Headway makes all for Newbury glory

By Sports Desk February 10, 2024

Making Headway proved well named as he made all the running to secure his spot at the Cheltenham Festival by taking the Betfair Racing Podcasts Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury.

Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerriero’s six-year-old has been highly tried since scoring at Carlisle on debut, finishing second in a Grade Two at Haydock before heading to the highest level at Aintree on Boxing Day.

He finished fourth on that occasion and back in calmer waters, he was sent off the 6-4 favourite in the hands of Henry Brooke as he showed his quality to land a decisive one-and-a-quarter-length success.

“We were a bit worried when Nicky Henderson and Jonjo O’Neill’s horses were being backed, but we’ve always liked him and he’s so straightforward and wants further,” said Greenall.

“It’s hard to do that from the front and he’s looking about and it’s tough for Henry to know what speed he is going. It didn’t look to be that quick, but Josh text me to say they were going 29 to 30 miles per hour – on heavy ground, that is probably quick enough.

“As soon as they have come to him and given him some company, he has gone on again and he had his ears pricked crossing the line.”

Stable star Iroko provided the Greenall and Guerriero team with their first Cheltenham Festival success in last year’s Martin Pipe and that is one of the options available to their latest star novice.

Greenall added: “We will get him entered in the Coral Cup and the Martin Pipe and I think a step up in trip will bring about a better performance. Hopefully the handicapper will base the race on him and his mark shouldn’t alter.

“Iroko had that season juvenile hurdling and was a lot more streetwise and that would be my only concern about going to Cheltenham with Making Headway.

“We were probably in two minds before today whether we would go to Cheltenham because he is a rawer type – Iroko being more of a French type running in those good juvenile hurdles – but to be fair to this lad, when he went up in grade at Haydock and Aintree he looked flat out but jumped very well, which I think is a sign of a very good horse, so he would have that in his favour.”

Alan King described the Betfair Serial Winners Fund Handicap Hurdle as Emitom’s “Gold Cup” as he registered his second Newbury triumph.

The 10-year-old had to battle hard to see off 3-1 favourite Kyntara, with King believing the game veteran is unlikely to compete in the Pertemps Final at Prestbury Park next month.

“He was brave and since we’ve had him, he’s only disappointed me once,” said the Barbury Castle handler.

“We probably over-faced him in the valuable race up at Haydock – it was too competitive and he never really went a yard.

“We gave him a little break and he bumped into a proper horse of Jonjo’s at Ludlow (Saint Davy) and we were very happy with him leading into this.

“He likes Newbury and this was his Gold Cup. He’ll want plenty of time and had a tough old race today, so we will give him a month and we haven’t really looked beyond today.”

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    Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL), operators of Caymanas Park, have called for a review of Rule 44 (iii) enforced by the Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC) following the cancellation of two races during the April 27 race meet at Caymanas Park.

    In a press conference on Monday addressing the abandoned races, SVREL Executive Chairman Solomon Sharpe expressed frustration with the rule, highlighting its potential impact on the racing industry.

    "This rule, unique to Jamaica, imposes a strict five-minute limit after the published post time for races at Caymanas Park," Sharpe stated. "It fails to account for various factors that can delay race starts and penalizes all stakeholders when races are abandoned, affecting punters, jockeys, grooms, trainers, owners, promoters, and the government."

    Last year, Caymanas Park contributed over $260 million in combined taxes to the government's coffers. Sharpe urged the JRC to engage SVREL in discussions on Rule 44, emphasizing the need for constructive dialogue to address the rule's impact.

    "We were not consulted during the initial discussions on this rule, and now, with two races abandoned in a single race day, our concerns have materialized," Sharpe explained. "SVREL is open to collaborating with the JRC to review and refine this amended rule."

    Representatives from the Grooms Association, Jockeys Association, and the United Racehorse Trainers Association echoed SVREL's concerns and supported the call for a review of Rule 44.

    Sharpe concluded by appealing to regulators, stakeholders, and the public to support the growth of the horseracing industry in Jamaica. "Horseracing has immense potential in Jamaica and can become a significant foreign exchange earner. Realizing this potential requires collaboration among all stakeholders."

    SVREL has been operating Caymanas Park since March 2017 after the government divested the property. With investments exceeding J$4 billion in product enhancements and innovations like the Mouttet Mile, which boasts the largest purse in the English-speaking Caribbean, SVREL remains committed to advancing the horseracing experience in Jamaica.

  • Supreme Ventures Racing regrets abandonment of two races at Caymanas Park on Saturday Supreme Ventures Racing regrets abandonment of two races at Caymanas Park on Saturday

    Supreme Ventures Racing & Entertainment Limited (SVREL) has expressed regret and disappointment following the abandonment of two races during the Saturday, April 27 race day at Caymanas Park in St Catherine, Jamaica.

    The decision to abandon these races, SVREL said, was made in compliance with regulations set forth by the Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC), leading to the refund of all related pools according to SVREL's Pari-mutuel rules.

    According to the statement released by SVREL late Saturday, the abandonment of races number one and six, respectively, was declared by the stewards of the Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC) due to delays that exceeded the permitted time frame as stipulated by Rule 44(iii).

    Specifically, in race number one, scheduled to commence at 12:00 pm, a saddling issue with horse number five and a mandatory veterinary check for horse number eight, which reared and fell after exiting the saddling barn, resulted in delays beyond the allowable limit.

    Similarly, race number six, slated for 3:10 pm, was delayed due to a horse running loose, ultimately leading to its abandonment by the stewards of the JRC.

    SVREL explained that the recent amendments to Rule 44(iii), which came into effect from April 1, 2024, mandate strict adherence to race start times with a maximum allowance of five minutes after the published post time. SVREL noted that Jamaica is unique in enforcing such a rule without prior consultation with the sole promoter of horseracing in Jamaica.

    The enforcement of this rule has led to financial losses for industry stakeholders, including owners, trainers, jockeys, grooms, punters, and the promoter and as such the disruption caused by the abandonment of these races understandably resulted in unrest among stakeholder groups.

    Despite the challenges faced, the race meet resumed with race number seven at approximately 4:00 pm, SVREL noted.

    SVREL has now issued a sincere apology to valued customers and stakeholders for the inconvenience caused by the abandonment of races one and six by the JRC. SVREL also emphasized its readiness for open dialogue with the JRC and all impacted stakeholders to ensure the continued success and integrity of the horseracing industry.

    As the sole promoter of horseracing in Jamaica, SVREL said it remains committed to addressing challenges collaboratively and upholding the highest standards of professionalism and service within the industry.


  • Light seeking to shine again at Sandown Light seeking to shine again at Sandown

    Kitty’s Light is taking aim at his usual season finisher in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown.

    The gelding has been a star for trainer Christian Williams, winning big handicap events like the Eider Chase and the Scottish Grand National and going close in the Charlie Hall and the Coral Trophy.

    He has particularly good record in the bet365 Gold Cup on the final day of the season, missing out only due to interference when second in 2021 and coming home third in 2022.

    Last year he was completed the set of podium finishes when winning by two and a half lengths under usual jockey Jack Tudor.

    The two are well acquainted and teamed up for Kitty’s Light’s Grand National bid at Aintree earlier in the month, where he ran a valiant race to finish fifth behind four Grade-One winning Irish chasers.

    Williams was incredibly proud of his stable star and is now hoping the gelding can shine again in the Sandown contest he has found to be lucrative in the past.

    “It was wonderful, we trained him to win the race and we thought he could, but you couldn’t be disappointed with what he did,” Williams said of the National performance.

    “We were thrilled, the horse tried his best and we were very, very proud of horse and jockey.

    “He’s come out of it very well, if the race was run today even then he’d be running, he’s in good form.

    “He loves it at Sandown with the big fences, his jumping has come on now but even as a five-year-old he nearly won the race.

    “He was third the year after that, it really seems to suit him.

    “I think he likes going right-handed, he hangs a little bit right at home and he seems to really enjoy it there.

    “We’re taking our chance anyway, he seems well and we’ll hope for the best.”

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