Ho Ho Ho and for those who didn’t fancy spending the last Saturday before Chrsitmas being stuck and annoyed in a shopping centre had the joys of a seven race card at Haydock with the Tommy Whittle Chase being the feature of the day.
The horses and jockeys had Heavy ground which got a little bit more testing during the afternoon as the heavens opened up.
Quality wise the racing was competitive with some fiendishly tricky handicaps so for those who wanted to use today to pay for the festivities were in for a tough old afternoon.
11.55 Download Your Racing UK App Handicap Hurdle,Class 3,2m,9 flights,3yo+ (0-125)
After Hours made a successful handicap debut here for James Davies and trainer Henry Oliver as he wore down Baratineur in the last furlong to just get up by a short head who was all making his debut in handicap company.
The winner was very tough here and knew how to battle,he looks likely to be kept over hurdles and possibly stepped back up to 2m4f soon, Baratineur was an unlucky loser and it’s a case of how the handicapper reacts, these two were twelve lengths ahead of Captain Redbeard.
12.25 Racing Uk Anywhere Novices’ Chase,Class 2,2m,13 fences,4yo+
A five runner event but only two mattered here as the inform Skelton team landed a nice win.
Pain Au Chocolat had Aso for breakfast here as he got the better by a length and a quarter,taking over down the back he jumped better Aso who was a bit slow and novicey over the fences, Aso did rally but he was never going to bridge the gap.
Plenty to like from Pain Au Chocolat who had clearly learned from his Market Rasen win,this 4yo may not be Arkle material but he could end up having a crack at the Kingmaker in February, Aso was quite buzzy in the parade ring,maybe some headgear and more schooling will help.
12.55 Watch Racing UK on Three Devices Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle,Listed,2m3f,10 flights,4yo+
Some good types in this chasing black type and the Brian Ellison trained and Paddy Brennan ridden Smart Talk strolled to victory here as she made all and never saw another rival as the mare ground the field into sumission, already a winner at Worcester and Sedgefield this term she looks to be improving, There are a couple of mares’ hurdles at Sandown and Warwick in January and February which may be options before the big one at Cheltenham.
Eight lengths back in second was Sunshine Corner,the 4yo filly ran a credible race and a drop back to two miles may help, one who ran flat was Mardale,she was pulled up after a circuit but is clearly better than this.
1.30 DH Welton 40th Anniversary Handicap Chase,Class 3,2m,13 fences,4yo+ (0-135)
A fair few of these came into this race out of form so it paid to find something in form and so it proved with Arthur’s Oak who began his campaign in effortless style here as he made all and came home 17 lengths clear of top weight Back To Bracka and Abigail Lynch.
Arthur’s Oak finished off the season at Huntingdon over 2m4f and looks to have plenty of improvement in him,going in off 124 he should end up in the mid 130s and could have a big race in him, Back To Bracka ran a solid race but will be better back over further.
Sadly Clan William was fatally injured,Condolences to all involved.
2.05 Nationwidevehiclecontracts.co.uk Handicap Hurdle,Class 2,2m3f,10 flights,3yo+
Montdragon looks a nice type here for Jonjo O’Neill and dare it be said might even be a live wire for the World Hurdle as he put in a gutsy display under Josh Moore to beat Bally Bach by just over two lengths.
The early pace was set by Three Faces West and he set good fractions despite hitting the fourth hurdle and trying to go back in at the stable bend,he got swallowed up at the last but will come on a ton for the race as he did last year.
Lots to like about Montdragon,he will clearly be suited by further as the season goes on and is one for the notebooks.
2.40 Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase (Sponsored by Nationwide Vehicle Contracts) Class 2,2m7f,18 fences,4yo+ (0-145)
No hiding place in this race which didn’t take any prisoners from flag fall in a very competitive renewal of this famous Haydock chase.
Seventh Sky continued his well being back in handicap company as he made all under Gavin Sheehan to follow up his recent Aintree second to take the 2015 Tommy Whittle from Spookydooky and Cloudy Too.
This slightly easier company plus the step back up in trip helped Seventh Sky here,his jumping was accurate here and his big target will be 2016 Topham, Spookydooky came here on an 8lb rise for winning a Newbury race last month but he was never going to land a blow,Cloudy Too ran very well back in third and a few more pounds down will get him winning again.
3.15 Bet With Your Racing UK App Handicap Hurdle,Class 3,2m7f,12 flights,4yo+ (0-135)
Isaccstown Lad made up for last weeks blip when he fell at Carlisle as he duly obliged here despite having a battle as he had to get past Oscar Blue inside the last half furlong which he did very well and is clearly still on the up.
This was a quick reappearance and he looks likely to be heading for a Pertemps race to get him in the final, Oscar Blue is in good order burn could do with dropping back a couple of furlongs.
The ride of the day without doubt came from Jamie Bragary (5) on Sybarite here as he worked the double overtime who unlike his ex stablemate Mad Moose does jump off but he needs cajoling all the way and stayed on to be third.
So some fair racing to send us into the Christmas period.
Over the festivities I am hoping to bring you a football review followed by racing here on the 30th subject to the weather.
May I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and that you have a great time.
Cloudy Too,slowly coming down to a feasible mark
Three Faces West,will come on a ton for the run