Kielan Woods sets Stratford alight with treble

Ladies Day at Stratford this year took on a matinee feel as the races were pulled forward to cope with the heatwave. And if truth be told, light frocks were still too much in the sweltering heat. However, as always, the horses were first in the queue, with plenty of water, assiduous teams managing their welfare and some competitive racing as a result.

The biggest prize of the day was the £25,000 Roger Wytton Stanley Memorial Handicap Chase, which saw a third course win for Larch Hill, determinedly ridden by our champion rider Brian Hughes for Charlie and Adam Pogson. Three of the select field of five were still in contention turning in, and despite a sustained challenge from the Nicholls – trained Mick Pastor, Larch Hill summoned up additional effort to pass the post 2 3/4l ahead. That’s three notches on the Stratford bedpost since September last year, emphasizing the truth behind the “horses for courses” adage.

Larch Hill and Brian Hughes [left] jumps the last with Mick Pastor before winning the Roger Wyton Stanley Memorial Handicap Chase at Stratford. 17/7/2022

Time was when you could regularly embarrass yourself in racing mixing one brother up for another, or in the case of the Hills brothers, talking about horses they’d never ridden! One man whose success currently means he may well need a double is Ben Pauling. If you know your Cotswolds, you will at least acknowledge the similarity in looks between him and affable estate agent Tom Hayman Joyce, to whom I chatted amiably and erroneously about horses for 3 minutes last weekend before he gently corrected me as to his identity! The real Ben Pauling’s horses are running very well presently, and another hit the line in front in the second of the three chases on Sunday when Serjeant Painter won his third consecutive chase under Kielan Woods for the Ben Pauling Racing Club, by a comfortable 2 3/4l. He looks very capable of continuing this winning streak, idling in front.

Woods was back in the Winner’s Enclosure 90 minutes later to complete a double when Ayr of Elegance struck a blow for the western side of the Cotswolds, scoring a fourth winner of the term for D J Jeffreys, who trains just outside Evesham. Leading from flagfall, the mare was kept up to her work by Woods, as she was in front a long time. It wouldn’t have taken much for her to drop her bit and lose momentum.

A good day at the office was not yet over for Woods however, with a booking for the Alex Hales – trained Queens Highway, who retained her unbeaten record in the concluding bumper – another sign of the resurgence of the location so famous in racing circles that is Edgecote, where the likes of Spanish Steps were trained.

Lambourn trainer Oliver Signy has been sparing in his Jumps runners over the summer, but few can fault a 50% strike rate, and winner of the second race, the Ardencote Spa Handicap Chase, Etat Major Aulnes, has been the contributor toward all of those 3 victories from 6 runs. Given the temperature, the trainer and his rider Gavin Sheehan will have been glad merely to ride him out for a 3l untroubled victory.

Etat Major Aulmes and Gavin Sheehan win at Stratford. 17/7/2022

A Fergal O’Brien/Paddy Brennan winner is a standing dish at Stratford, and so it turned out with Pop The Champagne, who took the fizz out of another prospective winner for Alan King when getting up in the last 100 yards of the Kerry Lewis Freelance Florist Novices Hurdle, but it was another Gloucestershire trainer who began the afternoon well.

Adrian Wintle knows Stratford well as a rider in a polished amateur career, and his select team of flat and national hunt horses deliver winners regularly for his owners. Jumps winners have been slight in the past year or so, with easier pickings from inexpensive horses discarded from bigger stables and aimed at handicap company. Twelve year old Ennistown was a runner-up here back in May, but went one better here in the opening Allan Atkinson Memorial Handicap Hurdle over 3m 2f to give Wintle his virgin winner of the term under the guidance of Tom Bellamy.

A look at what makes Goodwood Glorious

There are few better places to be during the summer in the UK than West Sussex. Indeed, by the time late July comes around, the Atlantic storms that unsettle the south of England usually become but a distant memory as summer arrives. It really is heaven on earth, particularly if you enjoy horse racing. And despite that you’re reading this on a competitor racecourse site, we have nothing to fear from Goodwood; all the racecourses in this country have a unique atmosphere, and exploring every one is a rite of passage for most ardent racegoers.

That’s because horse racing enthusiasts from around the country flock down to Chichester at the end of July for the newly named Qatar Goodwood Festival, historically known as Glorious Goodwood. 

For many Goodwood casuals, the choice of who to bet on could come down to a horse’s name that has a certain ring to it or even a wild punt on a horse with the longest odds. It’s all part of the good-natured tradition of the week-long festival. With that being said, there are certain races at Goodwood that bring out the horse race betting experts. Avid Jumps fans will have kept a close eye on Trueshan, trained by Alan King, a short-priced favourite in the Goodwood betting odds to win the Goodwood Cup on the withdrawal of Stradivarius. Other seasoned supporters and knowledgeable punters will have been keeping their eyes on Poetic Flare, who was the pre-race favourite in the Sussex Stakes betting odds to win one of the events that attracts the most coverage over the course of the festival. Needless to say, Poetic Flare was a keen pre-race favourite partially due to Palace Pier pulling out because of unsatisfactory blood results.

It’s already turning out to be a week of heart-stopping entertainment on the breathtaking Sussex Downs, but even if some racegoers aren’t all that keen on what happens on the course, there’s little need to worry given that this festival offers patrons a unique experience that can’t be matched elsewhere. 

Of course, any major horse racing festival worth its salt from around the world attracts the most stylish people, but Goodwood’s offer of a once-in-a-lifetime trip to South Africa for the best-dressed ladies guarantees a colourful day out. Indeed, on Friday July 30th, racegoers will compete to win the L’Ormarins Best Dressed 2021 award by wearing the signature blue and white colours of L’Ormarins. Whoever ends up winning can look forward to some magnificent winter sun with a trip to the rainbow nation scheduled for January 2022. 

From fashionistas to those with a passion for all things culinary, Goodwood racegoers can also enjoy dining in the botanical bliss of the course’s revered Secret Garden. For those looking for a more relaxed setup, the Sussex Roof Garden offers incredible vistas of the track and a chance to admire the beauty of the stunning hills of the county.

One can certainly understand why they refer to this festival as glorious given that for a week over July every year, there probably isn’t a better place to be in the world if you enjoy the finer things in life.

However much of a Stratford fan you might be, a day at Glorious Goodwood takes some beating.

Phew, what a scorcher! Hatcher and Wbee hat-trick kings at Stratford on Ladies Day

The finalists for the Ladies Day line up at Stratford. 18/7/2021 Pic Steve Davies

On the hottest day of the year so far, which drew the biggest crowd to Stratford for nearly 2 years to enjoy Ladies Day, the Skelton brothers landed the feature race at Stratford yesterday with a horse on a hat-trick. Hatcher, winner of 14 of his 33 starts, appears to have a real penchant for our course, this being his fifth course victory, but his first as a chaser.

Always handy, there was never really any doubt about the winner. From entering the final bend, Skelton Jnr was sitting motionless whilst rivals Tikkinthebox and Scardura scrubbed away. Before the last, Scardura dropped away rapidly whilst Us And Them, an Irish raider, ran on doggedly for third.

The Skelton team has been more slowly away this summer, this being only their 69th runner (!) Nevertheless, the 14 winners to date have already amassed nearly £125,000 in prize money, an indication in itself of the quality of horses in the yard when the value of a majority of summer prizes is so pedestrian by comparison with the winter and spring months. These summer fixtures are by way of an aperitif for many of the bigger yards.

Hatcher and Harry Skelton jump the last to win at Stratford. 18/7/2021 Pic Steve Davies

The legendary leading owner, J P McManus, with hundreds of horses in training on both sides of the Irish Sea, has enjoyed over 350 winners over the past 5 years in the UK alone, yet French-bred Demon d’Aunou was his first winner of this term from just 10 runners overall. The Jonjo O’Neill – trained 8 year old was enjoying his first handicap win since winning his novice at Cartmel nearly 12 months ago. Going second two out, Jonjo Jnr rode him into the lead approaching the last to win comfortably by 8 1/2/.

McManus also has horses with Nicky Henderson, but it was owner-breeder Rita Brown who enjoyed the debut chase win of Royal Ruby in the LWK MS Group 50th Anniversary Novices Handicap Chase to complete the chase programme. 29 summer winners have set an awesome 28% strike rate to maintain when the more competitive autumn races accelerate. Rider Nico de Boinville set out to make this a test by leading from the off, and aside from briefly losing an iron at the sixth, was never troubled to win, asserting a winning margin of 9l.

Demon D’Aunou and Jonjo O’Neill jump the last to win at Stratford. 18/7/2021 Pic Steve Davies

The card opened with two handicap hurdles, the first of which, restricted to mares, went to a trainer rarely seen on the Jumps circuit. Upper Lambourn’s Mark Usher, whose Jumps runner have only once exceeded 20 in any of the past 10 seasons, is enjoying a 33% strike rate this term, enhanced by the efforts of Dylan’s Sea Song, winning a second handicap under Harry Bannister, despite running a little wayward on the run to the last. At this level, there are more races in her for sure.

To follow, in the Peter Allsopp from Bell Green Coventry Memorial Hurdle, hat-trick seeker Wbee duly obliged for Gary Hanmer, with Sean Bowen in the saddle in place of Bryan Carver, injured at Newton Abbot recently. Most trainers would give their eye teeth for performers of Wbee’s nature; since the turn of the year, the 6 year old son of Yeats has run six times, won 3 and been beaten less than 14l across his other 3 placed efforts.

Amateur Ben Bromley has been steeped in the sport all his life. With a father running a highly successful bloodstock business, he has all the connections, but you’ve still got to rise to the occasion. Working close to home for Mel and Phil Rowley, Bromley Jnr has ridden for 8 yards already this summer, outside the Point-to-Point circuit, including Nicholls, Henderson and Denise Foster.

This time around it was champion trainer Paul Nicholls who supplied the ammunition to enable a fourth career victory for the young rider, completing a hat-trick of wins on this novice hurdler in the Terry O’s 60th Birthday Novices Hurdle. The young Bromley is certainly beginning to look the finished article, and lacked nothing in tactical nous and polish in a finish.

Lady Excalibur showed a good turn of foot to win the concluding bumper on her debut appearance for Alan Jones and rider Tom O’Brien.

First time visitor to Stratford? Here’s your startpoint

Otherwise known as the Stratford-on-Avon Racecourse, Stratford is one of the most well-known racecourses in the UK. Located in the county of Warwickshire, its specialty is thoroughbred Jump racing and it holds around 19 meetings throughout the year from March to November. More casual than Ascot or Epsom, it is popular with serious racing fans, and those just looking for a nice day trip. The course is also a bit smaller than some of the others but it has a total of three enclosures including the Centre course, Tattersalls Enclosure, and the Club enclosure. Guests can also camp on site as it hosts the Stratford Touring Park which is great for caravans, mobile motorhomes, and up to 192 tents.

In addition to horseracing, the venue is also used for events like product launches and parties, and several set-piece public events like the Adventure Overland Show. But what else do you need to know about visiting Stratford Racecourse and Stratford-upon-Avon at large?

Going racing

The first thing to note about going racing in the post-pandemic scene is that you must book in advance. Click here to purchase. It may not always be this way, but for the time being, we’re all keeping safe, and usually there are cost savings to buying early.

Parking in the public car park is free. You can also take a taxi to the racecourse and there are regular pick-ups afterwards. The station is a good 25mn walk.

The paddock is a central focus around which to study the horses and espy your fancy. Like a lot of courses appealing to a local audience, it’s always a good idea to follow local stables. Dan Skelton, Olly Murphy and Richard Newland are always to be respected, whilst Fergal O’Brien, Nigel Twiston-Davies and Jonjo O’Neill often send well-fancied runners here.

One of our younger racegoers made this You Tube clip in 2019

One of the more obvious things to do at Stratford Racecourse is to bet on the races that are taking place! There are two ways to go about this; online betting, or betting with a bookie. As it’s 2021, the most popular form of betting these days takes place online. From the convenience of a smartphone or tablet, punters prefer to bet on the races and benefit from a range of different bonuses, odds, and incentives. These bonuses can include additional prizes, bet matching, or even additional spins on games that aren’t racing-related. For those who are new to horse race betting and online gambling, it’s possible to follow a step-by-step article to help you compare the bonuses on offer as well as additional features.

Once you’ve figured out how you will bet, all that remains is getting your race day outfit sorted, finding someone to go with, and enjoying yourself with all the excitement that comes with this kind of events! Ladies Day each

Racing is great for people watching though. Sometimes, you can have as much entertainment watching others as the horses! Of course there’s time enough for both in an afternoon’s racing.

We always recommend you watch at least one steeplechase from the rail by an obstacle. The thunder of hooves, the breathing of horses at full gallop, shouting from the riders and the crash of birch collide to make a thrilling experience close up.

About Stratford-on-Avon

The town of Stratford d is famous throughout the UK and world as the home of William Shakespeare. The renowned poet, playwright, and author was born here and as a result, almost 3 million people a year visit to pay homage. It’s also home to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and plenty of other sites in line with the Shakespeare theme, like Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. There are other theatres in the town as well as plenty of museums, an orchestral hall, and a number of stately homes nearby, like Charlecote, or Warwick Castle, where Richard Neville, the Kingmaker, manipulated politics in medieval England. The classic lines of palladian Ragley Hall are about 15mns drive away.

Shakespeare’s statue, surrounded by characters from his plays, adorns the gardens in front of the RSC

The town has a vibrant literature festival this year in July. But for most visitors, the river is an equally exciting attraction. Hire a rowing boat to amble up or down river and before you know it, you’re tempted to jump in!

Other fun things to do include visiting a medieval pub called The Garrick Inn, and going to the Campaign for Real Ale beer and cider festival which takes place in Stratford every year.

Where to stay

Of course, the smart money says you should stay at the Racecourse in either a tent, a mobile home, or caravan. If you don’t fancy that kind of adventure, there are plenty of other options. The Cotswolds, of which Stratford is a part, is home to a great number of stunning cottages, houses, and larger places that have been converted into accommodation. You can go full-out luxury in a spa hotel such as the Burnside Hotel, Broadway’s Lygon Arms, or try a quaint bed and breakfast such as the Quilt and Croissants. Stratford is chock-a-bloc with B & Bs.

Stratford is less than 20 miles from the centre of England, and its motorway links through the M40, M5 and M6 make it easily reachable from virtually anywhere. As a base for exploring the Cotswolds or central England, and taking in a day’s racing en route, it takes a lot of beating.

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