on One Touch (4/1) in third. Taking a narrow lead over two-out, Halifax took the race by the scruff of the neck on the run down to the last, and despite a late blunder giving Finisk River a second bite of the cherry, readily saw off his rival in determined fashion to score by 2 ¼ lengths at the line. A consistent conditional jockey, Conor Ring’s career highlight so far came aboard Wychwoods Brook in the 2014 Peter Marsh Chase!
Race 2 – The Bangor-on-Dee Mares’ Maiden Hurdle Race (Class 4, 4yo+, 2m ½f)
The field depleted by non-runners and withdrawals, Littel Flour (5/2) finally seized her opportunity to break her maiden tag under rules in the second race of the day, seeing off her rivals by a cool 4 ¾ lengths at the finish to bring home the spoils for Jennie Candlish, with Patrick Wadge in the saddle. Jamming the breaks on through the wings of the first obstacle, Livalot (9/1) dramatically unshipped Bryony Frost before the race had truly begun in earnest, leaving Littel Flour to take the field along in the lead, followed in the main by Arctic Fox (5/4F) in second place. Maintaining a steady tempo throughout and still at the head of affairs rounding the home turn, Littel Flour travelled with great gusto on the approach to two out despite being challenged on her outside by Arctic Fox, Patrick Wadge barely moving a muscle as the final flight drew nearer. Popping over fluently with victory never in much doubt, Littel Flour kicked on well after the last, readily drawing further and further clear of Arctic Fox who had no more to give in second place, with Luckie Money (25/1) well beaten in third. A jockey who enjoyed a fruitful 2022-23, Patrick Wadge rode a total of 29 winners last season, the highlight coming at Doncaster aboard Apple Away in a Listed Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle!
Race 3 – The Carr & Associates LLP Handicap Steeple Chase (Class 3, 4yo+, 3m 5y)
Sauntering clear for a facile victory, Dieu Vivant (14/1) rolled back the years under Toby Wynne in Race 3, jumping stoutly throughout, and galloping on resolutely to record a 13-length victory for local training duo Oliver Greenall & Josh Guerriero. Content to allow runaway leader Court Master (5/2) to rule the roost out in front, Toby Wynne kept Dieu Vivant towards the rear of the field, racing alongside market leader Quid Pro Quo (5/6F) for the duration as Ultimate Getaway (14/1) gradually became more and more detached. Despite sailing over the fourth-last with a slender lead, an awkward landing from Court Master was enough of a jolt to unship jockey Richie McLernon to the turf and subsequently leave Fidux to lead the field down towards the final three obstacles, with Dieu Vivant travelling sweetly in behind. Rounding the home turn and negotiating the third and second-last with aplomb, Dieu Vivant took the race by the scruff of the neck on the run down to the last, Fidux and Quid Pro Quo now under strong pressure. Running on strongly and flying over the last, Dieu Vivant soon had the race in safe keeping and merely having to be pushed out, brought up a resounding success ahead of Quid Pro Quo in second place, delivering a truly special moment for winning owner Paddy Chesters (the General Manager for Bangor-On-Dee); congratulations Paddy!
Race 4 – The Gaskells Waste Management Handicap Steeple Chase (Class 3, 4yo+, 2m 4 ½f)
Poaching his way around in a bid to record his second course success, Vintage Fizz (7/1) had all the answers in the fourth race on the card, cruising into contention at the third-last before gradually extending into an eventual 2 ¾ length lead at the line under Charlie Hammond, scoring for Yorkshire trainer Jedd O’Keefe. With the quartet of runners closely grouped throughout, Vintage Fizz found comfort in racing towards the rear of the pack as course hat-trick seeking The Big Jetaway (8/11F) set the pace from the front, sandwiched by fellow course regulars Go On Chez (7/2) and Northern Bound (11/2) through the opening circuit. Hitting a flat spot after the fourth-last, Northern Bound soon looked to be in trouble as the tempo lifted down the far side of the track, The Big Jetaway now only marginally ahead of the ridden along Go On Chez and the strong travelling Vintage Fizz as the runners made their way over the third-last obstacle. Cruising into contention with two left to jump, Vintage Fizz soon took over at the head of affairs, leading narrowly ahead of Go On Chez over two-out as The Big Jetaway began to fade. Despite still holding a lead of little more than half a length on the run towards the final fence, Vintage Fizz simply cantered all over the hard-ridden Go On Chez, and in sailing over the last impressively, Vintage Fizz readily pulled clear to score comfortably. More successful on the flat recently, Jedd O’Keefe looks like he has a useful jumps performer on his hands!
Race 5 – The Proactive Personnel Handicap Hurdle Race (Class 4, 3yo+, 2m ½f)
The task made all the easier by the late fall of Governor Green (11/4) at the second-last, Swift Tuttle (33/1) sprang a surprise in the penultimate contest when edging home by a neck to bring up a big-price double for Toby Wynne and the Greenall/Guerriero stable. Setting off in last place but travelling comfortably, Swift Tuttle sat a fair way off the leader Governor Green in the early stages of Race 5, racing around a length behind Theonlywayiswessex (7/1) as recent course winner Choirmaster (15/8F) chased the leader in second place. Still towards the rear of the field with just the three flights of hurdles to jump, Swift Tuttle didn’t look to be going anywhere fast under Toby Wynne, gradually ridden along more firmly as Governor Green and Choirmaster led the runners into the home straight towards two-out. However, the drama of a crashing fall from Governor Green at the second-last changed the complexion of the race completely, leaving Choirmaster a sitting duck in the lead as Swift Tuttle came with a rattling late run alongside Theonlywayiswessex on the approach to the final flight. Scrambling his way over and cutting out the run of VE Day in the process (7/1), Swift Tuttle battled on strongly in the closing stages to see off his rivals in determined fashion, coming home a neck in front of Theonlywayiswessex, with Choirmaster ¾ of a length further back. With this their eighth winner of the season, Team Stockton Hall look to be in decent nick this term!
Race 6 – The Flash: A Tribute To Queen Handicap Hurdle Race (Class 5, 4yo+, 2m 3 ½f)
Pulling out all the stops in a power-packed finish to the final race, Sean Bowen made sure his birthday was a memorable one by squeezing Anger Management (14/1) home by a neck to provide a welcome victory for trainer John Ryan. As Never No Trouble (100/30) led the way in a bid end a run of placed finishes, Anger Management raced prominently in the hands of Sean Bowen, stalking the leader around every turn alongside Irish challenger Punk Rock Girl (20/1), with the likes of My Poem (4/1) and Taragrace (5/2F) positioned towards the rear of mid-division through the opening mile and a half. Ridden along briefly after a couple of sketchy jumps at four-out and three-out, Anger Management appeared to be travelling nicely enough on the heels of the leader around the home turn, sticking on well as Punk Rock Girl made a challenge out wide at the second-last. Still in the lead but getting lonely out in front, Never No Trouble soon looked an easy target on the run towards the final hurdle, his lead gradually being whittled away by the staying on Anger Management. The pair now clear of Punk Rock Girl who had no more to give back in third place, it was Anger Management who came out on top in the final 100 yards, wearing down the ever-consistent Never No Trouble by a neck in a pulsating finish to the sixth race. Currently leading the race for the 2023-24 Jump Jockeys Championship, Sean Bowen looks well on his way to exceeding his haul of 125 winners last season!
Race report by Adam Perkins