The Easter Bunny pulled out two nice big prizes for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede on a slightly chilly Easter Saturday, far removed from the wonderful weather that Aintree had last week for the finals of the Challenger Series designed to cater for mid tier jumps horses with some pretty decent prize money of £23475 per winner of the six races.
Their first leg of the double came when Ballybolley hacked up in the 2m4f Middle Distance Chase for the second year in a row,only 4lb higher from last years winning mark of 129 he finished 17l ahead of Captain Redbeard, he jumped very well and no doubt connections will be hoping of more improvement next season in some of the big handicaps, the second leg came in the 2m3f Mares’ Hurdle as Secret Door just about followed up her recent Ludlow won as she had to be all out to land this in a pulsating three drive after the last flight to just fend off Poppy Kay by a neck.
Alan King got a shock as Willoughby Hedge sprang a 25-1 shock to land the Staying Chase over 3m, only the horses eighth start over fences this 10yo is lightly raced and the first time blinkers clearly worked the oracle as he hung on in another exciting finish to land the prize for owner Trevor Hemmings by a neck.
The 2m Hurdle prize was a very competitive affair and mixed fortunes for owner JP McManus as his hot favourite Midnight Maestro was pulled up, to be fair the horse did pull early and lost his position after the sixth flight, he can be forgiven and has plenty more to offer, stepping upto the plate though the second string Stamp Your Feet stamped his hooves over the rest as he got on top of Limited Reserve in the last 50 yards to mug him for the money, kept to a mark of 115 after a Hereford win in December he is consistent at this level.
In the Staying Hurdle over 2m7f trainer Jonjo O’Neill scored with Kelvingrove under Aidan Coleman for his owners The All In One Syndicate whose members include former Cheltenham supreme Edward Gillespie who had to work on him to edge out Young Dillon by a length, he has the look of a dour stayer about him should he go over fences next season.
Mares had another race added to the series with the 2m6f Mares’ Chase and another close finish in the afternoon as the 9yo Magic Money making her twelfth start of the season had a real slanging match with Still Believing on the run in and Magic Money just found that little bit more needed to edge out the victory by a neck, the mare was following up her recent win at Fontwell, still unexposed over fences connections will eye some black type next season for her.
Finally the last race of the season came with the annual running of the Tim Molony Chase and here Jonjo O’Neill picked up his second victory of the day with Mustmeetalady under the steerage of Killian Moore (3) as he relished this step up in trip to 3m4f, his first win over fences on his sixth start going in off 124 which is 8lb lower than his hurdles mark, this looks a good type for Satelitte Nationals next season and he came four lengths ahead of Courtown Oscar who is as game as they come in races like this.
Another jumps season over with then, in two weeks we return for the opening meeting of the 2017 turf flat back here at Haydock followed by a trip to Yorkshire for the Thirsk Hunt Cup
Many highlights and memories to think about but far too many to mention, It’s now time to look forward for the flat.
Until then Goodbye