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Track Talk With Executive Director Phil Bell - 28th Sept


28 September 2021

One of the most welcome text messages I’ve received in recent days is the one from Chepstow’s Clerk of the Course Libby O’Flaherty on Monday morning to say we’d had 10mm of rain overnight and more was on its way.  

After such a dry month we really wanted a few downpours ahead of next week’s two-day Unibet Jump Season Opener. Our watering system would have enabled us to provide excellent, safe ground but you can’t beat the rain to create the perfect conditions for jump racing. 

This meeting has the potential to attract some of the biggest equine stars in our sport but they are unlikely to run if the ground isn’t suitable (ie: too firm). Suffice to say I’ll be keeping a close eye on the skies in the coming days but judging by the forecast there’s not much to worry about! 

Jockey Hollie Doyle has firmly established herself as one of the leading riders in the UK and she rode another two winners at the final flat meeting of the season at Ffos Las on Sunday. She was successful aboard Red Vineyard and Mister Bluebird.  

Pundits have been complaining about small fields recently, a situation which in many parts of the UK was exacerbated by the prolonged dry spell.  We had no such problems on Sunday at Ffos Las, where 80 runners competed in eight races.  Occasional punters who back horses on the basis of family names will have been pleased by the 1-2-3 in the sixth race, Beryl Burton, Wow William and My Boy Charles. 

In the two-year-old maiden, a Ron Harris gelding showed promise outrunning his 200/1 starting price.  The once-raced My Name’s Howard was prominent from the start of the seven furlong race before fading in the last couple of hundred yards.  Although his breeding suggests a mile should be his forte, this run suggested a drop in trip might be worth a try. 

There was a great turnout at Ffos Las on Sunday in line with consistently strong attendances since spectators returned to the sport in July. There is a meeting with the Welsh Government this week to discuss the rules surrounding the use of Covid passes at some of Chepstow’s more popular fixtures in December. None of the Ffos Las race meetings are expected to be impacted.  

The Welsh-owned Pyledriver, whose season since winning the Coronation Cup has been interrupted with minor niggles, is back in full training, but not in time for a tilt at the Arc de Triomphe.  Instead, he is being prepared for a rather easier Group 1 – Munich’s Grosser Preis von Bayern in November – en route to other valuable prizes in Hong Kong and the Arab nations.   

David Evans’ useful two-year-old Bastogne was second in a good nursery at Newmarket last week.  His form is there for all to see, rated 82, having never been out of the first four in seven races.  The handicapper has his measure and connections may be tempted to send him to the sales. 

His stablemate Wind Your Neck In went into several notebooks earlier this month on account of his running-on third at a big price at Salisbury.  At the same track a week later he was strongly fancied, only to be pipped at the post, he and the winner coming in nine lengths clear of the rest.  He could make it third time lucky at the Wiltshire course on Thursday. 

As the autumn/winter jump season draws ever closer, it was good to see the Bowens among the winners at Perth last week. Fairlawn Flyer, trained by Peter and ridden by James, easily took the 3m handicap hurdle on Thursday. Sean scored at the same two day fixture aboard Go Another One and Clondaw Hollow, both trained in Ireland by John McConnell. 

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