The first big jumps race of the new season at a very cold,damp and rainy Haydock as the two codes met up for what is now only two mixed meetings in the whole calendar,the other one being Ffos Las in August.
Races from 6f to 3m and a host of top trainers in attendance from the Pipes and Nigel Twiston Davies from the jumping community to even spotting Saeed Bin Suroor who obviously knew what a good race the Swinton can be,(Maybe he was seeing how the Haydock fences worked so Meydaan can have a £1,000,000 Chase on World Cup Night!)
It was a seven race card with Three Flat,Two Hurdles and Two Chases on the card that have something for everybody.
1.50 Pertemps Network Long Distance Handicap Hurdle,Class 2,3m,12 flights,4yo+
A useful contest with a few potential improvers and seasoned campaigners in this marathon trip which was the longest race of the day.
They went a good clip here with the 6yo Broadway Buffalo who was in the first two all the way around and led after two out from long time leader Wyse Hill Teabags who eventually finished fourth, Kris Spin have him a real battle up the run in but could not pass him in the last furlong, Firebird Flyer who was 6lb lower on his hurdle rating stayed on for third.
Broadway Buffalo had to battle and he should go chasing next season as probably will Kris Spin who coming from the Richard Lee stable will no doubt eventually end up in a Welsh National in 2016.
Big Hands Harry was well fancied but he never got going and will probably have the summer off before he goes chasing next season,he is one for the notebook.
2.25 Pertemps Network Handicap,Class 3,1m,3yo,(0-95)
Some good potential improvers in this contest from some of the big Newmarket stables but it was over the border to Yorkshire this year for the David Barron trained Red Stargazer who was held up early and being pushed along from three furlongs out and he just got on the line to deny the Alan King trained Chatez by a neck.
The winners seemed to appreciate the step up to 1m although how the handicapper will react is anyone’s idea, Chatez tried to follow up from his recent Epsom win,he still has plenty of improvement left but he is a gelding and it would be no surprise to see him over timber at some point either this year or next.
The two disappointments were the John Gosden and Goldolphin horses Matalleb and Active Spirit who came sixth and eighth respectively, possibly the ground didn’t suit.
Below,The paddock before the second,Saeed Bin Surror in the distance.
3.00 Pertemps Network Conditions Stakes,Class 2,6f,3yo+
An intriguing event despite only six runners it had a few horses who could find some improvement this summer, the stalls were in the centre but after the gates opened the tacked over to the stands rail led by Kieren Fallon on Mar Mar who set the early fractions before getting headed just over a furlong out and began to back peddle.
At the business end it was the 4yo Intibaah who picked up where he left off last season and won this in the style of a professional sprinter,going in off 108 he will end up going up in class soon possibly Listed or Group 3.
Their was an incident in the last furlong when Annunciation got snatched up but he was never going to threaten the winner while the veteran 8yo Hawkeyethenoo kept on in third,he will always give his running.
3.30 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Swinton Hurdle) Grade 3,2m,8 flights,4yo+
A race which might not have the prestige of old,no Champion Hurdle winners come here which is a shame as it would make for an interesting spectacle, this was not a vintage renewal but it was a competitive race none the less.
This race has a habit of throwing up a big priced winner,from 2006 to 2010 four of the five winners came in at 16-1 and this year it was a 25-1 price as Ballyglasheen came from three lengths back in third over the last flight to rally on up the run in under Paul Moloney to get a 1.5 length win over last years winner Barizan and decent novice Vibrato Valtat.
These three had a nineteen length lead over Montbazon who needs a bit of respite from the handicapper.
This was the winners twelfth start over hurdles and a fourth win,Pulled up in the Fred Winter at the festival he was mid div in a 4yo handicap at Sandown two weeks ago, he could possibly go to Market Rasen or Galway in the summer.
Barizan is coming back to his best,he will be better after a summer holiday while Vibrato Valtat will no doubt be sent chasing next season,he could be a very good horse indeed when that happens.
4.05 Pertemps Network Spring Trophy Stakes,Listed Race,7f,3yo+
Seven got declared on Thursday but due to the rain in the north west we only ended up with four going to post.
Breton Rock continued his fine start to the season with a win at Thirsk and a recent third at Leicester to get the better over early pace setter Custom Cut ,Godolphin’s Lockwood will come on for the run back in third spot while last place went to last seasons Ayr Gold Cup victor Highland Colori who should also come on for the run but he could be tricky to place as he will have to go into pattern races this season after the way he finished last season shooting up the ratings.
Breton Rock could come back here at the end of the month for the John O’Gaunt over CD and he would not be out of it should that happen.
4.40 Pertemps Network Intermediate Handicap Chase,Class 2,2m6f,18 fences,5yo+
Up by an extra two furlongs and three fences this year, a very competitive looking race on paper.
Their was drama right after flag fall here as King Massini unseated at the first and in turn brought down Ballincurrig,both got up and galloped away safely.
At the business end it was Shotavodka who recorded his second win over fences as he stayed on well enough to give the mare Baby Shine a 3.5 lengths beating,Green Wizard was a one paced third.
This was a good ride by Tom Scudamore who got his double up here.held up he led after four out and shrugged off the challenge of Baby Shine and is a horse on the up, He will be a lot better at 3m and while Dynaste will be the Pipes main chaser at that trip he will pay his way,possibly something like the Becher Chase or the Rehearsal could be a good early season target.
Baby Shine ran another game race,Green Wizard could be suited by longer trips and the disappointment came from Pantxoa who made jumps out to his right which cost him ground and any chance of winning.
5.15 Pertemps Network Handicap Chase,Class 3,2m4f,15 fences,5yo+ (0-130)
An ok race with plenty in the grip of the handicapper at the moment.
Compensation gained here for the 9yo grey Wings Of Smoke who came home mud splattered and the victor after recently being denied a win at Stratford, he travelled well and was still on the bit after the second last,he was kept up to his work by Richard Johnson for trainer Tim Vaughan.
Prima Porter stayed on in second she will be better over further, Frontier Sprit set a good gallop then back peddled after two out,Ballywhat has his own ideas about the game.
Below,Wings of Smoke.
My probable last bit of jumping for a while, All being well I shall be at York on Wednesday for a Haydock members reciprocal featuring the Musidora and the Duke Of York Stakes.
One of only two mixed meeting it’s a shame we don’t have more, it’s very rare to get the flat and jumping brigade together, Ireland have big festivals such as Galway and Listowel, we should have more over here and it’s a real shame we don’t.
Till then thanks for reading and let’s see how the flat goes!