RED DUKE, Ryedale’s star juvenile of last season, is set for a Derby bid.
It is not, however, Epsom in June that trainer John Quinn is focusing on, but the UAE Derby, staged at the fabulous Meydan racecourse next month as part of the Dubai Festival.
Quinn, meticulous in his preparation of the three-year-old, last week took him to Southwell’s all-weather track to put him through his paces before his first attempt on the Tapeta artificial surface at Meydan on March 31.
“He just did a routine bit of work with Violent Velocity last week, and I’m going to take him back to Southwell next Tuesday,” revealed Quinn. “These are just days out for him, but they spark him up a good bit. He’s a big strapping colt, and it’s good to get him away, to walk round the parade ring and then do a bit of work. He’s grand.”
Red Duke won the Group 2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket last summer and looked an unlucky loser of the Veuve Cliquot Vintage Stakes at Goodwood, when he failed to get a clear run before finishing third.
He also enjoyed little luck when finishing second in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster, before finishing down the field in the Dewhurst at Newmarket on his final start.
“He had six weeks in a walled paddock after the season ended and did well,” said Quinn, who has future options of running Red Duke in the English, Irish or French 2,000 Guineas.
First things first, however, and the son of Hard Spun has a major date in Dubai to contend with. “There was no real prep race for him, unless he had gone out to Dubai a long time beforehand,” explained Quinn.
“He’ll do all his serious work here before he goes. The plan is for him to fly out on the Sunday before racing the following Saturday.”
It’s exciting stuff, as indeed is next month’s Cheltenham Festival, where Quinn is aiming to have two runners. “Countrywide Flame will go for the Triumph Hurdle and Royal Bonsai will run in the Fred Winter,” said the Highfield handler, who, will, alas, not be further represented by Recession Proof.
Last year’s high-class achiever had been preparing for his eagerly-awaited reappearance last weekend when a halt had to be called on proceedings.
“He schooled on the Thursday morning and there was just a bit of heat in his leg that night. We’ll leave him off for the season now,” said Quinn.
• JAMIE HAMILTON, who is based in Ryedale, enjoyed a red-letter day at Kelso last week in front of a local crowd of supporters.
The 17-year-old amateur rider, who hails from nearby Hawick, gained his first win under National Hunt rules aboard Tartan Snow, who belied his 25-1 odds by a convincing margin under an accomplished and stylish display from her young pilot.
Hamilton, who was riding for trainer Stuart Coltherd in the amateur riders’ handicap chase, always had Tartan Snow well positioned and grasped the nettle from the final fence to send him clear to win by nine lengths.
“It was a great feeling,” said Hamilton, “It made it even better that my first winner was on my home course. I grew up only 15 minutes’ journey from Kelso and, apart from family, there were lots of people there that I knew last week. It couldn’t have worked out better.”
Hamilton, who had previously ridden three point-to-point winners, took a professional stance on proceedings.
He explained: “I went up the night before, stayed at home and walked the course in the morning before racing. And then I spoke to (leading jump jockey) Brian Hughes on how best to ride the course.
“Apart from making one mistake – at the fence in front of the stands – Tartan Snow gave me a good ride and won really well in the end. Mr Coltherd said he would try to find another amateur riders’ race for him so I could ride him again.”
Hamilton’s father, Michael, works as a clerk of the scales on all the Scottish courses, but was not on duty at Kelso last week, though he did attend the meeting to cheer home his son, whose win on Tartan Snow came just half an hour after his uncle Gavin and his wife Alison had won with 16-1 shot Bow School.
• MALCOLM JEFFERSON, who is preparing According To Pete for the John Smith’s Grand National in April, will have an important date at the Cheltenham Festival in the meantime.
The Norton trainer produced Attaglance, ridden by Harry Haynes, to win under top-weight at Market Rasen on Sunday and is now to set to aim him at next month’s prestigious Cheltenham gathering.
“He’ll go next for either the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle or the Coral Cup,” said Jefferson. “He’s not a bad horse, and he’s very game.”
Although he’d scored at Carlisle earlier this season, Attaglance had enjoyed little luck in his latest two outings. Jefferson said: “At Haydock, the ground was very heavy and he just got racing a long way out and got very tired, and at Sandown last time, he made a bad blunder at the first flight and Ruby Walsh, who rode him, felt he wasn’t quite right going to the second and sensibly pulled him up.”
Jefferson’s horses are in peak form at present. He followed up at Carlisle on Monday with handicap chaser Beamazed, who responded to a masterful ride from Denis O’Regan, and saw Mac Aeda, ridden by Brian Hughes, win at Wetherby yesterday (Tuesday).
• LUCKY LANDING looked as though he may give Brian Toomey an unlucky landing at Market Rasen last Sunday when he ploughed through the fifth-last fence. But the conditional jockey sat commendably tight on the gelding and brought him home with nine lengths to spare in the handicap chase.
Norton trainer Tony Coyle was delighted with the outcome. He inherited the horse from Grand National-winning colleague Donald McCain and had run him for the first time the previous week in a jumpers bumper when Lucky Landing finished second at Southwell. “Like all my horses, he is in good order,” said Coyle. “He was well handicapped, especially with Brian’s 5lb claim, and hopefully he can win again for us.”
• EVERY young jockey needs a flagship horse to promote their talents and Kyle James has found one lately in Dontpaytheferryman, trained by his boss, Brian Ellison.
James, an accomplished 5lb claimer, twice rode the gelding to victory at Musselburgh in January before finishing third on him in the Scottish County Hurdle, won by stablemate Stormy Weather.
Last week, back at Musselburgh, a course which suits habitual front-runner Dontpaytheferryman, the seven-year-old scored again with James on board, battling on to clinch a neck verdict after looking sure to be swallowed up in the closing stages.
“He’s so tough, he’s all heart,” said James. “He’s been a very good horse to me this year and I am very grateful to Brian and to the owners, Koo’s Racing Club, for giving me the opportunities to ride him.”