What's happening at Royal Windsor



Thu, Sep 1, 2016

The last evening meeting of the season, Ladies Day, featured two of the course's top races, the £60,000 Winter Hill Stakes over a mile and a quarter and the £37,000 August Stakes over a mile and a half. Both were run in fast times and provided terrific finishes.

It was a warm evening, with a few bright spells but no hint of rain. The going was good to firm, good in places.

The Clive Cox stable has been remarkably successful here in 2016 and his twelfth course win of the season came in the first race, a six furlong two-year-old maiden. Graphite Storm (10/1) improved considerably on his Ascot debut to lead close home, outstaying the odds-on Sea Shack and Poetic Principle. The three drew right away from the rest in the final furlong. Adam Kirby rode the three-quarter length winner.

Henry Candy is a trainer whose Windsor runners bear close scrutiny, especially fillies. After a slow start to the season he's been in the winners this month and Nicarra (9/4 jt fav) confirmed that trend in the one mile fillies' handicap. Ridden by Fergus Sweeney, she wore down the long-time leader Carpe Diem Lady approaching the final furlong and kept up the gallop all the way to the line, where Poster Girl had moved into second place a length and three quarters behind.

Ed de Giles has also been having a good summer and he sent Wind In My Sails (7/2) from his Herefordshire yard to take the third race, over a mile. Liam Keniry kept him at the back and out of trouble until bringing him through the field to lead with 75 yards to go, and win going away. The pace-setting Abareeq rallied to claim second, a length and three quarters in arrears.

Sir Michael Stoute was here to saddle Ulysses for the Winter Hill, and with Ryan Moore on board it looked like curtains for the front-running filly Chain Of Daisies (15/2) when the colt drew alongside her with a furlong and a half left. But she didn't want to be passed, and after a great battle they flashed across the winning line together, with the others well behind. The judge decided the filly had won by a short head, giving Messrs Candy and Sweeney a double.

There was another fine performance from the front in the August Stakes culminating in a short head verdict, this one favouring the former Classic hopeful Berkshire (8/1). Now five years old, he has had training problems, but Paul Cole has him back in prime form. Despite going off faster than his jockey Jim Crowley would have liked, he was tough enough to respond when Majeed headed him 50 yards out, and he regained the lead in the last stride.

Another in-form trainer, Jim Best, carried off the 1m4f handicap with Officer Drivel (11/4). He travelled well in second place until after the intersection, where he took a narrow lead. From there he was all out to defend it, but did so gamely to hold off Not Touch. It was the third consecutive short head victory of the evening, and Jim Crowley's second winner in a row.

On his old form, and after going down by only six lengths in Goodwood's Stewards Cup Consolation race, trainer Michael Wigham told TV viewers he was confident that Fairway To Heaven (2/1) was the one to beat in the 6f handicap. Jim Crowley asked him for an effort a furlong and a half out and hit the front with half a furlong to go, and held off Florencio by half a length. With this Crowley not only completed a treble (his second at Windsor this season) but also took the lead in the flat jockeys' title race.

Before the live entertainment from Human League a charity race was run in aid of #HEROS10, celebrating 10 years of retraining and rehoming ex-racehorses. Riding the six runners were people employed in racing who weren't licensed jockeys. The winning post was moved specially for this race to a point half a furlong down the course and with the At The Races presenter Matt Chapman taking over commentating duties in idiosyncratic style, it wasn't immediately apparent that Ralph Beckett's employee Daniel Bonner had held on, riding Foxtrot Jubilee.

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