PJ McDonald had three very good reasons to smile after a brilliant start to Carlisle’s 2018 Flat Season.
Glorious sunshine bathed the course and it was the popular Irish jockey who was quite simply too-hot-to-handle as he landed a magnificent treble.
Yorkshire-based McDonald rode Richard Fahey's Cosmic Law to an impressive victory in the opening race. He then followed it up with a five-length win onboard Becky The Thatcher, for Micky Hammond, and a four-length triumph on Mark Johnston's promising four-year-old Aclimatise.
McDonald came close to making it a four-timer when his ride Miss DD was beaten by just a neck in what was an excellent race by apprentice Faye McManoman on board Nigel Tinkler’s Seen The Lyte.
McDonald, who now has 45 winners to his name this season, said: “It’s always nice here at Carlisle and great when the sun is shining.
“I’ve always been lucky enough here, I’ve had a treble here before. It’s always nice when you come with some good rides and get the job done.
“It’s a nice friendly atmosphere at Carlisle, the Cumbrian crowd love their racing and win lose or draw you get great cheer on the way in.
“The season is only just getting going, but the last three or four weeks I’ve been pipping away good and got plenty of winners. I’m certainly not going to complain how things are going, but you know what this game is like – you just have to take it one day at a time.”
McDonald and McManoman were joined in the winners’ enclosure by Josephine Gordon who romped home on Hugo Palmer’s odds-on favourite Arbalet in the Smarkets.com Durdar Novices Chase. Gordon, the 2016 Champion Apprentice, never looked in any trouble as the dashing grey won by three-and-a-quarter lengths.
Tony Hamilton ended the day with a double as he won the sixth and seven races respectively. He rode Knowing Glance to victory for Richard Fahey – a second win of the day for Carlisle’s leading trainer of 2017 – and Presidential for Roger Fell.
Fell then saddled his second winner as Ben Sanderson rode 4/1 shot Tadaawol home in the Smarkets Blackwell Handicap (Div II).
Molly Dingwall, Carlisle Racecourse’s General Manager, said: “It has been a wonderful day and a really fitting start to our Flat Season.
“The weather has been beautiful, the crowds have come out in great numbers and there has been a fantastic atmosphere, both in the paddock and on the track. It’s been a cracking start to the new season and we cannot wait for our next meetings in a fortnight’s time.”
Racing returns to Carlisle on Thursday June 7, which is an evening meeting, and on Friday June 8 – the course’s annual ‘Feelgood Friday’ which includes live post-racing music from The Mersey Beatles.