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Alistair Whillans lands Cumbria Crystal Hurdle

Alistair Whillans landed one of the biggest wins of his training career when What A Steel, ridden by his son Ewan, produced a tremendous late run to land the £28,000 added Totepool.com Cumbria Crystal Hurdle at Cartmel today

As the runners came to the second last, David Pipe’s highly fancied Shoegazer was in front despite topweight, but with most of his 14 rivals still in close contention.

However, he began to tire on the run to the last and Dineur regained the lead, but What A Steel, who had been much nearer last than first in the early part of the race, continued to pick up ground relentlessly and surged to the front over a furlong out to win by two-and-a-half lengths at 14-1.

Peter Bowen’s 20-1 shot Dineur was second with Kim Bailey’s Valento staying on for third at 28-1.

It was a great win for Whillans who said: “I thought he would run well, but it was such a competitive race that I thought we would be up against it”

He should have banked on the belief of Gretna owners John and Sheila Wright, who had high hopes as an excited Mr Wright explained: “Cartmel has always been a lucky track for us. We had our first ever winner here with Copplestone in 2006 and have had other winners here too”.

Lucy Alexander, whose stock continues to rise, rode a peach of a race on Constant Contact to win the Cartmel Cheeses Lady Riders Handicap Hurdle, the first race of its kind to be staged at the course.

The 11-4 joint favourite looked likely to be trapped in a pocket when left short of racing room by the weakening Tough Talkin Man, but cleverly switched by his talented rider, Donald McCain’s gelding came round the outside to beat Hawkhill, who got the better of Cool Baranca in the battle for second.

Nigel Twiston Davies lost his chance of winning the big race when Royal Riviera was pulled out, but he still made the long trip from Gloucestershire pay with a better than 12-1 first and last race double with Foundry Square and Desolait, both ridden by his son Sam.



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Friday, July 21, 2017

Top trainer Skelton targets big race double

Dan Skelton, who has made a flying start to the campaign with more than 40 winners on the board already, is targeting a big race double with two of his early-season stars on the opening day of Cartmel’s Barbecue Meeting tomorrow.

Skelton’s 41 winners so far is 17 more than the Jonjo O’Neill, who is currently in second place for winners and more than the double the early season tally of his former boss, the champion trainer Paul Nicholls.

Four of those wins have been clocked up by Petrou, who is unbeaten since joining Skelton from Ben Case. The seven-year-old will attempt to complete the five timer in Cartmel’s most valuable race of the year, the £27,000 guaranteed Totescoop6 Cumbria Crystal Cup Handicap Hurdle.

“Petrou is on a roll and is hopefully not done with yet, he will have a tougher task as is mark has gone up 21lbs since he won on his debut for me at Stratford two months ago, but I am hopeful for tomorrow.” said Skelton.

To help protect his mark, Petrou switched to fences last time after three straight handicap wins over hurdles and he took that in his stride with a game defeat of River Of Intrigue at Uttoxeter.

The talented Bridget Andrews takes the ride on Petrou as she will on the front-running Ravens Hill, who has won two of his three races since joining Skelton in March and who goes in the Banks Lyon Jewellers Lady Riders Handicap Hurdle.

The only handicap hurdle in the country restricted to lady jockeys, the race not only carries £10,000 in added prize money, but for the winning rider the bonus of a stunning piece of diamond jewellery worth in excess of £5,000.

“Ravens Hill got off the mark for me at Sedgefield and followed up at Uttoxeter, I am not sure how he will handle the ground but he should be competitive” said Skelton.

The seven-race card gets underway with the Cartmel Lodge Park Novices Hurdle at 1.55pm.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Cartmel geared up for big day of the season

Cartmel is geared up for one of its major days of the season on Saturday when the most valuable race run at the racecourse, the £27,000 Totescoop6 Cumbria Crystal Cup Handicap Hurdle will take centre-stage.


Now in its sixth season, the race has quickly become established as one of the most competitive races in the Cartmel calendar as evidenced by the fact that it was only last year, when Eshtiaal won for Irish trainer Gordon Elliott, that a favourite obliged.


Saturday is the opening day of the traditional Barbecue Meeting, which continues on Monday, July 24 and as well as the big race features the only handicap hurdle in the country restricted to lady jockeys.


The Banks Lyon Jewellers Lady Riders Handicap Hurdle not only carries £10,000 in added prize money, but for the winning rider the bonus of a stunning piece of diamond jewellery worth in excess of £5,000.


With the Champagne Louis Roederer Handicap Chase, which is a qualifier for the Northern Lights Middle Distance Chase Series and the latest round of the Hadwins Motor Group Mares Hurdle Series which carries a £1,000 bonus prize for the winning stable, Saturday’s meeting is action packed.


The seven-race card gets underway with the Cartmel Lodge Park Novices Hurdle at 1.55pm.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Four-Nations Challenge Amateur Riders Handicap Hurdle, Sunday 2nd July.

The purpose of this race is to promote competition and fraternity between amateur jockeys from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Trainers with runners in this race are therefore encouraged to put up an amateur jockey from their home-nation - so a Welsh Trainer should (as a preference) put up a Welsh jockey, a Scottish trainer a Scottish jockey, an English trainer and English jockey and an Irish trainer and Irish Jockey.