Our inaugural Herefordshire Raceday was a huge success with racegoers braving the weather for a day of all things Herefordshire on a day when jockey David Crosse came in from the cold with a double, his first UK winners in the saddle since March.
Before racing racegoers were treated to an entertaining birds of prey display from the fantastic Wye valley Falconry before jockey Mark Grant took the coveted title of Herefordshire’s biggest ‘wanger’ - beating off three of his opposition in the annual Jump Jockeys Welly Wanging contest.
Herefordshire racing was also celebrated on the track, with races being named after local trainers, and the season’s leading course jockey Ben Jones recorded his fifth winner of the season at Hereford in the 2m 3 1/2 f Venetia Williams Trains In Herefordshire Handicap Hurdle. The Emma Lavelle-trained 4/1F won going away, with Ventura Dragon 2L back in second and a further 11L back to Speedy Cargo in third.
The popular colours of owner Trevor Hemings were carried to victory by Richie McLernon in the Kerry Lee Trains in Herefordshire Novices’ Hurdle, as Dhowin impressed to stretch away to a 2 ½L success in the 2m 3 ½ f contest for Jonjo O’Neill at 12/1. Exod’ela finished second, with previous course winner and 4/5F Olly The Brave beaten into third.
David Crosse sealed his first winner since March, heading Delface at the last, to win on-board Katie Stephens’ Templier at 25/1. A length separated the front pair, with a further 29L back to Kim Bailey’s Lots Of Luck, in the 2m Appliance Solutions Ledbury Novices’ Handicap Chase.
Champion jockey Richard Johnson steered Big Shark to an impressive success in the 3m 1 ½ f Tom Symonds Trains in Herefordshire Novices’ Hurdle. Johnson asked his mount to kick on turning for home and he didn’t disappoint, skipping clear of his two challengers to land the odds at 6/4F, by 10L.
Johnson said post-race: “He looks like a real staying chaser of the future!”
Sweet Adare gave conditional jockey Ed Austin another winner at the track, doing enough up the run-in to hold off the staying-on Liberty Bella for Victor Dartnall. 5/2F, Runasimi River, finished 12L back in 3rd in the 2m 3 ½ f Thomas Collins 21st Birthday Mares’ Handicap Hurdle.
The 3m 1f Tom Lacey Trains in Herefordshire Handicap Chase saw Crosse land his double on 4/1-shot Hard To Forget, staying on strongly to beat High Counsel by 7L, with Conan Taoi a further 1 ½ L back in third. After landing his double, the jockey said: “My new favourite course is definitely Hereford – when the mud is flying!”
Having seen some potentially impressive types throughout the meeting, the best was probably saved until last, as the in-form Fergal O’Brien team and Paddy Brennan landed the prize in the 2m Michael Scudamore Trains In Herefordshire Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.
Karl Philippe, in the dark blue and yellow quarters of owners Paul and Clare Rooney, was held up under a perfectly-judged ride from Brennan, who headed the field with a furlong to go and won well.
Brennan said: “ I absolutely loved him! We thought a bit of him coming here and I think even more of him now, so exciting future.”
As well as the birds, racing and welly wanging the crowds were able to enjoy our indoor festive shopping marquee where there were plenty of Christmas gift opportunities. Beefy Boys were on-hand to feed hungry racegoers and once again there were plenty of charities who were able to raise awareness for their causes, including the Injured Jockeys Fun, who provide much-needed support to our injured heroes.
Next up, on Saturday 14th December, is Christmas Jumper Raceday. There will be Santa hats, mince pies, Christmas carols and more – including popular pianist and singer Joe Stafford. You can save a whopping £7 on tickets if you book in advance, at www.hereford-racecourse.co.uk.
The team at Hereford look forward to welcoming you to the course again soon!