A Saturday Double!
OUR 13th WINNER OF 2021: THE GATEKEEPER, trained by Mark Johnston and ridden by Ben Curtis: 'The Betway EBF Novice Stakes,' over 5f at Musselburgh.
8 days after notching up a hurdles winner at Musselburgh with PAROS (and taking 2nd place in their leading NH owner competition) we were back and yes, still "deadly" around there!
It was fantastic to win with our first 2 year old runner of the year yesterday: The Gatekeeper, a colt by Excelebration may not have been under consideration to be an early 5f type according to his pedigree, but the talent he has been showing at home shone through yesterday. Very professional in the preliminaries, he just ducked to the right at the start, but got into a rhythm and pressed the leader. When Ben asked him for an effort at halfway, he picked up and kept on strongly inside the final furlong, to win going away by 2 lengths. Timeform reported: "He made a winning start in good style, proving well clued up; chased leader, led around halfway, joined over 1f out, led again approaching final 100 yds, forged clear; he's got neither the appearance or pedigree of a mere early type and will improve" and awarded him a race rating of 91.
Watch the full race replay here: https://www.racingtv.com/videos/watch/horse_racing_replays/317819-betway-ebf-novice-stakes-4
See the official photos here: https://www.grossick.co.uk/p/80532khg/C385148328/x1-gatekeeper and see some more photos taken at the course by owners, in the gallery.
After the race Charlie, who was at the track was interviewed on Racing TV and he said: "He is not the normal early 2 year old type, as there's stamina on the dam's side, but he has been doing everything right at home and has a great attitude. He basically put his hand up and said he was ready to run! The last furlong was his best and he was only going further clear as he hit the line and took a bit of pulling up Ben said."
Syndicate manager Mike says: "It was great to win with our first 2 year old runner of the year. Ben said that he didn't really get going until they were in the final furlong and he was strong through the line and he was struggling to pull him up when he was in full flow. His attitude during those final 2 furlongs was particularly pleasing. Everything about yesterday's race pointed to the further he went, the better he went, which you'd expect with his pedigree. I spoke to Charlie after the race and he was delighted with his performance and he was very pleased with how strong he was through the line. In terms of where we go next, we said we'd see how he comes out of the race and reconvene during the week to have that conversation. Well done to his owners on a great start to his career!"
It was a superb meeting for the Mark Johnston team with a four-timer: https://www.racingtv.com/news/themaxwecan-tops-bill-in-johnston-s-musselburgh-haul and The Gatekeeper was just their second 2 year old to be unleashed - although he hadn't had his actual 2nd birthday yet!
OUR 14th WINNER OF 2021: COSMIC GEORGE, trained by Marco Botti and ridden by Dan Muscutt: 'Watch Free Race Replays On attheraces.com Handicap' over 1m 4f at Wolverhampton.
Making his seasonal reappearance and into handicap company for the first time, the handsome son of Dawn Approach showed promise in his 3rd start at Kempton in December, where he took 2nd over 11f. Yesterday he was up in trip and Dan was back in the saddle. Always prominent on the outer, he chased the leader, with Dan giving him a shake up at the 3 pole. He went on to lead coming into the straight and went clear inside the final furlong, winning easily by 9 1/2 lengths. The commentator saying:"With every stride he goes further and further clear!" and the race day presenter said:“Cosmic George 1st, fresh air 2nd!”
Watch the full race replay here: https://www.attheraces.com/racecard/Wolverhampton/03-April-2021/1720
In his post race interview with Sky Sports Racing, Dan said: "He was a big unfurnished 2 year old, with plenty of scope. He has a very nice attitude and Marco has given him time to come to himself. He is still learning on the job, as he was having a look around, but once I gave him a squeeze, he galloped through the line."
See the official photos here: https://www.jahphoto.co.uk/-/galleries/wolverhampton-horse-racing-2021/april-2021/3rd-april-2021/race-2-520-winner#media_ee1dc20d-c2a2-4fd5-8c81-99281741e9fb
Timeform gave him a race rating of t93 and The Racing Post listed him as their 'Star performer' on the card: 'Cosmic George (5.20) was a taking winner on his handicap debut.'
Syndicate manager Tim says: "Congratulations to his owners, who have been patient with him, as he is a giant of a horse, but they have been rewarded with a phenomenal performance by him there yesterday. I will talk to Marco and set out some race plans for him, but he looks very exciting for his syndicate. It really was super to have so many owners back at the races on a Saturday yesterday and thank you to the courses for treating them to winners; 'goody bags' with some welcome champagne."
A good first Saturday of the month, with two winners and two 3rd places by AIRSHOW and SPIRITOFTHENORTH; both having runs to 'blow away the cobwebs' after a break. They should also give their owners some fun through the summer. All eyes are back on the jumps team this week, as we have TWO entries in the Grade 1 4yo Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree on Thursday, with last time out winner PAROS and unbeaten Listed hurdle winner FIVEANDTWENTY gearing up for The Grand National Festival! How exciting.