Poor old Sonning’s bragging rights only lasted a mere 24 hours before he had to pass the mantle back to Stan (aka Silkstone) who had previously held them (jointly with Rocco Storm) for 18 days!
Back at Sedgefield on Tuesday, the scene of his previous romp just 19 days prior, and reunited with his favourite jockey Emma Smith-Chaston, Stan was once again running over 2m1f in the 0-100 handicap hurdle.
Although facing just four rivals he was arguably up against a stiffer test on this occasion having been raised 6lbs by the handicapper following his last run, and also particularly from the favourite; a smart horse who was seeking a hat-trick having won on the flat and over hurdles on his last two starts.
Travelling well at the top of the hill on the final bend, Emma was the first to kick for home but she & Stan were still being hard pressed at the final flight by the favourite.
Neither got a particularly clean jump at the last but Stan showed great tenacity to keep on resolutely in the final 110yds, seeing his rival off by 3/4 of a length.
It was a brilliant ride from Emma; not just tactically but she gets a proper tune out of The Dalby Family’s willing & talented six year old.
Thankfully this day both Nick & Jackie were present to enjoy Stan’s back to back victory, and cheer him & Emma back into the winner’s enclosure!
Sonning fairly blitzed his rivals at Musselburgh in the 0-115 handicap hurdle over two miles yesterday.
Carrying both Henry & a fair amount of lead which added up to a welter burden of 12 stone, the four year old was not only running off top weight but also giving almost, if not in excess of, a stone to five of his seven opponents.
But he seemed remarkably unaffected by such a task on the good to soft ground when setting off in his customary indomitable style.
Despite the race being run at a strong gallop, Henry initially had Sonning just about anchored in midfield while they had a conversation about how sensible it would be to pace themselves but by the 3rd hurdle the compromise appeared to be to sit a little more prominent (Sonning’s enthusiasm levels hadn’t dipped one iota however…..)
From three out the pair had taken 2nd place and were travelling easily. Henry then allowed the horse to narrowly take the lead approaching two out and they went readily clear approaching the last.
Henry had charted a course right round the inside between the hurdles to utilise the better ground and so although Sonning drifted slightly back left on the run-in, he was always sprinting away to take the victory in emphatic style.
This gorgeous young grey is a lovely character – as has been said before, he goes about life with great enthusiasm (sometimes a little too much!) and his jumping yesterday was electric; he didn’t miss a beat.
Exciting times ahead for his connections and Team Brooke…..
Danny, Julia & Kev set off for a busy day at Sedgefield on Thursday with three runners; Silkstone in the 1st race, Rocco Storm in the 4th, and Humps And Bumps having her first run for the yard following her recent arrival from Ireland in the last.
Although Rocco’s majority owner was unable to make it, the horses were well supported with Jackie & the Dalby family in attendance (but unfortunately minus Nick) to cheer for Silkstone (aka “Stan”), and Mary & Peter Sadler, Mervyn & Jen Buckley, and Phil Bulley all there to see “Humps” make her debut for them.
Stan was understandably sent off joint favourite in the Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle over 2m1f having finished 2nd by a neck over course & distance in September under Emma Smith-Chaston.
Emma was once again in the saddle and initially jumped Stan out quietly towards the rear of the field of 11 runners. They had taken a more prominent position by the midway point jumping the 4th, and then smoothly took it up rounding the bend at the top of the hill before two out.
A beautiful jump at the last sealed the contest and Stan went clear under hands & heels to win comfortably by four and half lengths.
Ecstatic scenes quite rightly ensued in the paddock with Jackie leading the celebrations. She & Nick have been so patient with this lovely six year old, waiting for the right ground for him and never putting us under pressure to run so we really couldn’t be more pleased for them.
Jackie & Stan having a congratulatory cuddle post-race
Three races later it was Rocco’s turn in the Handicap Chase over 2m3½f with Henry in the saddle, the pair bidding to follow up their win at Hexham a month before.
As on that occasion, Henry held Rocco up at the rear of the field of nine runners but they remained comfortably in touch jumping the 9th of the 16 fences. He had the seven year old in a more prominent position by the time they cleared the 12th fence and the pair began to press the leader on the final turn for home.
Rocco was travelling well when going to the front before two out and soon went readily clear when shaken up. Despite having what looked like (from the vantage point of the stand at any rate!) an achievable long stride approaching the last, Henry was clearly in the best seat to make that judgement and sensibly sat still allowing the horse to decide what he was comfortable with. Rocco concluded that chipping in a short one was the best plan and consequently for a split second everyone’s heart jumped into their mouth, but although he clipped the fence in reality it was never going to stop him and he scooted on up the hill to win by 7 lengths.
Danny & Julia accepting Rocco’s prize
Rocco Storm’s 12 length win at Hexham last time out clearly made the handicapper very happy as he went up 12lbs for that performance. Hopefully the margin of victory this time won’t generate the same level of excitement in those reassessing his mark – even if it did for us….!
In the absence of Rocco’s main owner, Humps And Bumps connections proved to be willing & able stand-ins when accepting Sedgefield’s kind offer of a post-race celebration. In fact they showed remarkable speed & stamina in making the best of their way through the champagne and largely ignoring the sandwiches! That’s the kind of team performance we like.
The day took a desperately sad turn in the Mares Hurdle that followed when two horses separately suffered fatal injuries and we take this opportunity to offer our sincere condolences to the connections of Thermusa and Sweet Auburn.
As a result Sedgefield officials took the decision to abandon the remaining two races to undertake further inspection and investigation of the track and consequently Humps returned home without seeing a hurdle. But there will be another day for her…..
It was a landmark day for Danny in achieving his first double – no mean feat at the best of times for a small yard but, as one of the country’s youngest trainers making his way in the sport, it was a really proud day for all of us.