You cannot beat success as a trainer — that is why we all do it — and last weekend Emma Lavelle masterminded a duo of brilliant winners in the two big races at Newbury with Paisley Park and De Rasher Counter. She rightly deserved to wake up on Sunday feeling a bit ropey after the celebrations, but it is unlikely she did because she’s a true professional — she would have bounced out of bed to pat her two stablestars.
Paisley Park was last season’s hurdling revelation; he began his season in handicaps and ended it as the best staying hurdler in the country. Newbury was his first race of the season and, frankly, I don’t mind if your name is Henderson, Mullins or Nicholls, you have to improve and show that your star is still a star. That is exactly what Paisley Park did at Newbury when winning Friday’s Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle.
The big race on Saturday, 30 November, was the Ladbrokes Trophy — those old enough to remember Tony Blair as prime minister will also know this race as the Hennessy Gold Cup. Time moves on, but great races still take winning, and the Ladbrokes Trophy has always been the toughest chasing handicap of the season, so well done to Emma and connections of De Rasher Counter.
Another that gave me great satisfaction to watch was the Oliver Sherwood-trained Sevarano winning his second race this season. This imposing horse, owned by Tim Syder, has a big future ahead of him.
‘As good at Cheltenham’
The Ladbrokes Winter Carnival, under the guidance of Newbury chairman Dominic Burke, chief executive Julian Thick and clerk of the course Keith Ottesen, is now an established festival of racing over two days, and the action was as good as any you’d watch at Cheltenham.
There were dramas, as Champ nearly didn’t win his novice chase when almost missing the rail on the run in and, yet again, his trainer Nicky Henderson had as many winners as usual at his local track — even if Buveur D’Air missed out on winning the Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.
ITV Racing once again showed the sport in a good light. Their frontman Ed Chamberlain introduced me to the inspirational Magnolia Cup-winning jockey Khadijah Mellah, who has done more for our sport than many realise. Sadly, however, Ed failed to remember the name of the horse he has a share in — whom I train — who won at Huntingdon two weekends ago. Ed, your horse is called Hes No Trouble!
We trainers like to give the handicapper a hard time and, frankly, we never agree with them. But, yet again, they were proved right when they shockingly rated Cyrname higher than Altior, whom he went on to beat at Ascot on 23 November (report, 28 November). However, we move on and this weekend we head to Aintree and their famous fences.
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