Nineteen thousand people came racing at Pitchcroft in the month of June! That is a record for one month and emphasises the popularity of the sport in the area. There was something for everyone. We have been lucky enough to see Cheltenham and Aintree festival stars, we have welcomed the ever-popular Peppa Pig, and in another first, we have witnessed the ultimate in horse power stationed at the winning post, a full sized steam tank engine.
A feature of the month has definitely been the upgrade in quality of some of the horses running at Worcester. This is probably due in part, to the accomplishments of the Estates team who work long hours into the night to produce the good quality ground that trainers are looking for and indeed are praising at every meeting.
The £20,000 Class 2 Handicap Hurdle on last week’s card was a very competitive affair. Champion Court (pictured) was running over hurdles for the first time since finishing 4th to Bobsworth in the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival in 2011. The ten year old Court Cave gelding stayed on to pass Claines trained, Aficianado on the run in and won the race by a head. He will now head for the £50,000 Summer Plate at Market Rasen in July.
River Maigue was formerly trained by Nicky Henderson and up until recently, his regular rider was the newly appointed stable jockey to JP McManus, Barry Geraghty. The 140 rated hurdler was sold for 9,000 guineas and is now trained by Sophie Leech in Westbury-on-Severn. Past form includes second place to current Queen Mother Champion Chase winner, Dodging Bullets at Cheltenham as a novice. On his first start for Leech in May, River Maigue won a novice chase at Cartmel, which he followed up in good style at Worcester with further novice chase success last week.
Aintree Festival winner, Surf and Turf ran at Worcester under new ownership last Wednesday. The Kevin Frost trained gelding won the grade 3 Betfred Red Rum Chase at odds of 33/1 in April and went on to land the feature handicap chase under top weight on the Worcester card, a race he came second in last year.
With seven meetings under our belt so far this season, the leading jockey table is hotting up. In recent seasons, AP McCoy has run away with title, however this year just 12 points (less than 2 wins) separate the top three jockeys – Sam Twiston-Davies, Richard Johnson and Tom Scudamore. As the season progresses, I am sure these three will continue to battle it out, not only at Worcester but also in the national jump jockey table.
Wednesday sees the first of five meetings scheduled during July at the course when there is sure to be more interest and intrigue to look forward to. Gates open at 12.20pm for afternoon racing.