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Knutsford Races at Tabley
Sunday 20th May 2018
by Rory Alkin

A good crowd witnessed an excellent day's racing on a glorious sunny day, with some exciting finishes for the final meeting of the season in the North West area. Great praise was given from many sources to Clerk of the Course Rob Hankey who watered for the whole week prior to the meeting and produced perfectly good ground.

The highlight of the meeting was a training double for Francesca Nimmo courtesy of Gowanauthat and Derksen. Alex Edwards had another winner aboard Magic Music Man from his three mounts to bring his tally to 39 for the season.

The main race on the card was the Lord Daresbury Final for North West qualified horses and a real surprise here was the eclipse of the prolific odds-on-favourite Garde Ville by Fair Exchange. The winner who had previously won a Maiden at Corbridge and walked over in his Restricted was very well ridden by Tommie O'Brien who made all and always had too many answers for Garde Ville winning by two and a half lengths, which was the longest winning distance of the day. The winning owners Graham Briscoe and trainer Joe O'Shea immediately nominated the Maiden Hunter Chase at Cartmel on 30th May as his next target.

The Mixed Open over two-and-a-half miles was run at a furious pace with Tabitha Worsley on Lough Inch and Tom Murray on the favourite Gabrial the Great taking each other on well clear of the remainder. Gabrial the Great took over with a circuit to go and looked all over the winner, but Alex Edwards on Magic Music Man who was a remote third, stayed on strongly when the leader tired and got up on the flat to win by a length. The seven-year-old gelding owned by his breeder Ray Bailey and trained by Phil Rowley, won a Sedgefield Maiden Hurdle in 2016 for Alan King and was given time by the owner with a year off before going pointing this season.

The first leg of Francesca Nimmo's double came in the opening Veteran's Race for horses that had not won beyond Restricted class sine 2016. James Jackson-Stops was all out to get Gowanauthat home by a head from Gillon Crow on hot favourite Oscatara in a pulsating finish. The winner was bought for the jockey at the Ascot November sales for £15,000 from the Charlie Mann stable. He had formerly won six chases and the trainer said his improved form was due to the better ground which he had been waiting for all season.

The trainer's double came in the PPORA Novice Riders race where Alice Stevens made all the running on Derksen and had a half length to spare at the line to repel the late challenge of Mikaela Tallett on Aupcharlie. This was Alice's third win on Derksen and her fifth win of the season and though she is still behind in the Fuller's Lady Novice Riders title, she is determined to keep trying until the end of the season to bridge the gap on the leaders.

The Restricted was another close affair where Ben Furnival on the Richard Edwards trained Asangy got up close home in the fastest time of the day to beat long-time leader Paddy Berkins on Gunner Road by a neck, thereby adding to his Members win here at the Cheshire Forest last month.

The concluding Maiden was a great affair with three four-year-olds fighting out a pulsating finish. Turning into the straight Billy Garrity on Dipsophobia was vying for the lead with Alex Edwards on Levasseur and they came to the last together with Ed Glassonbury on Cawthorne closing in third. The latter stayed on best to win by half a length from Levasseur with Dipsophobia a further length back in third. The winner trained by the jockey was bought for £15,000 at Doncaster May sales for owner Eric Brooks and was the only one of the three placed horses who had previously run, coming fourth in a bumper at Garthorpe last month.


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