No Panic For The Smiths!
Danny Cook proved to be The Yorkshire Panther at Haydock’s first meeting of the year as Wakanda dug deep to land the 2019 of the Peter Marsh Chase in a thrilling finish.
On paper it looked a wide open race and the fact that the first six home were separated by just over six lengths showed just that as four held chances coming to the last fence but under the Danny Cook drive, last years Great Yorkshire winner landed the Lancashire equivalent 51 weeks after, connections will have been delighted by this, no more so than Sue and Harvey Smith who were on holiday in Spain for some better weather and conditions.
A Grand National entry looks likely and a return to Haydock next month would be no shock unless the Eider or possibly something like the Kim Muir at Cheltenham come under consideration for this tough as teak 10yo chaser who had to keep up his work from the gallant second Robinsfirth who ran a grand race in defeat and looks like he has a big race in him somewhere
Elsewhere on a decent looking card Global Citizen landed the Grade 2 Champion Hurdle Trial for trainer Ben Pauling, only five turned up but they were all fairly evenly matched on ratings, Silver Streak was well supported but made a real hash at the third last which knocked his chance and had to be gathered up but Global Citizen was already in the ascendancy here and kept up his work to land the race nicely.
A crack at the big one in March will come next and should the ground remain on the quick side he would have a chance if the Christmas Hurdle defeat of Buveur D’air has left its mark on him.
Before the race previous four time winner The New One paraded and looked as good as ever, now enjoying his retirement from the game he will always be loved by regulars here at a course where he is five wins from five starts.
Nicky Henderson looks to have a nice type in Mister Fisher who landed the Grade 2 Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle, a nice looking race it should throw a few winners in the future, with two wins at Kempton and now one here at Haydock it is clear that flat tracks suit him so its possible a trip back to Kempton for the Dovecote looks to be the next port of call and then bypassing Cheltenham in favour of the Top Novices’ at Aintree a more favourable route.
An eyecatcher in this was the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Muratello who stayed on in the manor of a horse who would love a test of stamina.
Finally the bookies were jumping for joy along with trainer Charlie Longsdon as 28-1 outsider of five, the mare Castafiore bagged the Grade 2 Altcar Novices’ Chase as she followed up her Boxing Day win at Wincanton, despite being rated 22lbs lower than the second lowest horse in the race she kept going and wasn’t stopping in front, a hefty hike up from 128 is on its way after this and she may find things a little tougher next time but she is clearly in good heart and this will certainly be a bonus for her paddock value in time.
A decent enough afternoon then, the highlight without doubt was Wakanda in the Peter Marsh but also the crowd have definitely seen a good one for the future in Mister Fisher who looks a very nice horse in the making.
Coming up in mid February we return back to Haydock where attentions switch from Cheltenham to all things Aintree with the Grand National Trial