Our first meeting at Ffos Las with spectators since December takes place this Tuesday 1st February. There are seven races from 1.20pm. The Welsh Government has eased the Covid restrictions which means all customers can now return to the course. Covid passes or negative lateral flow tests are still required. We also race on Thursday 10th February.
Saturday’s Cheltenham meeting was full of surprises. Chantry House did everything wrong and won. Champ did everything right and lost. Paisley Park gave his rivals ten lengths start, was just as far behind turning into the straight, and still won.
However, it wasn’t the biggest surprise that Dai Burchell trained a winner with one of his last few runners. At Uttoxeter Good Impression gained his second victory of the month, partnered by claimer Ellis Collier – who has won five of his six rides on Uno Mas – reducing his burden to just nine stone nine pounds. Dai’s retirement, a few days short of his 85th birthday, has attracted plenty of press attention. Burchell believes that Good Impression was his 436th winner, including his experiences dating back to the 1950s, first on the flapping circuit and then as a permit holder before taking out a full licence in 1982. Adherence, his very last runner, was fifth at Fontwell on Sunday.
Rebecca Curtis’s Lisnagar Oscar ran his best race for some time, finishing third in the Cleeve behind Paisley Park and Champ, and though he deserves to have a crack at regaining his Stayers Hurdle crown he will do well to finish in the money.
At Doncaster James Bowen won the Grade 2 River Don Novices Hurdle, an Albert Bartlett trial, riding Mahler Mission for John C McConnell. Sean Bowen has ridden most of the County Meath trainer’s UK runners and it’s been a fruitful association, with 10 winners from 30 rides. Now James is 2-5 for the Irish yard.
After drawing a blank in December James Davies rode his third winner in the month of January at Doncaster, when Hard To Forget capitalised on his opponents’ wayward jumping.
David Probert’s sizzling start to the year continued with a treble at Kempton on Saturday evening. The first of them was an odds-on Godolphin horse trained by Charlie Appleby. Wales’s top flat jockey had just one ride for the stable last year – which won – and so far in 2022 the combination has had three winners from four runners. Could this be a sign of even better things to come?
That keeps Probert 13 clear of Hollie Doyle in the race for the Arc All-Weather Championship, which runs from October until Easter. He also leads the jockeys’ table for wins in the 2022 calendar year with 20 so far, and more are expected from his rides at this week’s all-weather meetings.