HORSE racing is part of the Yorkshire fabric. With so many talented trainers in the White Rose County it provides employment, tourism and today it shows itself off as the Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival gets underway at Ripon, ending at York next Saturday.
Today’s card at Ripon is competitive if not spectacular. I feel sorry the track, as every year their feature race, the Bell Ringer Handicap, never seems to attract a big field.
This time there are only five runners, two trained by Mark Johnston. It’s a tight little event with all five looking smart individuals, but slight preference is for the James Bethell-trained Penhill who was successful at Thirsk on Tuesday night.
At Newbury, the Weatherbys Super Sprint takes centre stage and Richard Fahey is keen to win the prize as he saddles five runners.
Realtra appears to be Fahey’s best chance of landing back-to-back wins in the £250,000 sales race, where weight carried is determined by the price fetched at the sales.
Realtra, who runs off bottom weight of just eight stone having cost only 10,000 euros, finished second to the unbeaten Beach Belle in a Listed race in Ireland when last seen, but that was over six furlongs.
Fahey said: “Realtra is a smart filly and she must have a chance off just 8st. I’d just be worried whether she’s quick enough over five furlongs. She’s been saved for this, though.”
Also at Newbury, it will be fascinating to see how Al Kazeem gets on in the Doom Bar Stakes, back on the racecourse after failing to produce the goods at stud.
Rodger Charlton’s charge was a real success story of last season, he won the Tattersalls Gold Cup in Ireland, followed up in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot and confirmed himself as one of the best middle-distance older horses around by winning the Coral-Eclipse.
Not disgraced in the International at York, the Irish Champion Stakes or the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe afterwards, he was bought by the Queen in the hope of being a headline stallion at Sandringham Stud.
Unfortunately he only got around 25 mares in foal and a decision was made to send the six-year-old back into training.
Charlton has worked hard in trying to get him fit, but admits the Dubawi entire is still a good deal heavier than his ideal racing weight.
“The ground should be fine for him even if it doesn’t rain, it’s not rattling quick,” said Charlton. “There are no nerves as he’s been off a long time.
“It was May when he came back to us and we’ve done a lot of work trying to get him fit. He’s a big horse anyway.
“He’ll be at least 20 kilos over his ideal racing weight, I’d say, so he’s bound to benefit from the run.
“We’ll just see how he gets on before making any sort of a plan, but all options are later in the year anyway.’’ In the middle of the Flat season, the richest race over jumps takes place at Market Rasen, the Betfred Summer Plate. Fergal O’Brien might hold the key to finding the winner with Creevytennant, a horse who is much better right handed.
An Irish point-to-pointer for most of his career, Creevytennant has flourished in hunter chases for O’Brien and scored at Ascot in April last year.
He made his first start since that victory when appearing at Perth in a handicap last month, holding on to win despite jinking on the run-in.
Tony McCoy will be hoping to break Martin Pipe’s astonishing mark of 4,191 career winners at the Lincolnshire track, having drawn level with the total when scoring aboard On The Record at Uttoxeter on Wednesday.
The perennial champion jockey partners It’s A Gimme in the feature event of the day, one of four runners in the race for trainer Jonjo O’Neill who also saddles Lost Legend, Dursey Sound and The Nephew.