It was good to be racing at Carlisle once again with the Cumbrian venue staging their first meeting on Thursday since the middle of March. Arguably the most interesting race on the card was the novices' handicap chase over two miles. The 0-135 event was won by the Dan Skelton trained Flegmatik. However, there were some noteworthy performance in behind not least from the sixth Garry Clermont. Jonjo O'Neill's charge, who won twice over hurdles last season, would have been considerably closer but for a costly mistake at the second last with his rider doing well to keep the partnership in tact. A winning English pointer, he is rated 131 and is capable of winning over fences sooner rather than later.
I spoke to Brian Ellison doing the course of the afternoon and he was pleased with the run of Baron De Midleton who filled fifth position. Beaten five lengths, his trainer feels the trip was on the sharp side and his jockey Danny Cook reported that the former Irish pointer will be suited by returning to a left handed track (he has raced right-handed on two occasions finishing 4th and 5th). The Brian Boru gelding is one to watch out for over two and a half miles on a left-handed track next time. The Malton based handler also informed me that last season's exciting novice chaser Windsor Avenue is in tremendous form at home and very much on course for a return to Carlisle in the Listed Colin Parker Memorial Chase (1st November) at the start of next month. He reportedly worked very well with stablemate Nietzsche earlier this week and couldn't be in better nick ahead of his seasonal return.
The Talking Trainers section in OJA had three more winners on Friday with Harry Fry sending out a double at Uttoxeter courtesy of Captain Drake (5/1) and Ishkara Lady (3/1). The latter hadn't been seen since winning on her debut at Plumpton in December 2018 (669 days) but fitness wasn't an issue as she led close home under an excellent ride by Sean Bowen.
Brentford Hope (9/4) was highlighted as a horse to follow in the Autumn Update and Richard Hughes' three year old finally delivered on his inital promise by toying with his rivals at Haydock Park on Friday. A juvenile winner at HQ last Autumn, the gelded son of Camelot relished the heavy ground and drop back to a mile with Jamie Spencer sitting motionless throughout the contest. Owned by Sean Mulryan, he was scoring off a mark of 90 and it would be no surprise to see his connections eyeing a tilt at the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster next spring. Testing conditions are seemingly important to him.
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