IT WAS a really enjoyable day of sport that took place at Catterick on Tuesday, and it proved a good day’s work for Donald McCain and his stable jockey Jason Maguire as they teamed up to record a treble on the day.
Champion jockey AP McCoy was also on the scoresheet along with local winner Coax who looks a horse to win again.
Coax, trained in Middleham by Patrick Holmes, sprang a 22-1 surprise in the 2mi Chase under a smooth ride from Richie McGrath.
The five-year-old was only having his second start over fences and afterwards the winning trainer was hand, saying: “He ran well at Kelso, but he raced up with the pace, and he just didn’t quite get home. This sharper track suited him, and the benefit of that first run over fences did him good.”
Although the jumpers are in full swing there is still plenty of all-weather action at present and Mark Johnston will be trying to get a few more on the board before the new year as Frost Fire’s win at Southwell on Tuesday, under Joe Fanning, brought the Middleham trainers tally of the year to 214, two shy of his record 216 in 2009.
Looking ahead to the action on Boxing Day, first thing to note the weather seems to stay fair and all the racing should get the go ahead.
Wetherby stage their traditional meeting, kick-starting the inaugural four-day Go Racing In Yorkshire Winter Festival, with two days at Wetherby followed by Catterick on the 28th and Doncaster the following day.
Racing at Wetherby on Boxing Day is due under way at 12.35pm and the highlight is the William Hill Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase and Cape Tribulation will bid for back-to-back victories.
Malcolm Jefferson’s smart performer took the Christmas feature at the West Yorkshire track last December, before going on to take the Argento Chase at Cheltenham.
Things have not gone his way so far this season, being pulled up in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase and well-beaten in the Hennessy Gold Cup.
“He’s very well and is going to get an entry in the Rowland Meyrick,” said Jefferson.
The North Yorkshire trainer has a post-Christmas assignment in the Betfred Goals Galore Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury on December 28 for his promising young staying hurdler Oscar Rock.
The five-year-old was an emphatic winner on his debut over the smaller obstacles at Wetherby in early November.
He was then turned over by Ballyalton at Newcastle but his conqueror franked the form when beating Garde La Victoire at Cheltenham on Saturday.
“He’s very good and he’ll go to Newbury for the Challow Hurdle,” said Jefferson.
Friday’s programme is set to begin at 12-45 p.m. and the afternoon’s main race, The William Hill Castleford Handicap Chase, is a contest for chasers over the specialist distance of two miles, with the contenders attacking their fences at speed.
Many people at Wetherby will be keeping a close eye on the action down at Kempton Park to see the William Hill King George VI Chase, and last year’s runner-up Captain Chris has taken his run in the Peterborough Chase so well he is likely to have another crack at next Thursday’s showpiece, trainer Philip Hobbs said on Wednesday.
A delayed reappearance at Huntingdon this month had raised doubts about Captain Chris’s participation at Kempton because the 14-day gap between races might not have given him sufficient recovery time for the King George, in which he was beaten a neck by Long Run last year and is a 14-1 chance with the sponsor this time.
However, Hobbs said he is an intended starter and revealed Menorah, also owned by Diana Whateley, could run too.
The trainer said: “Captain Chris has come out of the Peterborough Chase very, very well indeed, so we definitely intend to run him and we’re probably going to leave Menorah in as well. We’ll see about him nearer the time.
“For Captain Chris it’s only a two-week gap. He couldn’t run in the Amlin Chase, so we lost a bit of time, but the signs are very good. The handicapper’s dropped him 4lb, so he thinks he performed below par, but I’m not sure he did.
Maybe the run would have brought him on anyway.”
Such a great time of year, for children and race fans alike.