The North West’s racing roadshow moved from Chester for the short hop across the M56 then a brief dash up the M6 to Haydock for the UK’s only mixed meeting which brought races from 6f to 2m7f on the level and over hurdles and fences.
In weather which was far better than the monsoon two weeks ago and this week at the Roodee it was a case of when the Linen Suit met the Tweed, the Panama met the Flat Cap and the taller jockeys met the much shorter ones!
Patriote Gains Swinton Glory
2011 was the last time the top weight went in but Sam Twiston-Davies landed his first win the first big race of the new jumps season on Le Patriote came home a ready winner in what looked on paper an ultra competitive renewal of this famous handicap.
Trained by Dr Richard Newland he came back from his winter break with a nice success over further at Cheltenham last month and looks set for another holiday before the return of the core season, a possible go at the Greatwood despite being a long way off could be a potential target.
Project Bluebook came second with former Swinton winner John Constable back in third spot, sadly Arthington suffered a fatal injury in the race and we offer our condolences to all involved.
Frost Shines Again
A new season and no let up from Bryony Frost who landed a nice win in the opener on the Neil King trained Canyon City, last spotted in a three mile hurdle on Grand National Day when sixth he travelled nicely before going ahead towards the final flight and despite hitting it this was a taking performance, going in off 137 he also has a mark of 76 on the flat which given his current form could certainly be exploited at this stage.
As usual the crowd lapped up Bryony and in the post race interview on the podium mentioned that due to this meeting be a mixed one she actually felt tall for once being around the flat jockeys.
Voyage Returns Home
On the flat the afternoon’s big race came in the Listed Spring Trophy over 7f and like the last meeting the feature went the way of the John Quinn trained Safe Voyage who recorded course and distance win number three here and despite the small field of seven he did meet trouble in running as the race got going up the straight but he managed to show he had made the requisite improvement to go up in grade.
Clearly he loves Haydock and connections have mentioned going for a Group 3 race next, with his good form here surely another return for the John O’Gaunt over 7f would be ideal unless a hop over the channel to France would be preferred instead.
Best Of The Rest
Shabaaby kick started his sprinting career back in style by getting the better of Emblazoned to bag the 6f Conditions Stakes nicely under Jim Crowley for Owen Burrows, a dual winner as a 2yo he didnt progress at all last season but a gelding operation looks to have helped work the oracle and he could be in for a decent summer, the way he ran on at the end showed he could easily be effective at 7f too, a race in patter company looks imminent.
Graham Lee used the horse wisely as Jedhi landed the saying handicap over 1m6f with consummate ease, breezing up in the last quarter mile she is one to keep in those trackers and no doubt Hughie Morrison will be eager to pick up some black type with her, The force is certainly strong with this one as win readily she did!
Finally Nicky Henderson had a good reason to smile after Whisper’s poor showing earlier on as Brave Eagle streaked away with the 2m5f Intermediate Chase under Nico De Boinville, only 7yo he has some chasing experience although this trip being a little bit shorter than his best showed he does have a turn of foot, possibly a trip to Perth or Uttoxeter for their big summer chases would suit him than the Summer Plate.
Emblazoned, 4yo Colt was runner up in the 6f Conds Race but don’t rule him out from improving during the season, can make into a nice sprinter.
Politicise, 3yo Gelding trained by William Haggas might be in danger of being a nearly horse but kept on in the 1m Hcap to show a move to 1m2f would be no bad thing to do with him.