Dora Penny, despite being doubly-penalised, is clear ‘best-in’ on my time-handicap for the 2-y-o Restricted Novices Stakes over six furlongs of Wolverhampton tapeta tonight which will be staged under glorious floodlighting; it’s quite a sight, in stark contrast to forty-one years ago this month when I drove to Dunstall Park and watched my ‘flying machine’ Lilac Star score under Jo Berry, wife of Jack, down the five furlongs dash in an amateur riders’ event..
It was just about the fastest minimum trip in the United Kingdom, rivaled the famous Epsom downhill ‘slalom’ which has a course record of about fifty-four seconds!
Quality grade one thoroughbreds never raced at the Midlands venue, converted to an all-weather racecourse ten years later with a total ‘geography’ revamp which resulted in an equitrack surface being laid, alongside a ludicrously narrow grass strip for National Hunt racing.
That didn’t last but this left-handed circuit remains popular, ideal for two-year-old racing with a replacement surface which jockeys continually enthuse over and enjoy; facilities are also absolutely fabulous with a third-floor storey dining area which is packed Saturday nights.
Punter-friendly best describes Wolves but with firm emphasis on jockeyship and the draw, often due to over-sized fields but Dora Penny is berthed six and David Probert has been booked by in-form trainer David Evans for the Mayson filly, again!
They teamed up successfully twenty-five days ago when Dora Penny achieved a ‘career-best’ and ran on strongly to beat Tadita Twitch, a somewhat unlucky losing nap at Brighton, Monday; Saffie Osborne seemed to have ‘sat nav’ problems in the closing stages but the undulating switchback east coast venue is tough for apprentices.
‘Seconditis’ has crept in but I’ll be disappointed if Dora Penny doesn’t restore order with Charles Hills’ runner, Nickleby, likely to prove a threat along with Silken Pearls, also carrying a double penalty. Theodore Lad claims 3lbs apprentice on the last-named and we’re in for an absolute cracker.
Mark Johnston-trained Devasboy, one of five ‘decs’ for an intriguing £5400 class 4 Maiden Stakes over seven furlongs of ‘good to soft’ Musselburgh, was introduced at Glorious Goodwood last month; the Middleham veteran must have high regard for this 65000 guineas Ectot colt which shaped well alongside a stable companion in a class 2 race!
Favourite will probably be Karl Burke’s Bullet Force, a £95000 yearling purchase; they used to run tuppence ha’penny races at this Edinburgh track, scene of my first-ever flat winner, Lilac Star!
‘Lilac’ cost me £2010, out of a Leicester claimer, unbelievable to even think about a filly I should have taken to Australia!
Incidentally Prermier League referee, Michael Oliver, completely ruined the West Ham/Leicester City match when issuing a red card to a player who cannoned into another because he was off-balance on account of previous contact; it was there for all the world to see!
Selections, Wolverhampton, 1.00 Dora Penny (e.w); Musselburgh, 1.15 Devasboy (e.w); Kempton, 5.55 Peak Perfect.
Jeffrey Ross, horse-racing correspondent for WMN since 1983 when winning the most prestigious racing journalist award, Sporting Life Naps Table, before winning it a record number of six times collectively in the Racing Post, the current ‘trade’ paper, including 2019