It proved to be a marquee Monday afternoon up at Carlisle Racecourse, as the return of Flat racing at the track coincided with the return of spectators. Under the watchful eye of around 1,000 paying customers, the racing didn’t disappoint.
It was a turnout which delighted Carlisle’s General Manager Molly Dingwall, who said: “It’s just been so exciting to have people back here today. To see so many familiar faces has been lovely and racedays are like a family, everybody knows each other and it’s so nice for them to be back racing again.
“I’d like to thank all of our loyal customers who have come back to us after a difficult period and all of the trainers who continue to support us. It’s been around 18 months since we last had Flat racing here, so it’s really pleasing to see such a well-supported card and I can’t wait to welcome everyone back once again.”
We sent Nick Seddon to speak to the winners on the day…
BURKE GUSHES ABOUT EXCITING EL CABALLO
The opening race on the card was the British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes over five furlongs, which has produced some useful winners in recent years.
Indeed, 2019 winner Rayong went on To be placed on the back of this for the Karl Burke team while the 2018 winner Cosmic Law went on to take the Woodcote Stakes at Epsom Downs.
Burke rather fittingly had the winner once again here on his 58th birthday and he could have a smart recruit in El Caballo, who impressed when scooting to a two and a half length success under Sam James.
And he felt that it wouldn’t be long before we saw this son of Havana Gold, returned the Evens favourite, in Group company.
Burke said: “He’s a lovely horse and he’s a horse who I think will definitely be stepping up into Group races at some point as a two year old.
“He handles the ground but I don’t think he needs it, so where we go from here I’m not sure. I think six furlongs will be his trip, we could go to Ascot but whether the Coventry Stakes would be a step too far at this point I’m not sure.
“Rayong ran well at Ascot and this fella would run well over five in the Windsor Castle if we went down that route but we’ve got plenty of time to think about it.”
NOTTINGHAM LOOKS THE END ZONE FOR FELL’S CHARGE
The feature race was the Penrith Handicap over six furlongs, which serves as a qualifier for the Jockey Club’s Grassroots Sprint Series.
The initiative aims to offer enhanced prize money across four divisions for horses operating below Group level, with the finale being at Nottingham on Wednesday 29th September.
It was End Zone (7-2) who made the best of his way home for the Roger Fell team and winning jockey Callum Rodriguez felt that it was a nice option to have for the four year old, who’s now won two of his nine starts.
He said: “He’s come down a bit in the weights and he’s obviously come on for his first run of the year and he’s stuck at it well. It’s potentially a nice prize for him to aim at later in the year now and it’s nice for the owners Middleham Park Racing who are all here today and I’m sure they’re all having a great day.”
THE LONG TRIP PAYS OFF FOR TEAM KUBLER
You’d imagine it will have been a particularly early start for the Daniel and Claire Kubler team this morning, who sent Helm Rock (7-1) up from Lambourn to take his chance in the Wreay Handicap over seven furlongs.
For those without a calculator, that’s a 558-mile round trip, but the three year old certainly made their endeavours worthwhile, relishing the soft conditions to get off the mark at the fourth time of asking.
It was a performance who delighted Claire Kubler, who will at least have something to smile about on her long drive home!
She said: “We’re delighted with that, especially with coming all the way up north to Carlisle, it’s a fair journey but it paid off. We debated the trip a bit, we ran over a mile three times and he just didn’t quite see the trip out so we thought about dropping back to seven and it’s worked out well today.”
TANGLED GETS A WELCOME CHANGE OF LUCK
The most exciting finish of the afternoon came in the Thursby Handicap over a mile, which produced a four-way photo finish.
Finishing best was Karen Tutty’s 20-1 chance Tangled on the near-side rail under the hands of daughter Gemma and Tutty was delighted to see things go the way of her gelding having suffered some trouble in running in the past.
She said: “I’m thrilled with that. The thing is he has to be ridden for luck and come through the field and we always seem to get boxed in, but he’s done it really well.
“We were nervous about going further on this ground, but he’s stayed every yard and it’s panned out very well for once! Where I was stood I thought he had got it, but we had to wait ages for the verdict and I’m always wary of celebrating too soon. He’s not one you can get out that quick, but we may look at Beverley for him in a fortnight or so.”
TUER’S CHARGE IS ON A ROLL
The final contest on the card was the Brisco Handicap over a mile and three furlongs and it was won by the Grant Tuer-trained 15-8 favourite Seventeen O Four, who’s really clicked into place for his yard.
The four year old couldn’t have been more impressive when opening his account over a mile and a half at Catterick last week and he certainly looks all about stamina judged by this performance, when digging deep into his reserves to see off the sustained challenge of the runner-up Betty Grable.
Seventeen O Four has two entries later this week at Catterick on Friday and York on Saturday, though a run in either of those will surely hinge on what happens to this son of Gutaifan at the sales on Thursday.
Nonetheless, Tuer was delighted with what he saw. He said: “Stepping him up in trip has certainly worked and to be honest that looked to be all stamina and he’d probably go further. If I was to run him again I’d probably go up to a mile and six furlongs I think and I wouldn’t be able to go to two miles. But he’s in the sales on Thursday, so whether we keep him or not I’m not sure.”