By Lewis Anderson
HAMILTON PARK staged its first evening fixture of the season in front of a 4,000 plus crowd, and it proved a night to remember for jockey Sam James.
James, who recently rode out his claim, was celebrating a double courtesy of Sir Chauvelin in the £25,000 feature contest and Black Isle Boy 30 minutes later.
But before the action got underway, racegoers gathered round the parade ring to pay a fitting tribute in memory of trainer Alan Swinbank, who sadly passed away at the age of 72 last Wednesday.
Alan was a good supporter of the Lanarkshire track and sent runners there on a regular basis. He was in attendance just last Sunday to saddle his final winner in Genres and will be missed.
The 1m4f PDM Mains To Drains Braveheart Handicap was the second most valuable staying handicap of the season and the race went the way of SIR CHAUVELIN in a thrilling finish, who repeated last year’s success off a 12Ib higher mark.
Trained in Renfrewshire by Jim Goldie, the five-year-old was recording his third success at the course and continued his handler’s hot run of form.
Carrying the colours of owner Jimmy Fyffe, the 7/1 shot found himself short of racing room, but was unleashed at the perfect stage by jockey Sam James to get up close home.
James was in the winners’ enclosure half an hour later when he steered the progressive BLACK ISLE BOY (5/1) to a cosy victory in the 6f Sodexo William Wallace Handicap.
The winner – trained by David O’Meara – was having just his third start and backed up his recent win in a Pontefract maiden in taking style.
Another eye-catching winner on the night was the Keith Dalgleish-trained EL HOMBRE (11/4) who made light work of his eight rivals in the 6f Patersons of Greenoakhill Handicap.
Ridden by 5Ib claimer Rowan Scott, the three-year-old colt tanked through the race before powering clear to a six-length success. He looked a horse going places.
Clifford Lee made his only ride of the night a winning won when guiding UNFORTUNATELY to an eased down win in the opening 5f BB Foodservice EBF Novice Stakes.
Sent off the 13/8 favourite after making a nice debut in a strong-looking race at Newmarket last month, the Karl Burke-trained two-year-old confirmed that promise here with a thoroughly professional performance.
Very rarely does a meeting at Hamilton pass by without Irish trainer Pat Shanahan and his leading backer Jimmy Long celebrating a winner.
The flag of last season’s Champion Owner, Thistle Bloodstock, can be seen fluttering high above the Hamilton Park grandstand.
And the duo – who had a winner at the track 12 days previously – were on the scoresheet once more with FIVEHUNDREDMILES in the 1m Racing Together Handicap.
Running in first-time blinkers, the 9/2 shot got the better of Amy Blair in a driving finish under jockey Tadhg O’Shea.
Karen McLintock is better known for churning out winners over jumps, but she proved just as effective on the Flat as ROCKWOOD (3/1) landed the spoils in the 1m racinguk.com Handicap under Graham Lee.
The finale went the way of NUALA TAGULA (3/1) for trainer Malton-based trainer John Quinn and jockey Jack Garritty.
The evening’s entertainment was rounded off by soul legends Big Vern ‘n’ The Shootahs – a popular and much loved nine-piece band from Glasgow.
They performed a number of old classics, all with their own twist of soul/funk vibes.