It’s been a busy couple of days at Carlisle, which hosted its second consecutive day of racing with the seven-race Summer Family Fun Day on Wednesday 18th August.
There was plenty of fun for all ages – including a guest appearance from the Grufalo himself – and on the racing front we could well have seen two pattern level fillies in the making. On duty in Cumbria was Nick Seddon, who was on hand to speak to all of the winners on the day…
The stars seem to be aligning for Hala
There were several notable performances on the day, though perhaps none more so than the debutant Hala Hala Athmani (11-8 favourite), who was an easy winner of division one of the Watch Racing TV Now EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes over six furlongs for the Kevin Ryan team.
Hala Hala Athmani is a half-sister to the dual Group One-winning sprinter Hello Youmzain and she showed an abundance of ability on debut, quickly pulling clear from the two furlong marker under Kevin Stott to score by five and a half lengths. It was an eerily similar performance to Hello Youmzain, who himself won over this trip at Carlisle back in 2018.
And Kevin Ryan feels that the future is bright for his filly. He said: “It was a really good performance, she’s a talented filly. She’s a big filly and has just taken a bit of time but her half-brother (Hello Youmzain) was the exact same. She’s always had a lot of talent and she’ll improve for that, so she’s an exciting filly.”
If you’re one for fate, it’s worth noting that Hello Youmzain defeated a David Armstrong horse called Salmesbury, who was named a small village in the Ribble Valley. Rather eerily, Hala Hala Athmani defeated a horse called Round Acre in her race – who is named after the next village along!
Alistair Whillans signs off with final success
Alistair Whillans was delighted to end his long training career with a winner, after Zealous made the best of his way home to cause an 18-1 surprise in the Brisco Amateur Jockeys' Handicap.
Based at Newmill-On-Slitrig in the Scottish Borders, the 66 year old has enjoyed a long career in the training ranks and it seemed as though the well-fancied Desert Quest had provided him with a final winner at Hamilton on 17th August before handing over the license to son Ewan – who has his first runners at Stratford tomorrow.
However, Zealous did have winning course and distance form under his belt from back in 2019 and he showed a good attitude to keep finding from the front under Luke Scott, and ensure that his handler signed off in the perfect way possible.
And although Whillans was the first to admit that it was a nice surprise, he was pleased to sign off with a victory. He said: “It was a nice way to sign off. We had a winner at Hamilton yesterday with Desert Quest so we all thought that was the final one!
“This was a nice surprise but he’s always threatened. He’s a big horse and he’s handled the weight he’s had to carry in this amateur race well. I was a bit worried about the ground, but it was fine and Luke has given him a nice ride.”
Winning jockey Luke Scott added: “The blinkers really helped today and I’m chuffed that I could ride Ali’s last winner – which I didn’t realise about until I came in! I didn’t expect him to be as keen as he was, but I thought I’d sit and suffer once I was there and to be fair to him he knuckled down and got on with it.”
Perfect News looks a fine prospect
The eye-catchers at Carlisle also included the William Haggas-trained Perfect News (Evens favourite), who like Hala Hala Athmani was a taking winner of the second division of the fillies’ maiden.
The daughter of Frankel still showed plenty of signs of inexperience on just her second racecourse outing, lugging behind two of her rivals at the two furlong pole, but she soon got the message and impressed with the way she was able to pick up for a half-length success under Cieren Fallon – who piloted his second impressive winner at the course in as many days in the process.
Perfect News has an entry in the Group One Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket later this year and Fallon feels the future is bright for his charge.
He said: “That was a really nice performance. She showed a little bit of experience there when I asked her to pick up and we got dragged across the course a bit and got a bit intimidated there but it was hands and heels and I was always going to get up, she didn’t do a tap when she got in front.
“She’s well-bred and mentally and physically she’s going to grow up. If she takes the right steps forward she can definitely get Black Type in the end.”
Sound Reason is clicking into place
It proved to be a productive afternoon for the Kevin Ryan/Kevin Stott combination, with the pair enjoying an 8.5-1 double with Sound Reason (3-1 favourite) taking the opening Racing TV Handicap.
The three year old has been holding his form well this season and dropped back to five furlongs here, he justified strong market support to get punters off to the perfect start, hitting the front in good style in the closing stages and going to score by three-quarters of a length.
And speaking after the race, Stott felt that there ought to be more to come from this likeable son of Hot Streak yet. He said: “That was a good performance. The first-time cheekpieces helped a lot and although it didn’t really go to plan it worked out in the end.
“We wanted to be a bit more prominent but we were a bit slow away so I kind of had to ride him with a bit of confidence out the back and to be fair he’s probably got there a bit too early but he’s a good horse who’s on the up and he’ll be even better on a bit of softer ground.”
Runninwild has a habit for a surprise!
The Ann Duffield-trained Runninwild has only had seven starts in his career so far, but he’s quickly building a habit for causing a shock, a party trick he started when shedding his maiden tag as a 200-1 outsider at Redcar in May.
The son of Fountain Of Youth clearly has some ability and he was up to his tricks once again here, when showing plenty of heart to cause a 50-1 shock from the front when winning the Join Racing TV Now Handicap over six furlongs.
The three year old broke well from the gates and to his credit he showed an excellent attitude to keep finding from the front, eventually winning by a length.
And winning jockey Shane Gray, who completed a 356-1 double on the card, was pleased with the performance. He said: “He gave me a good ride up beforehand, he can usually be a bit buzzy so he’s settled well here despite being in the stalls for a long time. I never intended to make the running but in fairness when every horse came to challenge him he just kept finding and he’s toughed it out well.
“It’s nice to ride a double and Carlisle has been a lucky track for me over the years – I love it here!”