July has already proved a momentous month for Worcester Racecourse. The 300th Anniversary raceday on the 4th July was a wonderful occasion in the presence of Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal.
More recently, the 9th July was the annual Senior’s raceday which this year, proved every bit as popular as in previous years. Over 500 Seniors enjoyed cream teas, with exclusive use of the hospitality marquee located beside the parade ring and near to the track, offering close up viewing of the horses before and during the races.
As we approach the season halfway stage, the focus turns to both the trainer and jockey championships, both of which are promising to be closely fought this year.
Leading the way for the trainers is Dan Skelton, just ahead of Peter Bowen from Haverfordwest in Wales, who often shines with his summer jumpers. The Bowen operation is very much a family affair with the two stable jockeys being the trainer’s sons, Sean and James.
Bowen recorded a double on Senior’s day, one apiece ridden by Sean and James. Play the Ace has been trained by Bowen since June 2016 and has run 24 times for his trainer, winning on 8 occasions. Sean and James know the horse well, having ridden him in 23 of those races between them. James was aboard last Monday, and the horse is now qualified for the £30,000 final of the 7bets4free.com Fixed Brush Hurdle Series at Worcester in October.
Perhaps the greater surprise of Bowen’s 2 winners was Well Said, ridden by Sean. A winning pointer, Bowen has only had the horse since 21st June this year and since then, he has had 3 runs, all at Worcester. Anyone who kept the Bowen faith and backed the horse will have been delighted when he finally got off the mark at odds of 50/1.
Reigning champion jockey, Richard Johnson may not have the season all his way this year, as Harry Skelton is posing quite a threat to the title. This is also reflected in the current Worcester jockey standings with Johnson leading this week on 106 points and Skelton not far behind on 88.
Johnson added to his Worcester wins on Monday, by taking the Fernhill House Care Home Clover Flat Race on the John Butler-trained, Avarchie.
Avarchie is still just a 4-year old and in his short racing career, has had just 3 races trained by a different trainer for each race.
National Hunt racing often has an Irish flavour, even in the UK, as a good number of the jockeys and trainers hail from the Emerald Isle, and a percentage of the horses who run over here were bred in Ireland.
It is therefore fitting that we celebrate this with our annual Irish race evening tomorrow night. Always a good craic, we can also look forward to the musical talents of the Wild Murphys during racing, with the first race due off at 5.50pm.