Day one of the Betfair Chase Festival and the current band of bad weather was still in resedency here as rain fell on Haydock with the occasional stop for a tea break.
Six races on the card with the emphasis based on the future seasons ahead of some potentially quality horses.
Some of the field sizes may not have been big but it did not detract from having exciting finishes that wetted the appetite for Saturday’s action
12.50 Money Advice Group Handicap Hurdle,Class 3,2m7f,12 flights,4yo+ (0-130)
First blood to Scotland for the Lucinda Russell trained 6yo Island Heights who stayed on dourly here after sharing pace setting duties with Oscar Blue, despite a blunder two from home he kept Major Ivan held in second by two lengths,Shades Of Midnight and Oscar Blue filled up the minor places.
Plenty to like from this winner who was following up a recent win at Ayr,a return to fences looks likely soon and can improve,Major Ivan on his handicap debut ran with credit and should find something soon.
1.20 Money Advice Group Graduation Chase,Class 2,2m,13 fences,4yo+
Just the three in this but a smooth win for recent Lingfield scorer Doctor Phoenix under Brian Hughes,taking over from two our odd long time leader Kings Lad he had this in the bag,he jumped very well and getting 7lb and 4lb off the other two he used this to his advantage,the drop down to two miles has helped him a lot and he could be a bit better.
Kings Lad ran with credit while Solar Impulse looks to have his own ideas about the game and nearly sent his jockey into orbit at the first fence.
1.55 Betfair Tap Tap Boom Boom Novices’ Hurdle,Listed,2m,9 flights,4yo+
A bloodless victory for the favourite Welsh Shadow from the Skelton team who was always travelling well and easily went past long time leader Viens Chercher approaching the final flight of hurdles to go on and score by 2.5 lengths with the mare Mardale behind them in third.
Welsh Shadow came into this race off the back of a defeat at Exeter on his hurdling debut,wether he can improve and take a hand in the big events is another thing,Viens Chercher ran much better than at Cheltenham last Sunday when he folded tamely,Mardale gained some black type and could come back here next month for a mares hurdle.
2.30 Betfair Home Of Price Rush Novices’ Chase,Class 2,2m5f127y,17 fences,4yo+
Silsol made it two from two but only just in this very informative contest as he just got up by a nose to get the better of Private Malone in a thrilling finish
The two of them shared the front two positions from flag fall and Private Malone jumped very well on debut then coming to the final open ditch Silsol took over before going a length down at the last before rallying under Sam Twiston Davies to just get the job done, back in third was the well touted Minella Rocco but he could never land a blow.
Silsol might have found this race a bit to quick after last Monday’s run at Carlisle,he isn’t the finished article over fences but he will get there,his owner comes from Scotland so expect his main targets to be either the Manifesto at Aintree or the Future Champions at Ayr.
Private Malone loves to bowl along and is no slouch and can be a stable star for Emma Lavelle.
3.05 Wingate Signs Supports & Superjosh Charity “Fixed Brush” ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle,Class 3,2m3f,10 flights,4-7yo
Vintage Clouds took full advantage of the fall at three out of Wade Harper as he hacked up here,truth be told he was going the best when approaching it and he stayed on well to record a nine length win over Baratineur who looked to benefit the extra trip and Celldomfed who was twenty seven lengths back in third.
Vintage Clouds carries the Trevor Hemmings colours so expect him to be back here soon,he should jump a fence and get further, Baratineur will do better handicapping,Celldomfed will have learnt from this.
3.40 Racing Welfare “Junior” Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race,Class 4,2m,3yo
An easy win in a very ordinary bumper for the Venetia Williams trained Du Soleil under Callum Whillans here,taking over the lead from Sir Albie passing the 3f pole he readily put daylight between the rest of them,former French bumper winner Crackdeloust from the Brian Ellison stable plugged on for second but could not keep up with the winner and went down by six lengths
Plenty to like from Du Soleil,he had big hooves which were vital in the testing conditions,whatever he does in bumpers will be good but he should be even better over hurdles,Crackdeloust could well mix it on the flat and jumps,he looks a reliable type and it would be no shock to see him in a 1m4f maiden on the sand too
A nice albeit wet afternoon at Haydock,plenty of nice horses on display but tomorrow it’s all about the Betfair Chase, Ground wise it could be Heavy tomorrow which will make for an attritional contest.
Charlie Cook,5th in the 3m hurdle he looked to stay ok and with better ground should be capable of a nice win
Private Malone,unlucky loser in the 2m5f novice chase,looks to have lots of ability
Renaissance Red,3rd in the bumper,ran green but will have learned plenty from this race.
Until next time,Thank you for reading