NEWBURY – Thursday July 23rd
Going – Good to Firm
A trip south to visit family in Berkshire gave me a chance to visit Newbury for the first time in 10 years. The course is no more than 15 minutes drive from Mum’s place.
My memories were of rowdy crowds at Saturday, but the evening meeting seems a much more civilised affair. Developments around the course in recent years have made it a pleasant venue, with good viewing and plentiful food and drinks outlets serving decent fare. I can recommend the Cornish pasty served from the bar at the top of the Grandstand.
The Newbury Weekly News reported fighting at the Weatherbys Sprint Meeting the previous Saturday, which suggests those who enjoy their horse racing are probably better off visiting the course midweek.
5.00 7f Arab Handicap (0-60)
The meeting opened with an Arab event over seven furlongs, an event advertising the decent Arab card coming up on Sunday 26th July. Admission is free so well worth a visit if you are in the area.
Paddock inspection found the winner in one of my two against the field. The veteran WHISPER took up the running two out and looked certain to be a clear winner, but ended up just hanging on as the chasers closed. She’s a versatile mare that has proved effective over distances between 6 and 14 furlongs.
CALLYMAY shrugged off an 8lb rise in the weights to just miss out in second and this may prove a useful warm up for a similar event that closes Sunday’s card.
The four year old filly SYNERGY showed promise on only her third run, another closing in at the finish.
5.30 1m 5f 61yds NSPCC Amateur Riders’ Handicap (51-70)
A game effort by MOOJANED to win this under a creditable first winning ride from Katherine Begley, the latter worth keeping an eye out for in these events. Miss Begley set the pace then kicked on seven furlongs out. Moojaned was briefly headed three out, but battled back, rallied well and just had enough in the tank to hold on. A very good effort and he looks a game sort.
COTTON CLUB looked well in the paddock and returned to near his best. He put in a sustained challenge from three out but was just held. He might now be on a reasonable mark.
THE DUCKING STOOL is a regular in amateur and apprentice races and put in a sound effort in third. He goes well at Yarmouth so stable are probably finding it galling that the Norfolk track’s return to action has been delayed.
DARK AMBER had every chance but was held from the furlong pole. This trip probably stretches his stamina a bit.
TAPIS LIBRE had a chance two out but then weakened. He won at Musselburgh in May and may have just needed this race on his return to the track.
BALLYHEIGUE was very awkward at the stalls. He is capable on his day and threatened three out, but one to be wary of.
6.00 Bathwick Tyres EBF Maiden 2yo (Class 4)
Runners from Newbury maidens are normally worth keeping an eye on. In this one Mark Johnston’s ADVENTUROUS proved that his first outing was of benefit, stepping up here and coming clear in the final furlong. This track probably suited better than Epsom’s downhill turning six furlongs. He can go on from here.
Much promise in second from newcomer MANSON. He made headway two out and saw his race out to the line to take second. There are plenty of winners in the family and it shouldn’t be too long before he joins them.
JACK NEVISON, a decent enough looker, chased the leader in the closing stages but made no impression in the latter stages. This was a creditable effort on debut from one who will benefit from an extra furlong.
EASTER MATE kept on in the latter stages without being close enough to threaten and is likely to be suited by contesting nurseries.
GEORGE WILLIAM looked plenty fired up in the preliminaries, had his chance but was held from the furlong pole.
FORCE looks an awkward sort. He was very fizzy in the preliminaries, way to keen in the race and beaten before the final furlong. Frankie Dettori didn’t seem over chuffed post-race.
SEA OF FLAMES looked reasonably fit for his debut but was keen early on and never got into the race. HE will find easier opportunities and has enough about him to make an impact in time, more than likely when stepped up in trip.
6.30 7f NSPCC Nursery Handicap (61-77)
We lost the likely strong favourite when Welford was pulled out. He was replaced as odds-on shot by AUXILIARY but this one made hard work of the task. He was keen early on and wayward when asked for an effort, but credit to Liam Jones for coaxing sufficient out of him. Auxiliary is not straightforward and I would oppose him at short odds off his new mark.
CLIVE CLIFTON showed up nicely here, finishing closer to the winner than at Chester. Settled in front, he saw his race out once headed, though may just benefit from returning to six furlongs.
INDIGO had her chance but was held from the furlong pole. She hints at some ability and might be one for a minor maiden at one of the flat ‘gaffs’.
BUKLE was a bit keen and had nothing in reserve from a furlong out. His form looks regressive at this stage.
7.05 1m 2f 6yds NSPCC Charity Race Evening 3yo Handicap (71-83)
This might prove a reasonable little contest with two progressive sorts fighting out the finish.
BISHOP’S LEAP was held up and made good progress from two out and just got the better of a duel to the line. This was only his third race, he’s learning and there is probably more to come.
ROYAL TOAST caught the eye in the paddock. I suspect he has needed time to come to himself, but he put in a decent effort here, just denied in a determined battle. The step up to this trip helped and there should be a race for him soon.
MYWAYALWAYS looks a fair measure and saw his race out having been passed at the furlong pole, though outpointed by the first two. He set the pace and will be suited by a sharper track where he can dictate.
MARCANO had his chance two out but was held. He won a maiden at Salisbury as a two-year-old, but hasn’t made much impact since and this was as close as he has been since then.
FIT THE BILL was fizzy in the paddock and taken down early. Beaten before the furlong pole, he uses up energy pre-race though all-weather record suggests he’s decent at this level.
JARGON has not recovered two-year-old form and was well held.
7.40 6f 8yds NSPCC Handicap (62-75)
Two stood out on looks in the paddock, Bush Warrior and HEAD SPACE and the latter provided this paddock watcher with a decent winner at 12/1. He has plenty of miles on the clock but fitness edge looked the key here. Sporting a natty pair of pink and black diamond patterned visors to match his jockey’s silks; he made headway two out and took control from the furlong pole. I think his trainer will need to strike quickly to take advantage of his peak fitness again.
GOLD CLUB challenged two out for couldn’t match the winner. He held the rest though and remains in good from.
BUSH WARRIOR was the second horse noted for fitness, but didn’t threaten the winner. He was driven at halfway but did at least see his race out for third. He needs encouraging but is regularly thereabouts in this company.
GROUNDWORKER race close up and had every chance to follow up his course and distance win, but was found wanting. This looked a slightly better contest.
PRCE REGAL led until past halfway but weakened from the furlong pole and is proving difficult to win with at this time.
FEVER FEW looked worked up in the preliminaries and at the start. She was keen in the race but had a chance before one out and it appeared that the race will have brought her on a bit.
8.10 1m Al Basti Equiworld Fillies’ Handicap (68-81)
Three non-runners left only three to contest this race. I’m indebted to Alan Potts for giving the background which suggests the three absentees were never likely to urn anyway. They were all declared after the race was re-opened with only the three eventual runners initially declaring. Not a good situation and one I would hope the BHA would attempt to address, though breath is not held.
NO DELUSION set in behind the leader and had the best acceleration when push came to shove. She saw her race out nicely.
SHARQEYIH was the hare for the other two and just caught flat footed by the winner. She just held second place.
BRIDIE FFRENCH was the most exposed of the three. She threatened approaching the final furlong but couldn’t match the pace of the other two.
8.45 1m 4f 5yds NSPCC Fillies’ Handicap (72-92)
SPACELAB is a strong filly who was on her toes in the paddock. Fit enough after a break, she was held up and made rapid progress from over a furlong out to get in front in the shadow of the post. There may be a little more to come given that she shouldn’t be over punished by the handicapper for a narrow win.
MELODIOUS looked to have snatched the race when leading at the furlong pole but was caught close home. She saw out this trip well and can gain compensation in similar company.
SERENE BEAUTY was well touted beforehand, but couldn’t match the first two in the closing stages. Condition wise she didn’t look as well as the winner.
MOONRISE LANDING had her chance but was held from the furlong pole. She had tried two miles previously and might benefit from a step back up in trip.
NORFOLK SKY ran a creditable race off a long break. She led until two out and weakened in the final furlong but the race will have done her no harm.
NORTHERN MEETING was fit enough but not good enough and beaten two out.