Tag Archive for: Chelmsford

Ryan in no rush to map out Dark Moon Rising target

Kevin Ryan will keep options open for the promising Dark Moon Rising after his impressive Chelmsford success.

The colt began his season in the Woodford Reserve Cardinal Conditions Stakes on Wednesday evening, a one-mile contest worth over £50,000 to the winner.

The race was also a part of the Road To The Kentucky Derby series, an initiative where the field for the famous race is determined by a leader board system wherein horses collect points in selected events across Europe, Japan and America.

The 30 points on offer to the Chelmsford winner went the way of Ryan’s colt, who triumphed by a length and a quarter to defeat Andrew Balding’s Harrow.

An entry for the Dante at York has been made for the son of Night Of Thunder, but Ryan has no confirmed next steps in mind yet.

“He’s fine and he’s come out of the race really well, we haven’t decided where we’re going to go yet,” he said.

“He’s a very good horse, it was a good race and there was enough quality in there.

“We’ve always thought a lot of this horse, he’s one we’ve always held in very high regard.

“We’ve loads of options with him now, we’ll decide which to take nearer to the time.”

Dark Moon Rising powers to victory in Chelmsford feature

Dark Moon Rising stamped himself as a smart prospect for the year ahead with victory in the Woodford Reserve Cardinal Conditions Stakes at Chelmsford.

The Essex track’s £100,000 feature is part of the European Road To The Kentucky Derby series, and attracted a strong field of six – including Blue Trail, Harrow and Find, who were virtually inseparable in a similar event at Kempton earlier in the month.

But in the end none of the supposed big three had an answer to Kevin Ryan’s charge as he made light of an absence of 173 days to run out a ready winner under Kevin Stott from 2-1 favourite Harrow, whose late surge from the rear never looked like being enough, going down by a length and a quarter.

Stott said of the 6-1 winner, who runs in the colours of Pete and Angie Bailey and holds a Dante entry: “He did everything right and jumped well.

“He travelled smoothly, picked up when I asked him to and he hit the line good. He’s very exciting.

“Kevin’s horses are running well so fair play to him and the team at home.”

Harrow primed for Blue Trail rematch in Chelmsford cracker

It could be a case of deja vu when Blue Trail, Harrow and Find clash again in the Woodford Reserve Cardinal Conditions Stakes at Chelmsford on Thursday – just four weeks after they were separated by centimetres at Kempton.

Blue Trail, trained by Charlie Appleby, got the verdict by a nose from Andrew Balding’s Harrow, with Find, from John and Thady Gosden’s stable, only a head away in third in a driving finish.

They now meet for a second time in a European Kentucky Derby points qualifying race, the £100,000 highlight as Chelmsford makes a return to racing after losing four meetings because of damaged floodlights caused by Storm Eunice last month.

Connections of Harrow could not be more pleased with how the El Kabeir colt is progressing and are looking forward to taking on his old adversaries.

“He’s in great form, he’s doing really well physically. He’s really thriving at the moment. He’s working very well and it’s a similar race to the other day. We’re all back in the fray and we might have won in another stride,” said Harry Herbert, racing manager for owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing.

“We’re hopeful he’ll run very well again and be up there at the sharp end. It’s wonderful prize-money.

“That last race at Kempton will have put him spot on. It’s no easy task, but I think we’re in the right spot.”

Appleby has been pleased with Blue Trail since he made it two wins from there starts following his debut in January.

He said: “He’s come out of the race well. What we’ve done this time is that we are going to remove the hood in the hope that it might just sharpen him up a little.

“But the preparations have gone well and obviously Harrow and Find are entitled to come forward a bit for their runs, but we are all going there with good experience under our belts and may the best horse win.”

Mr Professor, a Listed winner at Pontefract in October, is fit from three runs in Dubai during the winter plus one outing in France, where he did disappoint.

However, trainer Alice Haynes has put a line through that performance and is hoping cheekpieces will help him bounce back to form.

She said: “We’ve got a good draw and the French style of racing didn’t really suit him. I think he’s better with an end-to-end gallop and Chelmsford is much more of a speed track.

“It is a very valuable race for this time of year. It was an obvious decision to run in it.”

A field of six is completed by Kevin Ryan’s Dark Moon Rising and Atheby, trained by Jane Chapple-Hyam.

Racecourse Association: No plans to introduce mandatory Covid passes

The Racecourse Association has no plans to mandate the use of Covid passports across British tracks, despite Chelmsford’s decision to tighten restrictions there.

Officials at the Essex track announced on Sunday that Covid passes and a form of official photographic ID would required in order to attend meetings for the remainder of the year, with the track wanting to “protect our customers, team, local community and those who participate in our sport”.

The track said it had met with a “mixed reaction” to the change in policy, with courses in Wales already requiring proof of vaccination status or a negative test if crowds exceed a certain level and Scotland also set to introduce a similar rule.

Runners in action at Chelmsford
Runners in action at Chelmsford (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

English courses have no such restrictions in place and the RCA is not planning to implement any additional requirements around Covid passes.

A statement read: “Further to recent speculation, the RCA can confirm that there are currently no plans to introduce mandatory Covid certification at British racecourses other than in devolved nations where venues are already required to facilitate the initiative when attendances reach a certain limit.

“We remain in close contact with the appropriate departments across national governments to ensure all British racecourses are at the forefront of relevant information should the situation change.

“In the interim, the RCA will continue to follow the advice given by national governments and provide guidance to our member racecourses, allowing them to safely welcome spectators and participants.”

Chelmsford announces enhanced Covid measures for racegoers

Officials at Chelmsford City have decided to bring in Covid passes as a condition of entry at the track.

The ruling, which also requires racegoers to prove their identity via a form of official photographic ID, has not been prompted by the new strain of coronavirus discovered in recent days – with a case found in the nearby area.

While accepting they may lose some of their regular crowd, Chelmsford hope the creation of a “safe environment” will also encourage some people to attend.

A statement on www.chelmsfordcityracecourse.com read: “Due to the ongoing pandemic, the racecourse has taken the decision to implement Covid passes as a condition of entry.

“We have introduced these measures in order to protect our customers, team, local community and those who participate in our sport.

“Alongside this as an additional safety measure, the racecourse will also be implementing ID as a condition of entry as well. This will be conducted by scanning photographic IDs with the following forms of ID accepted; passport, drivers licence, any government or international issue photo card

“This is a decision which the racecourse has not taken lightly, but we feel that we are obligated to protect all who visit the racecourse. In order to do this we want to ensure that all persons attending are not on any lists that ban them from industry venues, sports grounds and licensed premises.

“The scanning of IDs upon entry has also been introduced in response to the UK raising the terror threat to severe.”

Nathan Holmes, commercial director at the track, said: “The decision was made before the new variant came into play – it wasn’t a knee jerk reaction at all, we’ve had it planned for a couple of weeks.

“Jockeys do not have show a pass at the moment. We’re still looking towards the horsemen to try to do something similar, but we’re not sure how that is going to work yet as there are lots of different parties involved.

“We’ve spoken to racegoers about this and we’ve had quite a mixed reaction, particularly from older racegoers. We are inevitably going to lose some people, but at the same time we think we are going to gain some because we are creating a safe environment for people to come racing.

“As for how long we implement this, we have four meetings left this year. After our final meeting we then have a three-week gap. Our thinking is we’ve done so well in racing since coming out of lockdown, let’s not spoil it.

“We’ve also got some big Christmas parties with up to 300 people coming which this will be implemented at as well, so we’ll get this period out of the way first and then review it in the three-week period and see where we are at.

“Hopefully then there will be better news coming from the government.”

Murphy maintains slender lead over Buick in title battle

Oisin Murphy heads into the penultimate day of the British Flat jockeys’ championship two wins in front of William Buick after both claimed a victory apiece at Chelmsford on Thursday.

Dual champion Murphy arrived at the Essex venue with a cushion of two successes and his win aboard Notions in the racingwelfare.co.uk EBF Novice Stakes ensured he maintains that advantage as the duo head to Haydock on Friday.

Buick has been in sparkling form in recent days, riding a treble at Leicester on Tuesday before adding a Nottingham double on Wednesday and he was first off the mark at Chelmsford, steering Typical Woman to victory in the British Stallion Studs EBF Restricted Novice Stakes.

Murphy hit back in the very next race though and admitted he was feeling the pressure as he tries to secure a third successive title.

He told Racing TV: “I’ve been here before, I know what it’s like. No matter what everyone says, it’s not much fun – it’s a lot of pressure. Normally the pressures are only on big days, but I’m doing my best and I’m trying to make the most of every opportunity.

“I’ve got decent rides tonight and good rides tomorrow, and Saturday is obviously the best racing you can imagine. It’s a time we really should be enjoying it, but it’s tough work, race in, race out.

“I’ve got to thank everyone who puts me up – without the horses I can’t ride winners. I think last week I was 12 in front and standing here now I’m only two. So I need to make the most of every chance and hopefully that will be good enough.”

Both riders will be in action at Ascot on Saturday, with Derby hero Adayar the pick of Buick’s mounts while Murphy is looking forward to teaming up with Alcohol Free in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

He added: “She’s been freshened up since the Juddmonte International, she went home for a few weeks and I rode her on the grass and she felt as good as ever. Hopefully that break did her the world of good. I have massive respect for Baaeed and Palace Pier, but don’t forget she’s a star also and a straight track and the ground will be in her favour.

“She’s got a low draw near The Revenant – on paper there’s a lack of pace and she’s very fast as we know, so that may play to her strengths.”

Murphy was fortunate to escape injury when Discover Dubai took a heavy fall two furlongs out in the tote.co.uk Free Streaming Every UK Race Handicap.

Buick’s best chance of the night appeared to be 2-9 favourite Lord Lovelace in the Support The Injured Jockeys Fund Novice Stakes, but after an early battle with the Murphy-ridden Golden Owl, the market leader dropped away to finish second behind Under The Twilight.

Murphy heads to Haydock with a total of 151 winners and five expected rides, while Buick is on 149 with a full book of eight mounts on Merseyside.

Coral make Murphy the 4-7 favourite to retain his title, with Buick a 5-4 chance to win his first championship. Paddy Power shortened Murphy to 4-7 from 4-6 favourite, while Buick is an 11-8 shot with that firm.

Paddy Power spokesman Paul Binfield said: “Jockeys are masters of precision timing and while most of this week it’s looked like William was timing his title challenge perfectly, a score draw tonight means we now feel Oisin is one step closer to securing his championship hat-trick.”

Sunray Major set to run again this season

Sunray Major is likely to have a second run before the end of the current campaign following his successful return to action at Chelmsford.

As a half-brother to the brilliant miler Kingman, plenty was of course always expected of John and Thady Gosden’s Dubawi colt.

He could hardly have been more impressive on his racecourse debut at Newmarket in June of last year, but could then finish only fourth under a penalty a fortnight later on what proved to be his final start as a three-year-old.

Sunray Major returned from 15 months off the track in a minor event last week, and ultimately won comfortably in the hands of Frankie Dettori – suggesting he should be capable of stepping up in class.

“He’s obviously exceptionally well-bred and had a good bit of time off,” said Thady Gosden.

“He was a little bit rusty at Chelmsford, as you’d expect, but he did well to win.

“I’m sure the team at (owners) Juddmonte will assess it and work out where to go next. We’ll try and find something before the end of the season.

“Happily he is back, and has retained his ability so far.”

Valiant Prince strolls home at Chelmsford – at odds of 1-40

Valiant Prince had the statisticians scouring the record books at Chelmsford on Thursday evening with a facile victory at staggering odds of 1-40.

Trained by Charlie Appleby, the James Doyle-ridden son of Dubawi was having his fourth racecourse outing in the tote.co.uk Live Streaming Every UK Race Novice Stakes over a mile.

He had previously been second twice this season, after finishing sixth on his one juvenile start in April last year.

Gelded since his latest run at Kempton, he gave Doyle had an armchair rider and cruised home by nine lengths from Arrange.

Doyle told Racing TV: “He was nice and straightforward, he’s been a little frustrating – we thought he was a little bit better than his mark, he’s probably bumped into one or two nice horses along the way.

“Charlie found him a nice opportunity today, he popped out of the gate and just enjoyed himself really. I filled him up on the bend and I just wanted him to use himself in the straight. It was just another experience for him really.

“I think William (Buick) and the guys who have ridden him at home certainly felt he was holding a small bit back for himself. I guess when you get a rating of 92 they can progress into nice horses, but they have to be going the right way and we just felt gelding him would see him find that improvement.

“We thought he might struggle to do that being an entire.”

Hurricane Lane will be all the rage for the St Leger next week
Hurricane Lane will be all the rage for the St Leger next week (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

The win made it an across-the-card treble for Appleby on the day, after wins for New Kingdom and Al Suhail at Haydock.

With his team nicely in form, Appleby can look forward to a big few weeks – starting with Creative Force in the Betfair Sprint Cup this weekend, on the same card that exciting juvenile Hafit reappears.

And on Saturday week the Moulton Paddocks handler is due to field red-hot favourite Hurricane Lane in the Cazoo St Leger at Doncaster.

Shimmering Dawn on top at Chelmsford

Shimmering Dawn put herself on course for all-weather championship finals day with a decisive victory in the chelmsfordcityracecourse.com Fillies’ Conditions Stakes at Chelmsford.

James Tate’s mare was sent off 15-8 favourite in the fast-track qualifier, and justified her market position with a three-quarter-length success from the front-running Amber Island.

Shimmering Dawn, second to the unexposed and potentially classy Amniarix in a similar race at Wolverhampton early last month, had little trouble going one better.

Tom Eaves had the five-year-old held up last, on her return to the Polytrack – following three previous victories at Chelmsford and a Lingfield success too when first moved back up to this seven-furlong trip in December.

Shimmering Dawn was still at the rear of the six-strong field entering the straight but, challenging wide off the bend, closed well and duly collared Amber Island inside the final furlong.

Tate confirmed the plan to head back to Lingfield for the fillies’ and mares’ championship on Good Friday, April 2 – with another attempt on the Tapeta at Wolverhampton also possible in between.

“She did it well – I thought Tom gave her a lovely, ice-cool ride,” said the Newmarket trainer.

“They weren’t going very quick, and she had to come a bit wide, but she seemed to pass them easily enough – it all looked in control.

“Chelmsford definitely suits her.”

Shimmering Dawn has proved she appreciates Lingfield too, and her major target is there.

“That’s been the plan since we kept her in training,” added Tate.

“We might possibly drop off at the seven-furlong Listed race against the boys at Wolverhampton (first) – the Lady Wulfruna, on March 13, three weeks on Saturday.

“That then still gives us three weeks from there to Good Friday.”

Ryan excited to unleash French recruit Marly at Chelmsford

John Ryan hopes his “exciting prospect” Marly can book her ticket for Good Friday at the first attempt in the chelmsfordcityracecourse.com Fillies’ Conditions Stakes.

Formerly trained by Andrea Marcialis, the four-year-old has won three times and has solid form at Listed level.

Ryan has booked Jamie Spencer, who has already ridden the filly on the Newmarket gallops.

“This is obviously Marly’s first start for us and, with a filly such as her, we have to plan our races a little bit more,” said Ryan.

“Her winning form in France was predominantly over six furlongs, although she did win over an extended six at Chantilly, and the majority of her better form has probably been on the turf.

“Her work has been good since she arrived from the sales. We have gone steady away from there and I think she is ready for her first run. Jamie was pleased with the piece of work she did at the weekend.

“This is our first step forward and will be a bit of a learning curve, but we think she is an exciting prospect and can hopefully run a nice race.”

Marly is joint top-rated with James Tate’s Shimmering Dawn on 97.

Quickstep Lady, Queen’s Course, Declaring Love, Amber Island and Ikigai also run.

Saturday cards off at Newbury and Warwick

Newbury and Warwick have both abandoned their weekend cards after the frozen tracks failed Friday morning inspections.

Newbury’s Betfair Hurdle fixture is therefore set to take place on Sunday February 21 – while Warwick’s meeting, featuring the Agetur UK Kingmaker Novices’ Chase, will be put back just two days to Monday.

The British Horseracing Authority announced those contingency plans on Thursday.

It was no surprise, after a week of freezing temperatures nationwide and snow which has wiped out the British jumps fixture list since last Sunday, that Saturday’s scheduled cards did not pass their inspections.

Both courses were scheduled to check at 8.30am, but Newbury was able to announce shortly before 8am that the inspection was failed after another freezing night.

Temperatures dropped to -5C and were still only -2C on Friday morning.

At Warwick, it was confirmed just after 8.30am that – with some frozen areas under the covers – the meeting is to be transferred to Monday.

Friday evening’s scheduled all-weather Flat meeting at Chelmsford was also abandoned after a morning inspection because of the freezing conditions and with snow still on the track. That in turn led to an inspection ahead of Saturday, which also resulted in abandonment.

In Ireland, Naas has announced a 7.30am inspection because of a forecast for snow and ice before Saturday’s card.

Lingfield will also inspect on Saturday morning, at 8am, for its all-weather fixture – because of a forecast for a “prolonged & severe frost forecast tonight”.

Monday Musings: How much soup have you missed?

So we’re to brace ourselves for another retrenchment in the battle against Covid by all accounts? Having voluntarily hidden away for five months apart from the once weekly drive to Tesco, sitting in the car while the shopping was effected by the household’s responsible adult, and some less than regular walks around one of the two massive local parks, I don’t feel minded to go back into that oblivion any time soon, writes Tony Stafford.

By my calculations at the very least I’ve missed a conservative 100 trips to the races and, at Chelmsford alone, at least 30 bowls of soup. Where some things are concerned I just can’t help myself. And they do serve up the most wonderful soup (and chicken goujons and chips) in the owners’ room. Okay, the racing goes on everywhere but where you’re looking, but I love it – as far as I can remember!

I’m pleased to learn that the wonderful Linda is still looking after either the owners or is it the trainers at Newmarket? She never sees this, so how can I tell her how much I miss her. Not everyone it seems is happy that as much is being done to thank the owners for their continuing stoical support in face of reducing prize money and a feeling that the entire race programme in Europe is morphing into a homogenous mass.

Last weekend it was the Arc; then it was the Dewhurst and Cesarewitch and next week it’s British Champions Day at Ascot. The week after that the clocks go back and it’s ten minutes to Christmas. You might disagree but I can tell you I was at Cheltenham for the entire four days and nights and that only seems about six weeks ago so quickly has Covid time progressed.

The three O’Brien stables, father and two sons, had the hammer blow of the French testing of their Gain feed which led to the voluntary withdrawal of their Parislongchamp runners over Arc weekend but the levels were clearly back on track in time for Newmarket. There, the number cloths were transposed for Aidan’s two runners in the bet365 Fillies’ Mile on Friday to cause another stir. Snowfall (50-1) and Mother Earth (18-1) actually finished third and eighth rather than the reverse that everyone believed had happened.

Busy at the time of the race – amazing what you find to do when the alternative is coming over and having to quarantine afterwards! – as soon as Aidan O’Brien saw the race recording he spotted the error. Unfortunately the team based in Newmarket, managing the Ballydoyle UK runners in these oddest of times, was not quite as firmly on the ball.

Part of the confusion, for the viewing public anyway, could have been that both were outsiders and ran in Derrick Smith’s purple colours. So too did the Coolmore partners’ third and most eagerly-anticipated contender, the 7-2 shot Shale who was renewing an on-going rivalry with the favourite, Pretty Gorgeous. The talented pair had met three times previously, with the verdict 2-1 in favour of Shale as they filled the first two places each time, including most recently in the Moyglare at the Curragh last month when Shale, trained by Donnacha, beat Pretty Gorgeous, from Joseph’s stable, by almost a length.

Shale could do no better than sixth here, adding to Donnacha’s frustration just days after the rookie trainer’s stable star Fancy Blue retired to stud following her inevitable withdrawal from her planned Arc weekend target.

Joseph, already with Friday’s fillies’ Group 1 in his locker, would have been excused for thinking the Dewhurst Stakes might be coming his way too.  In the National Stakes last month at The Curragh, the previously once-raced Thunder Moon overcame his inexperience when bursting through to beat the Ballydoyle pair of Wembley and St Mark’s Basilica by a length and a half and a short head.

On Saturday, Declan McDonagh soon had Thunder Moon in a more prominent position. Instead of that being the launch-pad for a replica winning spurt up the hill, less than expected materialised. Rather it was dad’s re-opposing duo, St Mark’s Basilica, ridden by Frankie Dettori, crossing the line more comfortably ahead of Wembley, who again finished well into second, this time under Ryan Moore, who had ridden Saturday’s winner in Ireland. The result in other words was a 1-2-3 exact reverse of Ireland’s main juvenile race and Aidan O’Brien’s seventh Dewhurst.

It was tempting for bookmakers to put St Mark’s Basilica, a $1.3million yearling by Siyouni from the Galileo mare Cabaret, at the head of the betting for next year’s 2,000 Guineas after this as he is half-brother to Magna Grecia, (by Invincible Spirit) who won the Classic two years ago. If you prefer to stay with the authentic Guineas-winning formula rather than make do with the broodmare sire, you can always hope that Wembley can turn the form around over another furlong. He’s certainly strong at seven. Battleground (by War Front), another stable-companion and a Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood winner, is also an early 8-1 shot.

When you work every day in close proximity to such giants of any business as Coolmore, Juddmonte or Godolphin, there must be deep down a latent wish or belief that some of the magic dust might percolate on to you. Over the years many of Coolmore’s senior staff have dabbled, or in truth much more than dabbled, in breeding and bloodstock. Always, it seems, they do so with John Magnier’s full support and encouragement.

On Saturday at HQ, when the big cats had done their day’s work finishing 1-2 in yet another Group 1 championship-defining race and metaphorically vacated the scene, some of the “Coolmore mice” were allowed to come out to play. Not that the Group 3 Darley Stakes which ended the two-day meeting was an insignificant affair.

On a day when the only winning favourite came in the 34-runner Cesarewitch with Willie Mullins’ hat-trick-completing Great White Shark, events concluded with a 28-1 success (some people got 40’s!) for a Fozzy Stack-trained four-year-old filly ridden by Jamie Spencer.

It will not be a shock to learn, if you didn’t see the race, that the Co Tipperary Spice Girls who own the filly – and who also raced the filly’s mother, similarly a Group 3 winner before her - had to wait until the last 100 yards for Spencer to put them out of their misery and go into the eventually comfortable winning lead.

I’m sure that the smaller than usual contingent over for the yearling sales at Tatts, but still witness to two massive multi-million buys in M V Magnier’s name last week, would have stayed behind to cheer as the racecard – if there was one – puts it, Mrs Tom Gaffney and Mrs Barbara <wife of Clem> Murphy.

Attempts, admittedly after sensible people will have been long tucked up in bed, even the afore-mentioned no doubt still-celebrating Mr Tom and Mr Clem, initially failed to elucidate Mrs G’s first name, but the wonderful Wendy Normile called just in time to remind me it was Marie. Their filly is called Lady Wannabe, a daughter of Camelot, the nearest we’ve had to a Triple Crown winner since Nijinsky in 1970, out of Wannabe Better, who was a half-sister to the even more talented Wannabe Grand.

Both fillies were daughters of the 1990 foal, Wannabe, coincidentally who arrived on this earth seven years before the song of that name which launched the Spice Girls’ careers. So it’s a stretch, but that’s what I’m calling them. I know that with Camelot doing so well in his early years as a stallion and the blue chip female family, even if their two husbands cannot continue to keep the two Tipperary girls in the style in which they are in danger of becoming accustomed, Lady Wannabe will!

As for next Saturday, this morning the entries for Ascot, where soft ground is expected, will be eagerly awaited. Magical, in whichever race she targets, must be a prime candidate for another win having dethroned Ghaiyyath last time, but I’ll be looking for The Revenant, so smooth on his delayed comeback in Paris a week ago to perform a minor giant-killing against Palace Pier in the Mile race.  Fresh is best at this time of the year and no horse will be fresher than the French five-year-old.  In the Balmoral Handicap it is hard to look beyond the Brian Meehan-trained recent course winner Raaeq. He’s 5lb well in despite his penalty and he seemed to love soft ground on the track last time out.

- TS

George Rooke bounces back with Chelmsford winner

George Rooke enjoyed a morale-boosting success on Vincenzo Coccotti at Chelmsford on Sunday, less than 24 hours after being stung with a 14-day riding ban.

The 5lb-claiming jockey was suspended for riding a finish a circuit too early on the Paul D’Arcy-trained Sophar Sogood in the Download The At The Races App Handicap over an extended two miles at Wolverhampton on Saturday night. He will sidelined on October 3 and from October 5-17 inclusive.

However, he quickly bounced back when scoring on Vincenzo Coccotti (5-1) for trainer Pat Chamings in the tote.co.uk Now Never Beaten By SP Handicap.

On what was his only ride of the day, Rooke delivered the eight-year-old to lead over a furlong out and hold the challenge of Delagate The Lady by three-quarters of a length.

“It was great. He rode him very well indeed,” said Chamings.

“It was very good for him. The horse loves Chelmsford and that makes a big difference.”

Last month, Rooke, 19, had five wins taken from his career record after his failure to report three successes in Jersey resulted in some of his mounts carrying incorrect weights.

He told Racing TV: “Last night was mistake, I can’t express how sorry I am.

“Riding a winner then, I’m over the moon.”

Pace Wins The Race: 6f All Weather Handicaps

In my most recent article, we looked at pace bias in 5f handicaps on the all weather, and as promised here is a follow-up looking at the 6f trip, writes Dave Renham.

For regular readers I appreciate the next few lines in some form or other seem to appear in all my pace articles, but for the benefit of new readers I need to clarify the following: when discussing pace the main focus is the initial pace in a race and the position horses take up early on. At www.geegeez.co.uk there is a pace tab within the racecards for each race, and the stats in this article are based on the site’s pace data. These pace data on Geegeez are split into four sections each of which are assigned points – Led (4), Prominent (3), Mid Division (2) and Held Up (1). For all my articles I concentrate on the numerical values to create a plethora of hopefully useful stats.

The minimum distance of five furlongs gives the strongest pace bias on the flat as previous articles have illustrated. However, there is still a bias to pace horses/front runners over an extra furlong, which I will demonstrate in what follows.

The first set of data I wish to share with you is the overall pace perspective for 6f all weather handicaps with six or more runners (the data for this article has been taken from the last 5 years 2014 to 2018):

Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 325 1812 17.9 1.75
Prominent (3) 523 4448 11.8 1.15
Mid Division (2) 155 2003 7.7 0.79
Held Up (1) 357 4886 7.3 0.72


These stats give front runners a solid edge – it is not as strong as over 5f but it is still significant. Just for comparison purposes let us look at the strike rates (SR%) and Impact Values (IVs) for 6f and for 5f:


Pace comment 6f 5f   6f 5f
  SR% SR%   IV IV
Led (4) 17.9 22.3   1.75 2.04
Prominent (3) 11.8 12.5   1.15 1.15
Mid Division (2) 7.7 6.5   0.79 0.62
Held Up (1) 7.3 6.7   0.72 0.61


Over 6f front runners are still winning 1.75 times more often than average so we still have a decent starting point.

The main data for this article covers all-weather six-furlong handicaps with 6 or more runners. I then split the data into different field sizes – 6 to 8 runners; 9 – 10 runners; 11 or more runners. I did this ‘runner split’ for the 5f all-weather data in the previous article, and over that trip bigger fields produced the strongest front-running bias. As it turns out, this is replicated over 6f too:

6 to 8 runners

Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 536 104 19.4 1.41
Prominent (3) 1093 167 15.28 1.11
Mid Division (2) 304 27 8.88 0.66
Held Up (1) 988 107 10.83 0.79


9 to 10 runners

Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 548 100 18.25 1.73
Prominent (3) 1351 163 12.07 1.15
Mid Division (2) 549 43 7.83 0.74
Held Up (1) 1477 113 7.65 0.73


11 or more runners

Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 728 121 16.62 1.98
Prominent (3) 2004 193 9.63 1.14
Mid Division (2) 1150 85 7.39 0.88
Held Up (1) 2421 137 5.66 0.67


The IV for front runners increases as the number of runners increases. This is somewhat counter-intuitive and is therefore worth bearing in mind.

The article that discussed 5f all weather sprints looked at each course and distance individually. Once again this is the plan here, as different courses have different layouts, and also there are differences between certain track surfaces too. Let's start with Chelmsford and work through alphabetically.


Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 58 278 20.9 1.97
Prominent (3) 71 562 12.6 1.19
Mid Division (2) 31 422 7.3 0.71
Held Up (1) 44 671 6.6 0.62


Just over a fifth of the 6f handicap races (SR 20.9%) at Chelmsford have seen the early leader going on to win. This compares with a strike rate of 26.3% over 5f: not quite as strong but with an IV close to 2 the front-running bias is still clear.

It has already been noted that in bigger fields at all of the all-weather courses the front-running bias seems to be more evident. This is certainly the case here: in races of 11 runners or more at Chelmsford, the front runner has prevailed an impressive 21 times from 87 giving a strike rate of 24.1% and an Impact Value of 2.93.

The draw seems to be material here, too, with those horses drawn nearest to the inside rail performing best when taking the early lead (all 6+ runner races). That makes sense as they will be taking advantage of the shortest route. Horses that have led early from one of the three lowest draws in these big field Chelmsford 6f handicaps have won 25% of their races with an Impact Value of 2.28.



Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 72 388 18.6 1.85
Prominent (3) 107 938 11.4 1.14
Mid Division (2) 41 542 7.6 0.78
Held Up (1) 84 1123 7.5 0.75


The 6f trip at Kempton has a decent number of races each year giving punters plenty of opportunities to get involved. Front runners have a clear edge here and, as with Chelmsford, field size accentuates this.

In 6f handicaps of 11 or 12 runners (12 is the maximum at Kempton), front runners have secured 39 wins from 176 runners (SR 22.2%) with a very high Impact Value of 2.53. However, the draw data suggest there is no clear advantage to front runners drawn near to the inside rail (low).



Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 68 297 22.9 2.07
Prominent (3) 76 590 12.9 1.16
Mid Division (2) 32 380 8.4 0.79
Held Up (1) 50 745 6.7 0.61


The statistics for Lingfield seem to suggest front runners there have the biggest edge compared with the other five UK all-weather courses. Any front runner here that is well fancied has done extremely well: horses that were either favourite or second favourite and led early over 6f here went on to win 39 times out of 80 runners equating to a win rate of nearly 50%.



Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 23 143 16.1 1.74
Prominent (3) 34 394 8.6 0.94
Mid Division (2) 17 197 8.6 0.97
Held Up (1) 40 485 8.2 0.89


Coincidentally, the front running IV over 5f at Newcastle is also 1.74. Front runners do have an edge here but it is not a course I personally get heavily involved with, as the straight track for all distances up to a mile makes it a unique test of an all-weather horse in Britain. That greater emphasis on stamina produces the reverse to Kempton and Chelmsford, with front runners struggling in bigger fields.



Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 33 166 19.9 1.85
Prominent (3) 102 690 14.8 1.38
Mid Division (2) 7 124 5.6 0.57
Held Up (1) 17 491 3.5 0.32


A reasonable IV of 1.85 for front runners, but it is also worth noting that horses which come from midfield or off the pace really struggle here just like they do over 5f. One other area worth sharing with you is when a front runner also happens to be in the top 5 of the Geegeez speed ratings, it has won on 22 of 79 occasions (SR 27.9%) producing an IV of 2.50.



Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 71 540 13.1 1.33
Prominent (3) 133 1274 10.4 1.06
Mid Division (2) 27 338 8.0 0.87
Held Up (1) 122 1371 8.9 0.9


Comfortably the poorest stats for front runners are at Wolverhampton, where there is a very small edge only and little to write home about. Indeed, pace seems to be far more balanced across the run styles at Wolves than at any of the other tracks.


Before I finish, in other articles I have used the various figures to create course and distance pace averages. I do this by adding up the pace scores of all the winners at each course and dividing it by the total number of races. The higher the average score, the more ‘biased’ the course and distance is to horses that lead early or race close to the pace.

Here are the 6 furlong handicap C&D pace averages for the six aw courses:


Taking all the data into account, six furlong handicaps on the all weather do offer ‘pace’ punters a potential edge. It is, unsurprisingly perhaps, not as strong as over five furlongs, but still strong enough to give clued in bettors a good leg up on the opposition. All we need now is to find a fail-safe method to predict the front runner...

- Dave Renham