A crowd of just over 6,000 joined us on the Roodee once again for the 2022 edition of Ladies & Gents Evening. The feature race of the evening took place at 7:00pm in the Excell Supply Handicap Stakes, on a night where plenty of previous course winners tried to repeat past successes around the unique bends of the track. The weather was sunny throughout with next to no windy spells, and ground conditions remained Good (Good To Firm in places) across all seven races on the card.
Race 1 – Boulton Group Handicap Stakes (For Female Amateur Jockeys) (Class 4, 3yo+, 7 ½f)
In this female amateur jockey’s challenge, the experienced Miss Becky Smith delivered a smart ride aboard 16/5 shot Carnival Zain to run out ready winners by 1 ½ lengths for trainer Micky Hammond. Having broken sharply from the starting stars Last Hoorah and Fieldsman led the way in the early stages, ahead of the prominent pair of Mercurius Power and Carnival Zain. Looking towards the rear of the field, Gabrial The Wire and Parys Mountain kept each other company, hoping to add to their tally of Roodee wins. Coming towards the 2f pole, Miss Sarah Bowen kicked Fieldsman into gear and set sail for home, edging ahead of Last Hoorah and Mercurius Power. However, travelling smoothly in-behind, Carnival Zain soon gathered momentum and strode past the leaders with a few shakes of the reigns, merely having to be pushed out in the final furlong to record a cosy success. An eye-catcher in second place was Eeetee, who having raced in midfield throughout, stuck to the inside rail up the home straight and stayed on strongly to steal second from the weakening Fieldsman back in third place; a much-improved effort having been unplaced recently. A memorable victory for Miss Becky Smith, it was also a fine training performance from Micky Hammond. A trainer who has gained more recent success over jumps, Hammond successfully trained Cornerstone Lad to win the 2019 Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle, beating former Champion Hurdler Buveur D’Air in the process!
Race 2 – British Stallion Studs EBF Restricted Novice Stakes (GBB Race) (Class 4, 2yo, 6f)
Racegoers were treated to an impressive winner in Race 2 of the evening, as the Michael Bell 2yo Metahorse responded well to Gary Halpin’s urgings to win going away at a nice price of 7/1. Slowest of all from the starting stalls, Pink Stripes raced in rear throughout the contest, with Metahorse a few lengths ahead of her at the rear of the main pack. Conversely, Secret Mistral broke sharply under Jason Watson from Stall 2 and made most, holding sway ahead of Felix Natalis, Shine’s Ambition, and Boom Boom Pow in mid-division. Rounding the turn, Watson kicked his mount for home and stole a length from Felix Natalis on the run into the home straight. However, having been niggled a long for much of the early part of the race, creeping ever closer was Metahorse, racing wide of the leaders and making his challenge just over a furlong from the line. With one crack of the whip, Metahorse soon careered away up the run-in under Gary Halpin, putting a smooth 2 ½ lengths between himself and Boom Boom Pow in second place, with a further 1 ½ lengths back to the 2/1F Shine’s Ambition in third; Secret Mistral got ran out of it and kept on for fourth. With this stylish win in the bag, Michael Bell looks to have yet another promising young horse to look forward to, having won the 2020 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot with The Lir Jet. Congratulations Michael!
Race 3 – Excell Supply Handicap Stakes (Class 2, 3yo+, 1m 3 ½f)
A local winner and a popular favourite in the betting market, Box To Box repeated his recent course success by running out an impressive winner of the feature race, scooting clear by 4 ¼ lengths as the 11/4 Fav. Always prominent, Box To Box led the way in the early stages under Andrew Mullen, racing clear of Group One Power and Trojan Horse; racing towards the rear came the well-fancied pair of Haunted Dream and Praiano. With little change to the running order throughout, the race only began in earnest as the runners made their way past the 2f marker, with Box To Box still in prime position at the head of affairs. Rounding the turn, Mullen seized the opportunity to steal first run on the field, kicking Box To Box clear by over two lengths as they made their way into the home straight. Attempting to make up lost ground having raced widest of all into the straight, Haunted Dream appeared to respond well to pressure in the final furlong, managing to snatch an eventual second place finish by just a nose from Group One Power who had no more to give back in third place. However, it was all about Box To Box in the end, who kicked away from the opposition with the minimum of fuss in the final furlong, with Andrew Mullen even having a cheeky glance in behind him. A jockey with abundant experience, one of Mullen’s finest moments in the saddle came when riding the classy Caspar Netscher, winning the Group 2 Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine in 2014!
Race 4 – Envirosips Nursery Handicap Stakes (Class 4, 2yo, 7f)
Half an hour on from an easy winner, an arguably even easier winner came in the fourth race of the afternoon when True Statesman justified favouritism at odds of 5/6 to win by a stress-free 3 lengths for jockey Jason Hart, and joint-trainers Charlie & Mark Johnston. Another to race prominently throughout, True Statesman sat in second place in the early stages, no more than a length behind the leader Betweenthesticks. In midfield, Double O and The Twilight Lady kept close company, with Bojink and Zephina bringing up the rear division. As the runners made their way to final turn, Jason Hart made a swift move aboard True Statesman, sweeping to the lead on the outside of the weakening Betweenthesticks and soon cruising more then 3 lengths clear. Caught out by the sudden burst of pace shown by the new leader, Double O and Zephina could only make small late gains in the final furlong of the straight, gradually pulling back the deficit. However, with both still firmly beaten, True Statesman was eased down less than 50 yards from the line, leaving the second and third place finishes slightly flattered by the eventually winning distance. Not the first time that Jason Hart has combined with the Johnstons, the team also collaborated in 2021 to win the Group 3 Acomb Stakes and Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes with Royal Patronage, who also went on to finish second in this year’s Dante Stakes behind eventual Derby winner Desert Crown!
Race 5 – GBR Everyone’s Turf Handicap Stakes (Class 5, 3yo+, 7f)
Punters favouring those at the head of the betting market were in luck after Race 5, when 9/4 shot Yanifer kept on strongly under Cam Hardie to defeat the 7/4F Jilly Cooper by 2 ½ lengths for trainer Harriet Bethell. Fastest away from the stalls in the early stages, Algheed led the way from six-time course winner Powerallied in second, the pair racing ahead of Yanifer and Jilly Cooper. Looking to the remainder of the field, Liangel Hope never really travelled having been bumped at the start, and Madrinho’s jockey seemed content to race in rear throughout. As Algheed gave way entering the final two furlongs of the contest, both Jilly Cooper and Yanifer swept to the front with ease, the pair looking set to fight out the finish with no real challengers making ground in-behind. With just a furlong left to race, Yanifer found an extra gear and responded well under pressure to lengthen away from the SP Fav in the closing stages and score comfortably. After making eye-catching late headway up the home straight, Madrinho did well to secure the bronze medal in third place, having had to switch to the right behind a wall of horses upon entering the straight; each-way returns at 50/1 will have kept plenty of racegoers happy! A jockey known for his association with the quirky but popular sprinter Mondammej, Hardie racked up over £500k in prize money during the 2021 season!
Race 6 – Elaine Williams Memorial Handicap Stakes (Class 4, 4yo+, 5 ½f)
More joy for short-price backers came in the penultimate race of the evening when the well-fancied 7/4F Late Arrival backed up a last-time-out win at Pontefract to score by 1 ½ lengths on the Roodee under Joanna Mason for joint-trainers Michael & David Easterby. A pair with plenty of experience at Chester, Bossipop and Red Walls led the field in the early stages of this 5f sprint, with Enduring, Late Arrival, and Street Life never too far behind in the chasing pack. Little changed in the running order throughout the contest, but as the run into the straight beckoned, traffic problems soon emerged. Attempting to cut through the field and appearing to be travelling well, Second Collection was soon stopped in her tracks by those in front of her, and a weakening Bossipop also suffered a troubled passage with a furlong and a half to go. However, managing to squeeze through on the rail, Late Arrival narrowly avoided such troubles and soon emerged as the new leader a furlong from the finish, stealing a length on the field in the process. With the finishing effort of Street Life not enough to inconvenience him, Late Effort soon forged clear under Joanna Mason and stayed on well for victory. With this her 19th winner of the 2022 season, Mason already looks on her way to challenging her 2021 tally of 44 winners (a career best); good luck for the rest of the season, Joanna!
Race 7 – City Plate Day Tomorrow Fillies’ Handicap Stakes (Class 4, 3yo+, 2m)
The closest and most dramatic finish of the evening was saved until the final race on the card when Nikhi survived a three-way photo finish to secure victory at odds of 7/1 for Cam Hardie and Jedd O’Keefe, providing Hardie with a double on the day. Only five runners went to post in this marathon, with the runners racing almost in single file for the majority of the first circuit, headed throughout by Single and Hellenista. Content to wait in-behind the leaders, the 7/4F Mellow Magic raced alongside Rozalia for much of the contest, leaving Nikhi to bring up the rear. As the tempo increased with just under three furlongs to go, Nikhi and Single were the first to come under pressure as Hellenista overtook the lead and made her way into the straight, with Mellow Magic travelling notably well in second place. With a furlong to race, it looked for all money that Mellow Magic was set to record a well-fought victory, that was until a rallying effort from Hellenista on the inside and a remarkable late run from Nikhi sandwiched him into a three-way battle. As the line loomed large, Nikhi gamely kept on and just managed to sneak her head in front at the line to seize victory from Mellow Magic and Hellenista, who eventually dead-heated for second place. A trainer known for getting winners on the flat and over jumps, some of Jedd O’Keefe’s more recent success has come via the latter, with top jumps stayer Sam Spinner winning Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in 2017! Well done, Jedd!
Race report by Adam Perkins
The Boulton Group Handicap Stakes (Class 4, 3yo+) (For Female Amateur Jockeys)
Distance: 7f 127y | Prize: £11,400
The British Stallion Studs EBF Restricted Novice Stakes (Class 4, 2yo) (for horses in Bands B, C and D) (EBF Restricted Race Qualifier)
Distance: 6f 17y | Prize: £11,547
The Elaine Williams Memorial Handicap Stakes (Class 4, 4yo+)
Distance: 5f 110y | Prize: £11,400