Track Talk - Monday 29th April


29 April 2024

The wait for a Welshman to be crowned champion jump jockey for the first time since the 1950s continues as Sean Bowen finished a gallant runner-up to Harry Cobden in the 2023/24 championship which ended last Saturday.

Sean rode 157 winners, 32 more than his previous best, but fell seven successes short of his rival. It was an incredible effort because he lost seven weeks of the season with a knee injury suffered in a fall at Aintree on Boxing Day. He was 30 winners ahead at the time. His turn will no doubt come.

Cobden had the relentless firepower of the Paul Nicholls yard plus a new determination to seek extra outside rides, which historically hadn’t been part of his game plan. When asked whether he would go for the title again in the new season, Cobden was undecided.

Last Friday night’s Dunraven Bowl Hunter Chase at Chepstow, which this year was not confined to novices, went to the 33/1 shot Castle Daragh trained by David Pipe. This was his jockey Conal Kavanagh’s first ride under National Hunt Rules, only a fortnight after riding his first point-to-point winner. He denied sponsor David Brace, whose runners Gats And Co and Looksnowtlikebrian finished second and third, beaten a neck and three lengths.

Earlier in the evening Wolf Prince, ridden by David’s grandson Connor and trained by Fergal O’Brien, was successful in a handicap hurdle. It was a night to remember for Tim Vaughan’s teenage son Ed who gained his first racecourse victory on Silver In Disguise in a handicap chase. He’d previously ridden plenty of winners in point to points.

Four winners in two days made it a fruitful weekend for David Probert.

He was in double-winning form at Doncaster on Saturday evening. His profitable alliance with Jack Channon continued thanks to Flash Bardot, who gave the combination their fourth success of 2024. The filly won easily off a career high mark of 85 and will be a threat in a big Saturday afternoon handicap before too long.

Half an hour later Probert had an even more comfortable ride on Andrew Balding’s Contacto, winning his first venture into a handicap by seven lengths. How much he beat is a moot point.

Probert took the five-furlong novices stakes at Bath the next day, winning on Twisted Tiara for Rod Millman. It was the filly’s second outing, having finished last of five on her debut, but crucially she was not far behind three 90-rated rivals. Here she was a little green once hitting the front a furlong out, but Probert was careful to prevent her from leaning on the runner-up and risking a demotion.

He completed his second double in two days on Ciara Pearl, the 5/2 favourite in the ten-furlong handicap. Her form figures before this read 212-11 and once she was sent into the lead a good quarter of a mile from home her backers could feel confident about collecting.

Highly recommended is a short film in which jump jockeys receive end-of-season appraisals from Alan Johns, channelling his inner David Brent in a series of meetings reminiscent of The Office. It is hilarious. Harry Skelton has the best one-liner. Find it by searching social media for Great British Racing Jump Jockey Appraisals.

Don’t forget Ffos Las has its free raceday coming up on Tuesday 7 May. Tickets must be booked in advance.

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