If you’re doing nothing and the weather looks pleasant, and you’ve never seen Tony McCoy up close, or Francesca Cumani, or Mick Fitzgerald or any one of hundreds of famous racing faces, then leap in the car and pole over to the Lambourn Open Day. Francesca to be fair might not be there, but there’s a vague chance you might bump into The Hon. who will be judging best turned out. This apparently – in case you are thinking of entering – involves “being colourful”. You might even bump into me, but that will only be because I have the function of supporting the pole for the Committee Tent. I shan’t move far from that spot unless a racing camel escapes. They are always trouble.
Decades ago, we launched The Middleham Trainers Association and their Open Day, which also runs on a Good Friday. That generated one of the three rudest telephone conversations I have ever had, as Big Pete Walwyn ranted for a solid ten minutes about all the potential racehorse owners I had cost Lambourn and that A, B and C were all total… blah blah blah fishcakes. Eventually, when he was drawing breath, I pointed out that it was 4½ hrs by car and a round trip of over 500 miles and the number of racing fans that Middleham had stolen from The Open Day was considerably less than the number of times he’d called me an unutterable so and so.
That first Middleham Open Day went well in the morning and then, post a traditional Northern Racing Lunch, started to get a bit hazy for the afternoon’s entertainment, up on whatever Dale it was. By then, the coldest, nastiest, horizontal rain had arrived and the very supportive and large crowd had gathered to listen to Tommo egg them along as we waited for the first entertainment, Camel Racing.
This was being organised by the late Patrick Haslam, one of very few trainers to have trained a winner at every UK course. Patrick had owners staying, and family for Easter and he had given them all the jolliest and most generous lunch. We waited and waited and eventually, we saw half a dozen camels thundering across the moor and off into the distance, being chased by a selection of quite drunk people on foot. The starting stalls never arrived in the mud and it was too wet for the falconry, but throughout it all, the ever-professional Tommo, kept the banter going and the crowd amused, running races for the children and interviews with other racing journalists about some of their favourite interviews.
God Bless Tommo for that day and all his efforts. Later, as we were dropped off at the station by Chris Fairhurst, who can sometimes make dour look like sunshine, I made the mistake of seeking some sort of encouragement for the future. “Were you all pleased with the way the day turned out – despite the weather?”
After a tiny pause, he said, “I don’t suppose it will have done any harm”
Much like the racing tips below then.
1:50 NEWCASTLE talkSPORT All-Weather 3 Year Old Cl2 (3yo) 6f ITV4
PERDIKA has the benefit of a fillies allowance and were this a handicap would be top-weight after her sterling work in Meydan this winter. She should beat SHOULDVEBEENARING and SHAQUILE who has won 3 from 4 and may still be on the up, so so caution is advised.
PERDIKA 2 pts Win
2:25 NEWCASTLE BetUK All-Weather Marathon Cl2 (4yo+) 2m½f ITV4
Two long shots here, more for fun than profit
WITHOLD 2 pts e/w and RAINBOW DREAMER 1 pt e/w
2:40 LINGFIELD Spreadex Sports All Weather Vase Mile Hcap Cl3 (4yo+ 0-90) 1m ITV4
THE MENSTONE GEM showed some character LTO in a tough battle. He looked as though more is to come, and more importantly, he has the ability to win this from the front, provided he doesn;t get trapped on the rails. I must also have a small saver on John MConnell’s MULGRAVE, which I suspect has been aimed at this £33k prize by his canny connections A wide-open race.
MULGRAVE 3 pts e/w – THE MENSTONE GEM 2 pts ew/
3:00 NEWCASTLE BetUK All-Weather Easter Classic Middle Distance Cl2 (4yo+) 1m2f ITV4
FOREST OF DEAN 4 pts Win
3:15 LINGFIELD BetUK All-Weather Vase Sprint Hcap Cl3 (4yo+ 0-90) 6f ITV4
SHALAA ASKAR, ABERAMA GOLD and EMPEROR SPIRIT all have appeal, but with Ryan Moore an early booking and some chat about his work times, he’s the won for me. the name incidentally isn’t African or Arabic. It is Brummie.
SHALAA ASKAR 3pts e/w
3:35 NEWCASTLE Spreadex All-Weather Mile Cl2 (4yo+) 1m ITV4
Trying to see beyond the favourite and can’t…
BERKSHIRE SHADOW 4 pts win
3:50 LINGFIELD BetUK All-Weather Vase Middle Distance Hcap Cl3 (4yo+ 0-95) 1m2f ITV4
FARASI LANE has improved each run since his wind-op, and his victory LTO showed further progression. He is more than capable of defying a penalty and he is being backed. TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD has to be on my shortlist if only because I love the name.
FARASI LANE 4 pts e/w (12/1 as I write) – TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD 1½ pts e/w
4:10 NEWCASTLE talkSPORT All-Weather Fillies’ And mares’ Cl2 (4yo+) 7f ITV4
So pleased VADREAM opted for the lucky last rather than this race. I have nothing between the favourite and QUEEN AMINATU who is 4lb better on ratings, so I’m just going for Haggis.
QUEEN AMINATU 4 pts Win
4:45 NEWCASTLE BetUK All-Weather Sprint Cl2 (4yo+) 6f ITV4
I thought VADREAM was a revelation last weekend – my only question is whether she’ll handle the surface. That aside, the best form on display is probably the Listed contest run at Lingfield LTO where ANNAF met many of this crowd. Rewatching that race, I noticed how slowly he was away – and yet when the break came he took full advantage and hosed in. A classy performance.
ANNAF 3 pts win
1:30 HAYDOCK Challenger Two Mile Hdl Series Final Hcap Hdl Cl2 (4yo+) 1m7½f ITV4
The selection will run better on G/S drying ground and a flat track – situations he has not been offered recently.
TAKEIT EASY 3 pts e/w
1:50 MUSSELBURGH tote £250K Guaranteed Placepot Royal Mile Hcap Cl3 (3yo 0-95) 1m ITV4
DUMFRIES running here is a bit like seeing Egrets in the Andes. Tregonning simply doesn’t do Musselburgh. Since 2009 he has in fact only sent 4 runners to the course with zero success, but this might be about to change. Hosed in at Southwell LTO, is racefit, the handicapper appears to have been tolerant, the price appears too big at 15/2
DUMFRIES 3 pts Win
2:25 MUSSELBURGH tote.co.uk Bet£5Get£20 Musselburgh Silver Arrow Hcap Cl2 (4yo+ 0-100) 7f ITV4
GWEEDORE won this last year and has a favourable weight advantage over a couple of these. Wide open
GWEEDORE 2 pts Win
2:40 HAYDOCK Challenger Staying Chase Series Final Hcap Chase Cl2 (5yo+) 3m1½f ITV4
ENQARDE loves Haydock a track on which he has produced three of his best runs including when winning The Tommy Whittle in 2021 by 10l against Remastered. The trainer has also found his mojo recently
ENQARDE 3 pts e/w
3:00 MUSSELBURGH tote World Pool Scottish Sprint Cup Hcap Cl2 (4yo+) 5f ITV4
The price is wrong for ZARZYNI and OIisin was down to ride CAME FROM THE DARK at the five-day stage. TomToms are beating. Dutch the pair for 8 points. At current prices, you’ll be getting approx 5/2 for your money.
CAME FROM THE DARK – ZARZYNI Dutch 8 pts
3:15 HAYDOCK Challenger Stayers Hdl Series Final Hcap Hdl Cl2 (4yo+) 3m½f ITV4
FARMERS GAMBLE 3 pts Win
3:35 MUSSELBURGH tote Summer World Pool Queen’s Cup Cl2 (4yo+) 1m6f ITV4
GOOD SHOW went into a number of notebooks for his last run, where he gave the 83-rated Artistic Choice, 7 lbs and demolished him in strides. He’s got into this with no weight and is being backed. I don’t think he’ll lengthen so get on at 7/1 now.
GOOD SHOW 5 pts e/w at 7/1