Medina Spirit has been officially disqualified from first place in the 2021 Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has announced. The Bob Baffert-trained colt ran out a half-length winner from Mandaloun at Churchill Downs in May last year, but it emerged a week later he had produced a positive test for the anti-inflammatory drug betamethasone, a prohibited substance in Kentucky on race day. Baffert has always strenuously denied any wrongdoing and pointed to an anti-fungal ointment prescribed for a case of dermatitis as being to blame. In a statement posted on the KHRC website, the stewards disqualified Medina Spirit from first place, with all purse money forfeited. Baffert has been suspended for 90 days, beginning on 8 March, and fined $7,500. Baffert's legal team immediately indicated the intention to appeal the ruling.
At Dundalk, Colin Keane recorded his first wins off 2022 with a double onboard Jerandme and Acquiescent. It was good news for our members as Acquiescent was advised 1.5pts win at 7/2.
Champion jockey Oisin Murphy has been banned for 11 months after admitting to breaking rules covering Covid-19, misleading the British Horseracing Authority and prejudicial conduct and must serve an additional 100 days for two alcohol breaches. The rider faced five charges, two relating to failed tests for alcohol in May and October last year and separate counts of misleading the authority as to his whereabouts and accessing a racecourse in breach of Covid-19 restrictions - both in September 2020 - and to conduct prejudicial to the good reputation of the sport. Murphy temporarily relinquished his licence when the charges were announced as he sought professional help, so his suspension will be backdated to 8 December. The 26-year-old, who was also fined a total around €35,000, admitted all five charges brought against him by the BHA. Oisin Murphy rode for us a few years ago in the Irish Cambridgeshire he could not have been any nicer. Oisin Murphy clearly has his demons. I wish him well at his age he has plenty of time to learn as well as recover from his mistakes.
Thedevilscoachman was delivered with a perfectly-timed run to land the BetVictor Boyne Hurdle at Navan. Trained by Noel Meade and ridden by Mark Walsh, the six-year-old was returning to the smaller obstacles after running over fences twice this term, chasing home Cheltenham Festival contenders Ferny Hollow and Saint Sam. Back over hurdles, Thedevilscoachman (4-1) travelled well throughout the two-mile-five-furlong trip for Walsh, as Ashdale Bob made a bold bid from the front. He was briefly headed by Grand Roi, but grabbed the lead back in the straight only for Walsh to produce his mount to challenge coming to the final flight in the feature Grade Two contest. It looked as though Ashdale Bob might just hold on, but Thedevilscoachman was reeling him in with every stride and eventually shaded it by a head at the line. It was good news for our members Thedevilscoachman was advised 0.75pt each way at 15/2 (there was a rule 4 deduction).
Farouk D'Alene outbattled Beacon Edge to claim Grade Two honours in the BetVictor Ten Up Novice Chase. The first two home both sported the colours of Gigginstown House Stud, but it was the Gordon Elliott-trained Farouk D'Alene who took full advantage of the 7lb he was receiving from Beacon Edge. The pair were locked together jumping the last but 4-11 favourite Farouk D'Alene just kept finding a little more on the run to the line, eventually prevailing by three-quarters of a length in the hands of Jack Kennedy. The Brown Advisory Novices' Chase looks to be on the cards at next month's Cheltenham Festival.
Three-times Grade One winner Frodon is among 82 entries for the Ultima Handicap Chase on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival. Paul Nicholls' 10-year-old began his season by winning the Champion Chase at Down Royal but having disappointed in defence of his King George crown, his latest trip to Ireland was not as successful and he was beaten a long way in the Irish Gold Cup. He has run at five previous Cheltenham Festivals but has not run in a handicap since winning at Cheltenham off a mark of 164 in October 2020. Willie Mullins wishes his dual Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo was in better form with just over three weeks until he will try to reclaim his crown. Willie Mullins is confident Appreciate It is firing on all cylinders ahead of what will be his first start in a year in next month's Unibet Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham. "Appreciate It looks to be in great form at home. I had him away for a gallop last week and I was very, very happy with him – he galloped very well,"
Burning Victory won her first race over jumps since the 2020 Triumph Hurdle when making all the running in the Watch On Racing TV Quevega Mares Hurdle at Punchestown. She had been over to France a couple of times to win on the Flat and finished second in the Cesarewitch in the interim, but she was cut for the Close Brother Mares’ Hurdle next month after this success. Paul Townend made sure there was no hiding place in the testing ground and set off at a fair lick, soon spreading the field out. Only Gordon Elliott’s Queen’s Brook could keep tabs on Burning Victory, but even that rival appeared to have been dropped at the second last, with Townend’s mount nicely clear. However, despite jumping the last with seemingly plenty left in the tank, the leader’s stride began to shorten allowing Queen’s Brook to close in, eventually being beaten a length and a half by the 1-2 favourite.
Hugo Palmer will up sticks and leave Newmarket for Cheshire to become a salaried trainer at Manor House Stables. Palmer has been based at Kremlin Cottage Stables, from where he sent out Galileo Gold to win the 2000 Guineas and St James's Palace Stakes in 2016. Tom Dascombe had been training out of Manor House Stables, owned by ex-footballer Michael Owen, until a parting of ways was announced in December, ending a 12-year association. The 41-year-old Palmer saddled 54 winners in Britain last term and struck Group One gold in Ireland with Ebro River, who landed the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh. It was the fifth Group One winner of Palmer’s career since he began training in 2011.
Leading Randox Grand National contender Enjoy D'Allen has been bought by JP McManus but will stay with trainer Ciaran Murphy. The eight-year-old was third to shock winner Freewheelin Dylan in last season’s Irish National and has run with great credit in two big handicaps this term. He was third to School Boy Hours in the Paddy Power Chase at Christmas and was not disgraced back over hurdles behind Good Time Jonny at the Dublin Racing Festival. "It’s huge for us that we could recommend a horse of this calibre to Mr McManus and that he will stay in training here at Charlestown," said Murphy.
At Dundalk, Fastman ran a very decent race for The Galaxy Horse Racing Syndicate he went unclaimed which was fine by us. Declan McDonagh gave us good feedback. The Cheek pieces worked well Fastman travelled well we have something to build on and we will chat to John McConnell about what to do next. It was good to have a runner and be competitive as we have had a lot of injuries recently. Fastman is in good order we will try and get him out again soon. On the rest of the Dundalk card, Bowerman took the finale. It was good news for our members as Bowerman was advised 1.5pts win at 9/4.
Knight Salute will head to the Triumph Hurdle unbeaten over obstacles after landing the Coral Adonis Juvenile Hurdle in good style at Kempton Park. The Milton Harris-trained four-year-old has been asked a few questions in his short career, but has answered every one of them and on this occasion he had to fend off the challenge of Teddy Blue, who held every chance until blundering through the last. Paddy Brennan's mount travelled smoothly throughout, but increased the pace early in the straight, with his rider admitting: "I knew it was going to be cat and mouse and I was keen to be the cat!" Knight Salute, who gained his fifth successive success for the Four Candles Partnership, scored by three and a quarter lengths.
Aucunrisque (3-1) made virtually all to graduate to Grade Two glory in the Sky Bet Dovecote Novices' Hurdle. All eyes were on Shallwehaveonemore after his wide-margin Sandown win and the Gary Moore-trained runner was sent off favourite under the handler’s son, Josh. However, a couple of novicey jumping errors at the final two flights cost the market leader valuable momentum, handing the initiative to Aucunrisque, who proved incredibly game in responding to Cannon’s urgings. He galloped on strongly after the last to hold the challenge of Shallwehaveonemore by a length, with Galore Desassences finishing a further length and three-quarters adrift. A record-breaking 12th Coral Pendil Novices' Chase came Paul Nicholls’ way as Pic D’Orhy (3-1) put a disappointing run at Sandown last time behind him. Pic D’Orhy, who had a length in hand at the line, will bypass Cheltenham and head straight to Aintree according to Nicholls.
Cap Du Nord (13-2) led home a one-two for Christian Williams in the Coral Trophy Handicap Chase, capping an incredible half-hour for the trainer. The Glamorgan handler had just finished celebrating the victory of Win My Wings in the Eider Chase at Newcastle moments before the field set out for the Kempton Grade Three. Partnered by 3lb claimer Jack Tudor, Cap Du Nord was settled in behind through the early stages as The Big Breakaway was kicked into an early lead alongside Enrilo, with joint-favourite Phoenix Way trailing in the early stages before falling at the third fence. He accelerated away from Enrilo on the run to the final obstacle and Tudor got a fine leap out of him to seal victory, with Kitty’s Light keeping on for second and Sam Thomas’ Our Power back in third, making it a clean sweep for Wales.
Any Second Now edged out Escaria Ten in a thrilling finish to the Tote Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse. Both are leading players for the Randox Grand National at Aintree, with Any Second Now having finished third in the race last year while Escaria Ten was a general 16-1 shot before this race for the world-famous marathon. Any Second Now was conceding 8lb to his rival and it looked as though the extra weight might take its toll as the Gordon Elliott-trained Escaria Ten set sail at the turn for home, with favourite Burrows Saint dropping away very quickly when asked to up his effort. However, the Ted Walsh-trained Any Second Now kept finding for pressure and Mark Walsh just got his head on front at the line to win by a nose as a 6-1 chance, with 42 lengths back to the disappointing Burrows Saint. Any Second Now is now the outright favourite for National glory with most firms, with quotes ranging from 10-1 to 12-1.
Win My Wings provided Welsh trainer Christian Williams with a landmark winner as the favourite landed the Eider Chase at Newcastle on Saturday. Sent off at 11/2 after making the long trip from Williams' Glamorgan base, Win My Wings jumped to the front from the third last fence under jockey Ryan Mania, taking over from long-time leader Éclair Surf. Emma Lavelle's hopeful, who had been well-fancied for the four-mile-and-one-furlong marathon test and started at 15/2, rallied to close the gap before the finish line but was unable to reel in the winner.
Flame Bearer continued his progression at Naas when taking the Grade Two BetVictor Novice Hurdle in convincing style. The Pat Doyle-trained seven-year-old was a maiden winner last time out and stepped up in class as one of a field of five for the contest, starting as the evens favourite under Doyle's son, Jack. Victorious by two and a half lengths from Oliver McKiernan's Meet And Greet.
Willie Mullins added extra spice to an already fascinating Supreme Novices' Hurdle picture as Bring On The Night made a winning start to his jumping career at Naas. Having his first run for Mullins having been off for 644 days since winning on the Flat in France, where he was trained by Andre Fabre, the Joe Donnelly-owned son of Gleneagles was a stylish scorer as the 5-6 favourite in division two of the Festival Trials Day Maiden Hurdle, despite not being fluent at the last. Mullins said: "I've had him a long time, he had a setback last year and we never got him to the track. He is in the Supreme Novices' and could easily go there.