Washington Heights Romps To Victory In Sweden

Bro Park in Sweden hosted their biggest meeting of the year and although it is not a the forefront of race planning, it may just well be now. Hambleton Racing have been big supporters of the meeting and this year Washington Heights was representing them in the 6f Bro Park Sprint Championship, a listed event which he ran away with.

Washington Heights’s career to this point has been one of excellent consistency but ultimately a tale of misfortune. He has been a star on the track of connections but hasn’t earned the big day which he has thoroughly deserved. Close second in the 2yo sales race last year started the trend. The this season he bumped into Shaquille (Champion Sprinter in waiting), the remarkable Quinault (who improved 43lbs this year) and Mill Stream (Group 3 winner). He could so easily have picked up one or even two valuable handicaps but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.

Heading to Sweden there was plenty of confidence that he should get the job done, although it was difficult to know just how tough the opposition was going to be.  Hollie Doyle has good experience of the track and was booked for the ride, the second time in a row she partnered the 3yo. Wide, flat and with a good covering of grass, the track looked perfect and should hold no excuses for Washington.

Jumping well from the stalls, Washington Heights soon gave chase to the leader. It was a blistering pace early doors but Hollie had her mount positioned right on the leader’s girths. With the track providing quite tight turns, Washington Heights was positioned lovely throughout the contest.

Frankie Dettori’s mount has been sent off favourite for the contest but for a long way out the race was all about Washington Heights. The home straight was just over 2f and it was here that Hollie took complete control of the race. Washington Heights had traveled easily to this point, handling the tight turns and with a clear  advantage over the fav.

The leader began to come under pressure entering the home straight and here Washington Heights quickly snatched the lead. Although not clear initially, the race was over now. Swedish rules prevent the use of a whip and Hollie had no qualms about this as hands and heels proved more than enough. Once she asked him to quicken, Washington Heights did just that and pulled clear readily.

Nothing got into the contest and the final 1 1/2f provided Washington Heights with a victory lap. Further and further he drew clear. It was a procession and he could have won by any margin. Crossing the line, Washington Heights had secured the listed success he deserved by an eased down 5 lengths.

This win was richly deserved and Washington Heights proved to be just in a different class to his rivals. It was fantastic for the horse and connections to gain this win. Obviously we will have to see how he comes out of the travel and this race before deciding on the next step. Something like the Coral Sprint or a listed event at home could well be the next step.

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Room Service Delivers A Huge Prize

The big sales races are a real boost and incentive for so many owners when purchasing their yearlings. Despite having to stump up a big entry fee, before they have even run, the prize money is huge. Room Service certainly paid back his initially cost as he took home the 6 1/2f Wetherbys Scientific £300,0002-Y-O Stakes at Doncaster.

Purchased from Book 2 at Tattersalls, Room Service was bought by the Byrne family who would race the colt. The son of Kodi Bear was the first horse that the Byrne’s had sent to Kevin and the partnership got off to the perfect start. Winning on debut at Wetherby, Room Service immediately showed promise is his young career. He followed this win with a solid third in a conditions race, showing that day that a step up in trip and time may be beneficial to him.

Room Service wouldn’t see the track again for 2 months and the time really helped him mature. Stepping up to 6f he was a fast finishing third in a York nursery, where the fast ground may just have been against him. The obvious race was only a few weeks away, with the 6 1/2f trip again looking like a positive.

The race revolved around form from the Ebor meeting. As well as Room Service, there were plenty of runners who had competed in the GoffsUK sales race, including the impressive winner. Along with that there was the Gimcrack second and other horses who had competed in nurseries at the Ebor. The race was full of depth but Room Service went into the contest in great form.

Tom Eaves had missed the ride at York, due to the weight, but was back on board this time around. Drawn in 1 Tom had a decision to make but was aided by the fact that his mount didn’t need to be forward. This allowed the pair to tuck in from the off and through the first furlong they ended up sitting last of all on the far side. The field split in to two groups but there was nothing to separate them.

Recent weather meant that the ground was on the easy side and you could see the turf kicking up. Despite this there was a strong pace being set, with the favourite forcing the issue. They got racing a long way from home, with 3f to run the pace increased and jockeys were getting more animated in the saddle. Room Service was travelling very well on the far side but would need to pass almost every one of his rivals if he were to win.

As the race really began to heat up Room Service cruised into contention. Tom had yet to move as the pair swept down the far side, sauntering past his rivals. They were well inside the 2f when Tom began to losses his reins and his mount easily moved up to the leaders, As they bared down on the final furlong marker, it was clear that Room Service was the biggest danger and he still had yet to move out of second gear.

Passing the 1f pole Tom asked for his effort. Room Service took the lead and never looked back. As he started to show his dominance, the colt just began to wander a little under his jockey. Tom was quick to correct him but the pair were clear, so edging over to the rail didn’t do any harm at all. The further they went the further clear Room Service pulled away. Hitting the line he had put 2 1/4 lengths between himself and his rivals.

It was a fantastic performance from Room Service and was a real statement for his future. He was always travelling powerfully but showed a great turn of foot when asked. Both the extra distance and the rain softened ground look to have been a benefit and this colt has a bright future. Generally these race take a good one to win it and Room Service will likely take a step up to pattern company now. Whether that is this year or not will depend on how he comes out of the race. This season was always going to be a bonus so it is very impressive what Room Service has achieved.

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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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