What to Wear to Newcastle Racecourse, What to Wear to Newcastle

All-Weather Championships Finals Day 2022

All-Weather Championships Finals Day 2022 took place at Newcastle Racecourse on Good Friday, 15th April.

Photographs courtesy of Grossick Photography.

Checkandchallenge proves up to the task in Listed Coral Burradon Stakes

Checkandchallenge (15/2) maintained a perfect start to his career with an impressive display in the Listed Coral Burradon Stakes, the opening contest on All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Newcastle.

The William Knight-trained colt had quickened strongly after being held up on his previous victory at Wolverhampton in November and was once again restrained towards the rear of the six runners by Danny Tudhope.

Having travelled powerfully into the race entering the final quarter-mile, Checkandchallenge ran on between horses to head Dubai Poet over half a furlong out. He readily went clear and was allowed to coast home to score by a cosy length and a half. Dubai Poet (10/3) held on for second, a nose ahead of 7/4 favourite Imperial Fighter.

Winning owner Andrew Hetherton said: “It was brilliant. Checkandchallenge won first time out at Wolverhampton but this performance really does something for us and it’s down to the training of William Knight and his team, who have done a smashing job.”

Tudhope said: “Fair play to William [Knight] and his team, I think they have a really nice horse on their hands. He was travelling well and when he got to the front, he was only doing what he needed to do. He is still inexperienced and I’m sure he will come on leaps and bounds for this run again.”

My Oberon (right) just prevails as San Andreas proves hard to crack in All-Weather Mile Championships

Class eventually told in the All-Weather Mile Championships as 13/8 favourite My Oberon edged out San Andreas in a pulsating finish to the £150,000 contest.

My Oberon was making a quick re-appearance for William Haggas after a fine sixth in the G1 Dubai Turf at the end of March, and the 113-rated five-year-old was soon covered up in mid-field by Tom Marquand.

San Andreas (14/1) overcame an awkward start to race handily and stayed on strongly to head long-time leader Tempus two furlongs from home, with My Oberon joining the Irish challenger in front passing the furlong-pole.

The duo battled all the way to the line, with My Oberon establishing a slender advantage before San Andreas rallied strongly in the final strides to go down by a nose. Bless Him (6/1) flashed home after a troubled passage to take third, a further two and a quarter lengths in arrears.

Assistant trainer Maureen Haggas said: “For My Oberon to run probably the race of his life in Dubai, and to come here 20 days later, is a good effort. It’s tough travelling to Dubai, and some horses need two or three months to get over it, so actually he’s done really well today.”

Marquand said: “My Oberon has had a hard month, but he does go about things in his own way and, once he hit the front, he basically said ‘I’ve done enough’.

“He’s a super horse – he travels so well but when he hits the front he only really does enough. It wasn’t ideal that they went slow but the cream has risen to the top.”

Bouttemont (left) strikes for France in Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships thriller

Bouttemont narrowly prevailed over Edraak and Spycatcher in an exhilarating denouement to the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships, handing France a sixth Finals Day success in the process.

Gregory Benoist made a beeline towards the stands’ rail on 10/1 chance Bouttemont and the Yann Barberot-trained sprinter disputed fourth early on behind the pace-setting Lord Of The Lodge, Good Effort and Ejtilaab.

Bouttemont quickened well to press for the lead alongside Edraak as the front trio started to fade inside the final furlong, with Spycatcher also making good headway to challenge down the far-rail.

Bouttemont got the verdict by a short-head as all three flashed past the post together, with the same margin back to Spycatcher in third. Lord Of The Lodge kept on in fourth, another length further back.

Benoist said: “That was very close. My horse was in good form and we had a good trip. He felt easy behind the leaders and I had space; he was waiting behind the other horse but when I asked him to go, he has a big heart and gave everything.”

Five-star El Caballo (right) delivers again in Coral Three-Year-Old All-Weather Championships

El Caballo produced another classy performance to beat Tiber Flow and register a fifth straight victory in the £150,000 Coral Three-Year-Old All-Weather Championships.

The Havana Gold colt was sent off the 13/8 favourite in the six-furlong highlight on the back of an exceptional season for Karl Burke that yielded victories at Wolverhampton and Newcastle in addition to a taking display in Lingfield Park’s Listed Coral Spring Cup.

Forwardly placed throughout by Clifford Lee, El Caballo tracked Space Cowboy (12/1) for the first half-mile before moving up to join the leader shortly after.

Having seen off Space Cowboy inside the final furlong, El Caballo had to be kept up to his work in the closing stages to see off the late thrust of Tiber Flow (10/3), with a short-head separating the duo at the line.

Burke said: “El Caballo is a very, very good horse. Two out, I knew he would come under a bit of pressure to get rolling. I thought we would win nicely at the furlong pole but whether he’s dossing in front I don’t know.  

“When you get horses with ability, they make the job a bit easier. It has been the plan all winter to come here, and luckily, it has come off.”

Lee said: “El Caballo is a lovely horse who is improving all the time. I thought that there would be more pace on than there was, but he jumped so well that I just sort of had to ride a race, sit on the girths before shaking him up and getting him rolling.

“My lad was definitely going again when the other horse come to me, his ears were flat back and he’s done it well.”

Highfield Princess stamps class on Coral All-Weather Fillies’ And Mares’ Championships

Highfield Princess saved her best effort of this season’s All-Weather Championships until last as she repelled Internationalangel in the £150,000 Coral All-Weather Fillies’ And Mares’ Championships.

John Quinn’s star mare enjoyed a superb 2021, winning at Royal Ascot and taking the Listed Queen Charlotte Stakes at Chelmsford City, but had failed to score in three previous outings this year.

After racing in third behind Rising Star and Khatwah in the early exchanges of the seven-furlong contest, Highfield Princess loomed up entering the final quarter-mile and soon took charge of affairs under Jason Hart.

She drifted towards the far rail entering the final furlong, briefly opening the door for Internationalangel, before asserting in the closing stages, with half a length separating the 15/8 joint-favourites at the line.

The winner’s owner/breeder John Fairley said: “It was a wonderful ride. I think Jason is a brilliant jockey, and he sits and plans his racing, and will tell you beforehand how he’s going to do it, and he does. 

“Highfield Princess didn’t run until she was well into her three-year-old season because she had an injury, then of course last year she won at Royal Ascot [the Buckingham Palace Handicap] as well as other places. She been fantastic for us.”

Hart said: “To be fair, a lot of the credit must go to the boss [John Quinn], because this has been the target for a long time, and he’s got her qualified and has trained her for this one day, so it’s great that it has paid off.”

Earlofthecotswolds not for passing in Betway All-Weather Marathon Championships

Earlofthecotswolds capped a remarkable season with a third straight victory as he made virtually all in the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Marathon Championships.

Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, the eight-year-old had posted eight wins under National Hunt rules before turning his attention to Flat racing at the start of the year. He headed to Newcastle on the back of two dominant Kempton Park victories, including a six-length success in a Fast-Track Qualifier.

Earlofthecotswolds was sent into the lead by Liam Keniry after a furlong and soon settled into a three-quarter length advantage over Sleeping Lion.

Kicking for home passing the three-furlong pole, Earlofthecotswolds found more under pressure as Marshall Plan laide down his challenge with a furlong to race. The 10/3 joint-favourites went clear to fight out the finish in the closing stages, with Earlofthecotswolds holding on gamely for a neck verdict.

Nigel Twiston-Davies said: “This is very much down to Willie [Twiston-Davies, Nigel’s son]. I train the horse but Willie’s done everything with him. When the ground turned a little bit soft and he disappointed at Kempton, I think Willie said, ‘Let’s try him on the Flat’, and came up with this All-Weather thing.

“And look what he’s done! Quite an ordinary horse rated mid-130s, and he’s won all this money. We don’t expect to do something like this, and to come and beat all the posh people – it’s nice! He’s a very cheap horse – you don’t expect this.”

An emotional Willie Twiston-Davies said: “I’m so proud. I bought the horse five years ago with some great mates. After the horse got injured at Aintree last year, I said, ‘we need to go on to the Flat, because he loves the All-Weather having won a jumpers’ bumper’.

“And off he went on the Flat, and he was a length behind Sleeping Lion, who was favourite, and won his Fast-Track Qualifier easily, won his maiden easily.

“I just love him. I’ve done everything with him – I broke him in, got him going, dad trains him but I do everything. I’m sorry, I’m being so soppy, but it means a lot.”

Keniry said: “Earlofthecotswolds is so honest. He bowls along in front and you know you can have the confidence to go a good gallop because he’s so genuine you know he’s going to stay going. I have huge confidence in the horse and he has taken to the Flat brilliantly.

“It’s a long way up the straight but I kicked him on with three furlongs to run because I knew he would get to the line and he was so tough in the finish. Frankie’s horse came and joined us but we found more.”

Living proves a Legend in Betway Easter Classic

Living Legend produced a valiant performance as he rallied strongly to defeat hot-favourite Tyrrhenian Sea in the £200,000 Betway Easter Classic, the final race of All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Newcastle.

The six-year-old, trained by Charlie & Mark Johnston, had looked a potential Classic hope at the start of his three-year-old campaign before being forced off the track for more than two years with a tendon injury.

After being nursed back to health, Living Legend had already enjoyed an excellent All-Weather campaign and lined up at Newcastle on the back of a career-best win in the Listed Magnolia Stakes at Kempton Park in March.

Joe Fanning sent 7/1 chance Living Legend into a half-length lead over United Front, with 10/11F Tyrrhenian Sea disputing third alongside French raider Charlesquint.

Living Legend tried to kick for home entering the final quarter-mile but looked as though he would have to settle for second as Tyrrhenian Sea loomed up on the far rail to take up the running over a furlong out.

However, Living Legend would not be denied and battled back gamely to regain the advantage close home for a half-length success. Charlesquint took third, with Felix, United Front and Al Zaraqaan completing the order in the 10-furlong culmination of the All-Weather Middle Distance Championships.

Mark Johnston, who won the race in 2019 with subsequent G1 winner Matterhorn, said: “We always thought Living Legend was a very good horse as a three-year-old, but he bowed a tendon. Barbara and Alick [Richmond, owners] gave him to us, to probably be retired at the time. We gave him a whole two years off, he came back racing in our name, and when we saw it looked like he might stay sound – he actually won a race for us – we gave him back to them.

“I notice it says in the racecard that he didn’t need to improve to win last time but we didn’t agree with that at all – we thought the horse was still very much on an upward curve, and he’s run the race of his life today.”

Fanning said: “Living Legend is a good, tough horse.

“I just said to Mark, ‘you wouldn’t know what trip he wants, really, because he doesn’t do a stroke in front’, but once the other horse came by me he rallied. He’s a good old horse.”

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