By Lewis Anderson
SHORT priced winners was the theme of the day on a sun-kissed afternoon in South Lanarkshire as the track staged its Hamiltonian Raceday.
A total of 22.4 millimetres of rain had fallen 24 hours earlier, meaning the track had to pass a morning inspection to ensure racing went ahead. However, after a dry night and the courses’ fantastic drainage system proving vital, officials were able to give the fixture the green light.
The downside to that was an increased number of non-runners – 25 in total pulled out because of the softening of the ground. But that didn’t dampen racegoers spirits and there was still some excellent prize money of offer.
Amongst those in attendance were a number of local school pupils who were invited along as part of the Racing to School education programme – aimed at engaging pupils in educational activities at their local racecourse or trainer’s yard to improve their numeracy and literacy skills.
Carrie Ford – Northern Region Education Officer for the British Horseracing Education & Standards Trust (BHEST) – gave a brief overview about the initiative.
She said: “Racing to School is a charity and we work with around 10,000 new pupils every year at racecourses all over the UK. The Horse Racing industry is a vibrant, colourful experience and evolves around maths so we run events at a UK racecourse on a race day.
“It’s all about outdoor learning. The pupils get to visit the jockey weighing room and learn about the effect that weight has on a horses’ performance. They go out onto the track and learn about the photo finish system and the different distances that horses race over, so we give them unique behind-the-scenes access.”
Focus then shifted to the action.
GULF OF POETS (9/2), racing off an 8Ib higher mark, returned from a short break to complete a hat-trick of wins in the feature £12,000 Weatherbys Hamiltonian handicap run over 1m1f.
The Mick Easterby-trained five-year-old followed up an impressive Pontefract win in quick succession at Wolverhampton seven weeks ago. And despite his absence he showed he was still in great heart when forging clear under Nathan Evans to score by a length and a quarter.
County Meath handler Keith Clarke is a rare visitor to Hamilton Park but his shrewd placement of MISTINESS was rewarded as the six-year-old trounced his rivals in the 1m5f Hamilton Park Supporting Racing To School Handicap.
Ridden by 3Ib claimer Robbie Downey, who was riding just his third winner in the UK, the 15/8 shot was following up last week’s Fairyhouse victory.
The winning rider said: “he went a good gallop from the gate and steadied the pace in the dip, but once we hit the rising ground I got a bit of daylight and he found another gear. The blinkers helped him again today and he’s an improving horse.
He added: “It’s great that Keith (Clarke) has let me come over to ride him. My father got me into horses and I started off doing pony racing in Ireland.”
Owners Middleham Park Racing seem to be assembling a smart team to go to Royal Ascot with in a fortnight’s time and they have another one to add to that list in the shape of MISS BAR BEACH who looks set for a crack at the Albany Stakes.
The 11/8 favourite scored by an eye-catching four and a half-length margin in the opening 6f BB Foodservice Novice Auction Stakes for leading course trainer Keith Dalgleish.
Ridden by Connor Beasley, the filly was having just her second start after finishing a close second on her debut at Beverley in April.
There was another Irish winner on the card when SOULS IN THE WIND (6/4) struck in 6f Neilsland And Earnock Julian Watson Memorial Maiden for ruthless trainer/jockey combination of Pat Shanahan and Tadhg O’Shea.
Stillington-based Marjorie Fife has her small string bang in form and she was on the scoresheet with INEXES (3/1), who repeated last year’s success with a gutsy performance in the 6f Weatherbys Printing Services Handicap
Having finished second on both his starts this campaign, the Barry McHugh-ridden five-year-old looked set for another runners-up spot before pouncing late to thwart Honeysuckle Lil by three quarters of a length.
Linda Perratt celebrated her first winner of the season when 15/2 shot DARK CRYSTAL landed the 1m Alex Fergusson Memorial Handicap in the hands of David Nolan.
The 337-mile journey from Gloucestershire proved worthwhile for trainer John O’Shea as KINGLAMI (4/1) won the closing 5f Watch Racing UK In HD Apprentice Handicap under Ben Robinson.