Chelmsford City staged its final fixture of 2016 today, Thursday, December 22, with a lucrative seven-race card worth over £100,000.
All-Weather specialist Realize (Stuart Williams/Sean Levey) bounced back to his best to win the big race of the day, the £45,000 Weatherbys Stallion Book Conditions Race (2.20pm) over seven furlongs.
The six-year-old was backed into 11/4 favouritism and moved strongly into contention rounding the home turn. He made sustained progress to wear down front-runner Donjuan Triumphant (Richard Fahey/Tony Hamilton, 6/1) inside the final furlong. The winning margin was half a length, with a further head back to the staying on Dragon Mall (David Simcock/Jamie Spencer, 100/30) in third.
Realize was runner-up to classy South African mare Cold As Ice in this contest 12 months ago and came into today’s race on the back of a seventh in the Listed Betway Golden Rose Stakes over six furlongs at Lingfield Park on November 12.
Williams said: “I am very, very pleased with Realize. He is a tough horse who loves the All-Weather.
“It is just a shame there is not an ideal race for him on Finals Day because the six furlongs is a bit too sharp at Lingfield and I think a mile stretches him.
“We will definitely keep him going on the All-Weather and it is possible he could go for one of the Fast-Track Qualifiers abroad. We will see how we go.”
Levey added: “Realize is as straightforward as I have ever ridden on the All-Weather. He is a beautiful horse around here and you couldn’t have not fancied him today.
“He had a bad draw at Lingfield last time. We knew on the day that we were going to struggle because all the front horses had a good draw and we couldn’t get near them.
“We had to ride it as we found it, we ended up trapped wide the whole race and he only got beaten a few lengths. I walked away and said to Stuart that he would come on for that run.
“He has obviously come on for that and won nicely today. It’s so much easier when you know horses – I have ridden him so many times now that I know very little attribute about him. He is straightforward and has a lot of ability to go with it. When you get horses like that, it is hard not to be confident.”
Middleham Park Racing’s Tim Palin said of the runner-up: “We are delighted with Donjuan Triumphant. He has run a really good, solid race – a no nonsense kind of race – and has proved he stays seven furlongs.
“I know it is not the hardest seven furlongs to get around here but he showed a good attitude.
“He is entered on Boxing Day but has just given himself a little cut on his heel there. That might be out of the equation now.
“If we did put him away, you would like think you have got something to look forward to because he seems in a good place mentally.
“He could go to Finals Day now as that is his third run since the start of November. The six-furlong race is definitely under consideration.”
Champion jockey Jim Crowley made the perfect start in his new role as retained rider to leading owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum with victory aboard Naseem (John Gosden, 5/1) in the opening £19,000 Weatherbys Racing Diaries Maiden (12.50pm) over a mile.
It was Crowley’s first ride in the famous blue and white silks since the news broke that he was replacing Paul Hanagan at the end of November.
Naseem, third on debut in a 10-furlong maiden at Lingfield Park earlier this month, broke alertly from the widest stall in 16 and travelled strongly just in behind the leader. The son of Sea The Stars was sent into a clear lead entering the straight and never looked in any danger as he stayed on powerfully to win by five lengths.
Hot favourite Bois De Boulogne (Robert Havlin, 6/4), also trained by Gosden, was a never nearer fifth.
Crowley said: “It was a lovely start [to ride a winner for owner Hamdan Al Maktoum]. I thought when I saw the draw, 16 of 16, that we might be in a bit of trouble but the horse broke very fast from the start.
“I was just able to get into a nice rhythm and dropping back to a mile from a mile and a quarter, I could ride him that way because he stays the trip very well. He is a nice horse.
“I haven’t started properly in my new job yet as it is a quiet time of year. I leave for Dubai on January 2 and will be trying to do as much homework as I can on the horses back here. I am really looking forward to it.”
Richard Hills, assistant racing manager to Hamdan Al Maktoum, commented: “It is great for Jim to get a winner on his first ride as the retained rider. It is actually his second for us as he rode a winner for Owen [Burrows] during the summer.
“Naseem had a bad draw but broke well and was able to get a good position. He won well. We thought he was a stayer but he just didn’t get home over 10 furlongs last time.
“We bought him as a foal and then when John got him, he was just a bit of a lad. I think he used to spend more time on his hind legs than on all four legs! So John said that we need to geld him.
“He came back into training late in the year. We were always keen to get a run into him and so when he didn’t quite get home at Lingfield, John thought we would try again and saw this race. We have gone into the race fit and there we are. We will put him away now.”
Tellovoi (Richard Guest, 16/1) made his first start at Chelmsford City a winning one in the feature handicap on the card, the class four winner.co.uk Beaten By A Length Bet Handicap (1.20pm) over a mile.
The eight-year-old was positioned close to the pace by Dougie Costello and stayed on dourly up the straight to overhaul Street Duel (Ismail Mohammed/Sean Levey, 9/2) by a short-head.
Costello said: “It was great to ride a winner for Mr Guest. He got my jumping career going and it’s nice to ride a winner here for him.
“Mr Guest told me to forget the last run as he missed the break and Newcastle is a very difficult track when that happens. He said if you are handy enough today, you shouldn’t be far away.
“We didn’t go very quick today and I just got him rolling off the bend. I was always full of running. They normally go quicker here than they did today.
“I am not sure where he will go next, it depends on what the handicapper does. I expect Richard has a plan.”