Posts

Carlisle delight for Henry Brooke with winning return

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.”

Your first 30 days for just £1

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 (left) and Paul Nicholls enjoyed a Carlisle winner
Harry Cobden (left) and Paul Nicholls enjoyed a Carlisle winner (David Davies/PA)

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).

Inspection at Warwick but hopes high for Monday action

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.

Plumpton and Carlisle abandon as freeze takes hold

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.”

Jumps courses on weather watch as cold snap bites

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.

First prize for My Old Gold at Carlisle

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.”

Imperial Aura is impressive in Colin Parker Memorial

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.

Imperial Aura aiming to build on Festival success

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.

Your first 30 days for just £1

“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.

Ribble Valley lives up to expectations at Carlisle

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.

Hopes high as Ribble Valley returns to action at Carlisle

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.