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Horse Racing Round Up – Sean Shows His Mettle

By James Stevens

Sean Bowen proved just how incredible and tough he is this week.

Appearing at Fontwell for just one ride, the talented jockey walked away seemingly unscathed from an incident which looked truly horrendous to witness live. 

He was unseated at the first in a novice handicap hurdle from his mount, Princess Unique, who was leading at the time. As he hit the floor the others behind jumped the obstacle including Hey Day Baby whose hoof came within a millimeter of hitting the jockey’s face. The rider simply got up and walked away.

While going so close to a serious injury could impact some, quite remarkably Bowen’s next ride was a winner. It came aboard odds-on favourite El Curamach at Warwick on Saturday and – most importantly – means he is level with Harry Cobden with four winners apiece.

Bowen is chasing a first jump jockeys championship this season having finished second to Cobden last campaign. He is set for another busy week with plenty of rides lined up at Hereford on Monday, Southwell on Tuesday and Ffos Las on Wednesday. 

Davies produces a shock

Almost 40 years ago Cardigan-based Hywel Davies rode a 50-1 winner of the Grand National in Last Suspect which proved so popular he had the locals lining the streets.

His son James has gone on to prove a quality rider himself and went some way to emulating his father by riding a 50-1 winner himself at Ffos Las on Can’t Say on Tuesday.

Davies caused the mighty shock in the 3m novice handicap hurdle for Chris Down’s small Devon stable. The nine-year-old was recording his first win in six starts and the closest he had been was a 16-length third.

The surprises continued for Davies who then overcame trouble in running to win at Fontwell the following day. The winner was a 9-1 chance in the 12-runner contest but kicked off a good start to the season for the journeyman jockey.

Last season he rode just nine winners across the season, a drop from 21 the season before, but a good start will not have gone unnoticed for a rider now in his 21st campaign.

Key horses to note

Royal Ascot is not too far away and Wales’ leading riders are already beginning to pick up some chances at Flat racing’s biggest meeting.

David Probert, based with the ultra-powerful Andrew Balding yard, enjoyed victory at Ascot on Friday aboard Arctic Thunder  – a horse now destined for the big one in June.

Probert produced the 10-1 shot perfectly to pin the better fancied Accumulate at the line in what looked a competitive 7f handicap. Connections have since revealed the Britannia Handicap is set to be his next target and Probert may be in demand again.

Danny Muscutt, an adopted son of the Welsh riding ranks, was back aboard his high-profile ride Deauville Legend this week but the classy five-year-old could finish only fifth in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester. He was once fourth in the Melbourne Cup but has not quite reproduced his quality three-year-old form. This was more encouraging though.

Muscutt will have enjoyed sporting the same silks on Sunday though when Sea Legend looked like a horse with a bright future in the 1m2f handicap at Newcastle. He was a hugely impressive winner on his first start in Britain and after a year off the track. His trainer, Newmarket-based James Fanshawe, expects he could be appearing in some bigger races this season.

Muscutt also beat the odds to finish a good fourth in the Group 3 Chartwell Fillies’ Stakes aboard 50-1 shot Many Tears at Lingfield on Saturday. She looks destined to win a good race.

Great week

Monmouthshire trainer David Evans has made a great start to the season and clocked up his 15th winner of the season with success at Chelmsford this week.

The Black Mountains trainer scored with Taxing in a staying handicap on Thursday while he also kicked off the week as Meet Me In Meraki won at Bath.

He looks to continue a good start this week, including at Chepstow where he’ll have runners at the track’s first Flat meeting of 2024.

What’s in a name

If racehorse names are your thing, you may have enjoyed the maiden hurdle at Stratford on Thursday won by a horse called Wales.

He is trained over the border in Worcestershire by the Grand National-winning Richard Newland and Jamie Insole operation but certainly looks good enough to carry the name having pulled clear nicely on his hurdling debut.

Strangely he is not the first horse to run in Britain called Wales. A horse by the same name ran on the Flat for Paul Cole during the late 1990s and was pretty decent too, running at Royal Ascot and winning at Newmarket’s July festival under Kieren Fallon.

He was bred in Britain and presumably got his name as his sire was called Caerleon – a small town with a famous fortress on the outskirts of Newport. The new Wales is allowed to have the same name as he is bred in Germany. He was then bought to race in Britain and (if his namesake is to go by) closer to home

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