Pre Christmas racing over the sticks was the order of the day for those who didn’t fancy being stuck in various city centres and shopping malls full of marauding people who were desperately doing the last minute shopping due to a lack of organisation.
Those who did turn up had a seven race card on the last Saturday before Christmas and a chance to earn some festive spends before the true meaning of Christmas which is of course the King George on Boxing Day!
Due to the Heavy ground caused by awful rain during the week which thankfully didn’t lead to any inspections the first fence down the back was omitted in all steeplechases.
12.00 The Joel Murray Handicap Hurdle,Class 3,2m,9 flights,3yo+ (0-125)
A tight looking race on paper but it was a decisive win here for the 4yo Sleepy Haven who has been a model of consistency and came on for his recent run at Sandown to score by seven lengths ahead of Attwaal in second place and Emral Silk just behind him in third.
This was a smart performance and going in off 123 he handled the conditions well enough,He should have a bit more to offer, Attwaal was making his debut for Lucy Wadham and connections will be pleased with this.
The one disappointment was favourite Goohar,he lost his position going round the home turn but it’s possible he was feeling the effects of last weeks Cheltenham race,he will be better after a rest.
12.30 The Swift Drafters Handicap Chase,Class 3,2m,12 fences,4yo+ (0-135)
A nice looking race which went the way of novice Whispering Harry who at the foot of the handicap have top weight Stagecoach Pearl a 1.25 length beating with the well touted Greywell Boy in third spot.
Back to Bracka unseated his jockey out in the country but came home safe and Supreme Asset who got hampered was virtually pulled up going over the line but he was ok.
Plenty to like about Whispering Harry here,he jumped well and had them all well held,he likes tracks where he can get a good run at his fences,He could be aimed at some better class events after this.
1.00 The Swift Time Right Time Novices’ Chase,Class 2,2m,12 fences,4yo+
Only five went to post and three came home.
This was a bloodless victory for favourite Boondooma,recently he chased home former classy hurdler Melodic Rendezvous at Bangor and showed he has been learning what steeplechasing is all about.
From the tape he made all and pulled away clearly from the useful Ifandbutwhynot by 12 lengths who in turn was 9 lengths ahead from Grate Fella.
Vivaccio who came here off the back of two Ludlow wins was in second and struggling under his penalty when he unseated at the last,he maybe pining for Ludlow again.
As for Boondooma he is a nice type for Dr Richard Newland,the drop back to 2m looked to be in his favour and could be ideal for February’s Kingmaker Chase at Warwick.
1.30 The Swift SFM Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle,Listed Race,2m4f,10 flights,4yo+
An exciting finish to this contest as Denis O’Regan gave a fine nursing ride on second favourite The Pirate’s Queen to just get up by a neck from favourite Bitofapuzzle in a real pulsating battle up the Haydock home straight.
The Pirate’s Queen had some top novice form on offer here,on her first start in a Grade Two at Chepstow she was third behind Blaklion and Vicente then bettered that with an easy win in a Doncaster maiden.
Both the first two have real quality about them and could reappear at Sandown next month for another Mares Hurdle and while the Mares race at Cheltenham is the major race of the season.
2.05 The Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase Sponsored By Swift Financial Soloutions,Class 2,3m,16 fences,4yo+ (0-125)
Not the race it used to be but a more than adequate renewal of this famous Haydock contest which had a good mix of staying chasers in it.
In a race which was run at a solid gallop from the outset a few of these made mistakes at their fences which given their experience was quite surprising.
Most of these were on and off the bride,being niggled and given the odd reminder all apart from Broadway Buffalo under Conor O’Farrell who gave a cool ride in the conditions to lead over the last fence from Toby Lerone who was always prominent as was Fill The Power.
This was a much better run from Broadway Buffalo who won the 3m hurdle race here on Swinton day back in May,he clearly loves Haydock and now looks to be going the right way over fences, seen as he likes this place the Peter Marsh back here could come under consideration.
Toby Lerone back in second ran an honest race,he looked to get the trip after a recent win over 2m4f at Lingfield, Fill The Power in third is a dour stayer but could do with some respite off the handicapper at some stage, Firebird Flyer stayed on back in fourth place but his best winning form is at Ffos Las and Ludlow,maybe a course with Welsh accents suits him better!
2.40 The Grech Family Handicap Hurdle,Class 2,2m4f,3yo+
On paper this race looked a real close tight knit affair but on the course the outcome could not have been different.
The Charlie Longsdon trained Kilcooley certainly benefitted from the step up in trip as he made all and ground the rest into submission, it was case of “Referee stop the contest” with over a mile to go and his first win that came away from the three he had already won at Market Rasen.
Run Ructions Run was held up early and would have won had Kilcooley not been in the race,she will be winning soon but Tim Easterby will clearly have his eyes on the Mares Hurdle at the festival with her.
Of the other horses Taj Badalandabad back in fourth came in off the back of a busy few runs and ran an ok race in his first handicap,he has more to offer and shouldn’t be written off after this run.
3.15 The Allison And Rielly Handicap Hurdle,Class 3,3m,12 flights,4yo+ (0-140)
Christmas came early for Emma Lavelle here as she recorded her third win in 3m handicap hurdles at Haydock and Aintree this time with Closing Ceremony who won here at last months Betfair festival duly followed up in style, jumping out and making all under Richie McLernon he jumped well and defied the 5lb rise and looks to have more improvement still in him,as for his next race maybe one of the Pertemps qualifying races and going in off 128 he should be upped to around 135
Araldur came second and was 4.5 lengths behind,he will be better between 2m4f and 2m6f and should pick something up before the season is out.
A nice afternoon of racing then which was infinitely better than being in the shops.
Without doubt the two best rides of the day came from Denis O’Regan and Conor O’Farrell who gave master classes of how carry out riding instructions to the letter on The Pirate’s Queen and Broadway Buffalo.
Coming into Christmas I’d like to wish those of you who read this a very Merry Christmas, over the festive period I shall be racing at Doncaster and Haydock on the 29th and 30th so that will be a busy couple of days then an event on the 3rd January which is as yet undecided.
Have a good time,stay safe and back plenty winners.