Déjà vu as Black Night beats Handel in the Guineas again

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As last year, the horse to chase him home in second was Hard To Handel.

The winning margin, and superiority of Black Night over his rivals in this extended mile ‘conditions’ race, was also remarkably similar. This year his margin of success was six lengths – one less than in 2017.

Trained locally by James Moon and ridden by France-based jockey Davy Delalande (paying his first visit to Les Landes), even-money favourite Black Night raced prominently throughout before pulling clear of his ten rivals in the home straight.

The eighth career success for the diminutive six-year-old, all but one of Black Night’s victories have come in Jersey. Wonderfully versatile in regard to the distances he runs, the still entire son of Excellent Art ended last season winning the prestigious 1 m 4f Clarendon Handicap, having finished just a nose runner-up to Aussie Lyrics in an epic race for the Jersey Derby.

A mouth-watering rematch in this year’s Jersey Derby (Sunday, 22 July) looks on the cards between Black Night and Aussie Lyrics after the latter also repeated his victory of 12 months ago in the 1m 4f YKTR Handicap. Ridden by Alice Mills, for champion trainer Christa Gilbert, Aussie Lyrics beat UK-trained raider Barwick by a length.

This was a 12th career success for eight-year-old Lyrics whose tally has been achieved with eight wins in Jersey plus three in France and one in the UK. His campaign is once again being centred around him winning another Jersey Derby. Already winner of the last three renewals of the Channel Islands’ most important race, a fourth victory would be a record.

At a meeting which originally had Les Landes shrouded in fog (which lifted during racing) Sing Something emerged from the mist to sprint to victory in the Geoffrey Edwards Memorial Handicap Sprint, over 5½ furlongs, thus initiating a double for trainer Christa Gilbert and stable jockey Alice Mills.

A five-year-old son of Paco Boy, Sing Something was making his 50th racecourse appearance, though this was his CI debut. The former France-trained grey had only won twice previously – both occasions on the all-weather track at Deauville. Here he beat Lady Joanna Vassa (another UK-trained runner) by a length.

The season opener, the C&J Carpenters Handicap Hurdle, was almost totally obscured by fog but the first to appear on the run from the last of the nine hurdles jumped was Steely, trained by Karl Kukk and ridden by reigning CI champion jockey Paddy Aspell.

Steely, a winner of this race in 2016, pulled clear to beat Bowl Imperior by 14 lengths. Last season Steely recorded the biggest win of his career when he took the CI Champion Hurdle, but unfortunately a repeat bid in Jersey’s most import race over jumps looks highly unlikely as the ten-year-old was found to be lame on Monday morning. He faces some time on the sidelines.

A clean-sweep for local Jersey trainers (there had been ten UK-trained horses originally on the card) was completed when Ocean Crystal enjoyed a fourth career success in winning the concluding President’s Handicap over 1m 1f.

The six-year-old grey mare beat Captain James and First Cat (who couldn’t be split by the judge and dead-heated for second place) home by a length in a blanket finish.

Immense sadness all-round followed when First Cat, as report in Monday’s JEP, collapsed and died in the unsaddling enclosure. A distressing time for all concerned.

Ocean Crystal, winner of the last two renewals of the ‘Glory Bee’ Handicap, was saddled by former multiple champion trainer Aly Malzard and ridden to victory by Jersey-born, UK-based, professional jockey Tim Clark.

Despite the early fog, the Jersey Race Club’s decision to stage a free general admission raceday appears to have been a success with a bigger than usual crowd in attendance for this fixture. It is likely to be something the JRC will consider again in the future.

The next meeting at Les Landes is an additional card, not originally on the fixture list, put on to make up for the lost Easter Monday meeting. It is the Liberation Meeting on Sunday 13 May (first race at 2.30), but before that racegoers in the Channel Islands get their annual chance to seeing racing on Guernsey when a five-race card takes place at L’Ancresse Common on Monday, 7 May.

2.30: 1, Steely (trained by K Kukk, ridden by Paddy Aspell, owned by Karl Kukk Racing and D Bates) 6/1. 2, Bowl Imperior 4/1. 3, Fourni 20/1. Distances 14, 10 and 10 lengths. Tote win: £8.50. Places: £1.80, £1.80. Tote Exacta: £24.70.

3.05: 1, Sing Something (Mrs C Gilbert; Alice Mills; Only Fools Partnership) 5/1. 2, Lady Joanna Vassa 6/4. 3, Fruit Salad 4/1. Dist: 1, half and three-quarters of a length. Tote win: £4.10. Places: £1.30, £1.70. Tote Exacta: £90.00

3.40: 1, Black Night (J Moon; Davy Belalande; Mrs A Moon) Evens. 2, Hard to Handel 10/1. 3, Order of Service 6/1. Dist: 6, 2 and four-and-a-half lengths. Tote win: £3.20. Places: £2.50, £2.90. Tote Exacta: £107.20.

4.15: 1, Aussie Lyrics (Mrs C Gilbert; Alice Mills; White Spot Racing) 2/1. 2, Barwick 11/10; 3, Hawaiian Freeze 16/1. Dist: 1, 6 and 2 lengths. Tote win: £2.20. Places: £1.30, £1.50, £1.60. Tote Exacta: £8.70.

4.50: 1, Ocean Crystal (Mrs A Malzard; Tim Clark; Channel Highland Racing) 7/1. +2, Captain James, Evens and First Cat 5/1. Dist: Half a length and a dead heat. Tote win: £9.50. Places: £2.70, £1.50, £2.30. Tote Exacta: 11/8 £46.10; 11/13 £18.40.

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