THE young conditional jockey Brendan Powell further enhanced his growing reputation at Plumpton on Monday when lighting up the meeting with a treble on what, weather wise, was a dark and bleak winter afternoon.
He won the first and last races on the card and split them with a stroll to victory on the odds-on favourite Ohio Gold in the novice hurdle.
The seven-pound claimer displayed a great judgement of pace and also timing in difficult, testing ground on a day when the young riders outshone their fully fledged weighing room colleagues with the locally-based conditionals Joshua Moore and Marc Goldstein also registering individual successes on the card.
It was a good day for local trainers as well, with Gary Moore improving on his excellent course record in the staying chase, Anna Newton-Smith scoring with the improving Goring Two and Michael Roberts scoring in the long distance hurdle with Hazy Bay.
The latter trains at Hailsham and spoke to me post-race about how he has been running his operation in recent times: “I have pared back the number of horses I have in training from around 20 to just a handful.
“That has also been the case with the breeding aspect of the business, which I got quite involved with at one time.
“Today has been great because Hazy Bay is a horse I bred myself and, though I knew he would relish the testing conditions, I also felt he would improve for this run. That gives me hope that there might be something else for him if the handicapper doesn’t get carried away.
“Also, I have been involved in racing for around 40 years and during a period of that time Anna Newton-Smith was my Head Lass so it was very nice to see her also have a winner on the card.”
Indeed, the victory of Goring Two for Anna was probably the most impressive of the whole day and though his racecourse form was anything but encouraging, the trainer was optimistic going into the contest: “He has been a bit of a slow learner but recently he has been getting things together at home and has really flourished. I couldn’t be happier with him and hope this improvement continues.
“He also seems to have a lucky owner which is a good sign!”
There was a big shock in the second race when Cucumber Run from the powerful Nicky Henderson yard was turned over at odds of one to four. After a sketchy round of jumping he succumbed to the tenacity of the old hand Spear Thistle and was beaten a head after a prolonged duel up the home straight.
I do not think the very soft ground suited the son of Oscar but nevertheless after two runs it looks unlikely he will make an impact in anything other than handicap company in the future, especially while his jumping is so inconsistent.
Christmas is always very busy and the Lewes trainer Jim Best confirmed he will be having plenty of runners over the festive period: “I will be at Ffos Las on Boxing Day and think I will be staying down there overnight.
“I’ve not been before so it will be a new experience. I am pleased with the horses at the moment and am looking to keep up the good form we are in.
“Wayward Glance is just one horse of a number that I am really looking forward to getting on the track soon.”
The King George takes place at Kempton on Boxing Day and if the ground becomes attritional it will probably be safe to side with last year’s winner Long Run. That is hardly original, but only Kauto Star looks a realistic challenger.