Hanmer lights up Ladies Day

Rain on Saturday ensured Stratford going softer than the norm for mid July, and plenty soft enough for the high heels displayed by the enthusiastic ladies enjoying the races on the annual Ladies Day for those venturing off a hard surface. Nevertheless the 44 runners produced some sparkling racing, including a 38/1 treble for man-in-form, Gary Hanmer that brightened what had promised to be an overcast day, but which proved a sunny if breezy afternoon.

Best Dressed Hat at Stratford. 23/7/2023 Pic Steve Davies

And were it not for being obliged to ride for father Peter, champion jockey contender Sean Bowen would have picked up a treble for Cheshire-based Hanmer. Let’s start, then with the day’s feature handicap chase over nearly 2m 1f, in which multiple winner Sir Tivo completed his second victory of this term, and 10th overall, picking off Ewan Whillans’ Cracking Destiny, a winner here early in the month, by 4l. Sir Tivo has been a bellwether of the Hanmer yard’s success, winning 10 times in 29 races since joining the stable in mid-summer 2020. Sir Tivo is unlucky this race was not the final leg of a hat-trick; wins here yesterday and at Southwell in May sandwich a short head second at Uttoxeter earlier this month.

Sir Tivo and Sean Bowen jump the last to win at Stratford. 23/7/2023 Pic Steve Davies

Half an hour earlier, Hanmer had led in Bright Sunbird to the winner’s enclosure in the Allan Atkinson Memorial Handicap Hurdle over an extended 3m, this time ridden by Tabitha Worsley. Money in the ring had been for the Sean Bowen – ridden Saxon Queen, trained in Wales by Peter Bowen, but she showed some mare-ish tendencies under pressure, and the Hanmer inmate was more than able to prevail by 1 1/4l.

Winner number 3 is arguably the most exciting prospect of the three. Minella Rescue made a winning British debut in the concluding bumper, having been purchased for £55,000 after running third in a Drumahane point-to-point and a Tipperary bumper. Hanmer has his eye on the valuable Listed Bumper at next April’s Aintree fixture, a considerable step up, but a consideration after the 10l demolition of this field.

All in all, a pretty good day’s work.

Gary Hanmer with Minella Rescue after training his third winner of the day at Stratford. Alex Scott is the stable lass. 23/7/2023 Pic Steve Davies

Along the way, there were, of course, some crumbs for other licensed trainers, among them Donald McCain, whose partnership with Brian Hughes is always to be respected. There was no great surprise in their subsequent victory with Titanium Moon in the Ladies Day Novices Hurdle over the minimum trip. This was Titanium Moon’s fourth consecutive victory which included a similar contest here a month previously, and a brace of wins at Cartmel. There is nothing to suggest that winning sequence cannot continue, given the authority of her 8l margin here. Her 8/15 price may look generous next time out.

Neither of the other two winning handlers has much of a reputation for the summer branch of the sport, but their select runners are always to be respected. Emma Lavelle produced Gold Link to win the Marion Wright Memorial Novices Handicap Chase over 2m3f. This was an improvement on his last run at Worcester a week back when he ditched Tom Bellamy after a bad mistake early on. Don’t expect many runners from the Lavelle yard this or next month however; she’s never run more than a handful in July or August over the past 5 years with the exception of 2020, when everyone was anxious to get horses running again after the first pandemic lockdown was lifted.

Also on the scoresheet was Kim Bailey, another whose powder is also generally kept dry until September. However, five year old mare Lady Gwen is fit from runs in the Spring, and transferred from another stable, found enough improvement to win a moderate mares hurdle that opened the card, under some forceful riding from David Bass.

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