JOCKEY Danny Tudhope and trainer David O’Meara are a formidable partnership and they took the honours at Redcar’s first meeting of the season with a double and three seconds.
The combination got off to a flyer by landing the opening The Flat Is Back On Racing TV Fillies’ Restricted Novice Stakes with debutante Star of Lady M.
The Havana Grey filly (main picture) stayed on stoutly to outgun hot favourite Primrose Ridge, who’d been a promising second in the Brocklesby Stakes at Doncaster last week.
Some owners go a lifetime without a winner but Mike and Sally Madden, from Derbyshire, achieved it with their first horse. “She’s a March 31 foal so she’s quite young and will, hopefully, come on for the run,” said IT consultant, Mike.
The double came when Autumn Festival – a full brother to 2018 Italian Derby winner Summer Festival – comfortably made all to win The Racing TV Straight Mile Handicap.
The three-year-old Poet’s Voice gelding is owned by West Midlands-based Dr Mark Ford, who also bred the winner at Throckmorton Court Stud. “I am absolutely delighted because he was a stunning yearling and then got a really bad virus, so he didn’t run until the tail-end of his two-year-old days. It really knocked him back so it’s lovely to see him win so well,” said Dr Ford.
The Tudhope-O’Meara combination had to settle for second in division one of The Welcome Back Annual Badge Holders Handicap Stakes when Frog and Toad couldn’t match the finish of Trevie Fountain, trained in North Yorkshire by Ruth Carr, ridden by James Sullivan, and owned by the Grange Park Racing VII syndicate.
The trainer said: “We probably had fitness on our side today after running on the all-weather and it’s nice to get a win on turf because it opens up our options.”
A cracking ride by Paul Mulrennan denied Tudhope and O’Meara a treble in the feature Join Racing TV Now Handicap when Ben Haslam’s Lightening Company dug deep to overcome the resurgent Hortzadar in a thrilling finish.
Lightening Company is owned by Middleham Park Racing and Haslam believes he might develop into a contender for the Cambridgeshire Handicap, at Newmarket, at the back end of the season.
“I really like him and he’s not there in his coat yet so we might not have seen the best of him. The Cambridgeshire might be a possibility if he stays on an upward curve. He needs cut and another furlong or two wouldn’t be a hindrance,” said the Middleham trainer.
The ‘Yorkshire Wonder Horse’ initiative has added some spice to the northern racing scene this year. Go Racing In Yorkshire has teamed up with equestrian supplier Wm McIvor & Son to find a horse capable of wining at all nine Yorkshire courses by the end of 2023, with a £100,000 prize to be shared by the owner, trainer, jockey and winning yard.
And Leyburn trainer Jedd O’Keeffe believes Hilts might just be the versatile type of horse to be a contender after he overcame greenness to land a last-stride gamble under Jack Garritty in The Yorkshire Wonder Horse Starts Now Handicap.
O’Keeffe said: “We were slightly worried that he hadn’t got there in time, but he was green and still has plenty to learn. He loved the ground, stayed well, and will get further in time. He’s been a slow learner, but we always thought there was something there. Even so, it was a big surprise how much money came for him.
“The Yorkshire Wonder Horse is a fantastic idea and Hilts has definitely given us something to think about. I’m not saying he’ll go hurdling but he’s got the potential to do that. One thing’s for sure, we’re all going to be desperate to land what is a really big prize.”
Ryan Sexton, from County Kildare, is a young jockey well worth his 7lbs claim and he scored for the seventh time this season on the well-backed Pallas Lord in division two. The 18-year-old showed a lot of patience on the Dandy Man gelding, trained in the Scottish Borders by Donald Whillans.
“I got a nice bit of cover from the wind, and I always thought he would get there. I was just biding my time and he’s done it easily in the end,” said Sexton.
There was an impressive performance by Newmarket raider Nicholas George, who skated clear under Jack Mitchell in The Happy Big Birthday Peter Barron Novice Stakes. The winner, trained by Kevin Philippart de Foy, ran straight up the rail while favourite Franz hung badly in second.
There was a 50-1 shock in the concluding Watch Race Replays At racingtv.com Handicap when Clansman, trained at Middleham by Liam Bailey, stayed on gamely in the hands of Jason Watson.
Danny Tudhope and David O’Meara looked odds-on to finally score their hat-trick when favourite Al Qaasim made smooth headway a furlong out, but Clansman refused to surrender.
The horse was formerly owned by John Dance and trained by Jedd O’Keeffe, before being bought at the Newmarket Sales in October.
Christine Clarke, who co-owns the Nathaniel gelding with Colin Stirling of Foulrice Park Racing, said: “We weren’t expecting it at all but he’s a nice size and could be a dual-purpose horse in the making.”
Christine got into racing when she followed her uncle, David Thompson, who was a successful amateur jockey. He still holds the record for amateur wins at Wetherby.