A season that began two months later than originally planned on July 1st came to a conclusion on Saturday with Lucinda Russell Racing finishing a pleasing twenty-first in the trainers’ championship. In a table based on prize money, our haul of £440,398 saw us jump nine places from the previous campaign with our total of 34 winners also an increase of two from the 2019/20 season.
A fabulous spring had a big impact on both our final total of winners and prize money, with April seeing us record 5 winners from 27 runners at a strike rate of 19%, the victories of Ahoy Senor in the Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree and Mighty Thunder in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr contributing £42,327.50 and £84,405 to the coffers respectively. For the second season running Mighty Thunder was our leading earner, collecting £138,165 as he won four of his seven starts, taking the Edinburgh National at Musselburgh as well as the Scottish version at Ayr.
Other horses worthy of an honourable mention include Well Above Par who bounced back to form to land the Northern Lights Middle Distance Chase Series Final at Carlisle and Ain’t My Fault who won twice prior to finishing a very creditable seventh in a Grade 3 Handicap at the Grand National meeting. Ain’t My Fault was one of a number who scored twice during the season with Mint Gold, Celtic Flames, Corach Rambler, Bollingerandkrug and the rejuvenated Orioninverness also recording a brace of victories. And whilst not strictly contributing to these statistics, Ballyare led the way for our expanding Flat string over the winter, winning twice on the all-weather and proving admirably consistent.
Derek Fox topped the jockey standings with 16 winners from 109 rides at a very healthy 15% strike rate. Stephen Mulqueen rode nine winners and is now just one away from riding out his claim, with Blair Campbell coming home in front seven times in a season that was cruelly cut short through injury.
Perth was our most successful track with eight winners, a memorable hat-trick on the 11th August a particular highlight. There was also a hat-trick at Hexham on the 25th October, the Northumberland course being our second most successful venue with seven winners, followed hot on the heels by Ayr with six.
Our owners Allson Sparkle finished a super twenty-first in the owners' championship table, and with just three horses in training, this was a top achievement, while Mighty Thunder was also twenty-first in the horse earnings table.
As ever, there are areas to work on as we head into next season, significantly a barren spell in the depths of winter with December, January and February seeing us record just 4 winners from 102 runners. It was incredibly pleasing to see how we bounced back, however, with March and April both bringing in five winners apiece; only November saw a higher number of horses pass the post in front with six. August was another month where we entered the winner’s enclosure on five occasions.
Our lack of bumper winners – we were 0/30 in this sphere – is another area we hope to address next season, although that belies the fact that we have a number of exciting youngsters coming through as six second-placed finishers in bumpers would attest.
The future is bright, so roll on Hexham on Saturday when we aim to get the new season underway and to build on the momentum we have gained so far this spring.