FARMER Jeff Laws celebrated his first double in more than 30 years of owning racehorses as Redcar Races launched its 2021 season on Easter Monday.
Mr Laws, who farms beef in Northumberland, had a brace of winners with Vindobala and Ghathanfar, both trained at Spennymoor by Tracy Waggott, and ridden by Tom Eaves.
Vindobala was sourced at the breeze-up sales by former jockey Freddy Tylicki, who was paralysed from the waist down following a fall at Kempton in 2016, and now works as a bloodstock agent.
The filly won The Redcar Racecourse Thanks The NHS Handicap in a thrilling finish from Karl Burke’s Alba de Tormes.
Waggott said: “We were hopeful of a good run and she settled well. We'll look for another little mile race and she'll be better still with a bit of cut in the ground."
Mr Laws added: "She was second here last year, so we thought the track would suit. It’s fantastic."
The race was marred when Bear Me In Mind took a heavy fall, with jockey Barry McHugh taken to hospital for treatment.
Mr Laws’ double was sealed when Ghathanfar won The Watch Racing TV In Stunning HD Handicap in good style, leading the owner’s wife, Paula, to say: "We thought both horses would be there or there abouts but to get a double is brilliant. We've had a great day and Redcar has just become my favourite racecourse!"
Before he finally got his head in front at Newcastle last month, Danielsflyer – trained near Darlington by Michael Dods – hadn’t won since 2017. However, he made it two quick victories in a row by getting up close home to beat Richard Fahey’s National League under a strong ride by Connor Beasley in the Join Racing TV Now Handicap.
Dods said: "A furlong out, I thought he'd be second because National League wasn't stopping, but Connor said he let him find his feet and he battled really well."
The trainer revealed the gelding had been due to go back to Newcastle last week, but Beasley wasn't available, so the owners decided to wait for Redcar.
"They didn't want to split up the partnership and it's worked out well," said Dods.
Embour, bought out of Richard Hannon's yard last year as a replacement for Poyle Vinnie, took the Market Cross Jewellers Handicap for trainer, Ruth Carr, jockey James Sullivan, and owners Formulated Polymer Products.
Poyle Vinnie won the Stewards' Cup Consolation Race at Goodwood in 2019 and the owners are now dreaming of a Goodwood repeat.
Mark Howarth, whose father Neil is the Lancashire company's MD, said: "We love a trip to Goodwood, and it would be lovely to go there and emulate what Poyle Vinnie did - or maybe even get in the Stewards' Cup for real. It's the start of a long season and, hopefully, we can look forward to having some fun with him."
Embour was giving Carr a first turf winner of the season and the North Yorkshire trainer said: "Everything just fell into place for him, and it's nice to get off to a start on the turf for the year. Last season was pants with the horses not in great form, so I'm delighted."
Redcar’s first race of 2021 was another winner for the in-form Mark Johnston-Ben Curtis combination when smart three-year-old, Headingley, commanded from the front in The Flat Is Back Novice Stakes (see main picture).
After the Dawn Approach colt stayed on well to fend off James Tate's Villeurbanne, Curtis said: “He's a nice horse and showed a great attitude. He's very laid-back, popped out of the stalls, lobbed away in front, and put the race to bed. The world's his oyster. Hopefully, he'll improve, and have a lot of fun this year."
Ben Curtis completed a double when Portelet Boy made the long journey from Monmouthshire pay off for trainer David Evans in The racingtv.com Handicap Stakes.
The day’s most impressive winner was Ilza'eem, trained at Newmarket by Simon and Ed Crisford, and ridden by PJ McDonald, in Division Two of The Flat Is Back Novice Stakes.
The Olympic Glory colt, a £260,000 purchase, was always cantering and went clear a furlong out to win by four lengths. McDonald said: "I just let him stretch out and enjoy himself, and he was never out of second gear."
The final race of the day, the Watch Race Replays At racingtv.com Handicap, went to London Eye, trained at Newmarket by Chris Dwyer and ridden by apprentice, Marco Ghiani. The gelding stayed on stoutly under topweight to defy Rebecca Menzies’ hattrick-seeking Travel Lightly.
- Redcar’s three April meetings are being held behind closed doors, with the possibility of a limited number of spectators returning on May 17, depending on the continuing success of the Government's roadmap out of lockdown.