ALBASHEER got 2024 off to a flying start for Saxon Gate when he won the valuable Sprint Trial at Newcastle on New Year’s Day, earning himself a guaranteed place in the £150,000 Sprint Final there on Good Friday.
Taylor’s Bloodstock’s talented six-year-old easily beat a strong field under a prominent ride by Hollie Doyle to capture the £45,000 feature and set himself up for the six-furlong showpiece on the Tapeta on 29th March.
He was the first and biggest of 10 winners in January, quickly followed by Elusive Tiger and Inner Temple’s double at Wolverhampton just 24 hours later.
The Real Quiz-owned Elusive Tiger claimed the extended nine-furlong classified stakes for Hollie, who was also on board Hambleton Racing’s three-year-old Inner Temple in the seven-furlong maiden stakes.
Hambleton celebrated the first leg of a January jumps double just three days later when Hill Spirit landed a junior hurdle at the first time of asking at Ludlow, producing a flawless round of jumping under Nick Scholfield.
Nick was doing the steering again at the end of the month when Hambleton’s Chosen Hero proved too good for her 11 rivals in a Chepstow mares’ novices’ hurdle. Wearing first-time cheekpieces, she got the better of the short-priced favourite to score by a comfortable half-length.
Back on the Flat, Hambleton’s successful start to the new year continued when Dyrholaey made a winning debut in a six-furlong Chelmsford City maiden. Despite a wide trip, the City Light colt finished well to claim the verdict for Hollie.
That win completed an across-the-cards double with Badosa carrying the Marco Polo colours to victory at Southwell under Callum Shepherd. She broke her maiden tag at the seventh attempt with a length and a half verdict in a six-furlong handicap.
It was Luke Morris, back from a stint in Japan, who got the job done on another Hambleton winner, Pride Of Spain, in a seven-furlong Southwell handicap on 25th January. Our Lope De Vega gelding benefitted from the first-time hood to get off the mark at the eighth time of asking.
There was yet another Saxon Gate double on 15th when Our Melody dead-heated in a Lingfield Park sprint for Josh Bryan and owner Salem Rashid Bin Ghadayer, while over at Wolverhampton Al Wosol made a successful return in a five-furlong novice.
Joanna Mason took up the running a furlong out to give Annette O’Callaghan’s Exceed And Excel filly the victory on her first domestic start following an unplaced debut for previous connections in the Middle East last year.
By Simon Mapletoft