Staying local is always nice as we are very fortunate to have some beautiful racecourses in the North. Now the nights are beginning to draw out the evening meetings are coming along and there is something a little bit different to the later starts. Warm spring evenings give a much more relaxed vibe but winners is what everyone still wants to get. Thirsk hosted it’s first evening meeting of 2019 and Kevin notched a good double with Aghast and Pennsylvania Dutch both scoring impressively.
Manor Farm Stud are renowned for the breeding of sprint stars, just look at Jwala who won the Group 1 Nunthorpe. Although not in that sphere they look as though they may just have a nice 3yo filly who could progress after winning smoothly and taking the 6f racingtv.com Handicap.
Daughter of Bated Breath, Aghast was sent into training last year and looked like she could be a real 2yo. Showing some positive signs in a couple of novice events it looked as though she may want a touch further than the 6f she had tried. On the final run of the year Aghast tackled 7f for her handicap debut. That run was all the way back in August and it was clear following that she was far from the finished article and would benefit from a break, allowing her to mature.
The winter seemed to do the trick and Aghast came back into training looking far more furnished. Starting with a mark of just 57 it was clear that there would be plenty of races for her. Now stronger as a 3yo Kevin reverted back to 6f for her return and sent her down the road to Thirsk for her first run of the season. Kevin Stott was booked for the ride, looking to take on 18 rivals in the 3yo handicap. It was a race that looked to be have many horses in the same boat as Aghast and despite the lower grade there would be plenty of these who will go on throughout the season.
Jumping from stall 3 she was drawn towards the far side of the track and throughout the first furlong the field started to settle into two groups. Aghast had started well but with the field splitting Kevin took his time to let the race develop. Finally it turned out to be a 50/50 split with a strong gallop up front. They were quickly through the first furlong and closing on the final 1/2 mile which takes them past onto the round course. Aghast was towards the rear in her group but was travelling in a nice rhythm for Kevin.
Passing the 3f marker the far side group began to edge towards the near side. The pace was not relenting and it was the far side group who held the slightest edge. The leaders were pressing on and as the field began to work and throw down challenges the race started to take shape. Between the 3f and 2f pole the far side began to take control as they shifted to the centre of the track. Aghast was travelling smoothly in behind the leaders as Kevin was manoeuvring for his run.
Going inside the 2f marker and Kevin had found the the horse he wanted to track. Whilst all his rivals were hard at work Kevin had yet to go for his mount. Aghast was going well but once she move up to the new leader it was time to go. There was no way she could get a toe for any longer so Kevin pulled out and laid down his challenge. On the other side of the leader was Ey Up Mick who too was coming through with a run.
Aghast took the lead moving into the final furlong and set sail for home. Although far from over she looked a little stronger than her closest pursuer. Kevin now asked her to put the race to bed and the filly responded. Kicking on, down the centre, she moved into a length advantage. The field were beginning to get strung out but it was Aghast who was at the head of affairs. Powering all the way to the line she put a clear 1 1/2 lengths between herself and the runner up to secure a first career win.
Connections were rewarded with an immediate win as they stuck by their filly. Aghast looked like she would improve through the winter and it is nice to see that’s exactly what she has done. Always travelling well, she quickened up nicely before kicking clear and finishing well. She will come on for the run and should be able to take a rise in the handicap with little fuss. Hopefully this is the nice confidence boost for her to go on fo the year ahead.
Already a revelation this season, Pennsylvania Dutch was really in fine form heading to his race for an early season hat-trick. Having gone winless last season he has more than made up for it already in 2019. After a brace of wins within a week, Dutch was back to the scene of his first win when completing his hat-trick in fine style running away with the 6f Live Racing TV On Facebook Handicap.
Having fallen to a mark of 70, a stone below his very best, Pennsylvania Dutch was beginning the season off a very dangerous mark. Unfortunately there were reasons for this so just because he was well handicapped it didn’t mean that he was a sure thing to get back to winning ways. Kevin made a few tweaks in his training programme as well as fitting eye shields in his work and when he ran. All this proved to be the key as Pennsylvania bolted up on his first start of the year at Thirsk over 6f. He then backed that up despite a drop to the minimum trip when winning 7 days later at Musselburgh.
The handicapper quickly stuck on 10lb following Pennsylvania’s two wins which meant his next run would be a small step up in grade. It was clear that, despite winning, 6f would be the ideal trip so it was back to Thirsk for their feature race of the night. As per usual at Thirsk the sprint looked very competitive and brought 14 runners to the table. Although Dutch was the form horse the punters did favour another rival and he went off the 9/2 second fav. He would be sporting the eye shields again as well as having Sean Davis in the saddle, who had steered him to victory at Musselburgh.
Stalls has always been a little issue with Dutch but this year he has been starting and behaving very well. He was well staled but with one of the runners playing up he was in the gates for a little longer than ideal. As the stalls opened he did a small fly leap which just left behind by a few strides. With plenty of early pace on Dutch was left towards the rear but quickly made up ground to sit midfield. With just 14 runners the field stayed in one group and although quite well spread out, they did race towards the centre of the track. Down the small bump in the track they quickly sped through the first couple of furlongs.
There was certainly no hiding place as the pace was strong. Although Wrenthorpe held the lead he was pushed all the way by a wall of horses and only around 5 lengths covered the majority of the field. Moving down towards halfway and Sean just had to niggle away for a few strides to hold his position. Passing the 3f marker and the pace increased which saw Sean getting more serious in the saddle. He moved in between a pair of rivals and edged closer but the leader was still looking strong and the race looked wide open. Dutch didn’t look to be making too much of impression and now it was time for Sean to really start asking him to shift through the gears.
Reminders were given passing the 2f pole and Dutch was responding but still the leader kept going in front. The race was far from over and anyone from half of the field still looked to be in with a chance. As his rival on his left began to crack. Dutch now started to hit top gear and moved past his rivals. Baring down on the final furlong the race suddenly changed with chances and challengers falling by the wayside. With the leader continuing to press on and Dutch coming through the winner looked to now be between just a few.
Pennsylvania Dutch moved through the challenger the leader as they moved into the final furlong. The pair giving chase couldn’t match the front two and it looked as though the race would be settled between Pennsylvania Dutch and Wrenthorpe. Changing his hands and getting a tune from his mount, Sean was in full drive. He began to get on top and edged his nose in front. Now he was powering on and Wrenthorpe had no answer to Dutch. He grabbed the lead and with 100 yards to run asserted his dominance. With every stride he pulled away and Pennsylvania Dutch secured the hat-trick with another impressive display, taking the win by 1 1/4 lengths going away.
Again Pennsylvania Dutch was very impressive and looked full of running. Although he had gone up 10lb in the weights it couldn’t stop him and a further tase will be coming. Obviously it will make things harder but the 5 yr old looks a different horse this year and is thriving. He is off down to the HIT sales at Newmarket this week and it will be interesting to see if anyone takes a shine to him. If the right price is met then this will have been his last run for the yard but Kevin wouldn’t mind seeing him back at Hambleton Lodge either.