A total of 39 runners faced the starter in the six races programmed on June 28 for a sunny summer evening at Stratford, in which local Cotswold trainers put in a good showing.
The evening’s most valuable race started the card, but attracted just two runners in the Stratford Supporting Racing Staff Week Novices Chase. Well thought-of Cary’s Commodity from Jonjo O’Neill’s, and Calva d’Auge, from Paul Nicholls, are both rated 135+ and until Tuesday at least, both maidens over fences, runners-up both is small fields at Uttoxeter and Kempton respectively.
The spate of small runner fields, especially in novice chases, doesn’t preclude an exciting finish in what has to be a game of cat and mouse. In this particular exercise, Calva d’Auge looked to be going better turning in, but when Jonjo Jnr asserted on Cary’s Commodity, the race was over in a matter of strides. He won unchallenged by 17l in the end, and looks well capable of further improvement.
In the evening’s other novice chase, a handicap 90 minutes later, the handicapper could afford to give himself a pat on the back. Five of the six runners were still in close contention as they approached the last, with Smith’s Bay, Cremant and Tigerten semmingly holding the advantage. From an unpromising position, Luca Morgan conjured a great run from the Ben Pauling – trained On Springs to win by 2 3/4l, so ensuring Pauling’s thirteenth winner of the term from his new yard at Naunton.
Kielan Woods notched a 16th winner of the season on D J Jeffreys’ Reams of Love in the following maiden hurdle at 20/1 in a performance that belied his starting price. DJ is yet another product of the Cotswold racing scene. Formerly assistant to Charlie Longsdon, he originally set up near Stow, but has now moved to Hinton-on-the-Green, just south of Evesham. There’s little of not yet in the yard, but smart placing is ensuring the Jeffreys name is appearing in winners’ lists and attracting attention.
If there is one trainer you can be assured of following successfully in the summer months, it is Gary Hanmer. French-bred Sir Tivo made it seven wins over fences in this Watch on RacingTV Handicap Chase over the minimum trip, leading from the off until briefly headed, before rallying again. Runner-up Admiral’s Sunset trained by David Weston near Marlborough, was close enough to suggest a win will not be long coming. Hanmer has now passed the £100k prize money marker for the season, this being his 12th winner since the start.
Another making the best of a season where the big stables are largely absent is Laura Morgan, not far behind Hanmer in the trainers’ list. She maintained her healthy 22% strike rate with her 11th winner in the concluding bumper where debutant Illusion of Time, impeccably bred by Sea The Stars, recouped a little of that breeding cost in his 1 1/4l victory.
Old Radleian Jamie Snowden has made the most of his alumni status at the Oxfordshire college by persuading the Alumni association to indulge in a racehorse, and they received just reward in the 2m 6f handicap hurdle when College Oak made all and won by 4 1/4l from in-form Milton Harris’s Mr Yeats and favourite Justified.