Wetherby success proves poignant one for Rebecca Menzies

Rebecca Menzies reflected on a “dream” result after Return Ticket came out on top in a thrilling Peter Beaumont Memorial Handicap Chase at Wetherby.

Menzies became Britain’s youngest trainer when taking over Beaumont’s North Yorkshire yard at the age of 24 in 2013.

Eight years on, the former assistant to the late Ferdy Murphy is now based at Howe Hills stables in Durham, which she rents from another former trainer in John Wade.

Already a three-time winner over fences, the Wade-owned Return Ticket was a 4-1 shot to strike gold in a race named in the memory of Gold Cup-winning trainer Beaumont, who died in March of last year at the age of 85.

Rebecca Menzies was thrilled with the success of Return Ticket
Rebecca Menzies was thrilled with the success of Return Ticket (John Giles/PA)

Ridden by Henry Brooke, the eight-year-old had to dig deep on the run-in to get the better of a titanic tussle with 11-8 favourite Prince Escalus by a short head.

“It’s like a dream really – winning the Peter Beaumont race for John Wade. It couldn’t have worked out any better,” said Menzies.

“I trained at Peter’s for three years. His daughter Anthea has organised a box today for all his friends, so I went up there to see them earlier, which was nice.

“I kind of thought this horse might need the run as every year his first run of the season has been disappointing.

“But he’s loved the fast ground and he’s an enthusiastic jumper. He’s a lovely horse.”

Whoshotthesheriff in the Wetherby winner's enclosure
Whoshotthesheriff in the Wetherby winner’s enclosure (Ashley Iveson/PA)

Phil Kirby is excited to see how far Whoshotthesheriff can go this season following a comeback success in the Bobby Renton Handicap Chase.

No stranger to getting his head in front over hurdles, the Hambleton Racing-owned gelding made a smooth transition to the larger obstacles last season with chase victories at Carlisle and Catterick.

He failed to land a telling blow behind the high-class Allmankind when last seen contesting the Future Champion Novices’ Chase at Ayr in April.

But reverting to handicap company for his reappearance, Whoshotthesheriff proved his worth – producing a huge leap at the final fence before knuckling down to get the better of Gaelik Coast by a head in the hands Sean Quinlan.

Kirby said: “He’s a gorgeous horse – I just wish I had another 20 like him!

“He’s always been good. He’s just got to make that next step up now really.

“I don’t have anything in mind for him. It was all about starting today and work from there

“I think he’ll get three miles in time. He’s a lovely type of horse with plenty of class about him.”

Battle Angel made a winning debut over hurdles
Battle Angel made a winning debut over hurdles (Ashley Iveson/PA)

The Mark Walford-trained Battle Angel (15-2) made a successful start to her jumping career in the Olicana Park ‘Dingham Dash’ Juvenile Hurdle.

A 15,000 guineas purchase out of Emmet Mullins’ yard, the daughter of Iffraaj made a successful debut for her new connections at Hamilton in July, but had failed to fire in two starts since.

Ridden patiently by Jamie Hamilton on her hurdling bow, Battle Angel reeled in 10-11 favourite New Reality after the final flight and passed the post with just under three lengths in hand.

“We were expecting a good run. If she’d come here straight after winning at Hamilton, I think she’d have been a lot shorter in the betting,” said Walford.

“She picked up an infection after that and ran badly twice, just because she was full of mucus.

“We might have a crack at the Wensleydale (Juvenile Hurdle) back here at the end of the month. If we could grab a bit of black type in a Listed race, or even win, it would be great.

“Her jumping is very slick and she would be ready to step up into a better race.”

Pay The Piper after winning at Wetherby (Ashley Iveson/PA)

Pay The Piper enjoyed a solo spin in the Mary Lofthouse Supporting Spinal Research Novices’ Chase.

With Dan Skelton’s highly-rated hurdler Third Time Lucki declared a non-runner, Pay The Piper was the 1-6 favourite to beat a solitary rival in Hardy Du Seuil from Jamie Snowden’s yard.

But with the latter coming to grief at the very first fence, Ann Hamilton’s Pay The Piper galloped for the best part of two miles on his own to claim the full prize fund of £14,000 under Danny McMenamin.

Glencassley (1-7 favourite) notched his second Wetherby win in the Micky Hammond “Back On Track” Novices’ Hurdle for Jamie Snowden and Brian Hughes, while Jonjo O’Neill senior and junior teamed up to land the Bridges Modular New Entrance Building Handicap Hurdle with 9-4 favourite Flight Deck.

“He struggled a bit, but he got there in the end,” the trainer said after a neck success.

“We’ve schooled him over fences and he’s ran over fences, but I think he prefers the smaller ones!

“I’m glad he got his head in front in the line. Hopefully he can come on from it.”

Takeit Easy (3-1) landed the concluding Watch Racing TV Anywhere Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle for Pam Sly and Paul O’Brien.

Sam’s Adventure digs deep in Eider

Sam’s Adventure provided local trainer Brian Ellison with a popular win in the Vertem Eider Handicap Chase at Newcastle.

North-east native Ellison, who was born on Northumberland Plate day, had already celebrated one big prize this season with his staying chaser, who won the Tommy Whittle at Haydock.

Unusually run in spring-like conditions this season, it certainly made for an enjoyable contest with half a dozen or more still in with a chance turning for home.

Springfield Fox had made the running, tracked by The Dutchman who was still going well when unseating Sean Quinlan just before the final bend.

Cyclop, previous winner Crosspark and Salty Boy were all in with a chance, but it was Sam’s Adventure and Crossley Tender who pulled clear.

Henry Brooke appeared to have done everything right on Sam’s Adventure, but when he got in tight to the last the 15-2 chance appeared to have thrown it away.

But to his credit Sam’s Adventure battled back and got home by three-quarters of length.

Having shown stamina is not an issue, Sam’s Adventure will have the Grand National as his aim next season – but he will not run again in this campaign.

“I thought we’d lost it at the last, I must admit,” said Ellison.

“Henry actually said it probably helped him as he didn’t want to be in front that long, but he had no option to go when he did.

“He’s been such a good horse for us. That’s his second decent pot this year, he won a decent prize at Uttoxeter last season and also won a valuable bumper at Newbury.

“He didn’t jump hurdles great, but he’s far better over fences, he’s quite clever.

“He won’t run in the Midlands National. He’s on holiday now, he’s done enough this season. The target next year might be the Grand National – if Julie (Martin, joint-owner with her husband, Phil) let’s me!

“He’ll have a nice long break, we’ll start him off about Christmas with the aim of the National, because he’s so laid back it will take him a race to get back into it.”

Ellison came very close to winning the Northumberland Plate in 2016 with Seamour who shot clear but was caught close home by Antiquarium and admitted to having a flashback.

“I could see the other horse still going well, but when we jumped the second-last I thought we’d won. Of course he then blew the last and I thought ‘not again’.

“It’s great for Phil and Julie, though, because one of their other horses, Forest Bihan, was supposed to run today but got injured this morning and that might be it for him, he might not run again.”

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.”

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).

Rebecca Menzies celebrates first career treble at Sedgefield

Rebecca Menzies was thrilled to saddle her first treble at Sedgefield on Wednesday.

Based less than five miles from the County Durham venue at Howe Hills Farm, which she rents from former trainer John Wade, Menzies learned her trade with the late Ferdy Murphy before become the youngest ever female trainer in Britain in 2013.

The 30-year-old broke the £1million barrier in prize-money earned when Tabou Beach Boy won at Musselburgh in January of this year, and claimed the biggest winner of her career to date when Stormy Girl landed the Listed Flying Fillies’ Stakes at Pontefract in August.

Reflecting on her latest milestone, she said: “It’s been a brilliant day and it’s great all the winners were for John Wade, who was here today.

“I’m so grateful to John, who has invested a lot of money into the yard this year in terms of facilities and also into his bloodstock.

“He has some nice, young horses who will hopefully takes us to the bigger days, which is what it’s all about.”

The first of the three winners on the card for Menzies, Wade and jockey Henry Brooke was Return Ticket (15-8), who dominated from the front in the Sky Sports Racing Sky 415 Novices’ Chase.

Little over an hour later Raecius Felix (3-1) secured a hard-fought victory in the Watch Sky Sports Racing In HD Handicap Chase, before She’s A Dancer obliged as the 13-8 favourite in the Download The At The Races App Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

Menzies – whose day got even better when Twisted Dreams won at Newcastle’s evening meeting – added: “Return Ticket and Raecius Felix are two horses that John bought privately from his friend Richard Collins over the summer. Richard had a bit of a dispersal, John bought a few off him and Richard was racing as well today, which was good.

“All the horses appreciated the drying ground and everything has clicked into place. Henry gave them all good rides.”

While she has enjoyed success on the Flat, Menzies views herself as predominantly a National Hunt trainer and is looking forward to the winter with optimism.

She said: “I thought through the summer this was going to be the best team of jumpers that we’ve had for the winter. I was excited about them, but it takes until October/November to get rolling, so it’s nice to have some on the board already.

“We have around 35 jumpers that will be running through the winter. We have a good few Flat horses, but the bulk of them will be going to the sales at the end of the month and hopefully we’ll get some fresh ones in for next year.”

Stat of the Day, 7th March 2020

Friday's pick was...

3.10 Chelmsford : Krazy Paving @ 11/4 BOG 3rd at 5/1 (Chased leader, challenged going well over 2f out, carried right and led over 1f out, headed inside final furlong

Saturday's pick runs in the...

4.15 Ayr :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection between 8.00am and 8.15am and I then add a more detailed write-up later within an hour or so of going "live".

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.


Emma Beag @ 4/1 BOG an 8-runner, Class 5, Handicap Hurdle for 4yo+ over 3m1f on soft ground worth £3,184 to the winner...


This 9 yr old mare has 2 wins and 2 places from her 7 handicap hurdles efforts since the start of 2019, including 2 from 6 under today's jockey, 2 from 3 here at Ayr, culminating in a win here over 3m0.5f on heavy ground last time out, 48 days ago with today's rider Henry Brooke in the saddle.

Her trainer, Julia Brooke, doesn't have the largest string of runners at her disposal, nor is she a prolific winner, but she does well here at Ayr, where her runners are four times more likely to win as they would elsewhere with this track providing 21.4% of her career winners from just 6.4% of her total runners!

Numerically, we're looking at a career record of 28/298 (9.4% SR) generating 6 winners from 19 (31.6% SR) for 32.5pts (+171.2% ROI) here at Ayr, as opposed to 22 from 279 (7.9%) elsewhere and although we're not talking about huge numbers here, those six Ayr winners include of relevance today...

  • 6/18 (33.3%) for 33.5pts (+186.2%) in handicaps
  • 6/12 (50%) for 39.5pts (+329.3%) with 8-10 yr olds
  • 5/15 (33.3%) for 31.1pts (+207.1%) in NH races
  • 5/13 (38.5%) for 15.7pts (+120.5%) since the start of 2019
  • 5/9 (55.6%) for 19.7pts (+218.6%) at odds of 2/1 to 5/1
  • 4/11 (36.4%) for 31.1pts (+282.9%) in races worth less than £4,000
  • 3/11 (27.3%) for 25.7pts (+233.2%) over hurdles
  • 3/11 (27.3%) for 25.7pts (+233.2%) at Class 5
  • and 3/7 (42.9%) for 12.3pts (+175.2%) for jockey Henry Brooke...

...whilst since the start of 2019, Julia's 8-10 yr old NH handicappers at 2/1 to 5/1 here at Ayr have won 4 from 4 (100% SR) for 19.2pts (+480% ROI), including 3 for Henry Brooke, 2 at Class 5, 2 over hurdles and 2 in races worth less than £4k... us...a 1pt win bet on Emma Beag @ 4/1 BOG as was widely available at 8.55am Saturday, but as always please check your BOG status. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting... here for the betting on the 4.15 Ayr

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!


Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!