Plate winner returns to defend Carlisle crown
CARLISLE racecourse stages its popular two-day summer festival meeting on Wednesday and Thursday with record prize-money on offer.
Feature races are the historic Carlisle Bell on the first day and the famous Cumberland Plate on day two.
Kendal-based Crowther Homes sponsor three races on the opening day, including the Carlisle Bell. Their managing director Gary Middlebrook is also a steward at the Blackwell track.
Dacre Castle, near Penrith, was once a significant stronghold in these parts and the Carlisle Bell was originally presented by Lady Dacre. It is on record as one of the oldest trophies in turf history. The bell itself is in Carlisle’s Tullie House museum and a replica is presented to the winning owners every year.
The Cumberland Plate needs little introduction in these parts and continues to be supported by UCB Films, of Wigton. This is their 16th year of sponsoring the noted 11⁄2-mile handicap — one complete circuit of the track — won last year by Warning Reef, from trainer Eric Alston’s Preston yard.
Owned by Valley Paddocks Racing, an ownership syndicate based at Sabden, near Bury, Warning Reef returns this year to Carlisle to defend his crown and syndicate director Lionel Snowden said: “Warning Reef won at 25-1 last year and really spring-boarded from then on, winning three of his next four races.
“Last year was a fantastic day out at Carlisle for our members and it has been the plan all season to return for another crack at the Cumberland Plate.”
Wednesday’s meeting kicks off with a new memorial six-furlong contest in memory of Tim Westoll, former chairman of the racecourse who died earlier this year.
Carlisle racecourse is holding a charity dinner in aid of the Racing Welfare Charities Millennium Appeal which supports less well-known causes in the industry, particularly those who work behind the scenes like the Stable Lads’ Welfare Trust.
Guest speaker is John Sexton, president of the Horserace Writers’ Association, and tickets are available by telephoning Carlisle 522973.
Fortune Hopper, from Evelyn Slack’s Hilton yard near Appleby, won the first race at Hexham on Saturday in good style under Skelton-based jockey Liam Cooper.
The little grey was certainly not winning out of turn and deserved this success, albeit in a modest race, after putting in some honest performances on his last few runs, notably at Cartmel on 31st May.
The soft ground at the Hexham evening meeting obviously suited the five-year-old who took up the running three hurdles out and went away to beat the 2-1 favourite by three lengths.
Fortune Hopper is well handicapped at the moment and with the right conditions — soft ground and modest contests — he could be winning more races this summer.
Lord of the Land, trained by Diane Sayer at Hackthorpe, was sent off 5-4 favourite for the fourth race on the Hexham card after winning his last two races at the High Yarridge track but reportedly failed to act on the soft ground and finished a well beaten ninth.
The promising six-year-old was on a four-timer, but all his victories have been on good, fast ground and that is clearly one key dimension to his success.