It was a marquee Wednesday up in Cumbria as Carlisle hosted its biggest day of Flat racing of the year, with the feature being the Stablemate By AGMA Carlisle Bell Handicap – which offers up the oldest trophy still contested for in world sport.
There were plenty of things to note across an action-packed seven race card, and we sent Nick Seddon north to speak to the winners on the day…
Chichester leaves it late to scoop the Bell
The feature race on the card was the Stablemate By AGMA Carlisle Bell Handicap, which offers up the oldest sporting trophy still contested in world sport to the winner. Dating all the way back to 1599, the mile race holds a special place in the racing calendar and there’s almost always a strong turnout.
This year’s renewal was no different and a thrilling finish went the way of the Keith Dalgleish-trained Chichester, who showed a good turn of foot to prevail by a neck over Global Spirit and the front-running Lion Tower – and provide trainer Keith Dalgleish with a second win in the race.
And winning jockey Joe Fanning feels there could be another nice prize in the son of Dansili this term. He said: “That was a nice win. They went a good gallop which suited us as I think he wants a bit further, but we got a nice run into the race and he’s done it well.
“He just does enough when he gets there and these big handicaps seem to play into his hands. Anything up to a mile and a quarter would suit and there should be another nice race in him.”
Colony Queen is thriving for Mackie
Wednesday’s seven race card was an excellent one and also included the Cumberland Plate Handicap over a mile and three furlongs, which is worth over £20,000 in prize money and was won in game fashion by the John Mackie-trained Colony Queen (13-2).
The five year old has only been with Mackie for a couple of months after the retirement of Steve Gollings but she has been in fine form for her new trainer, winning twice, and Mackie revealed that her former handler had been particularly helpful in helping her to settle into her new surroundings.
He said: “Unfortunately Steve Gollings has decided to retire but it’s been to the benefit of our yard as we’ve had a few new in-mates. She’d be the best so far and Steve’s done a wonderful job with her and told me everything we need to do.
“He’s still in involved to a certain extent – when we won at Beverley I thought we’d go to Haydock 10 days later as she was bucking and kicking, but Steve told us to wait for a nice prize and that’s what we’ve done!
“We’ll look for a nice race next but it depends what the handicapper does. There’s a good few fillies races around and we’ll probably aim her at one of those.”
Feathers looks a nice prospect
It isn’t uncommon to see a nice novice cutting their teeth at Carlisle and there was plenty to like about the way the Kevin Ryan-trained Spitting Feathers (5-1) won the second race on the card, the British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes.
Sitting prominently throughout, the two year old son of Iffraaj was seemingly still learning on the job on just his second recourse outing, but he was very much getting the hang of things by the close and pulled clear in the closing stages to seal a cosy one and a half length success under jockey Tom Eaves.
And winning trainer Kevin Ryan was impressed with what he saw from his charge. He said: “He’s a big horse and we knew he’d improve a lot for his first run. We’ve always liked him and he took a fair bit of pulling up today, which is always a good sign, so we’re very happy.
“He’s done that stylishly and Tom (Eaves) said he had loads in hand. He made it until the two mile start until Tom was able to pull him up, so the penny was only really starting to drop at the end. We like him and he should be a good horse going forward.”
Well-timed Tangled strikes again
Carlisle’s stiff finish isn’t for everyone, but it’s something that the Karen Tutty-trained Tangled (17-2) clearly appreciates, as he picked up his second course win on the trot in the Carlisle Bell Consolation Race Handicap.
The six year old’s hold up style means he requires quite a bit of luck in-running, but his regular partner Gemma Tutty knows him particularly well and she found a gap at the perfect time on Tangled, who boxed on well to seal a half a length victory.
And the winning trainer was delighted to win a notable race with her charge. She said: “He seems to really love it here. We left him to be fresh for today after his engagement at Beverley was abandoned and it proved to be the right thing and he did it really well. He’s obviously loving life at the moment and it’s nice to win a bigger race.
“We did want to get in the Bell but we just missed out there. The gap came at just the right time and he’s done it comfortable in the end. We haven’t got him entered for anything in the near future as he’s one that’s hard to keep a lid on. Carlisle and Beverley are two tracks that he’s done well at but it would be nice to go to York with him if he doesn’t get too revved up!”
Rodriguez at the double!
It proved to be a good day for jockey Callum Rodriguez, who bookended the card with a 31.5-1 double. Both of those wins came for Keith Dalgleish – who himself had a near 154-1 treble on the day – and the first of those came on board Lady Lade in the Book Your Christmas Party At Carlisle Racecourse Restricted Maiden Stakes.
The daughter of Havana Gold was only fifth on her debut here last month but she had clearly learned plenty from that initial outing, and scorched away for an all-the-way five and a half-length success.
And Rodriguez was impressed with what he saw. He said: “She’s come on plenty for her debut. She jumped and travelled well and put them to bed pretty easily. She might get six furlongs, but five will be no problem.”
The jockey then closed the card with a game success on board the thriving Gometra Ginty, who showed plenty of resolve to hold off the challenge of Candescence and win the Longtown Fillies' Handicap.
That win means that the five year old has now won three of her last four outings and Rodriguez was pleased with the performance. He said: “It’s a good day for Keith and myself. This mare seems to be on the improve, that’s three wins this year and she’s shown a great attitude in all of her wins, so hopefully she can keep going.