THE JOIN OVER 8,000 MEMBERS APPRENTICE HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 6) at Ripon on Tuesday August 6th will not stay in the memory for most people for too long , but for us at NE1Racing Club it will always hold fond memories as it provided our very first winner since we started earlier in the year.
We have two horses in ownership for members in the club and it was Lukoutoldmakezebak (Rolo)who managed to get his head in front at Ripon on his third outing under the ownership of the racing club. He has been really unlucky this year to have bumped into several very very well handicapped horses in narrow defeat, The pattern has been that they beat us narrowly of a very low mark then go on to run up a sequence.
With horses you are learning all of the time and after his short head defeat at Hamilton it is now apparent that Rolo really relishes a bit of cut in the ground. Jockey Jamie Gormley said he loved the ground that day when it was particularly soft. We had been forced to run him over 1m 1f simply because we have not been able to get into 1m races because of our low handicap mark. Which then becomes a self fulfilling downward spiral as the handicapper will drop him further . It is so important in my book that the race programmers look at the programme for horses based in the north rated 45-55 as the lack of provision is glaringly obvious. Recent races at Redcar/ Newcastle have attracted entries in excess of 60. These races on the programme have not been identified as races which can divide which is the biggest gaffe of all. It also should tell the authorities that ok prize money can always be better, but it is not stopping owners from entering.It is the lack of suitable races at the lower end. It dismayed me to hear a pundit on Luck on Sunday recently bemoaning the number of low grade races that were being run. The discussion was around the volume of racing. I agree there is probably too much racing especially through the summer months, but as John Dance highlighted months ago, the % of horses currently in training which are rated below 55 is staggeringly high. Without these horses and owners the industry as we recognize it now would not function. Jim McGrath clearly didn’t see it that way!
Our trip to Ripon started unpromisingly as our SatNav took us through some lovely villages within touching distance of the course just for the craic. On arrival we were greeted warmly by staff and found our way to the Owners and Trainers facility . It had been many years since we had last been to Ripon and it is clear that the most improved small racecourse plaque at the base of the stairs was not out of place. It is a lovely facility which provides owners with comfort and a clear view of the parade ring. In the parade ring before our race we chatted to James and Sally Bethell who were there with Jessinamillion. Rolo was with James at Middleham prior to moving back up north and if there is a nicer person in racing I am yet to meet him.
The beautiful parade ring is large enough to get lost in and after passing the time of day with Brian Ellison we looked up and could see our jockey Aled Beech about twenty metres away at the top end surrounded by trainer and members of the racing club.In as calm a fashion as we could we scurried across to make our introductions . In my mind I knew that jockey Aled had ridden two winners recently at Yarmouth and Newmarket using front running tactics and having seen the clips I felt today would be the day that a similar strategy would work for us. Trainer David had already given Aled the tactics which were completely different, to hold horse up and let him come through 3 furlongs out . Apprentice races sometimes are run at a breakneck pace and he said we wanted no part in that. Aled got on we made our way on to course and took up our position. Normally at this point I wander off and watch the race in a quiet spot. On this occasion we all stood together and having put my little wager on the night before at 25/1 I did not have to worry about getting bets on.
3 furlongs out just for moment I thought we were in trouble but Aled rode the race to perfection and brought him home up the centre seeing off the challenge from the ultra game Betty Grable. In real time the feeling of watching your horse stride out to win a race is second to none. I wanted to capture the moment so we got a photo taken before we headed to the winners enclosure.
The next ten minutes or so were a bit of a blur. Aled and David interviewed on Sky, presentation from Terry on behalf of ROA who were sponsoring the entire card as the ROA Industry Ownership Day. Then champagne and nibbles and the chance to watch a re run in the company of our members and everyone connected with the yard. The genuine delight of the occasion was a moment I will never forget and nor too will our members.
The rest of the evening flew over too quickly but I would recommend owners with a healthy appetite use their meal voucher at the canteen opposite the O/T as the voucher can be redeemed there and you will not be disappointed . The salad offer upstairs in O/T did look superb by the way, just not my bag.
Not every day’s racing can end up the way that this one did, but when they happen they are worth remembering. Aled Beech is a sensible intelligent level headed jockey who I would recommend . He travelled all the way from Newmarket just for the one ride and as I have always believed, hard work will pay off in the long run.