Two days of racing merged into a best of the action review.
Haydock’s pre and post Christmas jump meetings paid host to some competitive racing but also a few races that for many were hard to watch in such gruelling conditions that it made for very uncomfortable viewing.
Yesterday’s action on the 30th celebrated the very popular Haydock regular The Last Fling with a 3m3f Chase run in his honour and with stamina being at an absolute premium Emperor’s Choice finally came back into the number one spot after he put in a real battle hardened performance under Charlie Deutsch (3) to land the prize and pick up his first win since November 2015, always prominent from flag fall he shared duties with Streets Of Promise until he shook him off exiting the back straight and then the only danger was the well fancied West Of The Edge who travelled well but just couldn’t bridge the gap before the winner dug deep to find extra, No doubt races like the Eider at Newcastle and National Trial back here in February will be targets but this old warrior is still showing plenty of fight in him yet.
Sadly Lessons In Milan took a crashing fall when just getting competitive which sadly proved to be fatal, Condolences to all involved with him.
Boxing Day showed the continued rise of Bryony Frost in being only the second lady rider to bag a Grade 1 Chase following in the footsteps of Lizzie Kelly and the Haydock faithful were treated to the much underrated former conditional champion Lucy Alexander bagging a nice prize for her father Nick in the #Help4Matt Chase over 2m4f, given a quiet ride he took the lead at the final ditch and breezed away like the race hadn’t even begun, Heavy ground is this horses and forte and in here off a mark much lower than his hurdles rating he was 4lb better off and looks to be kept to races in these conditions.
Donald McCain bagged a three timer last weekend and got two more here, first up Lastbutnotleast took the 2m3f Novice Chase in gruelling fashion as she used her weight allowances to good measure as she saw off favourite Jonniesofa by a huge 36 lengths, both like to bowl along and kept each other company until the race really began up the straight, from then on Lastbutnotleast began to get the better of the runner up and despite clambering over the final few races, so much that it turned into a virtual walking race at the end but the mare had plenty of grit and determination to get the job done.
The other McCain winner came in the near 2m Novice Hurdle as Waterlord took a decent looking race in style as he made all under Will Kennedy to come home 15 lengths ahead from Mahlervous, formerly with John Ferguson he has found plenty of improvement now over hurdles and he now looks set to come back here in three weeks for the Grade 2 Rossington and could have a say depending who turns up on the day.
On the Saturday before Christmas last weekend saw the 2017 renewal of the Tommy Whittle Chase which went back over the borders into Scotland as Captain Redbeard who was last spotted having a crack over the National fences in the Grand Sefton appreciate the return to the normal fences as he hacked up in tough conditions for the Coltherd’s.
Fergal O’Brien followed up last years win in the Listed Abram Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle over 2m3f with Colin’s Sister this time with Cap Soleil, a three time bumper winner she showed plenty of heart here and is a useful mare with loads more to offer connections, A step up in grade is more than likely after this with one possible idea being the Grade 2 Leamington at Warwick in a couple of weeks time.
Donald McCain picked up three winners, first up a very impressive chasing performance by Testify in the Trevor Hemmings colours as he made it 2/2 over fences after his winning debut at Bangor over 2m1f, he found this near 2m trip a bit on the sharp side but given the conditions his stamina came to the fore as a help to shake off the useful hurdler Clyne who was making his chasing debut, Next months Grade 2 Altcar Novice Chase over 2m4f is reportedly the next target for this smart looking type.
Ubaltique was the second McCain winner in the 2m Handicap Chase, he is a previous course winner who has to wait for his turn during the season and another previous course winner also added to his tally as Chti Balko won the 2m Handicap Hurdle which was a qualifier for the Challenger series so expect him to return here on Easter Saturday.
All in all two meetings with decent racing albeit some in testing conditions, The 2018 year hopefully will kick off at Warwick in a few weeks time with the Classic Chase meeting, always a good day out for what is the classiest meeting of the year at a very progressive jumping track.
Till then may I wish you all a Happy New Year in your continued battle with the bookies.