Wetherby success for Grant

WINTER WONDERLAND: Doncaster is always a great track for jump racing - it’s such a shame there isn’t more of it

WINTER WONDERLAND: Doncaster is always a great track for jump racing - it’s such a shame there isn’t more of it

First published in Sport

A BIG crowd assembled at Wetherby last Saturday for their pre-Christmas meeting and racegoers were treated to some cracking finishes, none more so than the handicap hurdle in which Micro Mission battled on bravely to win under Samantha Drake.

Delighted winning trainer Chris Grant said: “Micro Mission ran well first time over fences, but then got a fright next time, which is why we brought her back to hurdles here.

“Now she’s gone and done that, we have to decide whether to go back over fences or stick to hurdling.”

In the concluding bumper there was a smart performance by the newcomer Master Red who came home in front at 20-1 for Middleham trainer Andy Crook and the yard’s conditional Adam Nicol.

The following day the action took place up at Kelso and Chris Grant was again on the mark, this time with Lucematic in the mares novices’ hurdle.

Ridden by Ryan Mania the well backed favourite ran out a ready winner and the trainer was on hand to say: “She’s a grand mare and she did really well through the summer, she furnished. That was a nice race to start off and we will go quietly with her.”

The new week also got underway with action north of the border, this time at Musselburgh and, for me, the best race of the day was the novices’ hurdle which was won in taking style by the Keith Reveley-trained Waltz Darling, steered to victory by the handlers son James.

Useful on the Flat, it will be a surprise if he doesn’t make up into a very smart hurdler on the evidence of this performance and delighted winning owner Mike Browne said: “Waltz Darling won his first two races on the Flat for Richard Fahey, but was then disappointing.

“He seemed to fall out of love with the game and Richard suggested we tried him jumping. He jumped well and is one to looked forward to.”

The three-mile handicap hurdle was won by the tough Everdon Brook, trained just outside Darlington by David Thompson.

On the Flat there is plenty of all-weather action at present and there was a poignant win in the six-furlong handicap at Lingfield on Tuesday with Rich Again coming home in front under Jamie Spencer for the James Bethell yard, who will still be coming to terms with the loss of the trainers’ daughter Jessica, who tragically passed away three months ago.

It is to the credit of the whole team at the yard that this lightly raced individual can continue his progress on the evidence of this performance, just as Jess would have liked.

With frost having its say on Wednesday all the turf meetings were abandoned, but Kempton kept the show on the road and Fourth Generation made the long journey from Alan Swinbank’s yard worthwhile as he landed the twomile handicap under a strong ride from Robert Winston.

This afternoon Cheltenham get their two-day fixture underway and quality stuff is on show both days.

In particular I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s card, and thankfully the forecast is on our side.

Closer to home and Doncaster get their jumps season underway tomorrow with a very interesting seven race card, due off very early at 11.55am.

For me Doncater is one of the best jumps track in the country and I wish there were more meetings there throughout the winter months.

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