Lavelle’s little star lights up Stratford

Hang In There franked the form from last month’s Summer Plate at Market Rasen when landing yesterday’s feature, the 2m3f Brian and Sheila Vaughan Memorial Handicap Chase by 3/4l under Joe Anderson. The winner of the Rasen summer highlight, Born Famous, and second, Courtland, have both won since.

And Hang In There is no stranger to Stratford success either, where good ground conditions suit his action well. He’s clearly a well-balanced horse to be able to travel around Stratford’s sharp circuit as easily as around galloping tracks like Cheltenham and Exeter. This was his third win in Warwickshire for owners Tim Syder and Andrew Gemmell, and trainer Emma Lavelle is so clearly proud of her charge.

She told the Racing Post, “He’s been such a little star for us. He was tough and really galloped hard all the way through. I was delighted for Joe, who rides him every day at home, and gave him a super ride there.”

But the day on balance belonged to Christian Williams and Nick Schofield, who teamed up for a back-to-back double in the longer distance handicap chase and handicap hurdle. Five year old Up For Appeal has been hiding his light under a bushel till now, but won handsomely and going away in the second division of the National Racehorse Week September 9-17th Handicap hurdle after briefly losing the lead after the last.

Twelve runners faced the starter in the Walls & Ceilings International Handicap Chase over 3m3f, and the Schofield-ridden Call of the Loon was always well in touch, taking it up before the last and maintaining his advantage by 2l at the line over O’Faolains Lad for Richenda Ford and Ritchie McLernon, and so repeating his exploits in the corresponding race of 2022.

Call Of The Loon wins at Stratford. 24/8/2023 Pic Steve Davies

Williams is another example of the South Wales hub that keeps on producing top flight handlers and trainers, that includes Peter Bowen, Rebecca Curtis, John Flint and Sam Thomas.

The day started in something of an anticlimax with a four runner field for the Walls & Ceilings International Novices Handicap Chase over 2m1f. 6/4 Favourite First Angel knows no other status since joining Martin Keighley in the Spring; he’s been sent off favourite in each of his four handicap starts, and to be fair, has justified favouritism in two of these. He may be another who favours the sharp turns of Stratford, having won a similar contest here back in May, but in making all, he never saw another horse, and bar the runner-up from Jackdaws Castle, the other two pulled up or unseated by the last. It’s been a slower than average start to the season for the Condicote handler, but the autumn is generally a fertile time for this yard.

Former Pointer Cheltenam de Vaige must have thought it was a rest day when reverting to hurdles in the IDP & Askews Novices Hurdle. The six time winner between the flags, most recently at Badbury Rings in February, had no difficulty in despatching four other rivals in this uncompetitive contest for amateur Tom Broughton, attached to Fergal O’Brien. O’Brien’s pointing roots have allowed him to keep contact with owners Matt & Sally Burford, all three regulars around Gloucestershire point-to-point fixtures like Andoversford.

Cheltenham De Vaige winning at Stratford. 24/8/2023 Pic Steve Davies

Jockey Harry Reed received many plaudits for his ride on Stepney Causeway at Newton Abbot earlier in the week when he nursed the gelding back into the race and won by a neck after losing 25l at the start. He maintained much closer order on the Neil Mulholland – trained Tally’s Son in the first division of the 2m handicap hurdle, asserting approaching the final hurdle, and seeing off Bahtiyar, one of the lesser lights from Dan Skelton’s yard to win by 1/2l.

Tally’s Boy [centre] wins at Stratford. 24/8/2023 Pic Steve Davies

The dearth of racing opportunities in Ireland in relation to the horse population continues to imbue even the most modest fixtures with an international flavour, and so it was that home-bred Mill House Creek came to run and win the concluding Mares Bumper by a more than comfortable 7l under Adam Wedge.

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