For fans of National Hunt racing the best chance to see horses while avoiding the melee of the shopping centres was the parade ring around Haydock Park mainly because due to the fog which stayed around all afternoon like many an unwelcome visitor on Christmas Day nobody hardly saw anything apart from a brief respite for forty minutes or so.
In fact it was sort of reminiscent of the final scene from The Railway Children when the children’s father appears from beyond the mist of the steam as the train pulls out of the station towards the continuation of its journey as every half hour or so the figure of horses and jockeys came into view albeit for a few seconds as they set off into the country and not to be seen again which gave racegoers a chance to sort out their festive plans for the forthcoming week.
On the track though Saturday’s feature Tommy Whittle Chase was taken in easy style by the Venetia Williams trained Yala Enki under Charlie Deutsch (5) as he made all (apparently) and vanished into the fog not to be seen until he came back into the winners enclosure, third in last months valuable Fixed Brush Hurdle this was impressive, it’s possible that next months Peter Marsh could be a target as he clearly loves Haydock, Vieux Lille back in second has only won right handed so big races at Kempton,Ascot and Sandown would be more viable.
Buveur D’Air took the 2m novices’ chase nicely ahead from previous course winner Cloudy Dream, held up from the start he appeared to make smooth headway down the straight before taking over on the run in, Nicky Henderson has plenty of options with him plus a nice team with others such as Altior and Top Notch, One option could be the big Grade 2 at Doncaster next month and if he is kept to two miles then Aintree might be preferred than Cheltenham.
The Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle over 2m3f was easily taken by the treble seeker Colin’s Sister under Paddy Brennan who has no shortage of Christmas crackers coming up, she won very readily from My Khaleesi to gain more black type here, Trainer Fergal O’Brien has suggested Doncaster in January next for her.
David Pipe was grounded and couldn’t get his Helicopter to Haydock in time to see Eamon An Cnoic easily take the Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle race over 2m, following up his Fakenham win in October he seemed to make a mockery of his 123 mark, he will stay further and no doubt David might be thinking about his fathers race at the Cheltenham for this one, Splash Of Ginge bounced right back to form in the 2m7f hurdle under Jamie Bargary (3) as he looked to appreciate the return to timber after having a tough time of late under fences, the owners have said he will stay over hurdles so no doubt one of those Pertemps races will be found.
A very competitive two mile handicap chase on paper but only one ever looked like winning as the lightly raced 9yo Gino Trail made all for Jamie Moore and Kerry Lee here, despite making an error at the last the race was never in doubt, the drop back to 2m suited him.
Finally the last race a very wide open 2m3f handicap hurdle was run in almost darkness as the fog had near enough covered the entire course so much that nobody could see anything but the records showed that Clyne had crossed the line first just ahead of Le Rocher who could only be spotted by his yellow cap as they briefly flashed past the winning post before vanishing again like something seen in a ghost movie.
Certainly one of those afternoons to remember for those who came and braved it.
May I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2017, after this year it can only get better can it?
No Wattspots as I couldn’t see anything quite literally to spot.
Hopefully we will be out and about over Christmas,all depends on the weather!