Everyone has battled through the cold and now we are fronting up to some milder weather with plenty of rain thrown in. We are forecast to get up to around 15oc later in the week which seems bonkers but then given what has happened in the world over the past year or so, it really is not that surprising. Rugs were getting piled on to the horses and now some rugs have been tucked away until the next beast from the east rears its head.
Capla Crusader ran on Saturday and he was unable to back up his win over course and distance. He had to work a little bit harder to get the lead and was not given as much peace as when he won, the track was riding deep enough and he faded in the final furlong. It was nice to see him jump out on terms again and we were not too disheartened.
Global Warning dug deep to win up at Newcastle last night. He was effectively 13 pounds higher than when he won over course and distance last time, with Marco’s claim reduced by 2, so it was really pleasing to see him stay on all the way to the line and win again. It was nice to see Marco get him jumping out better and he timed his challenge to perfection, he looks set for a good year ahead. We may have a bit of fun now and have a shot at the 7f Apprentice race on All Weather Finals Day.
Sir Oliver and London Eye run today. Sir Oliver is in top form and will have come on for his last run. The draw is terrible though in stall 9 of 10 and we are crossing our fingers he can overcome it. Album won last time like a horse who has a bit more up their sleeve but is stepping up in grade and we take on Invincible Larne again on slightly better terms, having been beaten by him last time. London Eye lacks a turn of foot and so we have stepped him up in trip to 1m6f, it looks an open race and we are hoping he backs up his last run and is thereabouts.
I used to work with trainer Mike Murphy back in my London days and it is great to see him flying along in 2021. Mike was a respected analyst in the support services sector and he is now putting his analytical skills to good use in the horse world, 12 winners from 23 runners is ridiculous and 22 of them have been in the first 4. Phil McEntee has made a fine start and has moved on to 8 winners for the year, as has Stuart Williams who already has 14 winners since Jan 1st. David and Mark Loughnane have both got off to flying starts with 10 and 11 winners respectively whilst Simon Pearce has struck with 3 of his 6 runners since the turn of the year and Lydia Richards has banged in 2 winners from her 4 to run. Kevin Philippart De Foy continues in red hot form and has 5 winners to his name in 2021. The artillery is being oiled at many of the big stables ready for the turf but Charlie Appleby has tapped in 9 winners at 60% and Roger Varian and John Gosden are striking at 34% and 33% respectively with their selected runners in 2021. Mark Johnston is up to 22 runners and continues to strike above 30%.
Rossa Ryan heads the 2021 jockey charts, having ridden 22 winners since January 1st. He oozes confidence in the saddle, gets his horses in the right spots and gets a tune out of them. The usual suspects are close behind, namely H Doyle, A Kirby, R Kingscote, L Morris and D Probert. It is good to see the dependable Dan Muscutt on 15 winners and Jack Mitchell on 14, both are hard-working, decent guys who deserve all the success they get. One name I have wanted to mention amongst the apprentice ranks is Oliver Stammers, he is growing in confidence and rides Newcastle very well, he should have a good 2021. Another is Mark Crehan, he looks set for a very productive year ahead and has ridden two winners for George Boughey of late, one an action packed ride at Southwell and the other a patient, confident ride at Newcastle.
It is great to see Chester preparing for the return of crowds. I think there is going to be a real opportunity to promote horse racing once we move back to normality. There will be a 2 to 3 year window where people will be looking to make the most out of their leisure time. Racecourses like Kempton that have a big catchment area and often low attendances, really have a chance to heavily promote their offerings and get some feet through the turnstiles. If people experience an atmosphere then they will return and if it takes low admission prices to do it, then so be it. A healthy atmosphere will generate more corporate bookings and more sponsorship. I am looking forward to the start of the Racing League, there will be some good rivalries and it is something that will hopefully capture the public’s imagination. Innovation is key to the industry and whilst I can see why a lot of big owners are against it, there will be a lot of good that will come from it.