Five in a row for lucky Presentandcounting

There was a distinctly end-of-summer feel to this final weekend’s fixture at Stratford on a Saturday when racing competed with the delights of the popular Moreton Show, not 45 minutes down the Fosse Way. Those that attended were not disappointed however.

Hang In There, previous winner here and runner up in the Summer Plate at Market Rasen last time, led from the off in the feature Happy Birthday Jamie Bristow Handicap Hurdle for Emma Lavelle and joint owners Tim Syder and Andrew Gemmell. Despite carrying 16lbs more than his rivals, this in itself reduced by a 10lb rider claim by young Joe Anderson, he was able to brush off his rivals when they joined him at the second last, and from a 1 1/2l lead at the last, with an enormous leap, suddenly the race was all over. The winning distance of 7 1/2l told only part of the story. It will be no surprise to see Hang In There in some of our better handicaps through the winter.

Hang In There and Joe Anderson win at Stratford. 4/9/2021 Pic Steve Davies

The Keogh & Hows Handicap Chase won’t rank in the pantheon of high quality chases, but three time course and distance winner Franz Klammer approached it with a mind to make this four for local trainer Peter Pritchard. Making every post a winning one, he retained the lead, even after a blunder at the second last, and was only swallowed up by winner Rythmn Is A Dancer in the run to the last. A trier all the way, Franz Klammer lost nothing in defeat, and there will be other races – probably here at a course he clearly enjoys. The winner, trained at Ditcheat by Paul Nicholls with Harry Cobden in the plate, won by 7 1/2l to record his debut steeplechase victory.

Percy’s Word, successful here last month for the Skelton team, followed up in different circumstances with a hard-fought half length victory over the Philip Hobbs’ trained Camprond in the opening National Racehorse Week 12-19th September Novices Hurdle. Officially rated just 114, Percy’s Word looks much better than this, and can improve again.

This worthy celebration of the equine athletes at the centre of our sport is the brainchild of Richard Phillips, absent from Stratford whilst promoting new syndicates at Moreton Show. Yards all over the country will open their doors from next weekend to those registering on the national website. Phillips’ small yard at Adlestrop has already capped numbers at 300, so it’s reasonable to expect huge crowds at the open days in Epsom, Malton and the Henry Cecil Open Days in Newmarket. Former racehorses were paraded before racing to mark the week ahead.

ROR Racehorse Parade at Stratford. 4/9/2021 Pic Steve Davies

Presentandcounting was lucky to complete his hat-trick of Stratford wins in the Pardy’s Dairies Novices Chase under Brian Hughes. A winner here at each of the past two meetings in a golden summer that has also included novice chase wins at Worcester, Perth and Cartmel, Donald McCain’s charge made all but was headed by Hooper coming out of the final bend. It looked like Hooper’s race but he met the last all wrong and luckless rider Ben Ffrench-Davis was catapulted out of the side door.

That said, Presentandcountung has done nothing but improve all season; since his debut novice chase triumph at Worcester back in May, he has improved 32lbs, and there’s nothing to say he can’t figure among our top novices provided he can manage winter ground. Presendandcounting has made a valuable contribution to McCain’s excellent start to the season, where 26 winners to date have garnered over £200,000 in prize money.

Hughes was also successful in the Naf Racing Handicap Chase over the minimum trip later in the afternoon, notching a third winner this term for Charles & Adam Pogson from their Nottinghamshire yard. Having led much of the way, Larch Hill was headed at the sixth, but given a breather, was able to reel in Romanor from Seamus Mullins’ yard on Salisbury Plain to finish full of running.

Worcestershire trainers were able to keep some of the prizes nearer to home in the remaining two races. Well-backed favourite Bagan, held up in rear, moved smoothly through the field in the Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle to win the Seller comfortably by 7 1/2l for Tom Gretton. Rare for selling races nowadays, the winner found a new owner afterwards when Simon Prout paid £11,250 for this winner of 3 races.

Bagan and Jason Dixon [left] win at Stratford. 4/9/2021 Pic Steve Davies

The closing bumper was won by Strensham Court, trained by Sam Drinkwater within earshot of the eponymous service station on the M5. Kept up to his work by Danny Burton, the winner showed good speed to put distance between him and the placed horses, finishing full of running.

Footie fever as O’Brien doubles up

On a day when all the hype was directed toward another sport with an 8pm kick off, Fergal O’Brien scored a double when introducing two maidens to winning ways at Stratford yesterday. Meantime, everyone – even our esteemed Clerk of Course pictured below – entered into the football spirit, with no loitering after the last race as everyone rushed to their designated evening viewing place.

Stratford Clerk Of The Course Nessie Lambert supporting England with the Union Jack Facemask at Stratford. 11/7/2021 Pic Steve Davies

Former Richard Hannon – trained Burristo got the ball rolling in the opening Juvenile Hurdle, opening his account over the smaller obstacles with a 2 3/4l win over Oliver Greenall’s Boundsby Boy. In truth, none of the first three was fluent in their jumping when at the business end of the race, but there’s room for improvement in all as they finesse their racing experience.

Irish maiden Point-to-Pointer Colossus made up the second leg of the double in the maiden hurdle when Paddy Brennan kicked away from the field on the home turn, showing some good speed to finish 2 1/4l to the good. O’Brien leads the Trainers’ Championship at this nascent stage with 30 winners, whilst Brennan’s double took him to 25 for the season, 3 off leader Brian Hughes with an impressive 29% strike rate. The O’Brien – Brennan partnership has been one of the leading features of the past two seasons.

The day’s most valuable race, the Jonathan Walker Memorial Handicap Hurdle, for the Stratford Summer Salver, went to Ogbourne Maizey’s Emma Lavelle, whose Hang In There defied top weight to dominate the 2m contest, winning by 9l for owners Tim Syder and Andrew Gemmell. The drop in class suited well to get his head back in front after some mid-division performances in higher level races last winter. Emma, not of habit one to field large numbers of runners until autumn, enjoyed a great start to last season, and that winning habit may have stuck. Hang In There may target some of the summer’s more valuable handicaps with this return to form, on the proviso of good ground.

Hang In There and Tom Bellamy jump the last to win the Jonathan Walker Memorial Handicap Hurdle at Stratford. 11/7/2021 Pic Steve Davies

The three handicap chases all fell to small stables, the largest of which is Seamus Mullins’ yard at Willsford, which can always be relied upon for Summer jumps winners. The Daniel Sansom -ridden Romanor won a novices handicap chase over half a mile further at the corresponding meeting in 2020, and got up in the final strides to beat Tivo from Gary Hanmer’s Cheshire yard after Tivo made a mistake at the last.

Romanor and Daniel Sansom [right] chase down Sir Tivo to win at Stratford. 11/7/2021 Pic Steve Davies

By contrast, locally trained Franz Klammer continued his love affair with Stratford’s turns with a follow up victory in the class 5 handicap chase over 2m6f after his 25l victory here last month. This time around, the margin of victory was little different at 23l, and there’s little to suggest the winning sequence need not continue at this level.

The third chase fell to Sheena West’s Irish – bred Air Hair Lair, ridden out to win the 2m3f chase by 2l from a Matt Shepherd horse. Sheena is one of a diminishing group of Jumps trainers in Sussex, once a powerhouse of the sport built around Findon and Arundel.

The concluding conditionals handicap hurdle went the way of British – bred Espressino, trained by Chris Down, and a ninetieth career winner for Charlie Hammond.

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