Horse Racing News – 8th January 2018

Old Boy Raz Romps at Chepstow as Youngsters Stake Cheltenham Festival Claims

The Old And The Young Combine For Chepstow Success

The big betting race of the weekend came at Chepstow as the track played host to its re-scheduled Welsh Grand National meeting. Always an arduous affair, the latest edition proved no different, with only seven of the twenty runners crossing the finishing line.

It looked for a time as though the grand old warrior Alfie Spinner would add to the “Lee’s” excellent recent record here, as the Kerry Lee trained 13 year old took up the running at the 13th flight. In behind though there was another veteran beginning to work up a head of steam in the form of last season’s runner up Raz De Maree.

The Gavin Cromwell trained runner did take a while to warm to his task, but with no horse of the calibre of Native River in front of him this time around, he was never going to be denied once his stamina came into play turning for home, and duly pulled clear for a six length success. Alfie Spinner ran a gallant race in second with Final Nudge and Vintage Clouds filling the frame.

Also entering the twilight of his career at 13 years of age, Raz De Maree was nevertheless still younger than his jockey, but not by all that much. The man up top was one of the emerging stars of the conditional jockey’s scene, James Bowen. Showing experience way in advance of his 16 years, the Welsh native, and son of trainer Peter Bowen, remained calm, despite having to get to work a long way from home, becoming the youngest winning rider in the races long history.

With the conditional jockey’s title firmly in his sights, we suspect we will be hearing a good deal more from James in the future. As for Raz De Maree, the Aintree National may be on the agenda, but only if the ground is similarly testing. He can be backed at 40/1 with Coral for the big one.

Summerville Shocks Tolworth Field and Dream Delivers

Saturdays two major graded contests centred around the inexperienced hurdlers, with Sandown’s Tolworth Hurdle and the Coral Future Champions Juvenile Finale Hurdle at Chepstow.

Summerville Boy was sent off the rank outsider of five in the Tolworth Hurdle but outran his odds in a big way to leave the field trailing in his wake. With 67 lengths between first and last, it seems likely that the likes of well beaten favourite Western Rider – who had beaten Summerville Boy last time out – simply didn’t handle the conditions here but the runner up Kalashnikov does look a useful yardstick. The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle looks to be the big target for the winner, with Betfair making him a 25/1 shot for the Cheltenham Festival curtain raiser.

Back at Chepstow, Nicky Henderson’s grip on the Triumph Hurdle market became firmer still, as his runner We Have A Dream continued the perfect start to his career in Britain when taking the Coral Future Champions Juvenile Finale Hurdle. Having looked good when making all to win by ten lengths last time out, he showed his versatility in scoring here. Held up throughout, he found plenty when produced late to see off the talented and tenacious runner up, Sussex Ranger. Now in to 8/1 with Ladbrokes for the Triumph Hurdle, he has only stablemate Apple’s Shakira ahead of him in the betting.

Mullins And Elliott Lock Horns At Fairyhouse

Looking ahead, we have one of the more low-key Saturday’s of the year on the domestic front, with the weekends major contest coming over in Ireland on Sunday. With 12 entries between them in the Dan Moore Memorial Handicap Steeplechase at Fairyhouse, and €100,000 in prize money up for grabs, Champion Trainer contenders, Willie Mullins, and Gordon Elliott look set to do battle once again.