The last full jumps fixture of the 2012/13 season at Haydock today with the exception of the mixed Swinton Hurdle meeting in May and on paper it looked a very competitive card on this Easter Saturday and with Aintree just around the corner it was the big stables lesser lights who had the chance to get themselves a big payday and get noticed on what was a day with sun but still that little bit of cold from the last throws of winter.
Today was also a family raceday with this being the Easter bank holiday weekend but thankfully all that was kept down in the Newton Stand so those of us who where their purely for the racing were not going to be annoyed by the entertainment laid on for the families who want a different kind of day at the races.
The first race of the seven was the long distance Tim Molony Handicap Chase over 3m4f with twelve going to post and four of them had course form going into it and so it proved vital as previous course and distance winner Monsieur Cadou recorded a 10l victory from King Fontaine who was putting in a seasonal best on his fourth start of the campaign,back in third was Handy Andy who has only won three times all of them at Newbury but ran a fair race, The winner is a quality stayer and could be aimed at the Welsh National or Becher Chase next season and has the ability to run well in the National next season should he be aimed for it.
Second race was a 2m4f Handicap Hurdle and was the final of the Jockey Club Grassroots Series Final for Hurdlers, just the nineteen for this and like last year it went to trainer Brian Ellison who again was mob handed with five and he took this with the 7yo Fleet Dawn who certainly benefitted from the crashing fall that Landscape took at the last flight of hurdles when getting involved with the finish and In turn brought down Cloudy Bob who was right behind with nowhere to go but down, this left Fleet Dawn who held on in a battle Master Benjamin up the run in to just hang on and collect the £24765 prize for first place, The Ellison yard also took third money with Mubrook who ran well on his first start over this longer trip and is worth keeping an eye on.
All horses who fell in that race got up safely.
Third race was the Levy Board Handicap Chase over 2m4f and a really good quality field went to post for this, After a poor show at the Cheltenham Festival it was a confidence boosting win for the Paul Nicholls stable with 6yo Cedre Bleu getting the prize in a pulsating finish with three in line at the last of the fifteen fences to hang on from the gallant mare Pepite Rose by the shortest of short heads in second with Cloudy Too who has been mentioned in previous reports this season back in an honourable third This was a cracking finish and worth the entry fee alone, The winner took an Ascot Graduation Chase in December and after that fell at Chepstow so was having his first start in 84 days and was given a cracking ride by last years Grand National winning jockey Daryl Jacob and he must have had Deja Vu from twelve months ago as his mount held on to claim the loot, Pepite Rose is a lovely mare and deserves a big race and Cloudy Too is still improving and could be aimed at the Ayr or Perth festivals with another go at Three Miles next season being a distinct possibility.
As for the winner he battled and fought tooth and nail up the run in and being a 6yo still has lots of racing in him. I can imagine the Paddy Power being an early season target and may be even better going up to Three Miles as time progresses.
Fourth contest and it was a 2m6f Handicap Chase which was the steeplechase part of the Jockey Club Grassroots Series Final which went to the Northampton yard of Caroline Bailey with her stable star the 6yo Noble Legend under Andrew Thornton who was already a course winner over two furlongs shorter back in October and warmed up recently with a win at Southwell and fought off the attentions of veteran Patsy Finnegan to win by 5l with Frontier Spirit back in third place. The favourite Balinroab was back in seventh and struggled under his 10lb higher rating for his recent win at Leicester, Noble Legend is a nice horse and the ideal type that a smaller stable needs during the season to take on the Henderson and Nicholls horses and will no doubt be back at Haydock next season maybe in a Peter Marsh Chase should he get a nice weight but before that could be Grand Sefton bound at Aintree
It was a Novices Handicap Hurdle next over the Fixed Brush Hurdles with a distance of 2m4f to cover for race five and in the week that Imperial Commander begins his a Grand National preparations it was trainer Nigel Twiston Davies who finally got Oscar Magic to win after three second places this season with son Sam on top in a driving finish to see off Valleyofmilan in second and back in third was Bathwick Brave who was given a typical tough ride from AP McCoy but could never get past the first two, Oscar Magic had ability but has found one too good in his three starts prior to this but showed his metal on his handicap debut and could make into a fair chaser next season.
Race six was the smallest field of the day in the 2m Novices Chase and an all the way victory for Dare Me who was backed into favouritism following the defection of Kandari to win fairly easily in the end from Shadows Lengthen who was giving the winner 4lbs at the adjusted weights as jockey Jake Greenall took 3lbs off with his claim but even on level terms he would not have beaten Dare Me who was the better horse throughout the race and it will be interesting to see what the handicapper does to him.
The final race of the day was one I couldn’t see due to a later engagement but it was a Bumper over 2m and a much welcome winner for the Donald McCain yard who have some serious chances in next weekends Grand National with the 5yo Salto Chisco who came into the race with two second places so deserved to go one better today beating Jean de Florette by 3l, The winner looks nice enough and will be one to follow when going over timber next season and could become one of their leading novices.
So a good end to Haydock Parks jumps season which saw some cracking races as always with highlights being Silviniaco Conti getting the big pot in the Lancashire Chase and Well Refreshed taking the Grand National Trial.
We did lose just the two fixtures but with the weather being largely wet and cold since November it is expected as that’s the unpredictability with jumps racing.
So now the roadshow moves down the East Lancs Road to our sister course Aintree and I shall be there for the first two days of the Grand National meeting for what looks like being some of the best jump racing the course will have seen for a very long time, Their may be no Big Buck’s but Sprinter Sacre will be an able deputy for what looks like one of the races of the season should he do battle with Flemenstar and Cue Card in the Melling Chase on Friday.
Before that their will be a preview on Monday, Bye until then.