Thursday, 22 June 2017

2017 Season: Week 8 - SHRC 3YO Derby

This is only going to be a brief one, for the obvious reason that of a weekend featuring five harness race meetings across the UK, I was only at one of them.

Corbiewood on Friday 16th June played host to the SHRC 3YO Derby.  Well, Derbies.  Or Derbys.  Hmm....I don't like having to make a call on the correct plural of Derby.  There was a fillies division and a colts & geldings division.  Let's just leave it at that.

This was particularly exciting for me as my 3YO filly, Crosshill Ace (aka Acey Baby) was entered to run.  Before the start of the season I had hopes of adding the trophy to the 2YO Futurity one that currently sits by my fireplace waiting to be inscribed, however after her very lacklustre performance at Appleby in the 3YOs where she finished fourth of four, quite frankly a yellow rosette might have been too much to hope for.

That's not taking into consideration of course that had I put my foot down after that race and insisted she be sent away to a professional trainer.  No point having the bullets if the gun isn't working right, after all.  Acey has therefore been the responsibility of Andrew and Joanne Cairns since the end of May.

What a difference that made.

We got lucky with the draw, landing two on the gate with the betting favourite, Greenhilldebateable, drawn 8 of 8 (outside on the second line).  Things improved (for us) when the filly drawn 1, Theladieslovejim, took a flakey at the start and landed in the middle of the track.  Once everyone was back on the track where they were supposed to be, Theladieslovejim was moved to the outside of the front line and we shimmied in to the one-hole.  That's right Michael, the one-hole.  I don't care what country we're in, if I wanna call it the one-hole I'm calling it the one-hole.  Or as some people insist on referring to it, 'drawn 1 on the gate'.  The fact still remains that we got really lucky.  And then Andrew capitalised on it, by holding the inside line and taking up the running for the first 3/4 of the race.  It was at this point that Victoria Camden, the filly who finished second to Ace in the Futurity but who won the Breeders Crown and remains the Corbiewood track record holder for 2YO fillies, came with a strong challenge.  I was encouraged to see Ace dig in and it took the eventual winner longer than expected to clear Acey but clear her she did and she went on to be a convincing winner.  Ace looked to tire down the back straight as the Gilvear's She Be Rockin detached herself from the field to move up into third, however again I was encouraged to see Ace run on down the stretch, chasing the winner home and maintaining a clear second place.  We have progress.

Ace parading before the race with driver Andrew Cairns
Post-race walk to collect the blue rosette with Abbie Cairns
The brief report from the racing is now on Harnesslink and can be read here.

My congratulations goes to all of the winning connections - we saw some great racing last Friday night.  Ayr Bird gave a no-nonsense performance for my friends the O'Neil family when winning the first race of the night (Michael was stood next to me and was remarkably calm throughout; I actually looked away momentarily when Bird was in third - haha -  and when I looked back she was in front.  Not sure how she got there in such a short space of time but she did, and she went on to win very easily).

Three O'Neils for the price of one!
Brothers Michael & Hughie head to the winner's circle with Ayr Bird

I watched the second race with Noreen Bennett, owner of the long-time leader Tarawood Kiki; although saying we watched the race is stretching the truth somewhat.  We spent most of the first lap trying to sort out the privacy settings on Noreen's phone so we could go Facebook Live for her family members who weren't there.  I then ditched that to take photos as they passed me. Caroline Kennedy then tried to go live and we had the same problem, and again I ditched that as they passed me a second time.  Kiki was eventually 'caught' by Springhill Catch in the home straight.  From that moment on Noreen kept telling me my husband was robbing her. a) I don't have a husband, and b) she backed some decent-priced winners later on in the evening so she's fooling nobody!!

Tarawood Kiki & Andrew Cairns
The Terrible Two - Noreen Bennett (L) & Caroline Kennedy giving me hell!
Wellfield Alfie ran a stormer in the third race to win for the first time since 2014 and Vyrnwy Smoke returned to winning ways when partnered again by Lauren Moran.  Lauren and I were both kicking ourselves that we missed to get the GoPro on both Hughie and her for two winning spins around the track - we'll just have to keep trying (and remember to take the actual cameras with us!!).

The high grade OPH was as good a race as I've seen in a long time at Corbiewood, but then I said that the previous week about the STAGBI Future Broodmares Race, which coincidentally was also an OPH.  And then the best races last season also seemed to be OPH me crazy, but I'm sure I can see a pattern forming.  Nevertheless, some people still don't like preferred style racing.  Back to the ballot on alternate weeks it is (I didn't just decide that, it was decided by the club members at the beginning of this week).

Anyway, the top race was won impressively by Robhall who has been such a faithful servant to owner 'Big Bob' Craw ('s'appenin?'), but I must mention Coalford Chief.  Aside from the fact that I love a grey, I have also loved this horse for some time.  He faltered badly at the start (not sure what caused it, initially I thought he had been squeezed but watching the replays I must only assume that he made a mistake).  This resulted in him being left a good 50 yards behind the remainder of the field.  I kid you not, he was chasing down Robhall at the finish; the ground that he made up and the race that he ran was phenomenal.  He'll get his turn for sure.

Coalford Chief
All eight runners heading for home
Owner Bob Craw & driver Stuart MacKenzie heading to the winner's circle

And of course, aside from the 3YO fillies division of the Derby, there was also the colts and geldings.  I missed the start of the race as I was too busy chatting to Abbie and Ace at the lorry, but when I did make my way to the track side, the race was pretty much sewn up.  No Brakes dominated and although All Good Hanover tried his best, the winner wasn't for catching.  It was an impressive time too - 2.03.45.  I was also pleased to see GDs Hazzard finishing third - he's a stablemate for Ace and his owners Dave and Gerry Thomson are lovely people.  Plus 'Harry' is out of the mare Jambo Cam who I supported with great gusto during her racing career as she took on Rhyds Topaz in the top stakes races back at the beginning of my relationship with Smarty.

And before I knew it, the racing was over (in my defence I thought there were 8 races, not 7, which explained my look of bewilderment as the track rapidly emptied).  As I've mentioned, I missed the remainder of the weekend's racing but I have to give a small shout out to the following horses:

Billy Wilk - heat and final winner @ Carlisle - well done Cattigans!
Miraculous - winner of the first heat of the Crock of Gold @ Tir Prince - word is it was a really impressive performance.  Get with the script people, this horse has been a superstar since forever.
Rhyds Star Quality & Matticulous - royally bred, the pair of them (RSQ being a full brother to Rhyds Fivestar, Rhyds Hallstar, multiple race winner already this season Rhyds Rock Star amongst others, and Matticulous a full brother to 3YO British record holder Titanium and half brother to Miraculous himself) - the duo went head to head in the NWHOA 2YOs with Rhyds Star Quality the victor on this occasion.  I think these two could be interesting to watch all summer!
Rhyds Sapphire - my family's filly finished fourth in her first start from a terrible draw - onwards and upwards hopefully!

And that folks, is that.  This post goes out with only a few hours until Corbiewood's return (7.30pm tonight).

Over and out,

#1 Groom

P.s. the hen weekend was awesome.  For the first time in a long time, I basically did very little and didn't feel remotely guilty about it.  Plus I managed to even out some of the terrible tan lines from Appleby in anticipation of the wedding in August.  I'm a bridesmaid people.  A bridesmaid.  Turkey in a dress.

P.s. again, I'm thinking of starting a new feature in my weekly posts, called 'Caroline's Corkers'.  Caroline Kennedy gives me hell.  She's brutal.  Last week it was the following which knocked me for six:

"You do look younger now you're not as chubby.  You had a fat face and fat shoulders before".

She means it, too.

P.s again, I lied.  This wasn't brief at all.  Soz not soz.

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