Meu Amor stamped her class on the British Stallion Studs EBF Eternal Stakes at Carlisle.
Ralph Beckett’s filly brought a high level of form to the Listed contest, having finished a close-up fourth in the Group Three Chartwell Fillies’ Stakes at Lingfield and third in the Surrey Stakes at Epsom on her last couple of starts.
The daughter of Siyouni was sent off at 3-1 for her latest assignment under Richard Kingscote and travelled strongly throughout the seven-furlong contest before pulling two and three-quarter lengths clear of Ken Condon’s Irish raider Thunder Beauty.
The previously unbeaten 15-8 favourite Cloudy Dawn was just over two lengths further back in third.
“It was straightforward,” said Kingscote.
“She had enough form to say she’d be in the mix. Of course the unknown was how much more Mr (William) Haggas’ filly (Cloudy Dawn) had under the bonnet, but my filly did everything lovely.
“Back on some better ground, she showed a good attitude and it was very smooth.”
Beckett is planning to step Meu Amor back up in class at Glorious Goodwood.
He said: “We were a little bit underwhelmed by the effort at Epsom and I think her performance today showed we were right to be.
“She enjoyed the track and the race set up well for her.
“I think we’ll look towards Goodwood and the Oak Tree Stakes in five weeks’ time.”
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Joe Fanning secured his first winner since steering Subjectivist to Gold Cup glory at Royal Ascot as Chichester came out on top in a thrilling three-way finish to the Stablemate By AGMA Carlisle Bell.
The 50-year-old enjoyed the biggest success of his career last week after Mark Johnston’s star stayer dominated his rivals in Ascot’s two-and-a-half-mile feature.
It was far harder work for the Keith Dalgleish-trained Chichester in the main event on one of the biggest days of the year in Cumbria, but the 11-2 chance dug deep for Fanning to see off Global Spirit and Lion Tower by a neck and a head respectively.
Dalgleish was completing a double on the card following the earlier success of Lady Lade (100-30) in the Book Your Christmas Party At Carlisle Racecourse Restricted Maiden in the hands of Callum Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was also on board as Dalgleish later made it a treble with Gometra Ginty (9-2) in the concluding Longtown Fillies’ Handicap.
Fanning said: “A good gallop suited this lad as I think he wants a bit further. We got a nice tow into the race and it worked out right.
“I think he’ll be a nice horse to go to war with in these big handicaps – I’m sure there’s another one or two in him.
“He could step up to a mile and a quarter. He’s grand and straightforward.”
The rider went on to reflect on Subjectivist’s Ascot triumph and is already looking forward to a rematch with Stradivarius, who finished fourth in his bid for a fourth Gold Cup, in the Goodwood Cup on July 27.
“It was nice to go down there and have a winner at that meeting and in that race,” Fanning added.
“I wouldn’t swap him going to Ascot and I wouldn’t swap him going to Goodwood. He’s won around there before and he’s very easy – if there’s pace you can take a lead and if there’s no pace you can make the running.
“Ground doesn’t matter to him either – there’s no excuses.”
Tangled finished with a flourish to win the Carlisle Bell Consolation Race for the mother and daughter team of Karen and Gemma Tutty.
Successful at the course last month, the 17-2 winner powered home to follow up by half a length.
Karen Tutty said: “He seems to really love it here, doesn’t he? He was entered to run at Beverley after his last win here and it was abandoned, so we left him then to be fresh for today.
“He did it really well – he’s loving life at the moment.
“We obviously wanted to get in the Bell, but we just missed out. It’s nice to win a bigger race.”
Colony Queen made it two from two since joining trainer John Mackie with a half-length verdict in the Cumberland Plate.
Formerly with the now-retired Steve Gollings, the 13-2 shot followed up a recent Beverley success in good style under Ben Curtis.
“She ran a good race at Beverley when I thought she needed the run,” said Mackie.
“We felt she’d come on for it and stepped her up a little bit in trip, which we thought would suit.
“We were disgusted when we were drawn 17 of 17, but four non-runners has definitely helped, Ben gave her a beautiful ride and we’re very pleased to win a prestigious race like this.”
The Kevin Ryan-trained Spitting Feathers (5-1) impressed in winning the the British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes.
The Iffraaj colt was not disgraced in finishing fifth on his racecourse debut at York and showed the benefit of that initial effort to get the better of Madame Bonbon by a length and a half.
Ryan said: “It was a good performance, he’s a big horse and mine always improve from their first run.
“He took a fair bit of pulling up today, which is a good sign. He’s done it stylishly and Tom (Eaves, jockey) said he had loads in hand. He was nearly down at the two-mile start by the time he pulled up, so the penny was only starting to drop late on.
“We like him and think he’s a good horse going forward.”
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Ken Condon senses plenty is in place for Thunder Beauty as she bids to provide him and owner David Kelly with a second success in Carlisle’s British Stallion Studs EBF Eternal Stakes.
Elusive Beauty struck in the 2017 edition of Wednesday’s Listed feature for Condon, in the same colours, and connections have again enlisted the services of Danny Tudhope – who was on board four years ago.
Thunder Beauty will receive 3lb from Mick Channon’s Goodwood Listed winner Illykato, so is marginally favoured on ratings alongside Ralph Beckett’s Meu Amor – while the most obvious potential improver in an eight-strong field is the unbeaten Cloudy Dawn, from William Haggas’ yard.
Kildare trainer Condon will be pleased to see a little of the forecast rain to bolster hopes, but is confident a return to seven furlongs in this grade is the right assignment after Thunder Beauty stayed on well from an unfavourable position to be beaten under four lengths in Group Three company at the Curragh.
He said: “There was a bit of an element of taking our medicine there, with the last race, in so far as the draw she had just meant that (jockey) Niall (McCullagh) had to take his time with her.
“But we were very happy the way she finished out her race, and she needed to do that after running so poorly at Newmarket (when last of 11 in the 1000 Guineas).
“It was important to try to get her back on track, and we were happy with the way she went through the race well (at the Curragh), and she did finish off nicely from an unpromising position.
“This is a race that the owner has been lucky in before – we had a horse that won the race a few years ago, with Daniel riding her as well.”
Condon set Thunder Beauty a tough task when she went for Classic glory on her seasonal debut, but she put herself in that bracket with some high-class juvenile form – including a close fifth in the Group One Moyglare Stud Stakes, over this trip.
“This filly has obviously shown nice form as a two-year-old, particularly in the Moyglare – so we hope she can run a nice race,” he added.
“I see there’s a chance of rain on Wednesday. So if we did get that, it would be a positive.
“All in all, we’ve been happy with her since her Curragh run, and hope she can run well.”
Thunder Beauty was equipped with a tongue strap for the first time three weeks ago, and will run with one again at Carlisle.
“We needed to make a few changes after Newmarket,” said Condon.
“The ground was quite quick, but we couldn’t really find anything obvious to explain it.
“But back to the Curragh, over six, she did finish out well – and she obviously had that very good run in the Moyglare over seven, so I think this trip will be fine.
“I just would prefer nice, safe ground with no jar, so I wouldn’t mind a bit of rain.
“If it did come on Wednesday afternoon, I’d say that would help her.
“We’re willing to take a chance. I’m sure it’s nice ground – I see the official description is good to firm, good in places. But with that chance of rain, we’d welcome it if it did come.”
Haggas is mindful that Cloudy Dawn is still rated a stone below three of her rivals, having taken her career record to a perfect three from three in a Yarmouth handicap at the start of this month.
She is also moving up to seven furlongs for the first time.
Her Newmarket trainer said: “She’s got a bit to find on the figures, but she’s entitled to have a shot at a race like that – she’s done nothing wrong.
“I think she’ll get the trip – I think she wants a trip now.
“It is a decent race, but all Listed races are difficult.”
Elsewhere on a very competitive card, Keith Dalgleish trains two of four joint top-weights – Howzer Black and Chichester – in the course’s signature race, the Stablemate By AGMA Carlisle Bell Handicap.
David O’Meara’s eight-year-old Waarif receives just 1lb from the top four as he returns to try to regain the crown he won in 2018.
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An appearance at Royal Ascot will be considered for El Caballo after providing trainer Karl Burke with a birthday winner at Carlisle.
Runner-up on his racecourse debut at Doncaster last month, the Havana Gold colt was the even-money favourite to go one better in the British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes – the first race to take place of a paying crowd on a British racecourse this year.
Always travelling strongly in the hands of Sam James, El Caballo moved to the lead with over two furlongs still to race and soon put distance between himself and his rivals – passing the post two and a half lengths clear of Bond Power.
Burke, celebrating his 58th birthday, said: “He’s a nice horse and he’s definitely a horse who will be stepping up to Listed or Group races as a two-year-old somewhere along the line.
“He handled the (soft) ground, but I don’t think he needs it.
“Where we go from here, I’m not sure. I think six furlongs will probably his trip. We could go to Ascot, but the six-furlong race is the Coventry and whether that’s a step too far at this stage, I don’t know. We’ve got plenty of time to think about it.
“He’s a proper horse.”
El Caballo returned to the winner’s enclosure to gentle applause from racegoers.
“It was a surprise to see the queues and things when we arrived, but it’s good,” Burke added.
“Everybody needs to get back to normal as soon as possible.”
The mother and daughter team of Karen and Gemma Tutty combined to land the Thursby Handicap with 20-1 shot Tangled.
There was still several in with a chance as the post loomed, but it was Tangled who prevailed by a head from Garden Oasis, with Soaring Star and Give It Some Teddy close up in third and fourth.
Karen Tutty said: “From where I was stood I thought he’d won, but they took a while to announce it and I’m always nervous of celebrating too early because you’d look and idiot!
“He has to be ridden for luck and in a big field he often gets boxed in or whatever, but he’s done it really well.
“You have to deliver him on the line and it panned out well today.”
There was a similarly exciting finish to the Blackwell Handicap, with 3lb claimer Faye McManoman seen to good effect aboard the Michael Mullineaux-trained winner Somewhere Secret.
The 16-1 shot edged out 11-4 favourite Ventura Flame by a neck, with Tomily just a nose further away in third.
“The last twice he hasn’t come out of the stalls (quickly) with one thing and another. Last time he came out with the blindfold on, so that was game over really,” said Mullineaux.
“He’s been in good order and he’s a nice, big, strong horse. We had a nice draw an he loved the ground – the softer the better for him as he gallops through it like it’s not there.”
Roger Fell’s End Zone (7-2) was a half-length winner of the Penrith Handicap under Callum Rodriguez, while Brian Ellison’s Pallas Lord (9-1) opened his account at third time of asking in division one of the Durdar Maiden Stakes, with Harry Russell the winning rider.
End Zone was one of two winners on the day for Middleham Park Racing, with Lightening Company (16-1) leading home a one-two for the successful owners in division two of the maiden.
Having already been placed three times Lexington Knight was the 8-11 favourite, but was beaten a nose by Ben Haslam’s newcomer.
Helm Rock (7-1) struck gold in the Wreay Handicap for the training partnership of Daniel and Claire Kubler.
Making his handicap debut, he stretched two and three-quarter lengths clear of 4-1 favourite Hope Probe under James Sullivan.
Claire Kubler, based in Lambourn, said: “I’m absolutely delighted. It’s a fair journey to Carlisle for us, but it’s paid off.
“We debated about the trip (seven furlongs). He’d run three times over a mile and not quite got home, so we decided to drop back.
“The soft ground suits him. We’ll go back and look at the programme book and see what options there are for him.
“I’ll be doing my rain dance, or just coming up north more!”
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Racegoers were delighted to be back at Carlisle for the first time this year on a beautiful afternoon in Cumbria on Monday.
The British Horseracing Authority last week gave the green light for crowds to return to racecourses following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that step three of the road map out of lockdown would go ahead.
A maximum crowd of 4,000 or 50 per cent capacity, whichever number is lower, will be allowed on track in England – and a four-figure attendance soaked up the atmosphere as Carlisle staged its first Flat fixture since September 2019.
Among the first paying customers through the gates were Carlisle native Craig Hamilton, his partner Louise Williams and their five-month old baby Mikey – who was well dressed for his very first visit to the races.
“It’s fantastic to be back. It’s nice to get back to some sort of normality and to get dressed up and do something,” said Hamilton.
“I’m from Carlisle originally, but we live in Workington. This is Louise’s surprise birthday present. I bought the tickets when they first came out and surprised her this morning.
“We were just saying, we don’t think we’ve been racing since August/September 2019, so it’s almost two years and we probably go six or seven times a year usually.”
Williams added: “This is Mikey’s first day at the races. Hopefully he’s a lucky charm!”
Lloyd Johnson travelled from Swindon for the meeting, and said: “It’s nice to be back. It’s been missed.
“Personally I think it’s important for the public to get back and get back on our feet again.
“I like horse racing and like a bet, of course – I like to come here and win!
“It’s nice to get out and meet people. Let’s get things back together again.”
Carlisle’s general manager Molly Dingwall was thrilled to see members of the public back enjoying a day at the races.
She said: “We’ve got just over 1,000 (paying customers) today. We’ve had a really great uptake and a lot of the local community have come to support us, which is absolutely fantastic.
“We’re so thrilled this day has arrived. When I found out last week that we were going to be able to lessen the green zone and have it a bit more open and have owners back in the parade ring, I was delighted.
“We were very lucky to have behind closed doors racing to keep the sport going, but there’s nothing like having a crowd – it just changes the atmosphere of the day.
“We’ve been so excited to have people back here enjoying their day. We are in the entertainment business at the end of the day and we love seeing people have fun and seeing them being able to see their friends and their racing family, who they haven’t seen for so long.
“To be the first racecourse to be able to do that this year is a real treat and we’re beyond thrilled.”
Carlisle was last able to welcome a small crowd to the track for the pre-Christmas raceday in December.
Dingwall is hoping for a further easing of restrictions when step four of the route out of lockdown is due to kick in on June 21 – just two days before the track’s Carlisle Bell and Cumberland Plate fixture.
She added: “The Bell and Plate day is on June 23 this year and it looks like the 21st could be a really big day for allowing people back in almost a normal capacity.
“It would be absolutely incredible for our Bell and Plate day. We always get a really good crowd that day with really knowledgeable racegoers – it’s a real family day.
“I know there is talk about the date potentially being pushed back, but from our point of view, it’s about being positive, following the guidelines and doing everything we can to ensure we stay as safe as possible and keep our racegoers and participants safe.”
Dual champion jockey Paul Hanagan said: “It’s so good to see the crowds back – this is what it’s all about. There’s just that extra bit of atmosphere and it does make a difference.
“It’s fantastic to see. I think there were a few of the two-year-olds in the first race thinking ‘what is going on here?’, as they’ve never seen so many people. It’s great to have everyone back.”
Samuel Black was one of 10 bookmakers allowed to take pitches on track.
He said: “We’ve been on track for owners at Kelso and Musselburgh, but it’s obviously been very quiet. It’s more of a service for them and getting us out of the house. From a business point of view, it’s been a waste of time.
“The last time we were racing with a full crowd was at Uttoxeter on Midlands Grand National day last year – the day after the 2020 Cheltenham Festival. We did go to Haydock twice with a small crowd at the end of last year, similar to this today.
“Business today is workable. For a midweek fixture, it’s as good as could be expected really.
“It’s nice to be out and see the sun again – we’ve been pale for a year!
“We have a good pitch at Glorious Goodwood and we just hope we’re back to something like normal by then.”
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Monday marks the end of racing behind closed doors as courses are permitted to welcome a limited number of spectators.
The latest milestone in the government’s roadmap out of lockdown allows racecourses to host 4,000 fans or fill the course to 50% capacity – whichever is the lesser number.
There is also a slight easing in restrictions on course, with owners able to access the parade ring to meet trainers and jockeys and masks only compulsory in the paddock and indoor areas.
Carlisle, Redcar, Leicester and Windsor all host fixtures on Monday and will therefore be the first tracks to benefit from the change in policy, with Ffos Las still restricted to racing behind closed doors due to the differing stance between the English and Welsh governments.
The impact of Covid-19 left Carlisle unable to host a single Flat fixture last year, but the Cumbrian track was able to run a behind-closed-doors jumps programme from October onwards.
Officials at Carlisle are excited to reinstate the Flat action in front of paying spectators.
“We’re delighted to be able to welcome back Flat racing to Carlisle after such a long absence and it’s particularly fitting that it coincides with the first day of spectators being allowed to return to racecourses,” said Molly Dingwall, general manager at Carlisle.
“The pandemic has had a huge impact on sport as a whole and we’ve felt that just as keenly at Carlisle racecourse. It was disappointing not to be able to host our Flat programme last year and that meant some historic races did not take place, but we couldn’t be more excited about Monday.
“Owners, trainers and spectators have been so supportive of the course over the years, not to mention incredibly patient.
“The team here have been absolutely brilliant and have worked incredibly hard to keep the course in great condition. We can’t wait to welcome everyone back for what should be a fantastic summer of Flat racing.”
Redcar stages an eight-race card, with the first race fittingly named the Great To Welcome You Back Median Auction Maiden Stakes.
Redcar’s general manager Amy Fair said: “We’re really looking forward to welcoming spectators back after so long, we’ve really missed the atmosphere they bring, but the emphasis has to remain very much on public safety.”
Leicester will also be in action, with a seven-race evening card kicking off at 5.05pm after over a year of racing in front of empty grandstands.
David Maykels, general manager of the racecourse, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming annual members and the public back after 15 long months.
“Tomorrow evening sees further relaxation also for owners, who can now enter the parade ring and winners enclosure for their race.
“We have hired a large marquee until September to facilitate hospitality clients and owners due to losing our boxes and club room for jockeys and stewards.
“Tomorrow we will be providing the paddock pavilion for owners and trainers, plus in annual members we will be providing some welcome-back bubbly to thank them for their support.
“Let us hope this is the start of a special summer and beyond.”
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Henry Brooke is looking forward to the rest of the season and beyond after making a successful return from almost four months on the sidelines at Carlisle on Tuesday.
The 30-year-old has emerged as one of the north’s leading riders in recent seasons, enjoying big-race success aboard Highland Lodge in the Becher Chase at Aintree, Lake View Lad in the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby and Cornerstone Lad in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.
However, Brooke has been a frustrated spectator since early November, having broken three vertebrae in his neck and two in his back when suffering a schooling fall at Oliver Greenall’s yard in Cheshire.
He said: “It’s felt like an age, to be honest.
“I did three vertebrae in my neck and two in my back. They were all compression fractures, which isn’t too bad, although one in my neck was a bit touch and go. Luckily, it all worked out well.
“I had a solid brace on for seven weeks and then a soft collar on for another three weeks after that.
“I’ve been in great hands with Dr Jerry Hill of the BHA (British Horseracing Authority) and all of my recovery is down to the people at Jack Berry House – I can’t praise everyone that helped me enough.”
Having finished sixth on his comeback ride earlier in the day, Brooke got back in the winning groove aboard the Mark Walford-trained Miss Amelia in the Racing TV Handicap Chase.
After taking over the lead between the final two fences, the 15-2 chance found plenty for pressure on the run-in to score by two and a quarter lengths from Pistol Park.
“Today was the main aim – to come back. To come out of it with a winner, I’m absolutely on cloud nine,” Brooke added.
“I took a blow on my first ride, but when you’re in with a chance of winning you find the strength – and to be fair to the mare, she’s very gutsy and helped me all the way to the line.
“No jockey likes being off – it’s an absolute nightmare watching horses win that you would have rode, but I’m looking to the future now and hopefully I can get myself a couple of nice winners before the end of the season.”
Brooke was also keen to pay tribute to British event rider Matthew Wright, who died earlier this week, saying: “Matthew was a really good event rider and I was good friends with him. My condolences go out to his family at this tough time.”
Donald McCain is in no rush to make any grand plans for the unbeaten Dreams Of Home following an impressive display in division one of the Watch Irish Racing On Racing TV Novices’ Hurdle.
A winner on his only start in the Irish point-to-point field last autumn, the son of Jet Away made a flying start for his new connections when scoring by 12 lengths on his hurdling debut at Wetherby last month.
The five-year-old was the 4-5 favourite to follow up in the hands of champion jockey Brian Hughes and was ultimately well on top as he passed the post with almost four lengths in hand over promising newcomer Royal Arcade.
McCain said: “He’s a nice horse. We’ve no great big plans. We’re going to go quietly with him as he’s every inch a chaser.
“I’m sure he’ll run once more, but he won’t run a lot more this season, I don’t think.”
Harry Cobden was pleased to break his Carlisle duck aboard the Paul Nicholls-trained Highland Hunter.
A rare runner at the Cumbrian circuit for the multiple champion trainer, the 11-8 favourite made the 600-mile round trip from Somerset worthwhile with a neck success in the Introducing Racing TV Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.
Cobden said: “I’ve ridden here a couple of times before and thankfully we’ve come away with a winner today.
“It was Paul’s only runner of the day. I just think it was the right race for him, with only five runners – Paul just saw an opportunity that couldn’t be missed really.
“He’s a real stayer who handled the testing ground well and managed to get the job done.”
Conditional jockey Kevin Brogan enjoyed a double on the afternoon with wins aboard the Ben Pauling-trained Apple Rock (4-1) and Daragh Bourke’s Evita Du Mesnil (9-2).
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Warwick’s big rearranged meeting on Monday looks set to beat the weather, despite an inspection being called for 3pm on Sunday.
The card scheduled for Saturday was called off on Friday, but plans were in place to move the whole fixture and it looks a wise decision.
Clerk of the course Jane Hedley said: “It’s Baltic this (Saturday) morning so we definitely took the right decision.
“We’re going to have an inspection at 3pm tomorrow, we’ll start lifting the covers tomorrow morning, they may as well stay in place the rest of today.
“Temperatures are set to get to the heady heights of 1C tonight before getting to four or five Sunday. Then a band of rain comes through and it gets milder still, up to about 10C by Monday lunchtime.
“A lot of the areas that are covered are raceable already, it’s just some of the bare patches and some areas in the back straight that were never going to come round.
“I think we’ll be in a good place by tomorrow afternoon and a better one by Monday – it’s amazing how mild it’s going to be and it’s amazing the job the frost covers have done. I wouldn’t be as confident without them.”
Exeter’s meeting on Sunday faces an 8.30am inspection.
Clerk of the course Dan Cooper tweeted: “Every reason to keep looking at @ExeterRaces conditions based on the forecast for lows into Saturday morning.
“However, we are -1 this evening and temperatures need to improve, some suggestion it will. The time frozen places take to defrost remains a risk. Inspection 8:30am Sun.”
Tuesday’s meeting at Carlisle faces a 3pm inspection on Monday due to a frozen track, while Catterick’s fixture, moved from Monday to Tuesday, has no inspection planned as yet with temperatures due to rise.
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Monday’s scheduled jumps meetings at Plumpton and Carlisle were both abandoned as the forecast freezing temperatures began to take hold in Britain.
Both cards were subject to early-morning inspections, and neither passed – with Carlisle frozen, and the frost at Plumpton compounded by a covering of snow.
In Ireland, the Monday card at Fairyhouse did pass its morning inspection – but it was announced at the same time that Wednesday’s scheduled meeting there will not take place, because the inside track set to be used then is waterlogged.
The racing week is therefore set to start with Fairyhouse’s surviving jumps meeting, for which the ground is heavy – while in Britain, a jumpers bumper meeting at Newcastle and an all-weather evening Flat card at Wolverhampton remain scheduled.
A raft of further inspections are already in place for the remainder of the week, and more appear inevitable, with the freezing temperatures forecast to be unrelenting.
At Carlisle, a 7am Twitter update confirmed the abandonment and described the course as “frozen on the morning of racing”.
Plumpton’s official account was also able to make an early announcement.
It read: “We’ve had to abandon today’s fixture due to frost in the ground and snow on top, with no prospect for improvement.”
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Jumps tracks are bracing themselves for another week of inspections and abandonments due to the continuing cold snap.
Sunday’s card at Musselburgh survived a morning inspection, but fixtures remain under threat in the coming week.
A poor weather forecast has prompted Plumpton to call an inspection at 8am on Monday to determined prospects for that day’s card.
Light snow is forecast with temperatures down to -2C overnight and not expected to rise above freezing.
Frost sheets were deployed on landings, take offs and vulnerable areas on Friday.
The prospect of a sharp frost on Sunday night has forced Carlisle to hold a precautionary inspection at 8am on Monday ahead of the same day’s meeting.
There is currently no problem with waterlogging, but there is a chance of snow on Monday.
Taunton are to inspect at noon on Monday to assess prospects for Tuesday’s card.
The course was free from frost on Sunday morning, but it is set to get colder overnight with temperatures forecast to drop to -2C on Sunday and -4C on Monday night. Daytime temperatures will struggle to get above freezing.
An precautionary inspection is also set for Market Rasen at noon on Monday ahead of Tuesday’s fixture due to the potential risk of snow and frost.
Wednesday’s meeting at Fontwell has been abandoned following an inspection on Sunday afternoon.
The course was found to be waterlogged in places and unraceable.
An inspection is set for Huntingdon at 4pm on Monday ahead of Thursday’s programme as the course is waterlogged.
The Alconbury brook has burst its banks and areas of the home straight are flooded.
Friday’s jumps card at Kempton is also in doubt due to the lake bend being waterlogged.
Officials are expecting up to 25 millimetres from a mixture of rain, sleet and snow. Minimum temperatures on Wednesday and Thursday could go down to -5C, with a maximum temperature of +2C.
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My Old Gold claimed a valuable black-type success in the Houghton Mares’ Chase at Carlisle.
The Nicky Richards-trained mare, who beat this weekend’s Ladbrokes Trophy winner Cloth Cap at Doncaster nearly a year ago, was lining up after disappointing on her first run of the campaign at Market Rasen.
Henry Daly’s Chilli Filli, winner of the Market Rasen race, re-opposed – but the market was headed by Kerry Lee’s Happy Diva, who could finish only third.
Happy Diva had fallen last time out when still in contention in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, attempting to win it for a second year in succession, and she had 6lb and upwards in hand on all her rivals on official ratings.
Richard Patrick set out to make all on the odds-on favourite, but champion jockey Brian Hughes could be noted travelling strongly on My Old Gold.
Having hit the front, My Old Gold (4-1) appeared to have everything under control – and although Chilli Filli arrived on the scene to challenge after the last, the winner was always doing enough.
Hughes told Racing TV: “We thought the ground would have been a lot slower than it was at Market Rasen – but it had dried up, and she’s more at ease on this (soft) surface.
“She’s a versatile mare and she’s twice a Listed winner now. She beat the Hennessy (Ladbrokes Trophy) winner at Doncaster last year, and she’s got solid form all the way through.
“She’s 10 now but was a late starter, and she doesn’t ride like a 10-year-old.
“Nicky will find the right race – she’s versatile and can get three miles. She’ll make a grand broodmare, but I wouldn’t mind a few more days out of her yet.”
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Kim Bailey admits he has some thinking to do over future targets after Imperial Aura made a faultless return to action in the Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at Carlisle.
A winner at the Cheltenham Festival in March, Imperial Aura was sent off 7-4 favourite in a strong field of six well-regarded horses.
David Bass was happy to take a lead for the first two miles, with Sam Brown and Black Op keen to get on with things.
As the field turned into the straight, Imperial Aura moved upsides, and some spectacular leaps took him to the lead – which he was not to relinquish as he powered up the hill to beat Windsor Avenue by two and a half lengths, with Sam Brown losing little in defeat in third carrying a penalty.
The victory means Imperial Aura will pick up a penalty for this month’s Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham – for which he is 6-1 joint-favourite, and would almost certainly be top weight, leaving Bailey with a big decision to make.
“He was very impressive, and I’m absolutely delighted with him,” he said.
“Hopefully he’s going to improve for the race as well, so we’ve got lots to think about.
“The weights for the Paddy Power come out on Tuesday – but he’ll get a penalty, so I have to sit and think where we’ll go.
“We ran him over three miles last year, so I have no issue at all about stepping him up to three miles.
“When I was watching it I couldn’t believe it when he came back on the bridle four out – I’m really pleased. I’m also pleased for Ian Robinson (of Imperial Racing syndicate, who own Imperial Aura) – because he’s a big part of the yard, so it’s great to have a good horse for them.”
Earlier Rose Dobbin enjoyed a nice double on the card – with Le Cheval Noir (9-1) in the Join Racing TV Now Novices’ Hurdle and Rath An Iuir (7-2) in the Gordon Richards Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.
Both were ridden by Conor O’Farrell.
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Cheltenham Festival winner Imperial Aura is one of six runners declared for Sunday’s Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at Carlisle.
The two-and-a-half-mile Listed contest has an illustrious roll of honour, with subsequent Grand National hero Many Clouds (2014), the top-class Waiting Patiently (2017) and last year’s Betfair Chase scorer Lostintranslation among the recent winners.
This year’s renewal promises to be as informative as ever, with Kim Bailey’s Imperial Aura the top-rated runner on his first start since winning the novices’ handicap chase at Prestbury Park in March.
“He’s in good form and ready to go,” said Bailey.
“He’s in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham (November 14), but we’ll see how he goes on Sunday before deciding what we do.
“He’s in good shape.”
The Olly Murphy-trained Brewin’upastorm had a less favourable experience at Cheltenham last season, unseating Richard Johnson four fences from home in the Arkle Trophy.
The Milan gelding made a successful start to his chasing career at this venue last October and Murphy is looking forward to his return to action in Cumbria on Sunday.
Murphy said: “He’s in good form and will handle the ground fine – probably some of his best form is on soft ground.
“It’s very much a race to try to get his confidence back, as he obviously didn’t have a great time of it at Cheltenham and gave himself a bit of a fright.
“I’m really looking forward to running him and it looks a good starting point for the year. If he ran well, I thought we might look at something like the Peterborough Chase.”
Black Op has not been seen since filling the runner-up spot behind Slate House in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day of last year, with the outbreak of coronavirus putting paid to planned runs at the spring Festivals at Aintree and Punchestown.
Trainer Tom George said: “It will be good to get him back on track as he hasn’t run since last Christmas. We purposely missed Cheltenham, waiting for Aintree and Punchestown with him, and we ended up missing them all.
“This is a good starting point for him. The target is the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury and he needs to have a run before then, so we thought this race would put him right for that.
“He’s in good form and we’re happy with him, but this is a stepping-stone.”
Anthony Honeyball’s Sam Brown, the Brian Ellison-trained Windsor Avenue and Ardlethen from Dan Skelton’s yard complete the quality sextet.
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Ribble Valley booked his ticket for the Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle with a smooth success on his comeback at Carlisle.
Nicky Richards has never disguised his admiration for the seven-year-old and reappearing having had a wind operation since meeting with his sole defeat over hurdles, he oozed class.
While only four went to post in the Watch Irish Racing On racingtv.com Intermediate Hurdle, the seven-year-old was giving 6lb to Olly Murphy’s highly-regarded Nickolson but he had no answer as champion jockey Brian Hughes breezed by on the 8-15 favourite.
On jumping the last Hughes just asked Ribble Valley to lengthen and he won by five and a half lengths, setting up a trip to Newcastle on November 28.
“That was lovely, he’ll come on a lot for that and Brian said it couldn’t have been nicer,” said Richards.
“He’s been very heavy and took a bit of getting fit, so Brian just asked him to lengthen after the last, he thought he’d give him a blow, there was no point sitting up on him.
“That was only his fourth run over hurdles so he’s very inexperienced. At the start of the season we thought, bearing in mind the level we hope he’s going to get to, he didn’t have enough experience to go chasing.
“So we were thinking of today and if it went well, which it has, he’ll probably go for the Fighting Fifth to get some more experience. Then we’ll take it from there, see how that goes and take it race by race.
“Brian said it was chopped up on the inside today so he kept him wide. Brian thinks some real good to soft ground and a proper gallop would be ideal.
“I just hope it’s not heavy ground come Newcastle as that might spoil the party.”
Earlier Dan Skelton’s Protektorat (5-4 favourite) put up a smart round of jumping to win the Introducing Racing TV Beginners’ Chase.
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Nicky Richards has never hidden the regard in which he holds the promising Ribble Valley, who reappears at Carlisle on Thursday.
Winner of four of his six races under rules, he met with defeat when last seen at Ascot behind Master Debonair on heavy ground.
He had a wind operation following that run in December, before his season was cut short by the pandemic.
“Hopefully we don’t get too much rain and it will be just good to soft ground. It was nice ground there the other day,” said Richards.
“He had a little wind op when things at Ascot didn’t work out quite right, but we were toying with that idea before.
“We had that done with the view we were probably going to go to Aintree or Ayr for the Scottish Champion, and then we know what happened.
“He’s in grand fettle, ready to run and get his season started and take it from there.
“He’ll jump fences fine when the time comes, we’ll see how he gets on his next run or two before we decide when that’s going to be.”
His main rival in the in the Watch Irish Racing On Racingtv.com Intermediate Hurdle appears to be Olly Murphy’s Nickolson, winner of two of his three races to date.
“If Nicky Richards’ horse is as good as they say he is then we might struggle to beat him,” said Murphy.
“My lad has been in good form at home, he’s training well and whatever he does he will improve upon.
“I know we are getting a little bit of weight, but if Nicky’s is as good as they say then it looks like we might be facing a tall order.
“He’s a nice horse for the future in any case.”
Murphy sends Notre Pari north for the Introducing Racing TV Beginners’ Chase, which also looks competitive.
“This looks a good starting point for him, coming back down in trip to two miles on a stiff track on some nice ground,” said Murphy.
“He was a decent novice hurdler, but I’m keen to see how he’ll get on over fences.
“He’s ready to go but will improve on whatever he does.”
Peter Niven’s Malystic, Sandy Thomson’s Elf De Re and the Dan Skelton-trained Protektorat will ensure there is plenty of strength in depth.
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