Scouser Franny Norton can land a first Classic success at the ripe old age of 49 with Sir Ron Priestley in the William Hill St Leger (British Champions Series) (3.35pm) at Doncaster on Saturday afternoon.
The Belle Vale jockey is riding as good as he ever has after more than three decades in the saddle. And although he has never won at Group One level, he has plenty of wins - and big ones at that - on his CV.
A win at the top level has eluded him – but he has a great chance of becoming the first Scouser since Oaks and Derby hero Martin Dwyer to land a Classic and only the third from Merseyside in Norton’s lifetime.
Billy Newnes landed the Oaks with Time Charter in 1982 when Norton was just 12, four years before Liverpool FC fan Norton even sat on a horse for the first time.
It would be special if he could join the two fellow Scousers and taste Classic success and there is reason to believe he can with the Mark Johnston-trained progressive stayer Sir Ron Priestley.
Like Norton, the three-year-old is yet to win at the top level, and faces John Gosden’s unbeaten favourite Logician and the Aidan O’Brien-trained Sir Dragonet, who have better form in the book and are from the stables who have won the race 10 times between them.
But Sir Ron Priestley has won five of his six starts and has gone from two-time Haydock Park handicap winner to genuine Classic contender.
He looks a gusty, front-running stayer and like many from the Johnston stable is hard to pass. He won the Group Three March Stakes at Goodwood in determined fashion last time, having also won the Glorious meeting. Although he needs to step up again, he looks like he can.
He should be there at the finish and with a bit of luck may give Norton a well-deserved triumph in the oldest and final Classic of the season.
Amanda Perrett’s Open Wide has danced almost every dance in the big sprint handicaps this season and can finally land a victory in the William Hill Portland Handicap (1.50pm).
He was a fine second in the Stewards’ Cup at Glorious Goodwood and a close-up third in another competitive handicap at Ascot last weekend.
He was 15th in this six-furlong contest 12 months ago but has been in great form this year, finishing in the first four in his last six starts.
He has only won once in those, but he is sure to be in the shake-up again and may just finally get his head back in front.
David Elsworth’s course and distance winner Sir Dancelot can win the Group Two HIRD Rail Park Stakes (2.25pm); while the Richard Hannon-trained Threat looks like he can score again in the Group Two Pommery Champagne Stakes (Colts & Geldings) (3pm).
Hannon may also triumph with Qaysar in the P J Towey Construction Ltd Handicap (4.45pm).
Norton and Johnston also have good chances to end the day on Town Moor well with Kingbrook in the Napoleons Casinos & Restaurants Nursery Handicap (4.10pm) and The Trader in the finale, the Yates Drywall Ltd Handicap (5.55pm).
At Chester David Simcock’s course and distance winner can win the feature, the Listed 32Red Stand Cup Stakes (2.05pm).
The Eric Alston-trained Redroseorro looks to hold a good chance of victory, from stall two, in the six-furlong White Horse Handicap (3.50pm).
Cheshire-based trainer Tom Dascombe could also have a good day on his local track with Hot Heels in the Stellar Group Nursery Handicap (3.15pm); and Mickey in the Commonhall Street Social Handicap (4.25pm).
Deb’s Delight, under Warrington jockey Paul Hanagan make take the opener, the MBNA/EBF Stallions Novice Stakes (Plus 10 Race) (1.30pm), while course and distance winner Scofflaw can grab victory in the Thyme People Handicap (5pm).
1.50pm Open Wide
2.25pm Sir Dancelot
3.35pm Sir Ron Priestley (NAP)
5.55pm The Trader
1.30pm Deb’s Delight
2.40pm Celestial Force
3.15pm Hot Heels
2pm Molly Blake
2.35pm Mac McCarthy
3.10pm Bronze River
3.45pm Little Boy Blue
4.20pm Tell William
5.30pm Harry Hurricane
1.10pm Maroon Bells
2.15pm Spring Run
2.50pm Golden Lips
4.35pm Whisper Aloud
3.40pm Mount Everest
4.50pm Lancaster House
SUNDAY’S NAP: Kew Gardens (Curragh 4.10pm)
Haydock Park in running for Owner’s Experience award at RCA event
Haydock Park has named a finalists in the Owners’ Experience category for the prestigious Showcase & Awards.
Hosted by the RCA, the Showcase & Awards is the marquee event of British racecourses that annually celebrates first class customer exper-ience in partnership with Moët Hennessy, Racing Post and Great British Racing.
Ayr, Bangor-On-Dee, Musselburgh and Newbury are also amongst nominees for the Owners’ Experience category. From the five finalists, the winner will be revealed at the
Showcase & Awards ceremony on Thursday, November 14 at Hamilton Park Racecourse.
Dickon White, regional director of Jockey Club Racecourses North West, said: “We’re delighted to receive the nomination from the ROA. The team work exceptionally hard behind the scenes to make sure we offer the very best experience for our owners so it’s great for everyone at Haydock Park to be recognised.”
For this award, members of the ROA were invited to nominate racecourses for examples of where they had met and exceeded expectations relating to the raceday experience for owners. The Showcase principles of excellence and innovation were paramount in the selections, with the five Finalists receiving multiple nominations from ROA members.
Caroline Davies, RCA racecourse services director, said, “I am thrilled for the five racecourses named as Finalists in the Owners’ Experience category at the 2019 Showcase & Awards.
“The owners experience is a vital part in the growth of our sport and it is paramount that we continue to celebrate the best that racecourses have to offer in this area.
“I extend my congratulations to the teams in being named as Finalists and wish them the best of luck ahead of the Awards ceremony at Hamilton Park Racecourse on Thursday 14 th November.”
Charlie Liverton, ROA chief executive, added, “The owners raceday experience is a hugely important part of the wider racehorse ownership experience and this is reinforced to the ROA by owners, daily. There have been a number of improvements across the country at racecourses that should, rightly, be celebrated and our thanks and congratulations go to this year’s finalists.”