Scottish racing is as strong as ever and it’s tracks offer some top quality racing and great hospitality. The owners love travelling across the border to see their horses run as they really do get a great day out. Kevin has also ensured they enjoy seeing their horses run as he has had a huge amount of success when heading north. Having sent out 21 winners around the Scottish tracks in 2016, as well as taking the feature Ayr Gold Cup, he is well on the way to matching that success this year. Al Hawraa and Magic Jazz gave another double to the tally when both winning in impressive fashion.
Form in maidens last year hadn’t quite been matched this season but following a break she really made a promising return. With that run under her belt Al Hawraa showed a nice turn of foot to finally get off the mark at the ninth time of asking when winning the 1m1f Bet totequadpot At betfred.com Handicap.
Arriving at Hambleton Lodge last year from the February sale at Tattersalls, Al Hawraa began her career with some very promising efforts. Finishing second on debut, to classy Lincoln Rocks, she was placed a further twice in maidens. Unfortunately that level of form could not be matched when stepping into handicap company. With that being said Kevin did believe she would be a better filly with another winter on her back, feeling that she would fill out her tall frame.
Starting this year off a mark of 65, it was felt that she was well placed to take advantage and hopefully build on last season. A couple of lack lustre performances early in the season were rather confusing and so it was decided that she needed a little break, looking as though she was possibly growing again. This proved to be a key move as Al Hawraa returned from a 3 month absence with a taking run at Thirsk. Outpaced early on she stayed on well in the final furlong to finish in mid division. It was clear that day that a step up in trip was needed and the race rust had built up in her break.
Kevin didn’t take too long before finding a race for Al Hawraa and with her mark dropping to 55 the race at Hamilton over 1m1f looked ideal. The 0-60 contest attracted 13 runners and despite the grade it did look a competitive race. Kevin Stott was booked for the ride and the in form Dane again showed why he is one of the brightest stars in the weighing room.
Drawn in stall 2 Kevin didn’t really have too many options as he would have to stick to the rail but it was where he would like to be positioned. Starting halfway round the loop meant the field would be on the turn immediately so when the stalls opened Kevin decided to go forward. There was enough pace on as a few went forward to lead so Kevin tucked in behind the leading group to sit around 4th/5th on the rail. After just 1/2 furlong he lost this position as the horse in front began to fall back onto him. With nowhere to go Kevin had no choice but to apply the brakes, stopping any incident from happening, and shuffle back a couple of positions.
It was a fair gallop and they were soon rounding the loop and into the straight, leaving 5f to run. This is when the ground begins to fall away from them as they head downhill and naturally there is an increase in the pace. When this occurred the field stretched out which was ideal for Kevin as now he had some more room to decide on his run when the time came. With half a mile to run Kevin began to wind up Al Hawraa, not pushing her but getting her to wind up through the gears. This kept the pair within striking distance although they were finding themselves getting into a pocket.
Passing the 3f marker was where the race heated up as there was a further injection of pace. The back markers were working hard to close the gap and get into contention. Al Hawraa had moved smoothly up the rail and was now sat on the leaders tail’s. With the race starting to unfold Kevin was going to need some room or he would need to go looking for it. He decided on the brave route and stuck to rail.
Al Hawraa was arguably travelling the best moving inside the 2f marker. Now she ready to go but Kevin just couldn’t see a gap. Then the leader did the pair a massive favour and began to hang away to the centre of the track. This opened up a huge alley for Al Hawraa and she didn’t need a second invitation. Immediately Kevin kicked her on and they quickened up to move into the lead within strides. This incident stumped a couple of challenges but Kevin didn’t care about this and now just went for home.
Granite City Doc was the one who had created the problem but once straightened up, went in pursuit of Al Hawraa. With just the final furlong to run there was no chance of that happening as the 4yr old had already opened up by a couple of lengths. Kevin was not allowing his mount to rest easy and made sure she galloped all the way to line. He had a very willing partner and Al Hawraa saw out every yard of the 1m1f trip, comfortably striding out to a 2 1/2 length victory.
The step up in trip certainly helped Al Hawraa and she travelled well throughout the contest before showing a good turn of foot. Obviously she was helped with the leader causing interference but Al Hawraa was always travelling the best and would probably have been classed unlucky if a gap had not come. It was great to get her off the mark for Mr Alan Kerr and Mr Peter McGivney and they are sure to have plenty more fun out of her yet. The handicapper will have his say but she looks a filly that is better than her mark and she could now improve with this new trip and further.
Having already taken one win on the night both Kevin’s were hoping for a 100% return on their travels. Magic Jazz was returning to the track following his win last month and improved again to take the feature 6f BB Foodservice 2-Y-O Series Final (Nuresery) and complete the double.
Magic Jazz is one of those 2 yr olds who has thrived with racing and work. Coming into Hambleton Lodge as a yearling he was a power packed colt who looked sharp and ready. He was also a bit of a boy which meant early on he was gelded, in an effort to ensure he could perform to the best of his abilities. He certainly has done that and improved with each passing week. The wins have not been the only taking factor though, it has been how he has physical grown. Going from a precocious looking juvenile he now has presence to go along with power and developed into a lovely gelding. It is no surprise that this has seen him improve and he still looks on the upgrade.
Following his first career win, over C&D, the handicapper duly raised him 4lb. This gave him plenty of options but it was decided by Kevin and Simon Turner (Hambleton Racing) that Hamilton was the best option with the race affording a good prize fund. It was a step up in grade but with his recent win it was felt there was more to come and he should be a leading contender. Although there was plenty of winners in the field it was Magic Jazz and Camacho Chief who headed the market with both winning recently and the most likely improvers.
Having jumped and made all last time out Kevin was keen to adopt the same tactics if possible, especially with his plum draw. Out well, Magic Jazz quickly got into stride and up to speed to move forward and fight for the lead. He did this with ease and Kevin just dropped his hands on the gelding, letting the 2 yr old get on with it. The favourite was slowly away as the field moved through the first furlong at a brisk gallop.
Magice Jazz was travelling strongly against the rail and took the lead just after the first furlong. Again he was handling the downhill run with ease and was doing exactly as he had done on his previous visit to the track. The 9 runners were well bunched and with a couple of rivals pushing for the lead alongside Jazz, they raced 3-4 horses wide.
Little changed throughout the contest and it was Jazz who took them past halfway and into the final couple of furlongs. Travelling well he was shifting through the gears with ease and this proved too hot for those chasing him, vying for the lead. After pushing those aside it left the chasing pack to challenge the leader. Favourite Camacho Chief was now starting to rally along the rail behind Jazz and the Cheveley Park owned Clubbable was making headway to come through as a danger. Whilst his compatriots were working hard, Kevin was still sitting comfortable and yet to ask his mount any serious questions.
Uphill, the final furlong came into view and Magic Jazz still travelled strongly. Camacho Chief was on his heels whilst Clubbable was coming down his outer. Now it was time to go for home and Magice Jazz responded perfectly. Quickening up he suddenly kicked clear into a couple of lengths lead. The race was over, Magic Jazz had put his rival’s challenges to bed and they had no time to respond. Kevin knew he had the race but just kept his mount up to his work. Closing in on the line he allowed himself to ease up and the pair crossed the line with a 1 3/4 length advantage.
Magic Jazz is obviously going the right way and it was another good performance. He has shown a great attitude in his last coupe of runs, making all and then seeing out the trip well. He will again be set a stiffer test next time out but so far he is answering everything asked of him. The big sales race at Doncaster could be on the agenda, depending on whether he gets in, and he deserves his shot at a big prize like that. Hambleton Racing have enjoyed another good season with winners, especially their juveniles, and connections will surely be excited for Jazz to turn out again.