The Hadwins Motor Group Mares Hurdle Series
Donald McCain is in line to make a small piece of history at Cartmel by becoming the first person to win both the Cartmel Trainers Challenge and the £1,000 bonus attached to the five-race Hadwins Motor Group Mares Only Series.
With his first runners in this year’s series at the meeting in June, McCain celebrated by saddling See The Sea to win the Hadwins Motor Group Mares Novices Hurdle and collected another two point with fourth-placed Artichoke Heart.
The 14 points were enough to catapult him to the top of the table as neither Ian Duncan nor Henry Hogarth, who had won the first two rounds of the competition had runners in the race. Duncan had been quickly into the lead when Jessiemac finished strongly under rider Derek Fox to snatch victory from Oborne Lady in the opening round just when it seemed that Billy Garritty had done enough to win the race on the Seamus Mullins-trained mare.
But the Ayrshire trainer was joined at the top by Yorkshire’s Henry Hogarth on the Wednesday of the May meeting when it was Garritty’s turn to snatch a late success by getting Kilcullen Lady home by a head in the seller.
Now in its fourth season, the Hadwins Motor Group Mares Only Series has provided drama aplenty in the past, particularly in 2017 when Northern Ireland trainer Stuart Crawford landed the bonus prize by a single point from Iain Jardine after a last race thriller.
It was much plainer sailing for Cumbria trainer Dianne Sayer last season when she struck an early blow through Honeychile Ryder on this day 12 months ago, before she went on to saddle a second and a third and accumulate a bonus-winning 21 points.
Points are awarded on the basis of 12 for a winner, six for second, three for third and two for any other runner with the prize going to the trainer accumulating most points over the series.
The current table is:-
Cartmel Jockeys Challenge in association with The Swan Hotel & Spa, Newby Bridge
With four race days left, Brian Hughes is already looking home and hosed in the Cartmel Jockeys Challenge for a fifth time in six years, with a hat-trick on the second day of the June leaving him 19 points clear of his rivals.
Put another way, it means that if Hughes doesn’t pick up any more points in the remaining four meetings – and that looks must unlikely – then either James Bowen or Henry Brooke, who lead the chasing group, need six winners and a second from the last 28 races.
Last year, Hughes romped to victory in this competition to claim the luxury weekend break with competition sponsors the Swan Hotel & Spa at Newby Bridge and all things being equal, a repeat is on the cards.
Having collected just three points from his rides on the Friday – his lowest daily return of the season – Hughes burst into life on the Sunday with a three timer on See The Sea in the Hadwins Motor Group Mares Novices Hurdle, Lofgren in the Oakmere Homes Handicap Chase and Morning Royalty in the L Wood Holiday Home Insurance Handicap Hurdle.
The other big mover over the June meeting was James Bowen. He had not got a point on the board before his second place on Francky Du Berlais in the Rijo42 Beginners Chase on the Friday, but then added another nine points on the Sunday, highlighted by a double on Wells De Lune in the PSR Marquees Handicap Hurdle and Dr Robin in the Racing Staff Week Handicap Hurdle.
Cartmel Trainers Challenge, a trophy and a trip to Champagne
Peter Bowen was the big mover at the two-day June meeting in this year’s Cartmel Trainers Challenge, sponsored by Louis Roederer Champagne, but he still has some way to go to peg back defending champion Donald McCain.
The Sunday was particularly profitable for the Welsh trainer. He landed a 314-1 double with Cartmel specialist Wells De Lune in the PSR Marquees Handicap Hurdle and Dr Robin in the Racing Staff Week Handicap Hurdle, plus a second and a third to collect nine points.
It took Bowen into second place in the table with an overall tally of 13 points, but still 11 points behind McCain, who was also on the mark for a Sunday double with See The Sea in the Hadwins Motor Group Mares Novices Hurdle and Lofgren in the featured Oakmere Homes Handicap Chase.
The Cheshire trainer, who beat Bowen to the title last year in a thrilling finish to the competition, has been a model of consistency again this season and is the only trainer to have scored points on every race day so far.
Local trainer James Moffatt, whose three titles between 2015 and 2018 make him the only trainer apart from McCain to have won the Challenge, is also on the march and has now joined Micky Hammond in an equal share of third place.
The winner of the Challenge receives the Andrea Robinson Memorial Trophy, given in memory of a great supporter of Cartmel racecourse, a Lawn Jockey painted in their preferred colours and a fabulous trip for two to the cellars of Cartmel’s champagne partner Louis Roederer in Champagne*.
*Terms and conditions apply.
The Margaret Sexton Memorial Trophy for outstanding achievement of the Year
Owners Jimmy White and Denise and Peter Smith were the two latest nominees for this year’s Margaret Sexton Trophy, which is awarded annually for outstanding achievement or for a magical moment at Cartmel each season. White picked up his nomination on music showcase Friday at the June meeting when a 40 year wait for a Cartmel winner was finally ended by the appropriately named Too Much To Ask in the William Hill Leading Racecourse Bookmaker Novices Handicap Hurdle.
The six-year-old, trained by Jennie Candlish and ridden by the champion jockey Richard Johnson, had to give weight to all but one of his rivals, but managed it with something to spare to give his owner that long-awaited win.
On the Sunday, it was the Smiths who got the nomination on a day which threw up a long list of potential candidates from jockey Brian Hughes with a spectacular hat-trick, owner Eileen Milligan for her loyalty to last race winner Morning Royalty and Peter Bowen for his handling of Cartmel specialist Wells De Lune.
Although Denise is in a wheelchair, the couple made the long journey from Ilminster in Devon, not only to see their horse Flints Legacy win the Furness Fish & Game Handicap Chase, but also to see Denise’s favourite Sir Cliff Richard in concert.
Flints Legacy was a first Cartmel winner for trainer Nigel Hawke on what was his first ever visit to the course. He may have ridden a Grand National winner in Seagram, but he never rode at Cartmel nor had he had runners before.
They now join sponsor Alison Bolt, trainer Oliver Greenall and jockey Billy Garritty, who were all nominated at the May meeting and at the end of the season, the nine nominees go forward and the overall winner is named.
The winner receives the trophy to hold for a year, plus £500 with £250 donated to St Mary’s Hospice and the British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre in the winner’s name.
The winner in 2018 were the connections of Xpo Unversel, whose persistence finally paid off when the horse opened his winning account at Cartmel in August after suffering 70 straight defeats.
Previous winners of the Trophy are Maurice Barnes (2014), Keith and Helen Bowron (2015), Henry Brooke (2016) and the Slack/Sayer family (2017).
How do the Challenges work?
Every jockey who has a ride and every trainer who has a runner at Cartmel is automatically included. The challenges work on a points system with three points for a win, two points for second and one point for third. Come the last race meeting of the season and the Jockey with most points after the last race is crowned champion and receives a luxury weekend break for two at the Swan Hotel & Spa. The top Trainer receives the Andrea Robinson Memorial Trophy.
Results will be kept up to date in each racecard and on a notice board outside the weighing room and on the website.