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Welsh Horse Racing Review – Probert The Main Man

By James Stevens

David Probert is the main man set to fly the flag for Welsh Horse Racing in the Flat season and advertised just what he was capable of with a blistering start to May.

A great week started at Wolverhampton where the top jockey was in the top three with all six of his rides. They included two hard-fought winners aboard 13-2 shot Diamond Dreamer and 5-1 chance White Umbrella while he came so close to adding to his tally with the 10-1 Bluey’s Boy only beaten a neck and Devasboy less than a length away.

Gastronomy was second too while Streak Lightning, his only favourite of the night, was a half-a-length third.

May kicked off with a brilliant Brighton double including with a 18-1 newcomer Daisy Inthe Breeze. Less than 40 minutes later the Welsh wizard was getting up on Juantorena.

A warm-up for a bid for the jockeys’ championship followed at Goodwood on Wednesday, where his luck on the South Coast continued as Rathgar clung on to win a 1m6f handicap by a head and Desperate Hero just held on to win at the other end of the stamina scale in the 5f sprint.

There was no joy at the Guineas meeting for the leading rider but success aboard Tiriac for Jack Channon at Windsor on Monday night maintained his excellent spell.

Probert has ridden 48 winners this term but winners in the Flat jockeys’ championship only count from Saturday onwards to Champions’ Day in October. Yet if he can continue his excellent form, he could become a major player this term.

Gibbs misses out on big night

A 66-1 Cheltenham Festival winner for Welsh-born Bradley Gibbs stamped his name as a leading name in the point-to-point ranks but he was unable to strike at the big night in the amateur ranks.

Trainer-jockey Gibbs had two significant chances during Cheltenham’s Hunter Chase on Friday but had to settle for two seconds.

His Festival hero Premier Magic ran a stormer in the 3m2½f mixed open but had to settle for second behind the improving Fairly Famous while Fier Jaguen was just a head away from justifying even-money favouritism. 

Death of popular jockey

It has been a sad start to this week in the Welsh racing community following the death of former jockey Michael Byrne at the age of 36.

Byrne had quickly become popular since relocating from Ireland to the Vale of Glamorgan where he rode for Peter Bowen and Tim Vaughan and he had the backing of Welsh trainers when finishing second in the 2013-14 conditionals’ championship.

Vaughan told the Racing Post that the death had “hit everyone in Welsh racing hard” and funeral arrangements will be announced soon.

Bowen off and running

The jump jockeys’ championship kicked off this weekend and Sean Bowen has already ensured he is among the top names on the leaderboard by riding two winners,

The rider finished second to Harry Cobden last term but has made no secret about his ambitions to go one better this season and the road to Sandown in April 2025 kicked off with success aboard Resplendent Grey at Uttoxeter.

On Monday his seasonal tally was doubled by Fiston De Bacon at Warwick.

See our latest odds for all horse racing here.

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