Three Gloucestershire trainers were busy at Newton Abbot yesterday as the popular Devon track reached its halfway point of the summer season. With restrictions on travel in place at least till Monday, racecourses are hoping staycation holidays will allow them to recoup some of the lost spectator revenue of the past 15 months.
Fergal O'Brien's Ravenswell team have seamlessly segued from one season to another with barely a let up in the pace of winners. Although this past few weeks has been light on fixtures, everyone has made the most of the opportunities existing. A double at Stratford on Sunday was followed up yesterday by a win in the seller for Coole Well in a poorly contested race. The winner was bought in for 8,000 gns.
Sellers are increasingly rare, and the volume of bloodstock sales means there are plenty of other outlets. This strangest of races at Newton Abbot included Coole Well, rated 120, and Theo from Richard Newland's, rated 130 - bizarre ratings for horses that would normally be running at a higher level altogether. Expect to see Coole Well out again shortly; he never saw another horse from a mile out.
Darling du Large was made to work hard for her win in the handicap chase over the minimum trip, winning a second race for popular owner Simon Clarke. In the best finish of the day, the mare took on race leader Dogon from Paul Nicholls' yard, and saw out the race marginally better, especially after the leader hit the last hard. Tom's chasers are to be followed during the summer where he enjoys a good strike rate from very limited runners.
Richard Phillips has introduced plenty of new young horses this term as he sets about drawing a line under a meagre year in 2020. The latest to win the concluding bumper is five year old mare Mattie Ross, who won her bumper at the fourth time of asking in good style. She'll now go hurdling. The Adlestrop team is back among the winners.
Success wasn't limited to UK fixtures last week. Charlie Longsdon too his bucket and spade and headed for the picturesque track at Les Landes in Jersey where Jamacho provided the first leg of a four-timer for Brian Hughes in the 2m 2f handicap hurdle. Given Jersey is a self-governing part of the UK territory, it's a shame that the racecourse was never included in the media deals that sustain British racing. The racing industry on the islands provides employment for plenty, with Guernsey also hosting an annual flat fixture. It can't be easy to maintain a racing enterprise in such a small territory. Les Landes has as much in common with Cocklebarrow as with Newton Abbot, and Covid nearly did for racing on the Islands.