Easter Saturday and the last jumps meeting of the season here and for me in all probability as attentions slowly turn towards the flat.
It has been a long old haul since October but a very enjoyable one as usual and today was a chance for some of the big stable lesser lights to have a chance to earn their corn and for others to have their swansong before putting the old hooves up for a well earned summers break.
A competitive seven race card was the order of the day as a traditional Easter holiday crowd turned up with especially a good queue forming for the entrance to the Newton Enclosure below.
1.30 Marie Turner Easter Bonnet Memorial Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase,Class 3,2m,13 fences,5yo+ (0-140)
A one sided affair here as the Donald McCain trained 7yo Witness In Court trotted in here giving Kitegen a 13 length beating in the process.
British debutant Val D’Arc began well to make the early running then went backwards when overtaken and trailed in last of five,he is worth keeping an eye on next season possibly when upped in distance.
Witness In Court is a useful hard working sort,probably won’t be worrying the big two milers next season but he is a decent horse who does his fair share.
2.05 Bet At corbettsport.com Levy Board Handicap Chase,Class 2,3m,18 fences,5yo+
A quality race on paper and plenty looked to have chances judging by the useful form on offer with a real mix of improvers and experienced chasers all in the mix.
It was over the border into Yorkshire for this with a back to form win for No Planning who in turn I have seen win three times in all when on course this season as he bounced back from a poor run at Kelso last time out to win as he took over after the third last and made a real horlicks of the second last before fighting off the attentions of Shotavodka to see him off by three lengths, Firebird Flyer plugged on through beaten horses to get third.
Another good staying chaser off the Sue Smith production line,he could well be a National horse in a few years and is a real battler, the disappointment was probably Cloudy Too who didn’t seem to like the spring ground.
2.40 £3 Million totescoop6 Today Handicap Hurdle,Class 2,2m4f,10 flights,4yo+ (Jockey Club Grassroots Series Final)
A very competitive affair for the time of year here and in a series designed to support horses that might not be that good enough for the big festivals.
Four horses were left fighting it out coming down to the last flight of hurdles and Carlton Jack driven out under Maurice Linehan (5) bounced back to his best,taking over from long time leader Generous Ransom after the last he fended off the attentions of Heath Hunter to give the favourite a 1.5 length beating, they in turn were four lengths clear from Generous Ransom who lost nothing in defeat and chasing him up to the line was Songsmith.
A lot to like here in this race,Carlton Jack could come back here in May for a 3m event on Swinton day unless he goes for his summer holidays, Heath Hunter is a model of consistency and chasing probably beckons for him next season.
It’s been a good season for Jonjo O’Neill with stable starts Holywell and More Of That being the two flag bearers and Carlton Jack looks another one going that way too.
3.15 totescoop6 The Millionaire Maker Handicap Chase,Class 2,2m6f,18 fences,5yo+ (Jockey Club Grassroots Series Final)
A wide open contest here and like at Ayr last week it was Penrith trainer Nicky Richards who is finishing the season off in some style here as Streams Of Whiskey who was always prominent and flew through on the run in and he just got the better of Forest Walker as the line approached under a hard drive from Brian Hughes.
The race was not without incident though as to begin with Tom Scudamore lost an iron after the first but managed to regain it,Wood Yer took a tumble at the fifth and approaching the third last Tiptoeaway crashed out as did Vik Argent,all got up ok.
This was much better from Streams Of Whiskey whose jumping was a lot better today and can only go onwards from here,he will get three miles in time and is one to watch next season.
Hollow Blue Sky was back in third and ran a cracker in defeat.
Below,Streams Of Whiskey
3.50 The Follow totescoop6 At totepoolliveinfo.com Tim Molony Handicap Chase,Class 3,3m4f,22 fences,5yo+ (0-130)
Only the six in this long distance event but it had a mix of a great finish and sadness in it too.
The sat part was early leader Red Rocco breaking down in front of the stands after the first circuit,sadly he had to be euthanised, my condolences to all those involved at Nigel Twiston Davies stable.
For the record it was the continuation of a big day for trainer Lucinda Russell who at Carlisle broke the record for training the most winners based in Scotland set by Len Lungo of 63 and Blenheim Brook added to that tally as he flew downs after jumping the last when he was around four or five lengths down behind eventual second Woodford County and the mare Fentara who both had a real ding dong battle up the straight here at Haydock.
Blenheim Brook came into this race with a real mixed bag of form this season,it looks like these marathon trips suit him.
Woodford County is only seven,he will probably go for some of the various satellite Nationals next season and Fentara will be much happier back down to three miles.
4.20 Bet On Your Mobile At corbettsports.com “Fixed Brush” Novices’ Handicap Hurdle,Class 3,2m4f,10 flights,4-8yo,(0-135)
An unlucky day turned into a better one for the Philip Hobbs team as Richard Johnson got Horizontal Speed to keep up to his work after a disappointing run in the EBF Final at Sandown last month with a hard fought but ultimately rewarding victory here with Horatio Hornblower chasing him home back in second by two lengths.
Horizontal Flyer will be a good chaser should he go down that route next season although it would be worth chancing him in the 3m Fixed Brush here in November as he jumped them pretty well today.
4.50 Follow Us On Twitter @HaydockParkRaces Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race,Class 5,2m,4-6yo
Experience showed here with Blaklion under Sam Twiston Davies who set a steady pace when they eventually decided to set off after the tape got released, Degoch challenged and led briefly in the last furlong but Blaklion rallied in the last half furlong to give him a 1.25 lengths win.
Allbarnone kept on in third and as for the best of the newcomers,Allysson Monterg and Howwrongcanyoube looked as if they will learn from this run and can do better in time.
Blaklion is a nice looking sort for next season as is the runner up,he could end up Cheltenham bound in one of the big novice hurdles,he likes to battle and isn’t afraid to fight when challenged,Degoch has a good future ahead of him too and will be worth following in novice hurdles too.
A good days sport then as my 2013-14 NH season comes to it’s conclusion,it’s been a long but enjoyable season and now attentions begin to turn to the turf flat.
It has been another good season,taking racing in at Haydock,Aintree,Carlisle,Newcastle,Ayr,Stratford,Wetherby and Cheltenham with a few diversions to football,rugby league and indoor athletics chucked in for good measure.
It’s hard to pick out one main highlight as it would be unfair to all the others but from a personal point of view I’m proud of spotting More Of a That after seeing his wins at Wetherby and Haydock in November plus seeing Gevrey Chambertin win the Fixed Brush Hurdle on Lancashire Chase Day,I suggested this could be ideal after last seasons Sefton Novices at Aintree.
So it’s the return of the flat next week and while I will always be a huge jumps fan I shall do my best to make the flat reviews decent enough.