For once the Frost was made very welcome at Warwick in early January but thankfully not from the nasty white stuff that has cost the midlands venue the occasional meeting including this one over the years but the star jockey of the National Hunt season, Bryony Frost.
Three big graded chase wins this season for the pride of Devon as she gave Milansbar a dream ride to land the Grade 3 Classic Chase over the marathon trip of 3m5f to follow up her winning rides in the Badger Ales Handicap and Kauto Star Novice Chase early on in the season.
From the outset Milansbar went to the front of the field sharing pace duties with favourite Missed Approach but Milansbar was readily clear on the turn for home showing no signs of stopping finishing 11 lengths clear of Cogry with Missed Approach another 12 lengths back in third spot.
Winning owner Robert Bothway and trainer Neil King will no doubt have their eyes on the big prize at Aintree after this but going in off 134 he may need a bit of a hike and help from the handicapper to make the final 40, a trip to Haydock’s Grand National Trial or the Midlands National may be the next races on the list but regarding the National it’s possible that given the way he was ridden then the Scottish one would be better.
Onto the supporting races and while trainer Nicky Henderson was busy up in Scotland getting married, one would hope he told the vicar to whack the collection on Mr Whipped as he overcame inexperience to bag the Grade 2 Ballymore Leamington Novice Hurdle over 2m5f, given plenty of cover early he travelled well and despite going to the right on the run in he found extra when needed and gave the impression that he will stay further plus showing he can fight when faced with the running on Paisley Park who finished an honourable second.
Ms Parfois picked up some more black type as she took the Listed Hampton Novice Chase over 3m putting in an exemplary round of jumping and giving a five length beating to favourite Duel At Dawn in the process, following up a recent Newbury win last time out this mare is going the right way over fences and connections will be eyeing up the big staying handicaps next season.
Malcolm Jefferson had a huge day to remember with a big cross the card double, the Warwick leg came from the vastly improving Black Ivory under Jamie Hamilton to bag a decent looking Pertemps Qualifier over 3m1f, tackling this long trip for only the second time he clearly is a stayer on the upgrade but will need to go up in the weights to make the cut at Cheltenham as he went in off 126, he had a bit of a battle on his hooves with Sykes who had the lead over the last flight but battled on to overpower him on the run in.
Big Jim rolled back the years to win the 2m Edward Courage Cup again, the 2016 victor never saw another rival as he made all and had enough in hand to hold off the staying on Imjoeking, he had only had three races since his 2016 win here and having only his tenth race over fences Big Jim might still have more to offer.
Classic Chase day began with a wide open albeit poor looking 2m Novice Handicap Hurdle in which the field were well stretched out like the Sunday washing down the back straight and quite a few had chances turning for home but in the end Vado Forte having his second handicap start duly obliged, handicaps will be his limit but he can hopefully go on from this.
Finally the traditional finale was the Bumper for unraced horses over 2m (essentially a Wood Ditton for jumpers) and the most one sided finish of the whole day as Thebannerkingrebel made all under the slowly fading light to bolt up by 12 lengths for the Jamie Snowden yard, hard to know what to make but he could no more than he did and should make into a nice jumper, wether he goes to the big festival bumpers is one thing but he will give the owners in the Jamie Snowden Racing Club many happy dreams during the summer months.
All in all it has to be said that it was a top afternoon at Warwick and the crowd who turned out were treated to some very good racing and no doubt Bryony Frost will have made everyone’s day wether they backed her or not.
The quality of ladies riding over jumps is getting better and better, horse racing is one of the few equal unisex sports for its competitors and long may it last.
Also their was a real buzz about the place too, full of racegoers who wanted to see good racing and a great advert for seeing top horses at courses that don’t normally have a huge portfolio of big jumps races like Cheltenham,Sandown,Aintree and Ascot.
The programme had a message from the general manager Andre Klein who said that the Classic Chase is often an under appreciated race which indeed he is right about but for many it’s a good staying test of a horse on a unique track like Warwick.
The forecast for the upcoming week means it’s in the air wether or not your intrepid reporter will be at Haydock for Peter Marsh Day on Saturday so until next time, Goodbye.