Horse Racing with Jason Hall

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THE form of some of our local stables has been excellent in recent weeks and that was particularly borne out at Folkestone on Tuesday when Jim Best, Sheena West and Suzy Smith all registered wins on the card.

First off the mark was Suzy Smith who sent Emmaslegend down to Kent from her Lewes base to record her second win on the bounce when she literally ran away from her rivals up the home straight to record a very impressive success on her chasing bow.

The full sister to the stable’s smart Aimigayle jumped really well and finished like a fresh horse under Tom Cannon, a conditional jockey who is proving a popular choice among trainers’ in the South.

Suzy believes her mare has a big future in front of her as she confirmed after the race on Tuesday: “Emmaslegend had a lot of breathing problems early in her career but we found her soft palate was collapsing under pressure.

“She’s better than a handicapper but we’ll try to get a handicap into her for the experience. She’s a good ground horse.”

Sheena West has been in outstanding form for some time now and she won the last race on Folkestone’s card with Just Josie who was another making her chasing debut.

The step up in trip to over three miles did the trick for the five-year-old and Marc Goldstein gave her a nice ride on the mare’s first visit to the track since January.

She is very lightly raced and one would hope she can progress from this as her trainer feels she can. “Just Josie is a big mare and hurdles were never going to suit her,” said Sheena. “She’s always jumped like a chaser. Last year she was all skin and bone but this year she’s nice and round.”

Sheena has now scored four winners from her last seven runners.

I have often mentioned the prowess of Jim and Tom Best in acquiring a seemingly poor individual and transforming it into a winning performer. The latest example of this came with Free Speech who won the novice handicap chase at Folkestone under a good ride from champion jockey AP McCoy.

Free Speech had run 16 times without success before joining the Lewes -based brothers.

They stuck a tongue tie and a pair of blinkers on the eight-year-old, waved their magic wand and, in two starts for them, has recorded a win and a second.

Aspirations for the gelding will probably remain quite modest but the hopes of Jim, Tom and all the connections of the three-year-old filly Dubawi Dancer will be much higher after her victory at Doncaster last week. In an admittedly modest juvenile hurdle, she ran out a comfortable winner in a race that was not run to suit the former winning flat performer who was acquired from the Newmarket yard of William Haggas.

“She’s just the sort of filly you’d want in your yard.

“It all went wrong for her today with her having to make the running and she’ll come on a lot for that. We’ll try and give her a little bit more experience before upping her in class,” commented Jim post race.

The first race at Plumpton on Monday is scheduled for 12.30pm and there has been a good volume of entries for the card generally and racecourse regulars will be hoping Cue Card takes up his entry in the novice chase. It would be a good confidence booster for this classy individual and maybe the prospect of a potential £60,000 Cheltenham bonus will convince trainer Colin Tizzard to send him down for us to enjoy.