Haydock’s influence can be felt for miles

Ballymagroarty Boy running in the first race at Haydock Park last week
Ballymagroarty Boy running in the first race at Haydock Park last week
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Devon trainer Nigel Hawke clocks up more miles than an Eddie Stobart truck driver.

But he loves nothing more than pulling off the M6 at Haydock Park to collect a winner.

Hawke, based at Tiverton, near Exeter, landed some early Christmas cheer when Ballymagroarty Boy ran a cracker, Hawke’s five-year-old claiming last week’s opener.

Partnered by Tom Buckley, the pair took up the lead three from home to win the two-mile, seven-furlong handicap hurdle race by a couple of lengths.

It was Ballymagroarty Boy’s first victory anywhere following six previous starts.

Days earlier, long-distance man Hawke saw his 720-miles round trip to Cumbria rewarded when Pearl Royale won a Listed Race at Carlisle.

“We live a long, long away from Haydock Park, but it is a track we always seem to do well at, it is a proper racecourse,” said Hawke.

“I had a nice double (two winners on the same card) there a few years ago and it was lovely to get another success.

“It was a fantastic few days, having won at Carlisle on the Sunday.

“When you train horses, you go where you think you might win races and travelling the length of Britain is part and parcel of the job.”

He added: “It doesn’t really bother me as long as the horses are happy. Ballymagroarty Boy was a horse that needed time, so we waited patiently with him.

“He’ll be a lovely horse to go to war with this season.”

Hawke stepped on the gas again, motoring to Market Rasen the next day following his Haydock victory.

Point N Shoot ran in the penultimate race at the Lincolnshire track, before Hawke made it home for supper after covering 1,335 miles in 120 hours.

Hawke explained: “When we went to Carlisle we brought Ballymagroarty Boy with us and dropped him off on the return journey for the Haydock Park race.

“I went home to Devon though and came back up again, but you don’t mind a bit when you get a lovely winner.”

Hawke says he has high hopes for Pearl Royale, adding: “There’s a £70,000 race at Doncaster over Christmas so she’s worth keeping an eye on.

“We always had great faith in her and now she is starting to show her ability.”

Meantime, Might Bite, who finished last in the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park looks set to defend his King George VI crown at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.

Trainer Nicky Henderson said: “There were no signs of Haydock having left a mark on him. We’ll just have to forget that run.

“On the day Bristol De Mai won fair and square.”

Haydock Park will be back in action next Saturday (December 22) when they stage the Tommy Whittle Chase Day.

Tickets and info, 0344 579 3006 or wwwhaydock.thejockeyclub.co.uk