There were 50 races up and down the country on Saturday but Wales only came out on top in one, and that was in the stewards’ room. In the first on the Warwick card, a novice hurdle, Tim Vaughan’s Mourzouk tried hard to overhaul the leader, and narrowed the deficit to a neck as they passed the post - though on replays it looked a very short neck! However, the leader had crossed in front of Mourzouk on the run-in, causing Charlie Price to snatch him up, and the placings were reversed.
Brecon-born Price is fulfilling his childhood dream of becoming a jockey, despite not sitting on a horse until he enlisted at the British Racing School at Newmarket. He started working for Vaughan as a stable lad and rode winners in Arab races before getting chances under National Hunt Rules.
Price’s career has stalled since riding 23 winners in the 2019/20 season as second jockey for Vaughan. There were only five successes for him the year after and seven in the last campaign, which mirrors the decline in the stable’s fortunes. Fewer horses there meant fewer opportunities for him, as Alan Johns (photographed) understandably gets the pick of the mounts.
However, in the last week the yard has hit form with a vengeance. They sent three horses to Ayr and won with two of them. Isle Of Aron (3/1) took the first division of the handicap hurdle and around 40 minutes or so later Bells Of Stanford, the 15/8 favourite, won the second division. Both were ridden by Alan Johns who, like Vaughan, used to ride in point-to-points. On the same card Sean Bowen also landed a double, winning on Ted Hastings and Hollymount, both trained by Gordon Elliott.
Sunday was a much better day for Welsh participants at Ludlow. Richard Patrick rode the first winner, Fight For It, for the in-form John O’Shea stable in the Forest of Dean. The 6/1 shot travelled nicely behind the leaders and didn’t have too much trouble seeing off the opposition. He won by eight lengths and is entered in a race at Newton Abbot on Wednesday.
Connor Brace rode a cool race aboard Ultimate Getaway to win the 3m novice chase, holding up the outsider of three until hitting the front on the run-in. His jumping was adequate rather than bold, and though he was the lowest-rated of the trio, his proven liking for the prevailing fast ground more than made up for that.
In spite of pulling hard in the first half of the 2m5f novice hurdle Gris Majeur defied a penalty to win it, cruising past the leader two out. He tied up slightly at the end, but kept on gamely to give Powys trainer Sheila Lewis her first winner of the new season. Chasing is the agenda sooner or later for the steel grey, who is owned by her father.
At Plumpton, Lorcan Williams scored aboard Tamaroc Du Mathan in the £50,000 Sussex Champion Chase. The Paul Nicholls-trained seven-year-old appreciated the fast going and a drop in class.
Our next fixture at Chepstow is Friday 27th May and we then race on Jubilee weekend, Saturday 4th June when there’s a DJ set from BBC Radio One presenter Chris Stark after racing. Tickets and restaurant packages are available for both meetings. All the details are on the website.