The big day of the two day festival here and what a day it was,Seven races with cracking fields from distances of 2m to 3m5f over traditional hurdles,fixed brush hurdles and steeplechases with the big race of the whole day days being the Grade One Betfair Chase which this year had the look of a race that you can only dream will ever happen and today the dream very much became reality.
Crowd wise it was busy but certainly not as busy when Kauto Star got his fourth win in the race back in 2011,that was a very emotional day indeed,infact I very nearly broke down into tears,fortunately one of my female friends stepped up to the plate and hugged me,it was that sort of occasion!
12.10 Cash Out Your Saturday Multiples With Betfair Handicap Hurdle,Class 3,2m,9 flights,4yo+ (0-135)
After 619 days it was fine piece of training by Venetia Williams to get the 5yo Moujik Borget to win this opening hurdle,leading over two out after being buried in the midfield he held off the challenge from Ruler of All to win by half a length, the well fancied horses Golden Hoof,Quick Decisson and Honour System all ran flat races and finished towards the rear of the field.
Moujik Borget certainly seemed to benefitted from his time away from the track,he could be aimed at the better class 2m handicap hurdles although it’s worth taking him on next time should he suffer from the bounce factor.
12.45 The Read Nicholls and McCain Exclusively On Betfair Hurdle,Class 2,2m,9 flights,4yo+.
Just five went to post for this Intermediate Hurdle but you don’t need small fields for a good race and it was Rolling Star a 4yo trained by Nicky Henderson with Barry Geraghty in the plate who fought off a challenge from Doyly Carte up the straight.
Morning Royalty made the early pace until headed by the classier horses after the second last.
Third spot went to Runswick Royal,he stayed on and will be better at staying distances as he lacks the speed in these kind of races whilst Far West the runner up in the Triumph hurdle can so better than this,I wouldn’t write him off just yet.
1.20 The Betfair Commits £40 Million To British Racing Handicap Chase,Class 3,3m5f,22 fences,4yo+ (0-135).
A real test of stamina here with plenty of the eleven runners being niggled and cajoled along after the first few fences, a mixture of improving stayers and horses with high handicap ratings doing battle here.
It was a raid from Scotland for Lucinda Russell here as Nuts N Bolts made a winning seasonal reappearance,he won a couple of 2m4f chases at Ayr back at the turn of the year before a credible sixth in the 3m H’cap Chase at the festival before pulling up in the Scottish National,he stayed this long trip really well taking over from long time leader Ace High who got headed after the third last and he came third as Red Rocco on his first start for Nigel Twiston Davies put in a good run being the runner up.
As for Nuts N Bolts he is an improving stayer,possibly the Welsh National could be on the agenda for him next with maybe the Classic Chase at Warwick or even The Eider at Newcastle being in the pipeline,Red Rocco only six has more to offer also,he is one to follow.
1.50 The Best Odds Guaranteed With Betfair Sportsbook Handicap Hurdle,Class 2,2m4f,10 flights,4yo+
A race full of potential here that saw recent Wetherby winner More Of That follow up that victory,he got a nice mention here after that race and off this rating of 137 he still has more to offer ,recent Cheltenham winner Home Run who landed a 40-1 shock win last Sunday tried to follow up but Kieron Edgar was no match for the A.P. McCoy drive in the last furlong up the run in and came fourth as Blue Fashion stayed on but could not live with the winner to be second, Special Catch came third he has only won around Catterick so is best watched for now.
I do like More Of That,he is still improving with each race,wether he will develop into a credible type for the World Hurdle is one thing although he certainly will stay three miles.
2.25 The Betfair Cash Out “Fixed Brush” Handicap Hurdle,Grade 3,3m,12 flights,4yo+
A huge field of seventeen in this but it was all about one horse,Gevery Chambertin from David Pipes stable who made all under an enterprising ride from Tom Scudamore to hang on by half a length at the end from the fast finishing Utopie Des Bordes who like the winner is a French bred so will have been used to these fixed brush hurdles,popular stayer Lie Forrit ran a very credible third.
This is a horse I’ve always liked when I saw him win twice as a novice last season before finishing sixth at Aintree when I said this race would be ideal for him,Wonder if David Pipe read it?
He follows the popular Pipe greys of Grand Crus and Dynaste in this race who both won and he could be set to follow a similar path and we may see him here in February for the Rendlesham Hurdle.
3.00 The Betfair Chase,Grade 1,3m1f,18 fences,4yo+
No need to beat around the bush this was quite simply best race ever to be staged at Haydock Park in my view,not even the Sprint Cup attracted a stellar line up than this over the year,just the eight went to post rated from 159 to 180,it was a race that on paper was the best pre Christmas present any racing fan no matter if you follow jumps or just the flat that you could wish to see.
The line up had last seasons Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth,top 2m4f chaser Cue Card,Top Novice from last season Dynaste,former King George and Gold Cup winner Long Run,Irish raider Roi Du Mee,last years winner Silviniaco Conti,former Gold Cup runner up The Giant Bolster and the enigmatic and popular Tidal Bay.
The early pace from the tape was set by Cue Card under Joe Tizzard along with Roi Du Mee but he made a mistake at the fourth which left Cue Card in front and the rest is history as promptly strode away with purpose to claim this contest and showed that he gets three miles,Dynaste and Silviniaco Conti were the main dangers up the straight,they gave Cue Card a real test here infact Silviniaco Conti got to within a length at the third last before Dynaste overtook him and he just felt the effects of his seasonal run as Dynaste stayed on for second spot, Long Run who was up with the pace was fourth,he jumped much better in this race than in previous years.
Cue Card seemed to get the trip really well today,when he had to fight he found extra and it was grand to see trainer Colin Tizzard and his jockey,son Joe get a big Saturday prize,he has always been a popular horse and now Kempton could be the next target even though it’s not a course he acts at so maybe a rest before the Argento at Cheltenham in January could be the next target.
Dynaste will be a lot better for this,he likes Kempton so Boxing Day is going to be next,Silviniaco Conti is another who will strip fitter,not sure Kempton will be next,maybe the Lexus at Leopardstown,Long Run could find that Aintree is his main target,he lacks the pace for the top Three Mile chases and is more of a stayer now,Tidal Bay could be sent back over hurdles and for many the big disappointment was Bobs Worth,he travelled and jumped ok but with a mile to go he could not pick up,his main target is his defence of the Gold Cup and their is a chance he may not be seen till then.
3.35 The Unbeatable In-Running Value With Betfair Exchange Handicap Chase,Class 2,3m1f,18 fences,4yo+ (0-145).
An impressive performance here by Sydney Paget,a 6yo who made almost all he was a bit tired towards the end as popular veteran and course specialist Silver By Nature kept on for second on his seasonal reappearance and Gas Line Boy could not follow his recent Exeter win so had to be content with third.
A lot to like about this victor,it’s possible he may come back for the Tommy Whittle next month and even the Peter Marsh in January,he jumped well for Jason Maguire who rode the last winner just like he did yesterday for Donald McCain,he’s a classy horse in the making here.
So two top notch days of national hunt racing at Haydock Park,the crowds for both days were different,Friday was more relaxed with stars of the future on show while today was the creme de la creme of the sport.
It’s days like these which really lift the soul on a cold November afternoon in Lancashire,the sight and sound of horses leaping over birch and timber,the steam coming off the brave equine athletes having given their all in the hot cauldron of this sport that rewards bravery and salutes the ones that are tough enough to go out and take part on the track.
Two amazing days then all done,next Saturday I’m off to the Rugby League World Cup final between New Zealand and Australia at Old Trafford, thanks for reading and goodbye.
Below,Kauto Star statue.
Below,Parading for the Betfair Chase
Below,Cue Card 2013 Betfair Chase winner.