Batal Zabeel Makes Up For Previous Mishap

When things don’t work out it can prove to be a very frustrating time, especially when travelling to the other end of the country. Batal Zabeel quickly made up for it though when he took his first career win, proving too strong in the 5f Willerby Holiday Homes And Lodges Nursery Handicap at Beverley.

Batal Zabeel had shown a lot of promise on his first 3 starts, finishing only a neck runner up on his third start to an eventual group placed filly. Rather than use his handicap mark, the colt remained in maiden company when travelling down to Sandown. Jinxing left coming out of the stalls caused the jockey to loose his irons almost immediately. Despite this hinderance, Batal Zabeel still ran well and was actually involved for a long way.

Returning to Yorkshire, he would take on handicap company for the first time with Shane Gray in the saddle. Jumping smartly, Batal Zabeel was into his stride and moved forward from the outside draw. With only 6 runners he found it quite easy to track and sat on the leaders girth as they blazed through the first furlong.

Travelling powerfully throughout the contest he passed the 2f going best of all. Shane began to niggle away and his mount moved through to press for the lead. Down his outer, the favourite was trying to get rolling too but was a length down on Batal Zabeel.

Hitting the front Batal Zabeel just began to lug into the rail and this gave the favourite a sniff. Hitting the rising ground they were alongside each other but Shane was yet to really go for his mount. Getting him gathered up and balanced, Shane could now ask for his big effort and the colt responded. For a second he looked in trouble but was running straight and true, the 2yo found some momentum. With 1/2f to run he had hit top gear and began to edge away from his rival. Just a couple of flicks saw Batal Zabeel go on to win by a length, doing his best work late on.

Batal Zabeel has progressed with each run and is doing better mentally with racing. He hasn’t run a bad race, even when the mishap happened last time out, and deserved to get off the mark. Winning off a mark of 77, Batal Zabeel looked to have a bit in hand and can improve off this mark. Nursery company will still be in his plans and he can certainly progress through the ranks.

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All Class From Two Champs

You would be hard pushed to find a better ride all season. When you have Ryan Moore booked you sit back and let him go to work. Arguably the world’s best jockey, Ryan produced a ride oozing with class but his partner showed just as much quality. Maharba The Champ had already won at the Dante festival and he doubled up at the Ebor taking the 1m4f Sky Bet Handicap.

The lightly raced 4yo hails from a classy family and although it has been a slow burn, he is beginning to hit the heights he threatened to earlier in his career. Maharba The Champ has a bit of a patchy look to his form book but when he is on song, he is a classy individual. Returning to action at the Dante meeting, he put in a fine performance to win over 1m2f. Unfortunately things just never went right for him in the following 2 runs. The track at Epsom and then very soft ground at Goodwood scuppered his chances of progressing this season so waiting for quick ground was important.

With previous form and right conditions, the Ebor meeting provided a nice opportunity to bounce back to form. The trip was a new test, having previously won over 1m2f, but pedigree and running style gave confidence that it should be no issue. Ryan Moore approached the race with a clear slate, to ride as he found him and adopted patient tactics. Maharba The Champ was slightly slow away and Ryan immediately settled him towards the rear, tracking over to the rail. With a fair pace being set, Ryan would watch on with the entire field to pass.

Despite this being his first try over the distance, Maharba The Champ would actually find himself shuffled back at times. The leader raced keen throughout which had the field quickly charging down the back straight and into the long, sweeping left handed home bend. There was a good 12 lengths between first and last, Maharba The Champ.

Ryan just oozed confidence and when the leader kicked 1/2 mile from home, there was no panic. The field were racing a long way out and yet Ryan just took his time, seemingly losing ground but happy to wait. With leader stretching, it had really put the rest under the pump. Maharba The Champ still travelled well and he was just moving up quietly but with a wall of horses still in front of him.

As they entered the final 2f, Ryan had angled his mount all the way across to the far side. Now with a clear run he began to work away on his mount and he had plenty of horse beneath him. Quickening up, Maharba The Champ burst through between rivals to give chase. Suddenly the entire complexion changed and as Maharba The Champ came through, the leader start to look vulnerable. Both horse and jockey smelt victory and it was now that Ryan went for everything. Posing the question he got the answer passing the furlong pole. Maharba The Champ swept past his rivals, taking the lead 150 yards from and gone in the blink of an eye. He kicked clear to win by an easy 1 3/4 lengths.

This was a hugely impressive display from Maharba The Champ and one of the best rides seen this season. He thrives on quick ground and showed a startling turn of foot. Maharba The Champ is still progressing and being so lightly raced, there could be plenty more improvement to come. The manner he finished off the race suggest that even 1m6f could be possible for the colt. Ground is key but it would not be a surprise to see Maharba The Champ turn into a possible Ebor contender in 12 months time.

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Emotional Win For Forza Orta

Yorkshire folk cannot dream of anything better than an inner at the Ebor festival. York’s premier meeting offers some of the best racing worldwide and everyone aims to get into the winer’s enclosure. Forza Orta already provided the Wainwright family and Highbank Stud a memory that will live on forever when winning at the Knavesmire last year. The 5yo went one better when he stepped up in strip to win the 2m 1/2f Sky Bet Stayers Handicap at York.

Forza Orta progressed well last season but he never quite broke the barrier in to 90’s. Having won in class 3 handicaps, the next step was the heritage handicaps which he had run well in previously. Unfortunately early this season seemed to be following the same trend. Forza Orta had always looked like a stayer in the making so connections decided to take the chance that 2m could unlock the improvement required.

Rowan Scott has struck up a good partnership with Forza Orta and was in the saddle once again. Up against dour stayers, Forza Orta was the one in the field as an unknown regarding the trip. Jumping well he was to the fore, chasing the lead and sitting in around 4th place as they crossed the winning line. He lost a couple of places as a  the field settled down to chase a good gallop.

There was never an issue as the field raced down the back straight, moving past the 1m4f starting point where Forza Orta had won from last season. The test would come in the latter stages and would be the real telling sign of his stamina reserves. It would be a proper test as the leader continued to race keenly in front.

Although the trip is the same at all courses, the long straight at York does seem to take that little bit extra stamina. The leader kicked from a long way out and did catch the field on their heels as the lead quickly extended. As they started to race, Rowan just niggled his mount along down the the outside of the field and Forza Orta began to sweep past rivals. You could see it was himself and the favourite who were travelling best as they loomed up behind the leader.

The race got messy as they entered the final 2f and a domino effect, beginning on the outer, carrying Forza Orta left and hampering himself and the favourite. With the leader continuing to stride out in front, the strong travelling pair were now going to have to dig deep. Rowan tried to suffer his hampering and looked to go for a gap, with his mount full of running. Daylight just wouldn’t appear and Rowan had to change plan, switching around the pair in front of him. The favourite followed tact and both were in the clear.

Entering the final furlong, Forza Orta had a clear run and was finding more. He was finding gears and really hitting his stride. Likewise the favourite was too and it was these two who would sweep past the long time leader. It was neck and neck between the pair and any stamina doubts were well and truly quelled by Forza Orta. Having been full of running, Forza Orta would have been an unlucky loser but now that didn’t matter as he could really knuckle down for the final 1/2f. It was between the leading two and they went hammer and tong. Forza Orta continually held his foe and crossed the line to secure a neck victory.

It was a dream to breed and own a winner at York for Highbank Stud’s founder Martin Wainwright. Unfortunately he never got to witness it but would certainly have been looking down. However poignant and emotional that win was, this topped it and the cheers could be heard around the Knavesmire. Forza Orta looks like he thrived over the extra distance and could well be a cup horse for next year.


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Winning Code Is Cracked

For those juveniles who cannot quite gain the winning edge in maiden and novices, the nurseries come around and give them a fair chance at their level. Crack The Code had shown up well but finding winners rated in the 80’s proved a little too steep at that stage of his career. He certainly showed there was plenty of room for improvement when shedding his maiden in the 6f Like Racing TV On Facebook Nursery Handicap at Catterick.

Crack The Code had already tried the handicap route once before when going close at Pontefract. Showing bright speed he was collared late on, owing to the stiff finish. Catterick is a far sharper track and it was felt that Crack The Code would be suited by this differing test. The draw wasn’t kind to the gelding who would face the task of stall 10 of 11.

With Tom Eaves on board, Crack The Code burst from the stalls to head straight to the fore. Outpacing his rivals, Crack The Code had made the perfect start to challenge for the lead. It was a strong pace being set and they were quickly swinging left handed and downhill. The natural speed shown by Crack The Code controlled the race and he travelled powerfully on the front end.

Tom wasted no time when entering the home straight and nudged his mount along to use his momentum. Crack The Code began to pull away from his rivals and had the race at his mercy. Having gone quite hard through the race, it would be a test to see if his reserves would last out for any late challenges.

Holding a clear advantage, of around 3 lengths, Crack The Code moved into the final furlong still going well. Tom just had to get a little more serious as he kept his mount up to his work. Having been outpaced, the favourite began to find their stride and close the margin. Although the lead was dwindling there was never really a danger as Crack The Code had done the hard work earlier in the race. Always doing enough, Crack The Code held off the late thrust to win by 1/2 length.

It was nice to see Crack The Code get off the mark and he did so in good style. Showing electric speed he had plenty left to finish the race off well. It seemed as though he was a little lonely in front and was only doing enough so there could be more to come from him. The handicapper will put him up for this and he should competitive for a while yet. His natural speed means that a drop to 5f should be no worry and there will be plenty of options for the 2yo moving forward.

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Invisible Friend Reaffirms Her Promise

Sometimes early promise can be just that and it is never fulfilled, but then other times there might be a little tinkering needed to help reach the levels expected. Invisible Friend was a late comer to the track but made a nice impression last season. This season took a bit longer but she duly got off the mark for the year in the 1m2f Eco-Power Group Handicap at Doncaster.

Being by the great Sea The Stars always gives progeny an excellent chance. There is no guarantee but champion sires are that for a reason. Invisible Friend took her time top mature and only saw the track twice as a 3yo last season. A promising debut was followed by an easy win, both in novice company, and she looked set for a bright future. Unfortunately this season hasn’t gone to plan, but her runs were too bad to be true. That can be a blessing in disguise and it certainly was as she had a wind op, found after a poor showing.

With a break between runs, Invisible Friend headed to Doncaster on a bit of revival mission. If the wind op was the issue then there was confidence she could bounce back to form. Rowan Scott took the ride on the filly and took a positive approach from the off. Drawn on the inside she bounced out and headed to the lead agent the rail. Pestered for the lead, Rowan allowed a couple of his rivals to go and tucked in just behind the new leaders.

It was a fairly decent pace set and this allowed Invisible Friend to travel smoothly just off the lead. Rounding the bend and swinging into the home straight, the field had over 4f to run. They seemed to shoot off the bend and the tempo quickened up slightly with a few off the runners coming under pressure. Heading down the centre of the track the race started to develop into the 3f.

Invisible Friend cruised into contention and loomed up to the leader as they passed the 2f marker. Rowan began to wind his filly up and although she carried her head slight awkwardly, she lengthened. Yet to get serious, Rowan worked away and had his mount shifting through the gears. Pressing the button, Rowan asked his filly to go and win the race. She changed lead and joined the leader, fighting for control. As they moved into the final furlong she took the lead and continued to find for pressure. The further they went the stronger she was and Invisible Friend was pulling clear. The final 1/2 furling was probably her best and the 4yo filly kept on well to take the win by 1 1/2 lengths.

Invisible Friend put her best foot forward and certainly got her career back on track. When you have performances which are so far below their best then you have to go searching for an answer. Thankfully one was found with this filly and it clearly was holding her back. To perform like this following a break is impressive as her rivals were race fit. She can build on this and it will be interesting to see just where she can reach now.

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Royal Zabeel Saunters To Victory

There is an expectation of how an odds on should perform. First they should win but most people believe that they should do so in an impressive fashion. Royal Zabeel ticked both these boxes as he ran out an easy winner of the 6f Jayne – On Course Lady Bookmaker EBF Maiden Stakes at Pontefract.

Mastercraftsman is known as the sire of some top class milers and middle distance horses, The Grey Gatsby being his highest rated progeny. They predominantly appreciate a bit further but one thing is that good horses always have speed, with the Gatsby winning over 6f himself. Royal Zabeel had shown plenty at home before his debut and it was at the South Yorkshire track just a couple of weeks beforehand. Inexperience scuppered his chances, slowly away, running into trouble up the straight and just never being able to get a clear run to show his ability.

Returning to Pontefract and with Ryan Moore booked, Royal Zabeel had caught people’s eye as he was a 1/2 fav for his second run. Drawn in stall 1, Ryan set about keeping the task as simple as possible. Although he wasn’t immediately into stride, Ryan nudged him into the bridle and took the advantage with nothing else wanting to go on.

From the off the race would prove fairly plain sailing. Pontefract is quite a quirky track so the previous experience was ideal. Royal Zabeel travelled smoothly on the front end, holding a lead of just over a length. He took the home bend well, and once straightening up Ryan asked the colt to lengthen. With immediate effect Royal Zabeel sprinted clear, putting the race to bed. Education was key now and there was no better man in the saddle for the job. Ryan drove the colt on, teaching him all while. Royal Zabeel kept up to the task and pulled further and further clear. The 7 1/2 length winning margin confirmed his dominance and promise.

This looked a race which was at the mercy of Royal Zabeel and the colt duly delivered. It is never easy gauge the performance but he could not have done any more and the experience will be vital moving forward. He is a 2yo which is clearly talented and the manner in which he strode out does suggest that a step up in trip should be no issue. Stepping into pattern company will likely be the next step and he is a colt with a bright future.

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Dark Moon Back On The Rise

When a horse begins to slide in the handicap it can be very hard to put a halt to it, especially if there is no obvious reason why. Dark Moon Rising had mixed it with some very smart 3yo’s last season. Winning a conditions early in the year, he then went on to challenge in pattern company throughout the season. Thankfully he bounced back to winning ways to win the 1m4f Betting Better With Sky Bet Handicap at York.

The son of Night Of Thunder has struggled this season and there have been many things tried to help him recapture his best form. Trips, headgear and tactics have all been changed and tried, all to no avail. It was back on soft ground that saw Dark Moon Rising show a revival and with a staying on third over 1m2f, he would head to Knavesmire with confidence behind him.

He was given every chance by the handicapper but like all York handicaps, it was a competitive contest. Tom Eaves took the ride and took his time from the off, settling his mount towards the rear of the 9 runners. Although officially described as good, the ground had ease in it and looked to be on the slower side. The pace was fair as they raced down the back straight and past the stable yard. This would take them into the long, sweeping left handed bend which would enter the top of of the home straight.

Dark Moon Rising travelled comfortably at the rear of the field, taking the shortest route all the way round. When they swung into the home straight the leaders edged immediately off the rail and tracked over to the stands side. York is wide enough anyway but this move meant that nobody could complain about an unlucky run. Tom had plenty of room towards the centre of the track and started to nudge his mount along to get him lengthening and in a rhythm.

With Dark Moon Rising making headway down the outer of the field, the race changed complexion with the lead changing hands. Tom was working away as they passed the 2f marker and whilst he was getting a good response, the two up front travelled powerfully. Dark Moon Rising was passing rivals and staying on but he had over 3 lengths to make up on the leaders.

Once the leading pair began to battle away they pulled away from the rest, leaving it to Dark Moon Rising to chase them down. Tom was asking for everything and he was getting the response he asked for. Inch by inch they were cutting into the lead and moving into the final furlong, the gap had been drastically cut. Dark Moon Rising came through to join the leaders now he looked to stronger of the trio. The wind was in his sails and Dark Moon Rising took the lead with 1/2f to run. The further they went the stronger he looked and the 4yo continued to stride away. Kicking clear, he took the win by a comfortable 1 1/4 lengths.

It is great to see Dark Moon Rising back to form and on the evidence of this he can build back up to a higher level. There were times when all connections were left scratching their heads but Dark Moon Rising looks to be a solid middle distance performer. Ground could be the key to the 4yo, and he seems to appreciate bit of juice in the ground. There is a good handicap back at the Knavesmire for the Ebor meeting and this would be the most obvious choice for his next run.

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Hello Queen Back With A Bang

Having only started her racing career in December, Hello Queen quickly showed some top form in the first few months of 2023. Having one below par effort resulted in a break for the filly, she returned to the track after 3 months off. Making her turf debut, Hello Queen dominated the 6f Sky Bet Go-Racing-In-Yorkshire Summer Festival Handicap at Doncaster.

With two wins on the all-weather, Hello Queen booked a ticket to the 3yo Sprint Championship on AW finals day. That proved a step too far at that stage of her career and she was given a break to continue maturing. Refreshed from the lay off, Hello Queen would be making her turf and handicap debut at Doncaster. It was hard to work out how she would get on after the break but the feeling was that she was much better than her current mark. James Doyle was booked for the ride and was positive from the off.

Straight into her stride, Hello Queen bounced into the lead to take the field down the centre of the track. Spearheading the 7 runner field, her rivals tucked in behind to allow the filly a free run on the front end. Setting a nice, even gallop, Hello Queen took them along through the first half of the race with clear daylight in front of her.

James was looking to catch his rivals out when quickening the tempo but timing would be key. The pace hadn’t been crazy which meant that the entire field were in touch passing the 3f marker. The lead was cut to a bare minimum as the field closed up to Hello Queen readying their challenges. James just loosened the reins and got his filly to begin to stretch and this injected more pace into the race. Within strides the shape of the race changed and they began to race a long way out. Looking vulnerable, Hello Queen now started to retake control as she moved through the gears.

Between the 3f and 2f poles, Hello Queen dropped the majority of her challengers but it was the favourite who  came through, looming up. Joining the lead the pair now went head to head, changing the lead with every bob of the head. It felt like the favourite was ready to pass, seemingly with the, momentum in their favour, but moving into the final furlong it proved to be the opposite. Hello Queen stuck to her guns and after battling hard, she started to find more and rally. She regained the lead and laid it down to the favourite to see what the response could be. There was nothing and Hello Queen continued to grind it out for the final 1/2f. Crossing the line, Hello Queen secured her third career win by 1/2 length.

It was great to see Hello Queen transfer her form to the turf and this was a good performance after a break. She did it the hard way, cutting out the running but then showing a great attitude to fight off a strong challenge. She has a very similar profile to her mother, Elnadim Star, who was trained at Hambleton Lodge too. Having progressed through handicap company she picked up listed success and hopefully Hello Queen can take the next step towards a similar goal.

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DC Off To A Flyer With First Win

It’s the time of the year when 2yr olds have so many more options with the influx of nurseries coming around. The handicaps offer ample opportunity for all levels in the juvenile division. DC Flyer had struggled to make an impact in Novice company but thrived when upped in trip for his handicap debut in the 6f McGarry Flooring & Upholstery Contracts Wishaw Nursery Handicap at Hamilton.

The son of Washington DC had failed to really get close in his three runs but they were all over 5f and the pace of the races looked to be against the gelding. Having received a mark of just 57, DC Flyer was given every chance of finding his feet in nursery company. Not only that but he would be stepping up to 6f for the first time as Tom Eaves took the ride.

Only 4 runners lined up for the contest and DC Flyer was viewed as the outsider of the field with quite a few pounds to find with his rivals. Breaking smartly, DC Flyer was sent into the lead as they charged downhill through the early stages. Edging right-handed, Tom took the field along down the centre of the track.

DC Flyer showed good speed throughout and travelled powerfully. He set a good gallop at the head of affairs and was the last one to come under pressure. Having travelled hard on the bridle to the 2f marker, once Tom shook the reins he began to lengthen. Moving inside the 2 pole he was a target for the trio of rivals but he quickened off the front.

It was the favourite who lay down a sustained challenge as the other pair wandered around under pressure. Between the 2f and 1f marker, DC Flyer was fighting to hold on to the lead as the margin dwindled to a minimum. As the ground rises up to the uphill finish it brings the runners into the final furlong. DC Flyer just wandered a little under pressure but Tom quickly corrected him and got him balanced. It was now that he really began to find more and despite going into the unknown, he was showing no signs of slowing up. The extra furlong proved no issue and the gelding thrived for it, striding out to a comfortable 1 3/4 length victory.

DC Flyer enjoyed the step up in trip and it really helped the improvement needed to win this contest. He showed bright speed but the way he finished off the race was even more impressive. Although it was a small field his rivals had shown a higher level of form so the win can be marked up. DC Flyer showed improvement for the 6f trip and can continue that trend in similar contests.

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Camacho Star Makes All

Having earned a first career win earlier in the season, Camacho Star was afforded a break to freshen up. It may have been longer bar the fact that the British summer has been a washout. With ease in the ground, Camacho Star returned to action with another win then taking the 7f Millbry Hill Handicap at Catterick.

Ground is important for the 3yo gelding so the summer months were expected to be a quiet period for Camacho Star. Rain meant that he would have his preferred conditions so he would return after a layoff against 6 rivals. The race revolved around the odds on fav, who was looking for the hat-trick of wins. At odds of 10/1, Camacho Star was actually third in the betting which showed the strength of the market leader.

Things didn’t go to plan on the way to the start with Camacho Star unseating Tom Eaves. Thankfully he didn’t cause a fuss and have any undue stress which showed as he left the stalls. Bouncing out he was quickly into stride and took control of the race. Racing quite keenly, he set some strong fractions in front, chased by the odds on fav. There was no hiding place as they charged downhill and around the left hand bend.

Catterick generally lends itself to a fast pace encounter and this race was no different. Camacho Star led the field into the home straight with a wide margin lead, 3 lengths clear. Tom elected to come off the rail and manoeuvred Camacho Star to the centre of the track over 2f out. This moved was tracked by his rival as Tom kicked for home and squeezed his mount along.

Nothing got into the contest bar the front two and Camacho Star entered the final furlong looking to hold on. The lead was being eaten in to by the fav, but Camacho Star had been constantly applying pressure from halfway. He was responding to all the urgings from Tom and as his rival got close, he found another gear. With just over 1/2f to run he switched leads and find some more. Kicking away once again he stood out to the line, winning the contest by 3/4 length.

It was a good performance from Camacho Star who went hard in front but still managed to quicken off that pace. He came under a strong challenge and proved to be very brave in front, responding to the challenge. Camacho Star has won twice this season and he will certainly be competitive at this level for the remainder of the year. Ground will dictate when and where he goes but the 3yo should provide more fun days out.

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