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Trainer David O’Meara’s happy new year
Talk about a flying start to 2013. David O’Meara has hit the ground running and has sent out a remarkable nine winners with his first 12 Flat runners in the first seven days of the New Year – and of the three which failed to score, one finished second and the other pair finished third.
A £1 level stake bet on all 10 runners would have been showing a healthy profit of nearly £14 in a year which has yet to barely start.
O’Meara, based at Nawton near Helmsley, has proved himself one of the training sensations since he took out a licence less than three years ago. In his first full campaign – in 2011 – he won a Grade 2 race at Sandown with old-timer Blue Bajan and also the Great St Wilfrid Handicap with Pepper Lane. Last year, not only did Pepper Lane again win Ripon’s historic handicap, but O’Meara won a brace of Grade 2 contests with Penitent in a campaign in which he sent out 69 winners and won more than £700,000 in prize money.
If the current stable form is anything to go by, 2013 promises to see O’Meara, a former journeyman jump-jockey, who had a lengthy association in Ryedale with Peter and Tim Easterby, raise the bar again, especially as his fire-power seems to grow by the month as his reputation as a prolific producer of winners soars.
Rosie’s Lady got O’Meara off the mark with a New Year’s Day win at Wolverhampton, and the following day Miss Bunter followed up on the same course. Hiddon Coin made it three wins in three days, again at Wolverhampton, while day four saw a stable double, courtesy of Miss Bunter again and new recruit Berlusca.
After Golden Flower had justified odds-on favouritism at Lingfield on Saturday, Berlusca made it two wins from two runs for O’Meara back at Wolverhampton on Sunday when Activate also won the claimer for the red-hot stable.
Come Monday and O’Meara had his number-one jockey Danny Tudhope back in the saddle. Last season’s leading rider on the Go Racing In Yorkshire tracks had taken a break since the end of the turf campaign in early November, but is now easing himself back into the fray on some higher-weighted horses.
Tudhope made a winning comeback on Rosie’s Lady – yet another O’Meara horse following up a recent success – who justified favouritism and defied a 6lb penalty by a runaway five lengths.
Whatever fortunes await Tudhope in 2013 – and another good season looks assured – an exciting time surely also lays ahead for stable apprentice David Bergin.
Having also taken a break from race-riding duties since the closure of the turf season, Bergin has quietly resumed riding in the past week and has ridden two winners from his first two rides, on Miss Bunter and Golden Flower.
The teenager, who rode only one winner in his native Ireland, has seen his career soar since he joined the O’Meara yard last summer and is now on the 19-winner mark, just one victory shy of reducing his claim to 5lb.
Plenty of tips will be put up about the most likely champion apprentice of 2013 and it’s doubtful Bergin’s name will not be among them as he sets out, from March onwards, to follow in the footsteps of Amy Ryan, another North Yorkshire-based rider, who won the title last year.
As for O’Meara, he has probably further added to his burgeoning tally since this piece was penned.
He clearly means business in 2013, which could well see him join the exclusive club of trainers to send out 100 winners in a year.
• The Cheltenham Festival may be three months away, but Brian Ellison already has a beady eye firmly fixed on the most prestigious jumping meeting of the year on behalf of a new recruit to his Ryedale stable.
Viva Colonia, previously a high-achieving hurdler with David O’Meara, opened his chasing account in impressive style at Musselburgh last week for Ellison, who is looking towards a handicap opportunity at Cheltenham in March as the gelding’s prime objective this season.
“He’s a good horse and the plan is to get one more run into him over fences and then take him to the Festival for the Grand Annual – he’d look good in that with 10-stone-something on his back,” said Ellison after Viva Colonia had scored by 10 lengths in the hands of stable jockey Danny Cook.
“David O’Meara did a good job on him,” added the Norton trainer. “I’ve had him about a month and didn’t have a lot more to do with him. We know he’s a good horse – he proved that over hurdles.”
Ellison, who has come close numerous times, has yet to saddle a winner at the Cheltenham Festival. Viva Colonia will be among his main hopes this time around.
The Norton trainer, like several others in Ryedale, has made a bright start to the year.
He pulled off a double on New Year’s Day with Bocciani, the mount of Harry Haynes at Musselburgh, and the James Reveley-ridden Fine Kingdom, while he achieved another brace later in the week with Viva Colonia initiating a double, which was completed on the Flat at Wolverhampton by Rano Pano, the mount of Dale Swift.
Harriet Bethell, who is attached to the Ellison stable, also had good reason to celebrate the dawning of a new year. She scored on her first mount of 2013 aboard Stormy Morning, trained by Phil Kirby, previously based at Castleton on the North York Moors, who has recently taken over Kate Walton’s Middleham yard.
• Ollie Pears and his wife Vicki received their best-ever Christmas present when their son Thomas, born prematurely, was allowed home in time for the festive season. Pears has since had plenty more to smile about.
The Norton trainer claimed a win on New Year’s Day at Wolverhampton with Boy The Bell, a 16-1 shot partnered by accomplished stable apprentice Jake Butterfield, and last Sunday on the same course, Lean On Pete justified 2-1 favouritism for Pears when swooping late under a daring ride from Shane Kelly to post a thrilling short head victory.
• Which horse claimed the first record-breaking achievement of 2013? Trot foward Alfred Hutchinson, trained at Brawby by Geoff Oldroyd.
The gelding, owned and bred by Pocklington-based Reg Bond, won at Wolverhampton’s New Year’s Day meeting and, in the process, smashed the course record for a mile and half a furlong.
It was Alfred Hutchinson’s second successive course win and the fourth victory of his 11-race career, which last summer included a success at York.
Rene Mathis made it two wins from two runs since being bought out of Ed Dunlop’s Newmarket yard in October at Wolverhampton on Sunday.
Partnered by Jamie Spencer, the three-year-old, now trained by Richard Fahey, was following up his recent maiden success under Tony Hamilton.
While Fahey also included the Barry McHugh-ridden Colbyor in his winning tally, the Ryedale fraternity were also on the mark on the Polytrack circuit, courtesy of jockeys Tom Eaves, Dale Swift, Jimmy Sullivan and Gemma Tutty, who were also among the winners.
• Henry Hall, who was such a great servant to Langton trainer Nigel Tinkler and his jockey-wife Kim, has died at the age of 17.
The popular sprinter, who spent his retirement at the Tinkler yard, won 10 of his 121 races and accumulated prize money of nearly £140,000.
Remarkably, he was ridden in exactly 100 races by the now-retired Kim Tinkler, which might well be a record for a horse and jockey teaming up on a racecourse.
Together, the partnership recorded seven successes and a host of placed efforts. Said Kim: “He will always be remembered as he took me to all the big tracks and won at York, Epsom and Newmarket and the Gosforth Park Cup at Newcastle.”
Tinkler, incidentally, has not been taking it easy since retiring from the saddle four years ago. She recently graduated from the Open University with a law degree.
• Racing returns to Wetherby on Saturday and worth watching out for are three Ryedale-trained recent winners – Mick Easterby’s Saint And Sinners, the Tim Easterby-trained Fourjacks, and Tony Coyle’s Billy Cuckoo.
• The memorial service for Jessica Bethell, who tragically died suddenly, aged 24, last October, will take place this Saturday, January 12, at Ripon Cathedral.
Hugely-popular, Jessica was assistant to her trainer-father James Bethell at his Middleham yard and was being groomed to eventually take over the licence. Her death was mourned far and wide in racing circles and beyond. Everyone is welcome to attend her memorial service, which will be followed by a get-together at Ripon Racecourse.