We have an extra meeting at Chepstow this Wednesday 24th January to help make up for the many jump fixtures lost recently including our fixture last Tuesday. 74 runners have been declared to run including the JCB 2019 Triumph Hurdle winner Pentland Hills, trained by Nicky Henderson. There are seven races from 12.55pm.
There’s another fixture at Chepstow next Tuesday 30th January with a break before the next meeting on Saturday 24th February which is Six Nations Race Day when advance tickets are just £10.
David Probert’s fine start to 2024 carried on at Lingfield’s all-weather meeting on Saturday.
His record for owner-trainer Stan Moore was a dismal two winners from 50 rides before Saturday but that was forgotten when he produced Raintown to put his nose in front in the very last stride of the mile and a half handicap. It was the first time Probert had ridden the horse, who was winning for the fifth time on artificial surfaces, having never managed a place on turf.
Ffos Las clerk of the course Dai Jones has taken over that job role at Chepstow. It’s a case of musical chairs for the Arena Racing Company clerks, for Jones is replacing Libby O’Flaherty (photographed), who moves from Chepstow to Worcester. Former Brighton and Fontwell clerk Tracey O’Meara returns from Ireland to fill the gap at Ffos Las. Jones is quick to credit to the information he gets via his jockey son Ben for the views of those in the weighing room. “I find out pretty quickly when things are not done to the jockeys’ liking.”
Two Welshmen fought out the finish of the second race on Lingfield’s Winter Million jumps day on Sunday, but the drama continued in the stewards’ room afterwards.
Though Nico de Boinville’s return to the saddle after breaking his thumb ended James Bowen’s period standing in as the number one rider for Nicky Henderson, the Pembrokeshire man still had a ride at Lingfield for the yard on Aston Martini. She was the stable second string in a valuable mares’ novice hurdle; de Boinville was on the more favoured runner, but she dropped out of contention turning into the straight.
Two flights out Aston Martini joined Ben Jones’ mount Ooh Betty in the lead, and they had a ding-dong battle all the way to the line with first one and then the other gaining the advantage. Passing the post Aston Martini was a nose in front, but she had squeezed Ooh Betty against the rails and the placings were reversed after a stewards’ enquiry. Bowen was suspended for two days for careless riding, as he allowed his mount to drift left-handed without timely correction, giving a bump to and unbalancing Ooh Betty.
Sean Bowen, 21 ahead in the jump jockeys’ championship, hopes to resume riding at the end of the week. A troublesome knee injury, caused when falling at Aintree on Boxing Day has been slower to clear up than he would have liked.