Tag Archive for: Wolverhampton

Plenty to look forward to for Hayley Turner in 2022

Hayley Turner is looking forward to the year ahead after riding her first winner following a seven-week absence through injury.

Having celebrated her 39th birthday on January 3, Turner made a winning start to 2022 when partnering the David Simcock-trained Race Card to victory in a mile-and-a-half handicap at Wolverhampton on Wednesday.

She said: “I broke my thumb which sidelined me for seven weeks, so it was nice to get back with a winner.

“It was a bit frustrating. I’d pulled up on one of David Simcock’s horses after the line and he just fell over. It was just one of those unlucky things.

“But it was nice to have a good break and I’m happy to be riding again now. It was good to ride a winner and get off the mark.”

Newmarket-based Turner, the first woman to ride 100 winners in a calendar year, will head to the Saudi Arabia at the end of February for the International Jockeys Challenge at the Saudi Cup, but is not setting herself any goals.

Hayley Turner at the Shergar Cup
Hayley Turner at the Shergar Cup (Steven Paston/PA)

“I like these jockeys’ challenges, and riding at the Saudi Cup meeting will be a great experience.

“I don’t really make massive plans – I just try to ride as many winners as I can, really. I feel I have plenty of support from some good trainers and am looking forward to the rest of the all-weather season and the new Flat season.”

Johnstons on the mark as Golden Sands strikes

Golden Sands gained a small piece of racing history at Wolverhampton on Monday when becoming the first winner registered as trained by Charlie and Mark Johnston.

With the new partnership having to start life from zero, they have a huge act to follow given nobody in the history of UK racing has trained as many winners as Mark Johnston – 4,874.

Charlie’s role within the business has been well known for many years and he has been a fixture on racecourses in recent seasons in his role as his assistant trainer.

With a change in the rules allowing two names on a licence recently, the Johnstons decided now was the time to make the change.

This was their second day under the new dual licence but they had been out of luck with their first two runners at Newcastle on Sunday.

Having had to settle for second with their first runner on Monday, Achnamara 30 minutes earlier, there was little doubt Golden Sands was going to go one better in the Play Coral Racing-Super-Series For Free Handicap.

Bounced out of the stalls by old ally Joe Fanning, nothing ever looked like reeling in the 9-4 favourite – who had been available at 16-1 overnight.

Charlie Johnston told Sky Sports Racing: “It’s certainly one for the statisticians. It’s a big change but at the same time nothing has changed at all – but it’s great to get it on the board after having gone close in the race before.

“On the day-to-day of running things at home, I’ve been heavily involved for a long time now. It’s what I’ve been working towards throughout and when they brought in those joint-licences a couple of seasons ago it was an obvious stepping stone for us in between his licence and mine. And it’s good to get on the board.

“I thought he was too big a price last night and too short a price at the off but he’s always been physically a nice horse and has worked well. He was too wound up for his own good last year. I think the gelding (operation) has made a big difference to him and the step up in trip. Hopefully, he can progress from there.

“Joe Fanning has been riding from about the time I was born. I think him and dad have had over 1,000 winners and that is number one for us.

“I’m 4,873 behind. I’m on the way, at least.”

Burke basking in maiden century of winners for the year

Karl Burke is popping the champagne corks to after reaching a landmark in his training career following Astro Jakk’s success at Wolverhampton on Thursday.

For the Middleham handler ends 2021 having saddled 100 winners for the first time following a flurry of victories over the past few days.

Though the success of Astro Jakk in the six-furlong Betway Handicap was his 99th domestic triumph – and a sixth winner in the last nine days – one additional overseas winner pushed the yard into three figures for the first time.

Burke said: “We had winner in France, so we are counting it as 100 for the season, anyway.

“We are pleased to get there – I didn’t think we would get there, but the last week has been very good.”

Burke, whose previous best was 84 winners, added: “We don’t really make targets for ourselves.

“There have been a couple of occasions in the past where we thought we might get to 100 and it has petered out, but this year everything has been very consistent and all credit to the team. Everybody has worked hard and it has paid off.”

There have been plenty of highlights for the yard, too, including Significantly notching back-to-back handicap victories at Ascot and Dandalla taking a valuable Listed prize at Ayr.

“Having another Royal Ascot winner with Significantly (Palace Of Holyroodhouse Stakes) was a big plus. Obviously getting Dandalla to win a Listed race and then fetching a good price at the mares’ sale helps – it oils all the wheels and keeps the whole show on the road.”

And there appears to be plenty to look forward to for the team at Spigot Lodge.

“This year’s two-year-olds are a good bunch,” said Burke.

“There are some nice horses who will progress to make very nice three-year-olds and the batch of yearlings that have come in so far look pretty good, so I’m very happy.”

Late withdrawals at Wolverhampton hit Buick’s championship push

William Buick headed to Wolverhampton on Monday with what appeared to be an incredibly strong book of rides and while he rode one winner, an unfortunate set of circumstances saw three of his mounts withdrawn.

Buick started the day six winners behind reigning champion jockey Oisin Murphy and the day got off to a perfect start as Pocket The Profit justified 11-8 favouritism in the Champions Day On Sky Sports Racing Nursery Handicap.

George Boughey’s juvenile was a winner at Brighton last time out and defied a 6lb penalty in taking style, suggesting there was more to come.

Buick then got the leg up on Roger Chalrlton’s Amalfi Bay in the Free Tips On attheraces.com Handicap, but the 100-30 favourite only beat one home as Jason Watson took the spoils on Harry Dunlop’s Thunder Ahead.

The day then took a turn for Buick as his mount in the in the Download The At The Races App Nursery Handicap, the Roger Varian-trained Poet, bolted on the way to the start and was withdrawn, leaving 11-4 favourite Mohi to triumph.

Buick then teamed up with James Tate’s Twilight Secret, the 11-4 joint-favourite in the Sky Sports Racing Sky 415 Handicap. However, on arriving at the start for the six-furlong contest, he was withdrawn on veterinary advice.

Joseph Parr’s Hello Me (9-2) took the spoils under Rossa Ryan, who later followed up on Thunder Queen (3-1 joint favourite) in the Read Kevin Blake On attheraces.com EBF Novice Stakes when Buick’s intended mount Infrared, who was favourite at the time, was withdrawn in the minutes leading up to the race, again on the vet’s advice.

Tricolore ridden by Hollie Doyle (centre) winning the race named after her column
Tricolore ridden by Hollie Doyle (centre) winning the race named after her column (David Davies/PA)

Buick then went close when second on Pretty Sweet in the following Read Hollie Doyle’s Column On attheraces.com Handicap when Doyle, celebrating her birthday, won her own race on Tricolore (6-1) for Marco Botti.

She told Sky Sports Racing: “I actually won on him earlier in the year and really liked him and he’s got some good form.

“He just needs everything to drop right and today it did.”

Buick then must have fancied his chances on odds-on favourite Toromona in the Follow At The Races On Twitter Maiden Stakes but he was no match for William Haggas’ Lady Rockstar and Kieran Shoemark, with Buick finishing a 12-length second.

The championship chaser had to settle for second in the finale as well when Lower Street (6-1) had Buick back in second on One Last Dance.

Oisin Murphy had one winner at Kempton's evening meeting
Oisin Murphy had one winner at Kempton’s evening meeting (Mike Egerton/PA)

Like Buick, Murphy headed to Kempton’s evening meeting with a strong book of rides but he, too, had to settle for just the one winner.

That came aboard Brian Meehan’s Cu Chulainn, the 10-11 favourite, who ran out a ready winner of the Unibet Casino Deposit £10 Get £40 Bonus Novice Stakes.

Murphy had four other mounts in the frame but the day ended the way it had started, with the current champion six in front.

Rossa Ryan breaks collarbone

Rossa Ryan is facing a spell on the sidelines after breaking his collarbone in a fall at Wolverhampton on Wednesday evening.

Ryan, who has ridden 64 winners so far in 2021, sustained the injury when Imajorblush suffered a fatal fall a furlong from home in the FollowUs On Twitter @wolvesraces Handicap.

In a Twitter post, Ryan said: “I’m gutted to have broken my collarbone in a fall at Wolverhampton when riding Imajorblush, who very sadly sustained a fatal injury in the final furlong.

“It’s always devastating to lose a horse, and my thoughts are with all his connections – his owners, Zoe and George Hassall, and trainer Philip Kirby and all his team.

“I’m waiting to find out more about the severity of my injury and the next steps for my recovery. Thank you for all the messages of concern and support.”

Royal Ascot next on the agenda for exciting Hello You

A trip to Royal Ascot for the Albany Stakes is next on the agenda for Hello You following her sparkling debut at Wolverhampton on Monday.

The daughter of Invincible Spirit was making her introduction in what appeared a strong novice event at Dunstall Park, with newcomers from several high-profile yards in opposition.

However, Ralph Beckett’s filly could hardly have been more impressive – taking the lead over a furlong out before powering six and a half lengths clear.

Paddy Power make Hello You a 10-1 shot for the Albany at next month’s showpiece meeting and Beckett confirmed the Group Two contest as her next intended target.

He said: “I was delighted with that. I thought she’d run well, but it looked a warm race beforehand.

“I thought she’d go close, but there was plenty of money for other horses.

“It was more than we expected, obviously – not too many win like that on on debut.

“She appears to have taken the race well, so we’ll give ourselves three weeks to get to Ascot.

“That straight track normally rides quick, but I think she’ll handle it fine.”

Born To Be Alive stakes Lincoln claim with Trial triumph

Born To Be Alive enhanced his claims for the Unibet Lincoln at Doncaster in two weeks by winning the rehearsal for the big one-mile handicap at Wolverhampton.

The Karl Burke-trained seven-year-old had already ensured his place on Town Moor thanks to a 5lb penalty for scoring at Kempton last month.

Burke was keen to give him one more run in the Bombardier British-Hopped Amber Beer Lincoln Trial Handicap as it fitted in perfectly as a final prep outing and he would not incur a second penalty if successful.

Born To Be Alive (11-2) duly delivered to pick up this nice prize by half a length from On A Session under Clifford Lee.

Burke said: “We are delighted with that as we fancied Born To Be Alive strongly. He is in great form and has really stepped up since he came back from injury.

“I thought Cliff gave him a cracking ride. He managed to get himself into a great position from stall 10 and I don’t think the horse overdoes himself when he gets to the front.

“He will go for the Lincoln now. That has been the plan for a good while.”

Born To Be Alive was cut to 16-1 from 33-1 for the Lincoln with Betfair and Paddy Power.

Ryan Moore not only took the feature Lady Wulfruna Stakes on Mums Tipple, but enjoyed a 129-1 four-timer with other wins on Fiordland, Streamline and Nelson Gay.

Fiordland (6-5 favourite) confirmed the promise of his reappearance to get off the mark in the Bombardier ‘March To Your Own Drum’ Novice Stakes.

The James Ferguson-trained gelding was always prominent and hit the front a furlong out to beat Elakazaam by a length and a quarter.

A turf campaign beckons for the son of Invincible Spirit.

“He still had a lot to learn at Kempton. You could put a line through his first run last year, so we went there as first day of school,” said Ferguson.

“He seems to have come on for that run. Ryan gave him a great ride and everything went to plan.

“We’re hoping for a turf campaign with him. I think they learn a bit more on the all-weather, so I’m pleased we’ve got his maiden out of the way. He may step up a furlong if need be.”

Streamline (11-4 favourite) brought up the hat-trick when returning to form with victory in the Betway Handicap.

The Clive Cox-trained four-year-old struck the front in the final furlong and crossed the line three-quarters of a length ahead of Summerghand.

Moore said: “He was a good horse at two and has ran some promising races since returning this year. It’s nice to get his head back in front and the race went nicely for him.”

Moore always had Nelson Gay (15-8 favourite) in the right position as Richard Hughes’ three-year-old capped the jockeys’ day, winning the Ladbrokes Watch Racing Online For Free Handicap by a length and three-quarters from Bert Kibbler.

Richard Kingscote continued his fine run on the all-weather with a double on Starfighter and Kangaroo Point.

Starfighter (9-2 joint-favourite) continued his recent consistent run when getting up close home to snatch the Heed Your Hunch At Betway Handicap.

Kingscote produced Mark Loughnane’s five-year-old with a well-timed challenged to beat Fierospeed by a head to make it two wins and two seconds in his last four starts.

Loughnane said: “Our horses are flying. He’s been a slow burner since he came from Ed Walker’s, but I’m very pleased with him.

“Once he gets to the front he thinks he’s done enough.”

Kangaroo Point (11-8 favourite) got home by a short head from Sharp Suited in a terrific finish to the Betway Casino Handicap.

Kingscote said: “He had a quick run back after Southwell. You never know how much it takes out of them, even in a three-horse race, but he got into a nice rhythm just behind the leaders and knuckled down when the second horse came to him.”

Double Dealing (3-1 favourite) looked a three-year-old on the up when completing a hat-trick in smooth fashion in the Get Your Ladbrokes Daily Odds Boost Handicap.

The Richard Fahey-trained colt produced a nice turn of foot to score by a length from Praise Of Shadows in the hands of 3lb claimer Billy Garritty.

“He’s a nice horse and we’re really looking forward to the summer with him now,” said Garritty.

The well-supported Lorna Cole (9-4 joint favourite), trained by Mick Appleby, swept to victory in the Betway Claiming Stakes under Josephine Gordon.

“She won very well. We knew there would be a strong pace on although it was a small field,” said Gordon.

“The plan was to get her settled into a rhythm and she won with quite a bit in hand.”

Mums Tipple back on top with Wulfruna win

Mums Tipple finally fulfilled some of his immense early promise when landing an emphatic success in the Bombardier Lady Wulfruna Stakes at Wolverhampton.

The world appeared to be at his feet when Mums Tipple won a valuable sales race for two-year-olds at York by 11 lengths, but it all went wrong with three bitterly disappointing efforts in Group One races.

He did not show much when dropped in class for his final two starts as a three-year-old, but he did hint at a return to form when staying on to finish an eye-catching sixth over six furlongs at Lingfield last month.

Stepping up to seven furlongs for this All-Weather Championships fast-track qualifier suited Mums Tipple (9-2) as he put his bad spell behind him.

Lord Of The Lodge and Highland Dress set a good gallop, but Ryan Moore was always on their heels and when he pressed the button, Mums Tipple quickened away in good style to win by two and a quarter lengths. Lord Of The Lodge was second with Highland Dress a length and three-quarters back in third place.

Moore said: “It’s very nice for the owners as last year was a mess for many reasons really.

“He ran a fine race over six at Lingfield and the seven furlongs suited him.

“There were some good horses in there today, but the race worked out well for him and he’s gone and won really nicely.”

Hannon, who was not on course, said: “He worked very well during the week and it’s nice to see him back after his encouraging run at Lingfield. He’s a very good horse and it’s been a little bit unfair as he gets knocked every time he runs.

“People want to see a similar performance to what he did at York each time, but that was one of the best performances I’ve seen by any horse – even I was shocked by that – and people haven’t given him a break since that.

“He’s got an awful lot of ability so it’s nice to see him win, and win very well, at that level. Hopefully he can build on that for the rest of the year and we’ll probably go for the Mile on Finals Day. It’s satisfying to see him win like the horse we think he is.”

Sea The Shells makes striking impression on racecourse bow

Sea The Shells could go on to much better things after making an impressive belated winning debut at Wolverhampton on Wednesday.

Several minor setbacks kept the Mark Johnston-trained colt off the track as a two-year-old and having been meant to run last week, he got his career off to the best possible start in the Get Your Ladbrokes Daily Odds Boost Novice Stakes.

“We’re very pleased. He was due to run at Chelmsford on Friday, but that was abandoned so that’s why he got rerouted here,” said Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father.

“He’s always a horse we’ve liked. He’s from a good pedigree and had the physique, so it was good to see him deliver on the racecourse.”

The nine-and-a-half furlong contest got off to an unsatisfactory start with the gates being opened before the reluctant Countessa had been installed.

Sea The Shells, sent off the 2-1 favourite, ran very green in the early stages – but the Derby entrant certainly got the message at the business end.

Bursting into the lead over a furlong out, Franny Norton’s mount quickly put the race to bed and scored by six and a half lengths, despite being eased in the last 100 yards.

Johnston added: “I’m surprised it wasn’t a false start, but it was far from ideal circumstances the race was started in.

“There was a moment three (furlongs) out to two out where he was quite green and came under quite stern pressure and probably looked in trouble briefly.

“Then the penny dropped and he really powered away. That would maybe make us lean towards getting a bit more experience in a similar kind of race at some point in March, and then hopefully he can be ready to step up into better company when the turf comes around in April.”

The son of Sea The Stars looks a snip at the 40,000 guineas he cost at Tattersalls Book One Sale in October 2019.

“He certainly looks cheap now,” Johnston went on.

“There’s quite a bit of speed coming from the dam’s side of his pedigree, but physically he’s a very big, strong scopey horse. A mile and a quarter is ideal for him now and I’m sure he’ll stay a mile and a half standing on his head.

“There’s lots to look forward with him.”

The stewards inquired into the start and found that due to human error the race had been started before Countessa was loaded.

They ordered a report to be forward to the headquarters of the British Horseracing Authority for further consideration.

Hopes fading for big weekend card at Newbury

Newbury’s Betfair Super Saturday fixture is already in serious doubt after officials announced a course inspection for Friday morning.

The Berkshire circuit is due to stage a mouthwatering card, featuring the £125,000 Betfair Hurdle, as well as recognised trials for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Queen Mother Champion Chase in the shape of the Denman Chase and the Game Spirit Chase respectively.

Dual King George hero Clan Des Obeaux, last season’s RSA Chase winner Champ and superstar chaser Altior are just some of the big names who are set to be on show.

However, with the track already frozen in places under the frost covers and sub-zero temperatures forecast for the rest of the week, clerk of the course Keith Ottesen is not optimistic ahead of a Friday inspection at 8.30am.

He said: “It was only minus 2C overnight, but it didn’t get above zero on Tuesday, so it’s not just the night-time temperatures that are a problem.

“It’s a cumulative effect of the temperature zero or below for a number of days. You’ve got to cover up to give it every chance, but with the forecast the way it is, the fleece covers that we use don’t offer enough protection for such a prolonged period of cumulative frost.

“We haven’t got the best forecast going forward. It’s going to be very cold tonight and into Thursday morning, the same thing Friday night into Saturday and not much better Thursday into Friday.

“At this stage it’s far too early to do anything but to call an inspection for Friday, but really we need a change in the forecast to come.

“Unless there is a complete change, it will be a struggle.”

Nicky Henderson (left) and Paul Nicholls will be hoping races can be restaged
Nicky Henderson (left) and Paul Nicholls will be hoping races can be restaged (David Davies/PA)

High-profile trainers Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson are among those calling for the major races to be rescheduled – and Ottesen revealed discussions are already under way about the possibility of the entire card being moved to a later date.

He added: “We’re definitely talking about it at the moment. We need a number of things to align.

“From a Newbury point of view, we’d like to run the whole day, rather than just move races here and there. We’re just working on whether we can reschedule the day in the next week when conditions allow.

“I can’t really say more than that at the moment. Obviously there’s TV, sponsors, the Levy Board and the BHA (involved). We’ve been talking about it all week to try to find a solution, obviously with the support of Betfair (sponsors).”

Wednesday’s all-weather fixture at Newcastle was called off due to snow.

The venue was due to stage a seven-race card, but overnight snow forced clerk of the course James Armstrong to take an initial look at 8am, before checking conditions again at 10am.

That second inspection showed the track was not fit for action and Armstrong abandoned the fixture, with an inspection called for 10am on Thursday ahead of the planned evening card that day.

Armstrong said: “We’ve had something like three inches of snow, but it’s powdery, dry stuff. It’s cold, the temperatures aren’t going to start rising until later this morning and there’s the possibility of more snow.

“We’ve worked the track, but it’s got into the surface profile and it’s starting to ball up a bit, so it’s a fairly easy decision to make really.

“We’ll inspect at 10am for tomorrow’s meeting. We’ll use the windows of sunshine today to work the track and try to help it thaw out.”

Wolverhampton’s evening card was also subject to a 10am check, but the fixture got the go-ahead.

Racing has been called off at Ffos Las
Racing has been called off at Ffos Las (David Davies/PA)

There will be no jumps action in Britain on Thursday though, as Ffos Las’ meeting has been called off due to a frozen track.

Officials had hoped to escape the worst of the overnight freeze and called a precautionary inspection for 8.30am on Wednesday.

However, that check showed the track to be unraceable with little prospect of sufficient improvement.

The course tweeted: “Despite the huge efforts of our ground staff team to cover the course, tomorrow’s race meeting has been abandoned – parts of the track are frozen and temperatures are not forecast to rise sufficiently for it to thaw.”

Thursday’s Thurles card is also under threat, with a precautionary check planned for 7.30am on race day.

An Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board statement said: “Due to a Status Yellow weather warning in place for snow and ice, there will be a 7.30am precautionary inspection at Thurles tomorrow (Thursday) ahead of the fixture scheduled to take place.

“The track is currently fit for racing and the going is soft (chase) and soft to heavy (hurdle/bumper).”

Newcastle card becomes latest casualty of cold snap

Wednesday’s all-weather fixture at Newcastle has been called off due to snow.

The venue was due to stage a seven-race card, but overnight snow forced clerk of the course James Armstrong to take an initial look at 8am, before checking conditions again at 10am.

That second inspection showed the track was not fit for action and Armstrong abandoned the fixture, with an inspection called for 10am on Thursday ahead of the planned evening card.

Armstrong said: “We’ve had something like three inches of snow, but it’s powdery, dry stuff. It’s cold, the temperatures aren’t going to start rising until later this morning and there’s the possibility of more snow.

“We’ve worked the track, but it’s got into the surface profile and it’s starting to ball up a bit, so it’s a fairly easy decision to make really.

“We’ll inspect at 10am for tomorrow’s meeting. We’ll use the windows of sunshine today to work the track and try to help it thaw out.”

Wolverhampton’s evening card was also subject to a 10am check, but the fixture got the go-ahead.

Racing has been called off at Ffos Las
Racing has been called off at Ffos Las (David Davies/PA)

There will be no jumps action in Britain on Thursday though, as Ffos Las’ meeting has been called off due to a frozen track.

Officials had hoped to escape the worst of the overnight freeze and called a precautionary inspection for 8.30am on Wednesday.

However, that check showed the track to be unraceable with little prospect of sufficient improvement.

The course tweeted: “Despite the huge efforts of our ground staff team to cover the course, tomorrow’s race meeting has been abandoned – parts of the track are frozen and temperatures are not forecast to rise sufficiently for it to thaw.”

Thursday’s Thurles card is also under threat, with a precautionary check planned for 7.30am on race day.

An Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board statement said: “Due to a Status Yellow weather warning in place for snow and ice, there will be a 7.30am precautionary inspection at Thurles tomorrow (Thursday) ahead of the fixture scheduled to take place.

“The track is currently fit for racing and the going is soft (chase) and soft to heavy (hurdle/bumper).”

Frost claims Ffos Las card

Thursday’s meeting at Ffos Las has been called off due to a frozen track.

Officials had hoped to escape the worst of the overnight freeze and called a precautionary inspection for 8.30am on Wednesday.

However, that check showed the track to be unraceable with little prospect of sufficient improvement.

The course tweeted: “Despite the huge efforts of our ground staff team to cover the course, tomorrow’s race meeting has been abandoned – parts of the track are frozen and temperatures are not forecast to rise sufficiently for it to thaw.”

Newcastle and Wolverhampton will both have to pass 10am inspections if today’s meetings are to go ahead.

Newcastle is due to stage a seven-race card kicking off at 1.30pm, but overnight snow combined with temperatures of -5C overnight forced clerk of the course James Armstrong to take an initial look at 8am.

With further snow flurries a possibility, Armstrong then opted to check again at 10am.

He tweeted: “Temps currently -1.5c. Light snow flurries on & off. Course worked from early hrs at least three times. Need temps to rise to assist in melting snow mixed within the Tapeta profile. Will work again soon as temps lift further.”

Wolverhampton’s eight-race fixture starts at 4.45pm and it too is subject to a 10am inspection.

The track had a light covering of snow overnight, but officials remain optimistic of the card going ahead as planned.

Thursday’s Thurles card is also under threat, with a precautionary check planned for 7.30am on race day.

An Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board statement said: “Due to a Status Yellow weather warning in place for snow and ice, there will be a 7.30am precautionary inspection at Thurles tomorrow (Thursday) ahead of the fixture scheduled to take place.

“The track is currently fit for racing and the going is soft (chase) and soft to heavy (hurdle/bumper).”

Mildenberger is determined winner at Wolverhampton

Mildenberger just prevailed in a thrilling tussle with Rainbow Dreamer to edge victory by a head in the Betway Conditions Stakes at Wolverhampton.

Winning jockey Joe Fanning did his best to ensure a modest early pace increased with a circuit to go, taking Mark Johnston’s stayer briefly prominent for the first time as the field passed the stands.

It was a mid-race move which paid off as Outbox and eventual third Nate The Great took the hint and upped the tempo – to Mildenberger’s advantage by the time he moved to the lead entering the straight again.

Rainbow Dreamer, the 7-4 favourite to win this fast-track qualifier for the second year in succession, closed to produce a strong challenge in the final furlong.

But despite edging successfully through a gap between Mildenberger and Nate The Great to claim a rail position, Tom Marquand and the runner-up could not quite get to the 11-4 winner.

Mildenberger, who was turning round recent Newcastle form with Rainbow Dreamer, has therefore booked his place in the Betway All-Weather Marathon Championship at Lingfield on Good Friday.

Fanning told Sky Sports Racing: “It was a messy race – the pace kept steadying, and every time I went to go and put a bit of pressure on they kept quickening up, and then when I came back they slowed up again.

“If they’d gone a proper gallop, I’d have won (further).”

Mildenberger, second in last year’s Group Three Sagaro Stakes at Newcastle, nonetheless responded with great determination when it mattered.

Fanning, who was riding the six-year-old for only the second time, added: “Every time this guy’s won when I’ve seen him (previously), it’s been a good gallop.

“I was just worried it was slowing up a little bit for him.

“He’s a very good horse on the turf as well, and I thought he had a big shout in that kind of race.”

Wintry Wolverhampton will always be special for Georgia King

All-weather meetings in the depths of winter rarely live long in the memory – but the one staged at Wolverhampton on January 5, 2021 will always be special for Georgia King after Gavi Di Gavi became her first winner.

The daughter of Gavi Di Gavi’s trainer Alan King, Georgia will forever treasure her breakthrough success in the Bombardier ‘March To Your Own Drum’ Handicap.

Coronavirus restrictions meant there was no crowd to welcome the 18-year-old back in, of course, but she was all smiles then and still is as she relives the four-length victory on the Camacho gelding.

“I knew I had a chance if it all went to plan, but my nerves were increased because it was against the professionals like Tom Marquand and Ben Curtis,” she said.

“I managed to get in a nice position – because I didn’t want to get wide early on. Down the back straight I got shuffled back, but it did me a favour because it gave me room on the rail.

“When they all spread out on the turn I kept on the inside. I couldn’t really believe that I won – and he ended up doing it really easily. I was just delighted.”

Working with horses was always likely for King, but making it as a jockey was not originally on her agenda.

“I was really into eventing and I represented Britain in the 2018 (FEI) European Pony Championships in Yorkshire when I was 16,” she added.

“I was lucky to get on the British team in my last year. The dressage and cross country went OK, but the showjumping didn’t end up a personal success. I felt a bit deflated after that, because I had worked so hard to get there.”

There is normally a decisive moment which most jockeys can point to in helping them choose a career in the saddle, and King is no different.

“A few weeks after the pony championships I rode Sula Island in a charity race at Epsom,” she said.

“Everyone else had been preparing for it for months, and I found out a week or two before I would be on Sula Island in it – plus I hadn’t been riding out that long.

“Although we jumped off pretty far back, I ended up winning pretty easily because she made up ground well and it ended up being a great result.

“It was some feeling – even though I struggled to carry the saddle because it had so much lead in! But it made me want to do it again.”

Georgia King is still all smiles with Gavi Di Gavi after their Wolverhampton win together
Georgia King is still all smiles with Gavi Di Gavi after their Wolverhampton win together (Graham Clark/PA)

Having the backing of a trainer like her dad comes with its advantages, but playing an equally important role has been the support from mum Rachel.

King said: “Mum always said she was gutted that I gave up eventing and handed me over to dad – but to be fair, she has taken me to every race I’ve been to.

“She doesn’t go racing loads, but she loves coming into the parade ring with me and being really supportive. She has definitely got into it.

“Although mum was there to celebrate my first winner, she didn’t watch most of it!”

King can also call on the help of retired Classic-winning rider George Baker, who has been her jockey coach since she was granted her apprentice licence in November.

She said: “I’m pleased to have George as my jockey coach – he was the one I really wanted.

Former Classic winner George Baker is Georgia King's jockey coach
Former Classic winner George Baker is Georgia King’s jockey coach (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

“He spoke to me the night before the ride on Gavi, running me through the race and telling me what I needed to do – which as a young rider was a massive boost.

“He knows everything, and if I ever need anything he is always there to ask things.”

With a winner already on the board, King is of course hungry for more but will not rush her development as a jockey.

“Over the next few months, I just want to try and get as much experience as I can and try to ride a few different horses, then when the spring comes to get on the grass and give a few a spin,” she said.

“There are quite a few good girls coming through – which is great to see, and it helps give you more confidence -while Hollie Doyle has done the sport the world of good.

“Dad is happy for me just riding for him at the moment, and then when I get more experience get a few outside rides. I know you have got to dream big, but I think I’m better off keeping my head down and working my way up.”

Amniarix takes fast-track qualifier honours at Wolverhampton

Amniarix continued on an upward curve with an impressive success in the Get Your Ladbrokes Daily Odds Boost Fillies’ Conditions Stakes at Wolverhampton.

The Ed Walker-trained four-year-old was a course and distance scorer in November before following up over a mile at Kempton, and she returned to seven furlongs to record a stylish effort in the first fast-track qualifier of the year for All-Weather Championships Finals Day on Good Friday.

Ridden patiently by Richard Kingscote, the Bjorn Nielsen-owned daughter of Speightstown picked up smartly when asked from the top of the straight, sweeping to a two-length victory over Shimmering Dawn as the 7-4 favourite.

Dancing Feet set out to make all under Hollie Doyle and kept on for third, another length and a half away.

Kingscote said: “She’s done well this winter and gave me a lovely ride throughout, very straightforward. I just had to trust that she’d pick up in the straight as she’d done on her last couple of runs and she did it nicely.

“I got a nice lead round, and as I say she was very smooth. Although I came wide off the turn, she was picking up nicely.”

Walker’s charge is now qualified for the Fillies & Mares Championship over the same distance at Lingfield on April 2, and while the Surrey circuit would present a different test, Kingscote feels she would adapt to it.

He told Sky Sports Racing: “I think connections wanted to find out a bit more today, see where they are with her and what the future holds. She’s opened up some avenues for them.

“Lingfield is a sharp track, but she’s a good traveller and a well-balanced filly. She’s pretty straightforward and I can’t see it posing a problem.”

The victory was the highlight of a treble on the card for Kingscote, who had struck earlier in the evening through Album (6-1) and My Girl Maggie (6-4 favourite).