Every raceday has a story or two to tell and the recent Pershore Plum Festival race evening upheld that tradition.
Appropriately, the first winner of the evening was trained locally at Cropthorne by Tony Carroll, a distance of just 3.8 miles from Pershore and 7 minutes driving time!
Heurtevent is a previous course and distance winner, but his last victory came at Pitchcroft back in May 2016. His latest success broke a losing run of 19 races, but having said that, the nine-year old appears to relish racing at Worcester, finishing third of 12 runners in May this year, in June he came home second of 10, and at the last meeting, he beat 11 horses home to win by half a length. Trained by Carroll since 2013, 2-mile chases round Pitchcroft appear to be his optimum trip.
In the concluding race, Carntop proved an interesting winner. Bred by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the five-year old began his racing career on the flat trained by Ralph Beckett.
In May 2016, he ran in the Lingfield Derby trial and finished second. The following month he was 5th in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot. In June 2017, he was far from disgraced in a class 2 handicap over a mile and 4 furlongs at Epsom on Derby day, where he finished third.
Transferred to trainer Jamie Snowden in February 2018, Carntop finished down the field in a grade 2 hurdle at Kempton in February, but improved remarkedly on that form with a second place at Stratford in early July, before his maiden hurdle win at Worcester.
Officially now owned by the Duchess of Cornwall and Sir Chips Keswick, Chairman of Arsenal, Carntop is now qualified for the final of the 7bets4free.com Fixed Brush Hurdle Series at Pitchcroft on the 24th October.
During the year we arrange trainer stable visits for the Worcester Annual Members and we all much enjoyed one such outing last week. Martin and Belinda Keighley kindly invited us to their picturesque yard at Condicote in the heart of the Cotswolds.
Twenty-five Annual Members and three of us from the racecourse were warmly welcomed by the Keighley family before strolling across the sunny slopes to watch second lot on the gallops.
We also had the opportunity of meeting all the horses in their boxes. Having achieved over 200 winners to date, 19 of those at Cheltenham, Martin and Belinda gave us a fascinating insight into each horse in their care, all of whom were happy and relaxed in their scenic surroundings.
Just before we left, we were treated to a display of Shetland pony racing training by young Freddie Keighley.
The 2019 fixture list is now official and we will be staging another 20 fixtures at Worcester next year. Most racedays are equivalent from year to year but there is one notable exception in 2019. We have a new Saturday evening fixture in mid-June to look forward to.
Racing resumes tomorrow night after a fortnight’s break, with the first race due off at 5pm and acoustic musical entertainment through the evening.