Written by Jenny Cheshire, Executive Director, Worcester Racecourse.
It’s little wonder we are totally obsessed with the weather in racing, when months and months of hard work and intricate planning can be sent scuttling down the overloaded drains following a full day of rain.
Such was the case for the meeting on Friday 25th May. When I walked the track at 6.30am on Thursday, the ground was ‘good, good to firm in places’ and we debated long and hard about watering and whether we would indeed get any rain at all.
Friday morning dawned and sure enough, the rain began to fall – the weather station in the office literally described it as ‘raining cats and dogs’. By 6.30pm we had measured 27mm of water, in excess of an inch and the going was officially ‘soft’. There were some inevitable non-runners on account of the going change, but that having been said they were racing on fresh ground and a couple of the jockeys I spoke to, Harry Skelton and Tom Scudamore, were both happy with it.
The first race offered the most significant local interest, and the horses in that race have been well-used to heavier surfaces at point to points over the winter.
The winner of that Hunter Chase was Arthur’s Secret, who had easily won his only previous Hunter Chase at Stratford in March 2016, and who has found similar success in point to points.
Owned by Christine Banks from Himbleton and ridden by her daughter, Abigail, the horse is trained locally at Hindlip by Martin Weston.
The second horse in the race was also a mother/daughter combination. Mirs Choice is trained in Hanbury by Sue Bowen and her daughter, Sarah rode an excellent race to finish second at odds of 33/1.
For me, the race to take away from the evening and to follow the form going forward was again one of the 7bets4free.com qualifying Summer Brush Novice Hurdle races.
The winner, Orchard Thieves, owned by Brocade Racing who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Native River in March, had only previously had one start between the flags in an Irish point to point back in February 2016 – 825 days previously.
The winner of that race, Trainwreck, was sold for £115,000 following the race and is now rated 144 over hurdles.
It was some training performance by David Pipe because the runner up, the Nicky Henderson trained, The Bottom Bar, owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Soude was by far the more fancied runner with recent form figures of 221.
Alvechurch trainer Dan Skelton has made a flying start to the new season and was on the mark with Sauvignon, absent from the track since December.
Another trainer in form at Worcester was Nigel Hawke who had two winners in quick succession, both part-owned by his wife.