Wetherby – 30th May 2013 (Ladies Evening)
We hadn’t quite reached Flaming June but even so the weather that greeted racegoers for Wetherby’s annual Ladies evening bore little resemblance to a late Spring day. Dull and chilly it prompted a noticeable division between those in their finery sheltering in the bars and those hardened racegoers huddled round the parade ring.
Nonetheless, and despite a number of withdrawals due to the softened ground a highly entertaining evening’s racing took place.
The opening 2m 4f novice hurdle saw the 30/100 favourite Mrs Peachey follow up her recent Towcester win and continue the good form of Jason Maguire and Kim Bailey. There was a heart stopping moment 3 out however when she blundered badly and though far from convincing at the next she sauntered home well clear of So Cheeky who ran well for a long way after a 209 day absence.
The second race was a £m 1F Novice chase in which the market leader Buachaill Alainn never seemed to be travelling but to his credit somehow managed to get within 1 and a half lengths of the winner. He may win a similar race on better ground. The winner was Sue Smith’s Green Wizard ridden by Ryan Mania who took command some way from home with some bold jumping but who briefly looked like being caught by Seven Woods before finding a bit more close home.
Next up was a 3m 1f Novice Hurdle where Loose Performer, a course winner the previous week started favourite under AP McCoy. He was always being shrewdly tracked by Wayne Hutchinson on Willoughby Hedge coming into the straight where McCoy’s mount hung badly left and he was a well beaten horse by the last and finished very tired. The winner by contrast won impressively and may well follow up under a penalty.
The fourth race (2m 6f Handicap Chase) again saw AP McCoy riding one of the market leaders and once again he came wide looking for the better ground This time his mount Spot The Ball finished fourth. The winner was the 3/1 favourite Whiskey Ridge ridden by Brian Toomey and completing a double for Sue Smith. Like Green Wizard he was ridden confidently from the front and steadily drew clear up the straight to win by 23 lengths from Attycran trained by Maurice Barnes with the third Everylasting a further 20 lengths away. The distances perhaps testimony to the sticky ground.
As an aside I was delighted to have my racecard signed by Ap McCoy but as he did so I was struck by how pale and gaunt he appeared. Maybe he always looks like that, but I was left wondering if his recent injury has taken more out of him than is desirable. I trust not.
The fifth race a 2m 4F handicap hurdle saw a good old-fashioned gamble landed by Candleford ridden by Tony Kelly and trained by Ashley Dodgson. Backed form 11-1 to 9-2 he appeared outpaced at one stage only to rally and then be the beneficiary of Border Phoenix’s last hurdle blunder that unshipped Adrian Lane when they were 1 and half lengths to the good. Earlier up the straight Get Home Now seemed to have them all chasing him home only to start running down his hurdles before rallying on the flat. Possibly would benefit from being held up a bit longer.
The sixth race was a Hunter Chase where Rash Move started a warm favourite to repeat his victory of 12 months ago. He jumped stickiily at times and although looking dangerous 4 out was a beaten horse 2 out and barely hung on for 3rd. Killary Bay and H Bethell looked to have taken command entering the straight but was worn down by the patiently ridden Habbie Sampson (T Hamilton) who won by 11 lengths.
There’s only so much cold my wife and daughter can take and I was persuaded to head for home before the last. For the record the winner was Bunratty ridden by Colm mcCormack and trained by the in form Dianne Sayer. The winner benefiting from a return to the minimum 2 miles by getting up close home from Shaker Style who wasnt helped by a blunder at the last. Third was Vodka Red trained by Robert Johnson and ridden by Kenny Johnson.
So despite the unseasonal conditioons a good nights racing was had to end the season at Wetherby. On a personal note I had 4 winners, 2 seconds and got the very modest placepot. So mustnt grumble as the say in thes parts. Talikng of which one of the highlights of the night was Harvey Smith saying how do and asking me how I was as though I was a long lost friend. I only live 2 miles from his wifes’s stables so its possible he recognised me, but more likely is he mistook me for someone else! Made my night anyway.