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Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Five things we learned from Friday and Saturday's racing

Richard Fahey: 'shocked' by stewards' decision
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Fantastic Fahey

Richard Fahey has his string absolutely singing. He had five winners in all of March but already has 11 in April and there's still just under half of the month left.

Fahey has hit the ground running and it would appear his horses are fully wound up. He's operating at +£24.95 profit to level-stakes this month and claimed the Sprint on All-Weather Championships Finals Day for the third time in four years - this time with Kimberella - while Forest Ranger upset Guineas and Derby fancies at Newcastle. What's more, eight of his 11 wins have come since April 10.

Interestingly, when Paul Hanagan returned it was reportedly to share the number one job with Tony Hamilton - but the numbers suggest the old order has resumed. Hanagan's 11 winners for Fahey this year have come from 57 rides, compared to Hamilton's eight from 70. It's a small sample size by Hanagan's strike-rate for Fahey - 19 per cent compared to 11 - and prize-money - £217,053 versus £147,241 - suggest he is the yard's number one. Further encouragement for those backing him to reclaim his title.

Convey a class act

He may have found the limit of Khalid Abdullah's patience before he found the limit of his potential, but as a five-year-old Convey is finally starting to flourish.

In the Easter Classic he travelled all over a quality field and then powered right away in the final furlong. Ryan Moore labelled him "a Group horse" afterwards and if he can translate his improved form on the all-weather since being sold by Abdullah at the end of last season to the turf this summer then there is every chance he could emulate Tryster and make his presence felt at the highest level this season.

Little track, big ambitions

Pretty little Musselburgh, just a short drive from Edinburgh, is not often at the forefront of British racing but it had its moment in the sun on Saturday as it led ITV4's racing coverage, with Ed Chamberlin, Mick Fitzgerald and Matt Chapman all descending on the picturesque track.

But this wasn't just a scenic day out for the ITV crew: Musselburgh has been quietly raising its game for years and hosted a strong feature racecard on Saturday, with the highlight being the £100,000 Queen's Cup, won impressively by Irish raider Carbon Dating, only recently returned from a long winter campaign in the UAE.

With a maximum attendance of about 10,000, Musselburgh is far from the biggest racecourse but it has been on an upward trajectory for some time, building news racedays and bigger crowds, all underpinned by growing prize-money designed to lure southern trainers north of the border.

Plenty of bigger racecourses could learn a thing or two from Musselburgh. 

Great Friday

Racing on Good Friday has been a tremendous success, with Lingfield's £1 million all-weather championships finals day was well supplemented by a £250,000 card at Newcastle and £183,000 in prize-money at Bath.

All three cards were well supported with classy types and it just goes to show what can be done in this sport with a bit of creativity and some good prize-money. When you build it they do come, so let's build a few more. These smaller courses can have their day in the sun.

Low audience figures may be a vicious circle

Could news about ITV viewing figures, such as Lee Mottershead's special report which revealed a cumulative decline of 4 million viewers against Channel 4 so far, have an effect on viewer's perception of the ITV Racing output?

That's the theory put forward by Jamie Aitchison, who was commissioning editor for sport at Channel 4 until the end of 2014, and who on Saturday tweeted: "Effect @leemottershead article this week has had - more aggression and moaning already on here this morning towards the output, tough game!"

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