Williams Has Successful Weekend At Musselburgh


21 February 2024

It’s our Six Nations Race Day this Saturday 24th February.

Both rugby games will be shown – as well as seven live races and a Stereophonics tribute band after racing. The gates open at 11.23am and the first race is off at 1.23pm. Advance tickets are £10 with tickets also available on the day priced at £20. There are a few places still available in the restaurant.

We have two meetings next month on Sunday 17th (St Patrick’s Race Day) and Thursday 21st March.

Evan Williams (photographed) sent five horses up to Musselburgh on Sunday and came home with two winners. He’d had no runners there for at least five years, but his record there before that was four winners from eight starters. Sunday’s winners were shared between his daughter Isabel and the ex-champ Brian Hughes.

Isabel’s was on Balkardy, whose record this season was four seconds and a third. He disputed the lead throughout the 3m hurdle, but after seeing off that other rival he looked doomed to finish second again when joined on the run-in by one final challenger. However, Balkardy battled back gallantly and reached the post a neck in front.

Hughes won on Everyonesacritic, running in a handicap for the first time. He rode one of his trademark waiting races and didn’t hit the front until after the final hurdle, but then Hughes needed all his strength to get the horse home by three quarters of a length. The market drift from 5/1 to 11/1 turned out to be irrelevant.

At Southwell the Christian Williams-trained William Ewart broke his duck over fences, landing something of a gamble in the 3m chase. Looking vulnerable when joined in the lead at the final fence, he then pulled away to win a little more easily than the length and a quarter verdict suggests.

David Probert won at Wolverhampton on Saturday evening aboard Dunstan, the favourite in a three-horse affair over 1m4f. The other two were running from out of the handicap so Dunstan wasn’t a bad price at 10/11. His backers had few worries, for Probert brought him past the pacesetter in the home straight to win by a length. That made 19 for the year for Probert, who is in fourth place in the flat jockeys’ table, Rossa Ryan leading with 31.

Sean Bowen’s return to race-riding has been a little low-key. Only two winners have been forthcoming from 18 rides up to last weekend. He’s relinquished his lead in the jockeys’ title race to Harry Cobden but are still two months to go. Cobden leads the title by three (as of February 20th).

Ben Jones had a day to remember at Ascot. Four mounts for Ben Pauling yielded three wins and a second. The partnership has thrived since the trainer turned to Jones after Luca Morgan retired and while Kielan Woods is suspended.

The 730/1 treble began with Pic Roc in a 2m3f novice hurdle. Staying chases will be his game eventually. Later Honor Grey took the 3m race for novices, 482 days after his last outing. Pauling said, “Without a shadow of a doubt this would be the best bunch of novice hurdlers I've had in the last three years.”

In between, Henry’s Friend took the Reynoldstown Novice Chase, his third win in succession. Although his jumping was suspect early on, it improved, and was superior to that of the others. Jones has had 15 winners so far in 2024 and is only five short of his personal best for an entire season.

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