Tag Archive for: Southwell

City Of Troy could have Southwell spin prior to Breeders’ Cup

A surprise visit to Southwell could be on the cards for City Of Troy as Aidan O’Brien ponders a route to the Breeders’ Cup Classic with the Derby hero.

Although surrendering his unbeaten record at Newmarket in the 2000 Guineas, he rebuilt the foundations of his stellar CV with a phenomenal display at Epsom to secure Classic honours.

The Ballydoyle superstar has always been earmarked as a contender to race on dirt in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at the end of his three-year-old season and with the Coral-Eclipse nominated as his next port of call, the planning is already underway with the son of Justify, who will be dropping back to 10 furlongs at Sandown.

He will remain at that distance for either York’s Juddmonte International Stakes or the Irish Champions Stakes at Leopardstown prior to his Del Mar assignment in early November, but before departing for the America, O’Brien is considering following a well-trodden path to Southwell to complete his Breeders’ Cup preparations

The master of Ballydoyle has travelled the likes of Giant’s Causeway and Declaration Of War to the Nottinghamshire track in the past to work on their all-weather surface and the latest Breeders’ Cup challenger is in line to follow suit.

“City Of Troy showed everyone what he can always do at now two and three and it doesn’t look like a mile and a quarter should be any problem for him, he travelled very strongly at Epsom,” O’Brien told Racing TV’s Luck On Sunday.

“In our eyes we couldn’t have been happier with him and I think the lads have in the back of their heads that he could end up in the Classic at the Breeders’ Cup and they are thinking to keep him to a mile and a quarter, go to Sandown and give Los Angeles his chance for his Classic at the Curragh (in the Irish Derby).

“He could then go to the Irish Champion Stakes or the Juddmonte afterwards and then go to the Classic.

Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore with City Of Troy at Epsom
Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore with City Of Troy at Epsom (David Davies for the Jockey Club/PA)

“I think that’s what the lads are thinking as I know it was very strong on their mind that he could go to Saratoga (for the Travers Stakes) after Epsom, but their own horse in America (Sierra Leone) took that slot and our fella was very green and babyish in the Derby at Epsom so maybe it would have been a step too quick for him at the time.

“We had in our head, and we have spoken about it a lot, and was thinking that if we did go to Sandown then we could go to either York or Leopardstown and he could then do a prep in Southwell afterwards and then go on to America. The track at Southwell, we always felt it did us good when we went there with any type of horse.

“We’ve done it before with Giant’s Causeway and Declaration Of War and those horses. We just had in our head to go to America for a prep would change too much.”



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Prydwen tees up Northumberland Plate tilt with Southwell strike

The Northumberland Plate is likely to be next on the agenda for Prydwen after he continued his lucrative all-weather campaign in the Liz And Izzy’s Hoap Podcast Handicap at Southwell.

An impressive winner on All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Newcastle a month ago, the six-year-old was a 3-1 joint-favourite for the £75,000 feature on this Premier Raceday fixture in Nottinghamshire.

Carrying top-weight of 9st 12lb, Prydwen sat in the slipstream of the pacesetting Pledgeofallegiance for much of the two-mile contest and was the only horse still on the bridle rounding the final bend.

Callum Shepherd angled his mount towards the stands’ rail once straightening up for home and George Scott’s charge was well on top as he passed the post a length and a half clear of Onesmoothoperator.

Scott said: “I know it sounds crazy at the age of six, but we seem to have unlocked the way to ride him by default at Newcastle. He’s quite a nervous horse and he’s run his worst races when he’s been claustrophobic, so the plan today was always to get up on the pace and sit on the outside.

“I thought Callum gave him a really sensible ride and it was a very good performance from the horse, carrying that weight and giving 13lb to the second.

“I think he’ll probably go for the Northumberland Plate. He’ll probably have plenty of weight, but he can clearly give weight away on that surface and the Plate is over a course and distance he’s won over, so it’s an absolute no-brainer.

“If he was to win the Northumberland Plate, we might look at the Goodwood Cup, but we’ll see.”

Derby entrant Sardinian Warrior was an emphatic winner of the Boost Your Football Acca At Planet Sport Bet Novice Stakes.

A promising second on his Kempton introduction in December, the son of Saxon Warrior was the 7-4 favourite for his reappearance and was not hard pressed to scoot four and a half lengths clear under hand driving from Kieran Shoemark, with newcomer T’Challa one to note in second.

“He kind of did everything I expected of him,” Shoemark told Sky Sports Racing.

“We ended up in front a long way from home and I think there was a combination of him being green, which he’s entitled to be, and possibly getting tired as well – he’s having a nice blow.

“We always knew he was going to come on for today, so it was very encouraging.”

On whether Sardinian Warrior could take up his engagement in the Dante Stakes at York on May 16, the jockey added: “I’m really not sure, obviously we’ll see how he comes out of today and that’s not a decision I’ll be making, but I really liked what I felt from him today and I’m sure there’s plenty more to come.”

Blue Day justified short-priced favouritism for the in-form Harry Charlton with victory in the Download The Planet Sport Bet App Handicap.

Not seen since picking up the silver medal on his third career start at Kempton in October, the three-year-old was a 6-5 shot for his handicap debut and got the job done readily under Oisin Murphy.

“Harry Charlton took out the licence in his own right at the start of this year and is doing really well. He said this horse had trained well and it was probably a good spot for him, so it was nice to get it all together,” said Murphy.

“It was a little bit messy, stop-start sort of race, but I was able to get to the fence and it was straightforward. He’s a powerful type and hopefully he’ll go through the grades.”

Murphy made it a quickfire double when Tom Clover’s 5-2 favourite Al Barez got the better of a late battle with Billyjoh in the Read Harry Cobden’s Blog At Planet Sport Bet Handicap over six furlongs.

Charlie Johnston and Joe Fanning teamed up to win the first two races on the card, with Baileys Khelstar (16-5) dominating his rivals in the Race By Race Southwell Specials @planetsportbet Handicap before Francophone (11-1) impressed in the Best Odds Guaranteed At Planet Sport Bet Fillies’ Handicap.



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Waterlogging causes Warwick abandonment

This afternoon’s National Hunt meeting at Warwick has become the latest victim of the current wet spell, with course officials left with no option but to abandon the fixture due to a waterlogged track.

While persistent rain continues to play havoc with the racing programme, no inspection was planned at Warwick, with only minimal rainfall forecast overnight.

However, the track posted on X on Thursday morning: “Following 16 millimetres of rainfall overnight and into this morning, which is a significant change from the three millimetres initially forecast, the track is now waterlogged and therefore unraceable.

“All tickets will automatically be refunded.”

Southwell’s Thursday card is set to go ahead as scheduled after the course passed a precautionary check at 7.30am, but racing at Clonmel in Ireland has been called off.

Further disruption looks likely heading into the weekend, with Friday’s meeting at Wetherby subject to a 3pm inspection this afternoon and Saturday’s Premier Raceday at Kelso also under threat.

The Borders track is due to host a high-profile card, part of which is set to be shown live on ITV, but the ground is currently heavy, waterlogged in places and an inspection will take place at 8am on Friday to assess the latest state of play.

Chelmsford’s meeting scheduled for Saturday evening has been moved to an earlier start, from 5.25 to 2.50.

A statement from the British Horseracing Authority read: “In light of the current forecast for Saturday April 6, the BHA has agreed to move Chelmsford City’s fixture to a 2.50 start and rearranged the running order.

“This is in order to ensure an appropriate level of racing content for our customers on Saturday afternoon and offer potential ITV coverage to the Woodford Reserve Cardinal Conditions Stakes at 3.30 should other fixtures on Saturday be abandoned.”



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Roving Reports: Chasing the Easter Money

It’s a busy time for bookmakers, is Easter, with a whole raft of meetings both Flat and Jumps to attend, although the early news on Saturday is not great, writes David Massey. Not only has Musselburgh bitten the dust after an early morning deluge, but for the Midlands bookmakers, the point-to-point at Sandon, near Stafford, has also been called off. That’s usually a really well-attended event, and will be a big miss for them. There will be no chance to see Eddie Redmayne, and his dogs, there this year. 

This matters not to us, as we’re off to Haydock for their family fun day. The weather looks mixed, to say the least, and it’s grey and damp as we set off. By the time we get there, however, the sun is trying to break through and things look brighter, literally. 

Other meetings being off means more bookmakers than there were last year at Haydock; four more, in fact, and this means betting on two lines rather than the one we were in last year. (The line takes 17 bookmakers.) When all the punters are in front of you, business is better; if you’re on the front line, you run the risk of a bookmaker betting behind you, and taking a share of your business. Such is the bookmaking life. 

We know what today will be like - all small money, lots of bets on “named” horses (it cannot be coincidence that one of the best backed horses all day with us is called Holly) and now the sun is fully out, we should have a decent day. 

Quiet to get going, as ever, and putting the forecast up for the four-runner first event is a waste of time. Nobody has a clue what it is, and nobody asks. I’d have been better putting the weather forecast up. It might have been more informative. 

As stated, the aforementioned Holly is an each-way disaster in the second race for us, and with the favourite, Brentford Hope, winning it’s a losing race. Secret Trix is much better in the next, but there’s a dinosaur show on for the kids, and business isn’t as strong. 

There are often dinosaurs in the betting ring - most of them will take your bets with a smile - but these two are bigger than the norm. One is a T-Rex and the other one isn’t. Some of the younger kids find it all a bit much. If you’ve bought “crying children” at 15 at the start of the day, go collect. 

Numitor is actually an okay result but Daly Tiger finishing third knocks a fair bit of the place money out. I go to get the coffees and offer up a loyalty card. Despite buying three drinks, it’s only stamped once. “One stamp per visit”, we are told. I shake my head. Come racing. 

Duke Of Deception is a good result but the enormous gamble on One Big Bang is joined in by a fair proportion of the crowd, and that’s not. Said crowd ebbs away pretty quickly after the sixth, with tired and emotional children in tow, carrying their dinosaur merchandise. Elleon wins the last, a good result, and it’s time to go home, although somehow I manage to join the wrong lane at the Haydock Island roundabout and end up taking a three-mile detour to get myself on the M6. 

Sunday sees me at Southwell, and in truth there’s little to say. Southwell are only allowing 100 public in, on top of owners, trainers and annual members, with the downstairs grandstand still out of operation. There’s only three bookmakers in the ring, and one on the rail, and whilst there’s enough business for the four, there’s only just enough. It’s families again, although with a cold, grey day, most are in the warmth upstairs, bar one family determined to stick it out on a couple of picnic tables. There’s an ice-cream van on the premises, but you wouldn’t want a share in it today. Results are irrelevant with the business - at least for four races - when suddenly a big punter appears, wanting a grand each-way Squeaker. He gets laid, and the business, rather than going back to the machine, is shared around the books. Squeaker looks beat at halfway but rattles home and is beaten under a length. He’s copped the each-way money for him, at least. He doesn’t bet the next but smashes into Brother Dave in the penultimate, and when that cops, it looks bleak. We get a bit back off him in the last but we’ve stood all day for very little. And it’s freezing. 

On to Huntingdon on Monday. This is more like it. My first McDonalds of any description for 41 days (not that I’m counting, you never do when you’re on a diet, do you?) is a Bacon Roll and Hash Brown as we make our way down the A14. God, I’d forgotten how good a bacon roll tastes. Everyone knows calories don’t count on Bank Holidays. Just for once, the Shredded Wheat can be passed over. 

After a rainy start, the sun really does come shining through - I contemplated sun cream at one point, no, honestly - and a good crowd are still piling in as the first goes off. If the money was small at Haydock, it’s positively minute here, with about 50% of the bets either £2 win or £1 e/w. Families having five or six bets, novices placing their first ever bets, mums taking advice from their kids, they’re all here today. Two families, from Cambridge, apparently remember my face from last year and have their knicker each-way bets with me all day. “You were very polite”, they tell me. That’s the game on these days - price is irrelevant, customer service everything. This is proven by the very first bet I take - £10 on Annie Day at 10-1 in the first race, when next door to me is 11s. Smile, be nice, have a joke. It works. 

However, I’ve got a problem. Two, to be precise. Because the firm have no fewer then seven pitches running between Huntingdon and the other half of the crew at Fakenham, it means that bits of kit that wouldn’t normally be used are wheeled out today. The laptop I’m using was the very one that Noah used to count the animals onto the Ark two-by-two with. The light board is old too, and for some reason, the bottom half of it isn’t working, which is far from ideal. The laptop crashes, at various inconvenient points throughout the afternoon, no fewer than eight times, and each time I have to restart everything. At the end of the day, I reckon that’s probably cost me a monkey’s worth of business. The temptation to launch the damned thing into the bin at close of play is great, but it’s not my equipment...

This is doubly frustrating with results as good as they are: not a winning favourite in sight until the last two races, by which time business has notably dropped off anyway, with many families off home after the sixth. We’ve won and won well on the day, and although the urge to double-dip at Maccy D’s on the way home is great, I resist. Just. 

And so finally, to Pontefract. I’m not working, just a day out. It normally takes me an hour and 10 minutes from my house to get to the track, so I leave in good time. Or so I thought. 

I drive into the track as they are going into the stalls for the first. The M1 was bad, the A1 worse, and finally Pontefract town centre itself appeared to be at a standstill. The nearer I got to the track, the further away I got, time wise, according to Google Maps. That’s never a good thing. So as you can imagine, I’ve fallen out with myself before I’m even parked up, and when the only parking space left appears to be in the middle of a lake of a puddle, the appeal of turning the car around and going home is strong. 

But I'm glad I didn’t, as it was quite an enjoyable day overall, bumping into a few old friends, backing a winner, then giving most of it back, and probably seeing a future winner in Vallamorey. However, if anyone wants to pop round and clean my car in readiness for Aintree next week (when it’ll DEFINITELY get dirty again) then don’t let me stop you...

- DM



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Persistent rain puts more meetings in jeopardy

Tomorrow’s National Hunt meeting at Southwell and Friday’s jumps card at Wetherby will need to survive inspections to go ahead.

While the Flat season is now under way, the persistent rain is playing havoc with the new campaign, with the meeting at Nottingham on Wednesday abandoned.

Catterick’s card did go ahead after passing an inspection but there is no sign of the wet weather abating and Southwell has called a precautionary check for 7.30am.

The course is currently raceable, but should more rain than the forecast showers fall overnight, then there may be an issue.

There is a jumps meeting at Warwick where the ground is heavy but no inspection is currently planned.

It is a similar story at Fontwell on Friday but at Wetherby there are “multiple areas of standing water/waterlogged ground”.

An inspection will be held at 3pm on Thursday after 7mm of rain fell on Tuesday night and a further 6mm arrived through Wednesday up to 1pm. The forecast for Thursday is mainly dry but another 11mm is forecast for Thursday night.

Kelso are also keeping an eye on the situation ahead of their Premier meeting on Saturday.

A post on social media read: “We are closely monitoring the weather conditions with regard to racing on Saturday. We will be in a better position to assess the impact of today’s rainfall by Thursday morning, when declarations will be made for Saturday’s races.”



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Night Raider looks the part in preparation for Classic tilt

Night Raider enhanced his Classic credentials with a bloodless victory on the Tapeta at Southwell.

An impressive nine-length winner over the track and trip on debut in December, Karl Burke’s colt was sent off the 1-4 favourite for his second start, with connections eyeing a shot at the Qipco 2000 Guineas.

Sent immediately to the front by Daniel Tudhope, he had most of the seven-strong field covered rounding the turn for home and once shaken up with two furlongs to go scorched to a most impressive success, with Charlie Hills’ 93-rated Cogitate five-lengths adrift in second.

With 2000 Guineas odds ranging between 20-1 and 33s prior to his run in the Boost Your Acca At BetMGM Novice Stakes, the son of Dark Angel was trimmed into 14-1 by Paddy Power and Coral post-race, with Sky Bet even shorter at 10-1. The Aidan O’Brien-trained City Of Troy is the red-hot favourite.

He will now have one final tune-up for his Newmarket objective on May 4, with the Spigot Lodge handler nominating a trip to the Rowley Mile next month for either a conditions event or a racecourse gallop to bank some further experience.

“He’s a horse of huge potential, we know that and he’s not fully wound up by any stretch of the imagination,” Burke told Sky Sports Racing.

“His weight was identical to first time out and all of ours improve for their first time out. Nadir who leads him up said he has taken more of a blow tonight than he did the first time. He was a second and a half faster this time and I don’t know if that is down to ability or the track riding faster.

“I don’t think I would take 8-1 (about the Guineas), but the 40-1 I had a couple of months ago is a bit better! Lets hope he is an 8-1 shot and he’s obviously a very good horse and his future is in front of him. The Guineas isn’t the be all and end all for him and he’s a horse with a big future.”

On a further outing before the Guineas, he added: “He may have been on grass at the beginning of his two-year-old career, but he certainly wouldn’t have been on grass in the last 10 months or so.

“The idea was to go to the Guineas with a racecourse gallop at the Craven meeting – I don’t want to go a mile or go for the Craven itself and if we went for the seven-furlong race at Newbury (Greenham), that only gives us two weeks before the Guineas – or there is a seven-furlong conditions race for horses that haven’t run more than twice, and I have to speak to connections, but if we do go anywhere, I would be pointing that way.

“Danny just said there he could do with another run. He’s still green in front and was lugging away up the straight. Another run is probably the right way to go.

“Laurens was pretty good in her first two runs, but he’s a lovely horse with a great temperament and there’s a lot of scope there, so we’ve just got to look after him, do the right thing by him and hopefully he reaches his full potential.”

Fallen Angel was a big race winner at the Curragh
Fallen Angel was a big race winner at the Curragh (Damien Eagers/PA)

Burke also provided an update on fellow Clipper Logistics-owned three-year-old Fallen Angel, with the daughter of Too Darn Hot disputing favouritism in places for the Qipco 1000 Guineas.

Off the track since landing the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh, she is poised for a racecourse gallop before the opening fillies Classic of the campaign.

“There’s another six weeks to get a horse there and that is a long time in a racehorse’s life,” added Burke.

“She’s in great heart at the moment and great form and we’re probably ahead of schedule of where we need to be.

“The plan is probably to go to the Craven meeting for a racecourse gallop and that will hopefully tee her up for the Guineas.

“I was quite keen to go for the Fillies’ Mile, Steve Parkin her owner was the opposite and put her away, and as it turned out the very heavy ground the Fillies’ Mile was run in would not have been ideal so it was the right decision to put her away.

“She had a good rest, went back to Brampton Court and come back looking fantastic. She’s filled her frame, she was always a big filly, but she has filmed her frame nicely. She’s very strong and she’s in great shape.”

Burke also said he was feeling “fit and well” after completing a course of chemotherapy.

He explained: “Chemo finished on December 16 and that wasn’t much fun, as anyone who has been through it knows.

“Since then every week has felt better. We had a good holiday, went away and I’m feeling fit and fell, all good.”



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Winter Derby delight for Military Order

Military Order denied Lord North a second win in the BetUK Winter Derby Stakes at its new home of Southwell.

Now eight, Lord North was having his third run in the race having also been second in 2022 and it has worked well in teeing him up for the Dubai Turf on World Cup night, which he has won for the last three years.

This time he was having his first run since bagging a hat-trick in that Group One and his lack of race sharpness, and the extra distance now the race takes place over 11 furlongs at Southwell, seemingly caught him out.

Military Order had the benefit of a recent run when second in the trial for this race but this was a definite return to his best form.

Having won the Lingfield Derby Trial last spring, he was sent off a 9-2 chance for the Derby but finished last of the 14 runners and fared little better on his next outing at Chester.

Danny Tudhope always looked confident on Charlie Appleby’s charge, though, and having taken up the running from Forest Of Dean, he was able to able to hold off Lord North’s late run by a length.

Tudhope told Sky Sports Racing: “He travelled great into the race and probably got there too easy. He might have just let me down but today we had a nice pace to aim at.

“He’s a proper horse this fellow and he’s always been highly thought of. That was nice.

“He’s probably a little bit cute and I said to Charlie I’d ride him a bit quieter today. He’d obviously improved for his run as well.

“An extra furlong would be no problem, he’s a lovely, big horse.”

John Gosden, who trains Lord North in partnership with his son Thady, said: “They did a wonderful job with him at Wood Ditton Stud (when injured), a lady called Geraldine looked after him.

“He’s come here at 80 per cent and he’s running over a a lot further than he wants – a mile and three is not his game – but I’m absolutely delighted with him. He’s run a lovely race, enjoyed his day out, he’s having a blow and it will set him up lovely for Dubai.

“It was super run, Rab (Havlin) looked after him well, the winner had had a race and outstayed him. I’d have loved it to have been over a mile and a quarter.”

Diligent Harry showed all of his speed to blaze to victory in the BetUK Hever Sprint Stakes.

Carrying a 3lb penalty following a Listed win last time out, the Clive Cox-trained runner started the 9-4 second favourite under John Fahy and he galloped home for a length victory.

“The way he got into a nice, even rhythm I was always in control, really,” Fahy said.

“I got my hands on his neck and found a good rhythm, he picked up nice and he was just idling a bit in front but he’d enough done.

“He’s not the easiest but that being said, his training is going a lot better this year than it had last year.

“I think he might finally be showing us the horse we’ve seen all along at home.

“Sometimes he hits the lids very sharp and you’re fighting a losing battle trying to hang on to him but a fast pace, where you can get your hands on his neck and find a rhythm, probably suits him.”



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Lord North back for traditional season opener, but not traditional surroundings

John and Thady Gosden’s Lord North will look to retain his BetUK Winter Derby title as he blows away the cobwebs ahead of his usual Dubai travel.

The Dubawi gelding won the race last season when defeating Roger Varian’s Tyrrhenian Sea by three and a quarter lengths and was second the year prior when coming home behind William Haggas’ Alenquer.

The Group Three contest has become something of preparation run for him before he heads out to Meydan for the World Cup meeting in March, where he has won the Group One Dubai Turf for the past three seasons.

He landed that contest by three-quarters of a length last year and has not been seen since, meaning he returns from a significant break to try to regain his Winter Derby title at its new home – and distance – of Southwell.

“He’s won the race and finished second, it’s served him well as a good prep race for the Dubai Turf,” said Thady Gosden of Robert Havlin’s mount.

“Although of course the race switching from a mile and a quarter at Lingfield to a mile and three furlongs at Southwell significantly changes the dynamic of the race.

“In a similar fashion to last year we hope he’ll come forward for the run, though obviously it’s his first run back since Dubai last year.”

The Gosden team also run Godolphin’s Forest Of Dean (Kieran O’Neill), a race regular who has been part of the line-up for the past three seasons.

The eight-year-old was the winner in 2021 and then finished fourth in the 2020 and sixth last year.

“He’s obviously well versed on the all-weather, he’s been in good order at home,” Gosden said of the bay.

“Again, it’s a different type of track to last year but hopefully the track and the trip should suit him.”

The flashy grey Tyrrhenian Sea takes his place again, with Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Claymore making his second start on the all-weather.

There is a fascinating contender in Eydon, who represents his new trainer Andrew Balding as he returns to action.

The five-year-old won the Listed Feilden Stakes in 2022 and was fourth in the 2000 Guineas that same season before injury intervened when being prepared for the Derby.

He has now moved stables having previously been trained by Varian and he will be partnered by Kevin Stott on his comeback.

“Andrew has been pleased with him and was pleased with his gallop at Kempton,” said Ted Voute, racing manager to owner Prince Faisal.

“We’ve got a Group One-winning jockey – all the jockeys seem to be out in Saudi Arabia – but I think we we have a good young jockey on and we will see what happens.

“It’s a pretty even field and they are all rated around the same figures apart from Lord North and we will see.”



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Long-term absentee Eydon poised for Winter Derby comeback

Eydon will bid to honour his sire Olden Times when he makes his eagerly-awaited return from 665 days off the track in the BetUK Winter Derby at Southwell.

An impressive winner of the Feilden Stakes when trained by Roger Varian in 2022, he was last seen finishing fourth to Coroebus in that year’s 2000 Guineas, with an injury sustained in the build-up to the 2022 Derby the start of a plethora of issues that have kept him sidelined for almost two years.

Now in training with Andrew Balding, he sat out the whole of the 2023 season, but is reported to be in rude health following a recent racecourse gallop at Kempton and will be partnered for the first time by Kevin Stott when lining up in the Group Three event, which for the first time will be run over 11 furlongs.

“He went for a racecourse gallop the other day with Andrew and it seemed to go satisfactory,” said Ted Voute, racing adviser to Eydon’s owner Prince Faisal.

“His last run was in the Guineas when he was fourth. It will be some training feat to get him back and to the level of fitness required to run creditably after such a length of time off. But, touch wood, Andrew is pleased with him and thinks he will run a nice race.

“It’s a pretty even field and they are all rated around the same figures apart from Lord North and we will see.”

Connections will not only be hoping Eydon’s Rolleston appearance can book a trip to the Middle East for Dubai World Cup night next month, but also that the five-year-old can pay an on-course tribute to his sire, who died earlier this month at the age of 25.

Eydon was once a contender for the Derby
Eydon was once a contender for the Derby (John Walton/PA)

“He has an entry in Dubai (in the Sheema Classic), but that is rather far-fetched at the moment. He would have to beat Lord North or run very respectably against him, but we will see how we get on,” said Voute.

“We keep our fingers crossed and his owner has had incredible faith in him and patience which in this day and age is quite unusual.

“He loves the sire line and sadly Eydon’s father Olden Times passed away two weekends ago from old age. It would lovely if he could replace him somehow, but he’s got a lot to do before he does that.”



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Enemy catches Military Order off guard at Southwell

Enemy lowered the colours of some big names as he showed plenty of resilience to hold off 11-8 favourite Military Order in a thrilling finish to the BetUK Winter Derby Trial Conditions Stakes at Southwell.

In a classy contest at the Rolleston venue, it was Charlie Appleby’s Military Order who was fancied to get his career back on track in a race that also featured Dante scorer The Foxes and Royal Ascot winners Claymore and Sir Busker.

In the early stages, it was Claymore who led the field along, with Military Order content to race in his slipstream on his first start since being gelded.

Enemy, meanwhile, was ridden patiently at the rear of the field by Rossa Ryan and still had the whole pack to pass when things began to get serious entering the home straight.

Military Order was arguably travelling best as he edged his way to the front entering the final two furlongs, but Ryan was beginning to wind Enemy up to top gear and came to make his challenge inside the final furlong.

Enemy was soon flying home and, running on strongly, he bravely held on by a head after a tussle with last year’s Godolphin Derby runner in the closing stages.

The 17-2 winner has predominantly plied his trade over further of late and, having gone close over two miles at Newcastle last time, his trainer Ian Williams was thrilled to see him put in such a brave effort down in trip against some quality operators.

“It was a huge performance and we were a bit concerned running him over a shorter trip, but he has been a class performer at this trip on his day,” said Williams.

“That is probably a step up on what he has done before and will lead to some nice chats with his owner about what we do next. Over this trip, that was a good performance.

Team Enemy after landing a blow at Southwell
Team Enemy after scoring at Southwell (PA)

“We didn’t send him to Meydan this winter and we just needed a race to give him a blow in and see where our options were. We’ll see what our options are now and I’m not sure what we will do until I have spoken with the owners.

“He’s a horse who has travelled in the past and can travel, so lots of options remain open. He is entered in the Red Sea (Turf Handicap) in Saudi, which he was second in last year, but the owners aren’t mad keen, so we will just have to see.

“He’s beaten some good horses there and over that trip it was a massive performance.”

Daniel Tudhope did the steering aboard Military Order and felt his mount lost little in defeat.

He said: “It was a nice run and maybe he just doesn’t want to get there too soon – I felt that he got there and just wandered away a little bit.

“He’s a nice horse and he’s back and I hope connections get a good clear run with him.”

The Foxes finished third at Southwell
The Foxes finished third at Southwell (Steven Paston/PA)

It was Andrew Balding’s The Foxes who picked up the final spot on the podium, a length and three-quarters further back, and connections were thrilled with the Dante hero’s first outing since running in the Juddmonte International Stakes last summer.

“It was a good run and a prep run and we are pleased,” said Pippa Tuthill, assistant racing manager to owners King Power Racing.

“We’ll see how he comes out of this and make a plan from there. He’s a fun horse and we’re hoping to have a fun season with him going forward.”



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Military Order and The Foxes clash in Winter Derby Trial

Military Order and The Foxes – both Classic trial winners from last year – meet for a second time as they headline a quality field for the BetUK Winter Derby Trial at Southwell on Thursday.

Both the trial and the Winter Derby itself were previously contested over a mile and a quarter at Lingfield, but have been switched to the Nottinghamshire track and edged up to 11 furlongs in distance.

The Charlie Appleby-trained Military Order and Andrew Balding’s The Foxes both won significant Derby trials last year, with the Godolphin runner taking the Lingfield Trial while the King Power Racing-owned The Foxes won the Dante.

However, neither could get close to Auguste Rodin in the Derby itself, with The Foxes in fifth and Military Order trailing home last of the 14 Epsom runners.

While The Foxes went on to finish second in the Belmont Derby, Appleby’s runner was then off the track until September, when he registered another disappointing effort when last upped to 14 furlongs at Chester and the full-brother to Derby winner Adayar was subsequently gelded.

Appleby said: “This will be Military Order’s first start since being gelded and I have been pleased with his preparation.

“He has been running over further, but I feel that dropping back in trip is going to suit. He won over 10 furlongs at Newbury at the start of last season and then over a sharp mile and a half around Lingfield in the Derby Trial.

“This looks a decent race, with The Foxes probably bringing the strongest form into it. If we can be competitive against horses like him, it should hopefully steer us in the right direction for the coming months.”

Claymore won the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2022 but has been unable to add to that Group Three success in five subsequent runs, although trainer Jane Chapple-Hyam is taking plenty of heart from a recent Listed second at Deauville.

She said: “Claymore has been in good shape since Deauville and is ready to go with a view to coming back for the Winter Derby.

“It was really good to see him bounce back last time, although this looks a tough little race. I suspect with a furlong to go that it will be wide open!

“I think a mile and three furlongs will be fine for him. If you look at his Deauville run, he was really finishing, so I don’t have any concerns.

“I already have Blanchland pencilled in for (All-Weather) Finals Day and Claymore could join him. We will see how things go between now and then.”

Following Oh So Grand’s success in the Winter Oaks last weekend, Simon and Ed Crisford field Base Note, while Group Two winner Sir Busker and Ian Williams’ Enemy complete the six-strong line up.



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Saturday’s scheduled morning fixture at Lingfield moved back

Lingfield’s all-weather meeting on Saturday has been put back by over two hours with doubts surrounding the meetings on turf.

What was the scheduled second day of the Winter Million weekend was scheduled to begin at 10.10am, but it will now take place at 12.15, subject to any divisions.

The first day of Lingfield’s Winter Million Festival on Friday was cancelled on Wednesday morning due to a frozen track.

Despite covering the whole course with fleece last Saturday, there are frozen areas under the covers and with temperatures not forecast to rise sufficiently before the meeting, the seven-race card has been cancelled.

Clerk of the course Stephanie Wethered said: “We’re really gutted that we’ve had to abandon Friday’s card, but with the lower than expected temperatures that we saw on Monday night of minus 7C, followed by last night’s frost of minus 1C, we do still have frost under the fleece.

“Tonight we could get down to minus 6C and on Thursday night we’re due to go down to minus 5C, so looking at that forecast, I don’t see there being sufficient improvement ahead of Friday.”

The final day of the Winter Million meeting on Sunday will now be further enhanced, with the British Horseracing Authority announcing the Grade Two Download The Racing App Lightning Novices’ Chase will be rescheduled for then, with original entries standing but new declarations to be made on Friday morning.

Wethered added: “Looking at the forecast, it looks to improve for Saturday and Sunday’s racing, with positive temperatures coming through Saturday itself and we’re forecast to be plus 3C overnight from Saturday into Sunday.

“We’re delighted that we’ve been able to move the Lightning to Sunday’s card.”

Friday’s card at Market Rasen is subject to a precautionary check at noon on Thursday, but Wednesday’s Southwell jumps fixture did get the go-ahead following a morning check.

Saturday’s feature Clarence House Chase card hangs in the balance at Ascot.

An update released on social media read: “The track is currently frozen in places under the covers in the shaded areas of the racecourse.

“This is an improvement on yesterday morning but the forecast indicates a more severe forecast over the next two nights with temperatures due to drop as low as minus 5C.

“The forecast beyond that remains conflicting with the possibility of milder conditions arriving. We will continue to monitor and update as we get closer to raceday.”

Officials at Taunton have announced an inspection for noon on Friday ahead of Saturday’s fixture, with the track currently unraceable and further frost forecast for the next two nights.

Thursday’s meeting at Fairyhouse has been called off, with the card transferred to January 24 as the track is frozen.



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Eydon poised for Winter Derby comeback

Eydon is pencilled in to make his long-awaited debut for Andrew Balding in next month’s BetUK Winter Derby.

The five-year-old was previously trained by Roger Varian, winning the 2022 Feilden Stakes before finishing fourth to Coroebus in the 2000 Guineas, beaten just four and a quarter lengths.

However, Eydon has not run since that Classic date two years ago, with a series of injury setbacks keeping him on the sidelines before he moved to the care of Balding ahead of the 2023 campaign.

The son of Olden Times missed his intended first start for the yard at Sandown in September, but Balding reports him to be in good form ahead of the February 24 contest at Southwell.

He said: “Eydon has a very high level of form, although it has been some time since he was last on the track. He has had a few niggles, but we are really pleased with him at the moment and the Winter Derby is very much the plan.

“The intention is to go straight there without a run – we feel that is the right thing to do.”

Balding also has Dante Stakes winner The Foxes and Teumessias Fox in the Group Three, but neither appear likely to run in the Winter Derby.

The trainer added: “I am very happy with The Foxes. Our preferred option for him is the Saudi Cup meeting, but he is likely to run in the Winter Derby Trial at Southwell on January 25 as a prep. We will see how that goes and then make a decision on what to do next.

“Our other entry Teumessias Fox will stay in handicaps for the time being. He has ability and we felt it was worth giving him the option, just in case the race cuts up.”

Last year’s winner and multiple Group One scorer Lord North is one of 22 entries for the race, which will be taking place at Southwell for the first time.

Previously run over a mile and a quarter at Lingfield since its inception in 1998, the switch to Southwell has prompted an increase in distance to 11 furlongs.

David Attwood, Southwell’s clerk of the course, said: “We do not have a 10-furlong start and, when we looked at whether we could introduce one, it was only about 20 yards from the start of the bend.

“It also would have meant coming on and off the track via the turf course, which was not viable, so the British Horseracing Authority kindly allowed us to change the race distance to a mile and three furlongs.

“It is exciting because the BetUK Winter Derby will be the first Group race run here at Southwell, while the same card also features the Listed BetUK Hever Sprint.”

Lord North is one of five entries for John and Thady Gosden, along with Lion’s Pride and Middle Earth, who both enjoyed Listed success on their latest starts, 2021 Winter Derby winner Forest Of Dean and progressive handicapper Vaguely Royal.

Australian Group One winner Dubai Honour and Mujtaba have been entered by William Haggas, with Jean-Claude Rouget’s Glaer another eyecatching possible.



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Frozen track scuppers Friday’s Lingfield card

The first day of Lingfield’s Winter Million Festival has been cancelled due to a frozen track.

Officials inspected at 8.30am on Wednesday ahead of Friday’s jumps card, which was set to be headlined by the Grade Two Download The Racing App Lightning Novices’ Chase.

Despite covering the whole track with fleece last Saturday, there are frozen areas under the covers and with temperatures not forecast to rise sufficiently before the meeting, the seven-race card has been cancelled.

Clerk of the course Stephanie Wethered said: “We’re really gutted that we’ve had to abandon Friday’s card, but with the lower than expected temperatures that we saw on Monday night of minus 7C, followed by last night’s frost of minus 1C, we do still have frost under the fleece.

“Tonight we could get down to minus 6C and on Thursday night we’re due to go down to minus 5C, so looking at that forecast, I don’t see there being sufficient improvement ahead of Friday.”

The Winter Million is a three-day fixture, with Saturday’s card featuring Flat racing on the all-weather track and Sunday seeing jumps action, including the richly-endowed Fleur De Lys Chase.

That card will now be further enhanced, with the British Horseracing Authority announcing the Lightning will be rescheduled for Sunday, with original entries standing but new declarations to be made on Friday morning.

Wethered added: “Looking at the forecast, it looks to improve for Saturday and Sunday’s racing, with positive temperatures coming through Saturday itself and we’re forecast to be plus 3C overnight from Saturday into Sunday.

“We’re delighted that we’ve been able to move the Lightning to Sunday’s card.”

There will be no National Hunt action in Britain on Thursday with Ludlow abandoned due to a frozen track following an inspection on Wednesday morning. The other scheduled meetings at Wincanton and Newcastle were cancelled earlier in the week.

Friday’s card at Market Rasen is also now subject to a precautionary check at noon on Thursday, but Wednesday’s Southwell jumps fixture did get the go-ahead following a morning check.

Officials at Taunton have announced an inspection for noon on Friday ahead of Saturday’s fixture, with the track currently unraceable and further frost forecast for the next two nights.

Thursday’s meeting at Fairyhouse has been called off, with the card transferred to January 24 as the track is frozen.

Brendan Sheridan, IHRB clerk of the course, said: “Unfortunately the track at Fairyhouse remains unfit for racing following our inspection today.

“We called the inspection for later this morning to see if there would be sufficient thaw in the ground closer to what would be race time on Thursday but temperatures are still below zero at the moment and the track is still frozen.

“Temperatures are not due to rise sufficiently prior to racing tomorrow so the fixture scheduled for Thursday has been cancelled.

“Having consulted with Horse Racing Ireland we can confirm that the fixture will now take place next Wednesday with fresh entries closing tomorrow.”



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Southwell passes morning inspection

Wednesday’s meeting at Southwell goes ahead as planned after the track passed a precautionary inspection.

The course was raceable under the fleece covers on Tuesday, but officials felt it prudent to check conditions on raceday morning due to the prospect of freezing overnight temperatures.

An inspection was planned for 8am but clerk of the course David Attwood was able to give the go-ahead an hour earlier than that.

Southwell is the only jumps card to take place on Wednesday, with Newbury already called off.

There will be no National Hunt action in Britain on Thursday with Ludlow abandoned due to a frozen track following an inspection on Wednesday morning. The other scheduled meetings at Wincanton and Newcastle were cancelled earlier in the week.

Friday’s card at Market Rasen is also now subject to a precautionary check at noon on Thursday.

The course is reported to be free from frost under fleece covers but temperatures could drop as low as -5C before the fixture.



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