Haydock Park,Betfair Chase Festival,Saturday 22nd November 2014

After the downpour and gloom of yesterday which left the majority of racegoers who braved the elements as opposed to the ones who stayed in the warmth of bars extremely cold and damp, so much that my beloved tweed overcoat still had water in it and had a scent that the hounds of the Cheshire Hunt would love to follow it was the big day of this two day festival in this area of Lancashire.

Now in it’s tenth year the Betfair Chase is firmly in the list of jumping fans favourite races, Something always happens and it’s as much a battle of the emotions as it is for the horses over the 3m and 18 fence trip.

Today’s race was complemented by some top handicaps and a new conditions hurdle which brought out potential Champion Hurdle hopes for the spring.

Seven races and a bumper crowd for one of the big days outside of the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals.


12.10 Feel The Rush At Betfair Handicap Hurdle,Class 3,2m,9 flights,3yo+ (0-135)

A good contest to open proceedings here which was taken by the Nicky Henderson trained and Barry Geraghty ridden Vasco Du Ronceray who was last seen sighted at Hexham, he travelled well and did enough to keep De Boitron at bay by five lengths, Zafarangar was third.

This was his first win since 2012 at much missed Hereford,only 5 this was his thirteenth start,Going in off 135 he is more effective back at 2m.

De Boitron is more knows as a chaser,this run will have done him the power of good.


12.45 Betfair Home Of Price Rush Handicap Chase,Class 3,3m5f,22 fences,4yo+ (0-135)

A real slog here as nine set off but only three completed the course.

The Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson combination kept their form up with Gas Line Boy who made most and took this with consummate ease to such an extent he was eased down towards the finish, Coming in off the back of a last time victory at Exeter he found the extra trip no trouble at all and the Welsh National was under consideration when Philip Hobbs was asked.

Emperor’s Choice was the eventual runner up,he also filled that spot here in February’s National Trial over the same course and distance,he will be better when the ground is borderline unraceable.

The only other horse to finish was No Duffer who was so far back they needed to send out a search party.

Sixty Something was in the process of running a good race until tumbling at the fourteenth fence.

1.15 Better Odds With Betfair Price Rush Handicap Hurdle,Class 2,2m4f,4yo+

Won last year by eventual World Hurdle winner More Of That this renewal had plenty in with lots of scope and improvement.

Yesyoucan took the pace along from flag fall until being headed by the peloton when they turned for home and about four or five all held chances as the number of flights to the finish slowly got lowered.

In the end it was a win for Wales as the Evan Williams trained and Paul Moloney ridden On Tour continued his upward curve following his recent wins at Newton Abbott and Stratford to fight off the challenge from top mare Run Ructions Run, Favourite Morito Du Berlais was one paced back in third and Dawalan rallied through beaten horses for fourth.

On Tour certainly has a bit of class about him and will probably get further in time,Going in off 131 he could end up around 140 after being reassessed.

Run Ructions Run is a classy mare and will no doubt end up being aimed at the Mares Hurdle in March, Morito Du Berlais will benefit going up in trip.

1.50 Betfair Price Rush Hurdle,Class 2,2m,8 flights,4yo+

A new race which replaced the 4yo only hurdle and also run on the flat track to keep the ground fresh.

£46950 to the winner here and it was only going to one horse, The New One who easily brushed aside long time pace setter Zamdy Man.

To be honest the win told very little only that he is ticking over nicely before next months Bula or Christmas Hurdle.

Zamdy Man set a good early pace and did need the fizz taking out of him early but he ran an honest race in defeat, He clearly loves Haydock so January’s Champion Hurdle trial would be ideal for him although something like the Scottish one would be better.

Melodic Rendezvous was a bit disappointing in third and didn’t pick up,he will strip fitter for the run, William’s Wishes and Hawk High were outclassed but will be better back in their own class of company.



2.25 Betfair ‘This Is Play’ “Fixed Brush” Handicap Hurdle,Grade 3,3m,12 flights,4yo+

Hayley Turner rode her first ever Group race here in the Lancashire Oaks a few years ago and this afternoon Lizzie Kelly (7) became the first ever female rider in this country to win a Graded race over jumps as the 5yo Aubusson made a rare appearance away from Cheltenham and Chepstow to take this valuable prize by making all the running and just had enough in hand to hold off from the staying on Cesarewitch winner Big Easy.

Dara Tango from Tony Martin’s stable looked to have been laid out for this following last months flat run at Catterick, he could only finish third while favourite,the well regarded Volnay De Thaix travelled well but couldn’t find any extra when asked, he was top weight but his future will be over fences and last weeks Cheltenham victor Katkeau probably found this race had come to soon after last week.

One For Harry who was always in the front end for Nicky Richards and Brian Harding took a crashing fall at the fourth last with about six furlongs to go,he was going ok and better days will lie ahead for him.

This was a top piece of riding for Lizzie Kelly who has a great relationship with this horse, You would think the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Rendelsham here on February would be ideal races next and for the stable of Nick Williams,they had Diamond Harry in this a few years back when he cruised in under top weight, Aubusson is a horse going places.

3.00 Betfair Chase,Grade 1,3m1f,18 fences,5yo+

Registered as the Lancashire Chase this was a real high quality renewal of a race rich in history for such a young age.

Silviniaco Conti bounced right back after his run in last months Charlie Hall when he found nothing coming down the straight.

As expected Cue Card who won last year took them along but always had company so he couldn’t boss the field about as he did last year.

Going out into the country on the last circuit, Conti was right in Cue Card’s wing mirror view and served it upto him on the five fences down the back which forced into a few errors.

Turning for home Conti took over as Dynaste and Menorah tracked them, Conti began to pull away as Menorah went with him,both were in full fighting mode as they battled over the fences but Conti dug deep and found extra and held on at the line as Menorah rallied to within two lengths in defeat.

Dynaste was third,he couldn’t do anything to catch them and ran an honest race,Cue Card came fourth in the end, He was simply beaten by the better horses on the day,come King George day he will be in their fighting.

Taquin Du Seuil who was supported here was pulled up at the end of the back straight,He can be forgiven this run and will be better back at 2m4f I think.

As for Silviniaco Conti the next stop will be Kempton, he clearly doesn’t like Cheltenham so Aintree and Punchestown would be the better targets for him,It’s hard for any staying chaser from Paul Nicholls’ stable because inevitably they will be compared to Kauto Star, He is a class act in his own right and deserves the plaudits on merit.




3.35 Read Paul Nicholls Exclusively On Betfair Handicap Chase,Class 2,3m1f,18 fences,4yo+ (0-145)

A good prize but full of out of form chasers with a few possibly using this race as a nice trial for next months Becher Chase at Aintree.

According To Treve got no further than fence one in the now controversial Badger Ales Chase at Wincanton gained compensation under Tom Cannon to get the better of Renard by 1.5 lengths, Midnight Appeal was back in third spot.

Now under the care of David Bridgwater this winner is enjoying life at his new home who is finding plenty of improvement with him, The nice big three mile handicaps will be ideal for now, maybe the Great Yorkshire or Peter Marsh Chases will be targets as the season progresses.

Two days of top class jumps action comes to an end then.

It’s fair to say this meeting is coming along nicely in terms of quality of racing and it’s place in the calendar is firmly in many peoples diaries.

As usual the Betfair Chase proved to be a real humdinger of a race, Silviniaco Conti showed his affection for the North West again with today’s win, he is firmly in the list of Haydock favourites.

Until the next event which will be in the hands of the elements may I bid you a fond farewell.

Haydock Park,Betfair Chase Festival,Friday 21st November 2014

Day one of the second most prestigious National Hunt meeting in the North West,The Betfair Chase Festival, and it was a cold,damp and slightly misty towards the end as the gloom descended upon this part of Lancashire.

This meeting and in particular the race is celebrating it’s ten year anniversary and is now firmly in the calendar as one of the must see races of the jumping season.

That is tomorrow where as today the emphasis was on the future with a six race card of which three races were aimed at novice horses.

As like last year the Chases are being run on the inner flat course and the hurdles both traditional and fixed on the inside of them.

12.50 The Brown Shipley Wealth Well Managed Handicap Hurdle,Class 3,3m,12 flights,4yo+ (0-130)

The largest field of the day with fourteen runners facing the starter and the pace was steady from flag fall.

A real driving finish which just saw 5yo Closing Ceremony get the better of the favourite 6yo Milan Bound in a photo.

The Emma Lavelle trained winner was always at the front of the pack and was joined by the runner up at the second last flight, from that it was a real fight between the two which saw the winner just get the verdict by a head.

Richie McLernon in my view probably didn’t give Milan Bound that good a ride as could have been expected so hopefully the handicapper won’t overreact.

As for the winner he benefitted going back up to 3m after a poor show in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow,Going in here off 123 I’d imagine one of the Pertemps qualifying races would be the ideal step.

1.20 The Oak Loans And Mortgage Graduation Chase,Class 2,2m110yds,13 fences,4yo+

An intriguing race on paper with only four talented but equally tricky horses in the line up.

Willie Mullins sent one over on a scouting mission from Ireland in Turban, Not the ideal named horse considering what has been going on a few miles up the road in Wigan this week!

In the end it was a bloodless victory for the Colin Tizzard trained Third Intention who has tried every trip over jumps and would probably give Sole Power a run for his money as he sleuced up under Daryl Jacob and gave runner up Mwaleshi a 17 length thrashing, Valco De Touzaine never went with them and maybe a step up to 2m4f is ideal and Turban was held up under a Ruby Walsh but never found anything when asked for an effort.

Third Intention is as solid as the come,Ok he struggles to win but he never runs a bad race,Nobody knows what his best trip is,He could be an ideal Grand National horse as he travels well and jumps well.




1.55 The Feel The Rush At Betfair Novices’ Hurdle,Listed,2m,9 flights,4yo+

Registered as the Newton Novices’ Hurdle this was an ok renewal with an eventful ending to it.

Outsider Kiama Bay made most and looked for all money that it was in the bag with a ten length lead coming to the last hurdle,however he was very tired and couldn’t pick his legs up which resulted in him crashing through it and unseating Jason Maguire,Both got up fine.

As a result this left fellow 25-1 outsider Thorpe who was staying on past beaten horses in the front following Kiama Bay’s capsize at the last and was driven right out under Peter Buchanan and trainer Lucinda Russell a nice prize to take back over the border.

Oscarteea got his second win after falling down the field and stayed on for second,going up in trip will suit him, The Brock Again kept on for third,he needs a maiden somewhere to boost his confidence.

Thorpe was having only his fourth start over hurdles,his other three were all at Musselburgh,He has ran credible races in defeat with good company.

2.30 The Betfair Home Of Price Rush Novices’ Chase,Class 2,2m6f,17 fences,4yo+

Two out of two from the Paul Nicholls trained Virak took advantage of Grand Vision on whom he was closing in on at the time before he took a tumble at the fourth last fence to easily pick up the prize, He was 19 lengths ahead of recent Aintree winner Golden Hoof.

Monkey Kingdom was third,he made a hash of the eighth fence which looked to dent his confidence,Handicaps should suit him now, Back in fourth and last was Ugly Bug who picked up £1025 with help from Grand Vision’s fall.

Virak though did what he needed to do,This trip looked ideal and he’s going the right way.



3.05 The Wingate Signs Supports Superjosh Charity “Fixed Brush” ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle,Class 3,2m4f,10 flights,4-7yo

Only four but a dominant performance by the Simon West trained Maximiser under 5lb conditional Joe Colliver, he travelled and jumped well and had the race in the bag from the third last hurdle, Vago Collonges the 8/13f tracked the winner but couldn’t pick his hooves up when needed.

Maximiser has a good stamp about him,In his first and only Irish bumper he was 8/22 behind two horses called Faugheen and Josses Hill,then he won his point before getting bought and moved to Leyburn,he will be some chaser and this win added to his hurdling debut win at Carlisle shows he has plenty of ability, As for his next race I would not be shocked to see him come back here for another FBH race or possibly a step up In grade to something like the River Don.

3.40 The Racing Welfare Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race,Class 4,2m.4-6yo

Only three in a race which was nothing more than a schooling event, All 4yo and Midnight Shot took this with relative ease as he eased from last to first down the straight and was on the bridle with two furlongs to go, he was eased down to hold long time leader Dean’s Walk by two lengths.

Ex French horse Abidjan now under the care of Paul Nicholls struggled to get going and giving away 7lb he was vulnerable.

All three will probably now embark on their respective hurdling careers and should hold their own in the right company.

A fair afternoon of jumping then, As usual this day always has small fields but as the action on course showed,you don’t need to have large fields for competitive racing.

The standout horse looked to be Virak, a typical purchase by Anthony Bromley, this 5yo has a good future ahead of him over fences.

Tomorrow sees a seven race card with the added bonus of a new Conditions hurdle which has brought The New One to Haydock in a race which will be run on the outer flat track so they will be right close up to the stands and Racegoers.

The Betfair Chase looks another high quality renewal,Nine go to post in what looks like the perfect pre Christmas gift for any fan of the turf.

Until tomorrow goodbye.