Over 10,000 racegoers made their way to the Roodee for the Edinburgh Gin Summer Saturday meeting this year on a sunny but breezy afternoon in Chester. The feature race of the seven-race card came at 3:20pm in the Extra Places Every Day At Betway Handicap Stakes (Class 2, 7 ½f), on a day filled with plenty of familiar faces and tight finishes, with a few surprises along the way. Ground conditions were Good all over, with parts of the track selectively watered.
Race 1 – Edinburgh Gin Cannonball Restricted Novice Stakes (Class 4, 2yo, 6f)
No shocks came in the first race of the day, as the well-backed 2/1 Favourite Sanks A Million went on to record a cosy success by ½ a length for trainer David Loughnane, ahead of the closing Rock Opera. Having broken well from the outset, Sanks A Million set a strong gallop at the head of affairs, much like his speedy sire Profitable did during his career. Close-up in the chasing vanguard lay Rock Opera under recent Epsom Dash winner Barry McHugh, alongside the John Quinn-trained JM Jungle, with Metahorse and War Treaty racing ahead of Pink Stripes in last place. Rounding the turn into the straight, Sanks A Million kicked a length clear under Richard Kingscote, gamely clinging on to his lead entering the final furlong ahead of Rock Opera, who ultimately could never quite keep up with the winner. Riding the crest of a wave at present, not only did Richard Kingscote record more winners in 2021 than he ever has in his career, he also recently achieved one of the most sought-after life goals of any flat jockey by winning the 2022 Epsom Derby aboard the Dante Stakes winner Desert Crown for Sir Michael Stoute. Congratulations to Richard on a truly magnificent achievement!
Race 2 – Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb & Ginger Handicap Stakes (Class 2, 3yo+, 5f)
In the second race of the day, Copper Knight proved that age was no hinderance to success, as the 9-year-old gelding ran out an impressive 2-length winner as the 5/2 Fav ahead of a battalion of opponents fighting out second place, a position eventually taken by the staying-on Glory Fighter. Never out of the first two, Copper Knight showed his customary blistering speed out of the stalls under Sean Kirrane, with fellow previous course winner Militia leading the way in the early stages. Making ground on the outer after a furlong was Night On Earth under Alistair Rawlinson, ahead of the chasing pack which included five-time course winner Gabrial The Devil, with Count D’Orsay and Rebel At Dawn slow away and kept in rear division. Attempting to steal first run on the field, former Grand National-winning jockey Graham Lee kicked Militia clear as they entered the final furlong of the contest. The effort was short-lived, though, as Copper Knight kept wearing away at the leader down the centre of the track and eventually went a couple of lengths clear at the line in impressive style. However, the judge had to work a little harder to determine the placings in-behind the winner, as the late headway made by Glory Fighter, Count D’Orsay, and Rebel At Dawn led to a three-way photo finish, one that was eventually settled in that very order for second, third, and fourth place. Already on 31 winners for the new season, Tim Easterby looks to be on course for another successful year, having trained 136 winners in 2021 across the turf and the all-weather. Congratulations, Tim!
Race 3 – Manor Car Hire Handicap Stakes (Class 4, 4yo+, 1m 2 ½f)
Race 3 provided yet another gripping finish on the Roodee when 9/2 chance Jean Baptiste held off the late challenge of previous course winner (and 5/2 Fav) Love Is Golden to prevail by ½ a length at the winning post. Keen from the outset, Jean Baptiste led the way for a couple of furlongs before being overtaken by 66/1 outsider Hot Team with a circuit left to go. Throughout the contest, Love Is Golden and fellow course winner Golden Melody raced in rear division, with both jockeys aboard seemingly happy to make their moves later in the race. However, as Hot Team gave way rounding the home turn, Joe Fanning quickly stole a couple of lengths on the field to go clear, leaving Golden Melody with too much to do. As victory looked more and more certain for the new leader, Franny Norton continuously pushed Love Is Golden to make a challenge, only for his mount to hang both ways in the final furlong and ultimately just fail to reel in Jean Baptiste at the line. Having shown his class with a race-winning move in the home straight, Joe Fanning had now recorded his 37th winner of the season, one of which included a Grade 2 success in the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket aboard Living Legend for long time supporters Charlie & Mark Johnston. Congratulations Joe!
Race 4 – Extra Places Every Day At Betway Handicap (Class 2, 3yo, 7 ½f)
Richard Kingscote was at the double in the feature race of the afternoon when the classy Outgate gunned down the opposition in the final furlong of the straight to win going away by 1 ½ lengths as the 5/2 Fav, ahead of the staying-on pair of Thunder Legend and Bullet Force. Quickest out the stalls was the locally trained course winner Roman Dragon, under the reliable steering of Franny Norton, who took his mount to the lead ahead of Point Lynas and Thunder Legend in the early stages. Racing in the middle of the pack, the well-backed favourite Outgate was kept quiet under Richard Kingscote throughout, only showing his hand as they made their way into the home straight. Once granted a clear run to attack, Outgate flew down the centre of the track to steal the lead away from the very game Roman Dragon and soon breezed clear of the chasing pack in the final 100 yards of the contest. There were also a few eye-catchers in behind the eventual winner, with the staying-on efforts of Bullet Force and Wodeton in third and fifth place both worthy of note; Roman Dragon eventually split the pair in fourth place. Winning joint-trainers Daniel & Claire Kubler had a very good season in 2021 and look to have found a stable star in Outgate, who also won at our Boodles May Festival last month. We wish the Kublers and Outgate the best of luck for the 2022 flat season!
Race 5 – Edinburgh Gin Boyzlife Handicap Stakes (Class 2, 3yo+, 2m)
Franny Norton was back in the winner’s enclosure after the fifth race of the day having steered home the Charlie & Mark Johnston-trained stayer Soapy Stevens by 1 ½ lengths at odds of 11/4. Quick to make the running under hat-trick chasing Richard Kingscote was former Cesarewitch Handicap and Northumberland Plate winner Withhold, leading the way from Soapy Stevens and Merlin’s Beard in prominent positions. Looking to the middle of the pack, Oman sat mostly in fourth place alongside recent Chester winner and 5/2 Fav Spirit Mixer, with It’s Good To Laugh and Alfred Boucher bringing up the rear. Rounding the 2f marker, as Kingscote attempted to push Withhold further clear he was soon caught flatfooted by a sharp turn-of-foot from Soapy Stevens on his outside, who soon galloped a couple of lengths clear entering the home straight. Gamely sticking to a true line, Soapy Stevens was not to be denied in the final furlong and even had to be eased slightly at the line, possibly flattering the eye-catching late thrust by Alfred Boucher from the rear of the pack to snatch second place from Merlin’s Beard at a huge 25/1 on his first start for Ian Williams. A local hero for many fans of racing at Chester, Franny Norton again showed his class with this smart ride for the Johnston’s; a trainer/jockey combination always to be feared on the Roodee, and one that also successfully teamed up to win two Group 2 races in 2021 with the smart Sir Ron Priestley!
Race 6 – Edinburgh Gin Seaside Handicap Stakes (Class 4, 4yo+, 6f)
It was that man again in the sixth race of the afternoon as Richard Kingscote had to use every ounce of his energy to ensure Ballyare crossed the line in front at odds of 8/1 for former Grand National winning trainer Lucinda Russell. Leading the way early doors, Hyperfocus broke smartly from a wide berth in Stall 11 ahead of the 10/11 Fav Indian Creak, with Toussarok and Redrosezorro also in close proximity; slowest away and struggling throughout was Show Me Show Me. The running order changed very little until the field made their way into the home straight, which saw Toussarok fade rapidly into last place. Staying on from mid-division, Ballyare made his move at the furlong pole by threading his way through the gaps to challenge Hyperfocus on his outside, eventually wearing him down in the final 50 yards of the contest to win by just ½ a length. Of those in behind, Manigordo stayed-on well from the rear to steal third from the always prominent Redrosezorro; Indian Creak finished a comfortably beaten fifth place. Much better known for her National Hunt exploits, this provided Russell with just her 2nd winner on the flat in the 2022 season. In comparison, the Scotland-based trainer achieved 46 jumps winners in the 2021-22 season, including the hugely exciting novice chaser Ahoy Senor who triumphed in the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices Chase at Aintree, as well as the Grade 2 Towton Novices Chase at Wetherby, finishing a place in front of the Grand National winner Noble Yeats on that occasion. Congratulations Lucinda, and good luck for the rest of the season!
Race 7 – Edinburgh Gin Classic London Dry Handicap Stakes (Class 5, 4yo+, 1m 4 ½f)
The seventh and final race of the day provided no shortage of drama as relatively unfancied 22/1 shot Bamboo Bay determinedly stuck his neck out at the line to defy long-time leader The New Marwan by just a nose in the final strides for trainer Philip Kirby, ridden by Kevin Stott. Quick out the gates, The New Marwan was soon sent to the front by Barry McHugh and led the way from 11/4 Fav Saint Riquier, with Bamboo Bay and the keen-travelling Little Ted never too far behind. In rear raced the well-fancied Bookmark who was slowly into stride out of the stalls and never recovered from his uncompromising position, due in part to being hampered by the Franny Norton-ridden Athmad who got upset in the stalls and darted left when the race began. Kicking a few lengths clear rounding the home turn, The New Marwan looked to be travelling best of all at the head of affairs with just over a furlong left to race. However, entering the final 100 yards of the contest, the leader was unbalanced and gave those closing in-behind the opportunity to strike, an opportunity readily taken by Bamboo Bay who got up on the line in a three-way photo-finish having been behind the leader throughout. It was hard luck for The New Marwan but also for Saint Riquier who filled third place in the photo-finish, having had to make his challenge a little wider than his jockey Ben Sanderson may have liked. Nothing could be taken away from Bamboo Bay though, who had just provided dual-purpose trainer Philip Kirby with his 14th winner of the flat season and Kevin Stott with his 22nd. In a career-best 2021 season, Stott also triumphed in the Ayr Gold Cup aboard the quirky Bielsa for trainer Kevin Ryan!
Race report by Adam Perkins
The Edinburgh Gin Cannonball Restricted Novice Stakes (Class 4, 2yo) (for horses in Bands A, B, C and D)
Distance: 6f 17y | Prize: £11,547
The Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb & Ginger Handicap Stakes (Class 2, 3yo+)
Distance: 5f 15y | Prize: £31,047
The Extra Places Every Day At Betway Handicap Stakes (Class 2, 3yo)
Distance: 7f 127y | Prize: £101,000
The Edinburgh Gin Boyzlife Handicap Stakes (Class 2, 3yo+)
Distance: 1m 7f 196y | Prize: £61,000