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Raceday Report – 20th October – Welsh Champion Hurdle

Raceday Report – 20th October – Welsh Champion Hurdle

 



One of Ffos Las’s biggest days of the year, featuring the £45,000 Welsh Champion Hurdle, was blessed with warm autumn sunshine and perfect good to soft going.

The card began with the first division of a 3m handicap hurdle. Mr Robert Hawker, riding his father Richard’s Gentleman Farmer (8/1), led virtually all the way. Three out his lead wasn’t very big, but no serious challenge emerged until the run-in. There Gold Bonne Raine threatened briefly, but the leader galloped on gamely to win by a length.

After a couple of young racing fans got engaged in the parade ring the second division was won by Gonnabegood (7/2 fav), which is hopefully going to be a good omen for them. He too made most of the running. Gardiners Hill was produced with what looked like a decisive run at the final flight, but the leader refused to be passed and kept on valiantly for a three-quarter length victory. Jeremy Scott trained the winner and Matt Griffiths rode him.

Messrs Scott and Griffiths combined again in the 2m mares’ maiden hurdle with Our Dot’s Baby (25/1), another successful front-runner. The odds-on Etamine Du Cochet moved into second place approaching the last but could make no further progress. The leader (who won an Irish point-to-point a year ago) stayed on well to win by a length and three quarters.

The fourth race, a 2m4f claiming chase, saw yet another winner who led more or less all the way. It was the Olly Murphy-trained Candy Burg, whose record of six wins from 21 races accounted for him being made the 15/8 favourite. Coming up the home straight Tornado In Milan was the only one who could stay in touch, but Gavin Sheehan was relatively untroubled to bring Candy Burg home two and a half lengths ahead. Later Peter Bowen claimed him for £15,000.

Some horses with decent hurdles form turned out for the 2m5f novices chase. Bags Groove (8/1), rated 145 over timber, took the lead four out and jumped pretty well to score for Harry Fry and Noel Fehily. He had had the benefit of a run over fences, which wasn’t the case with Jester Jet, the two-length runner-up and Tommy Rapper, who was third. Nevertheless, they ran well and all three could go on to better things.

A good quality field lined up for the Welsh Champion Hurdle, a limited handicap over two miles, and appropriately it went to a Welsh-trained horse. The Swinton Hurdle winner Silver Streak (3/1 jt fav) moved smoothly into contention under Adam Wedge and jumped into the lead at the last. Evan Williams’s five-year-old continued the progress he made last season to win by three lengths and gave the impression there was still more to come. Paul Nicholls’s Le Prezien pipped Philip Hobbs’s Ozzie The Oscar for second place. The New One was being niggled along fully half a mile out and failed to improve on his record of winning on his seasonal reappearance seven times in a row.

Two Welsh runners made for a thrilling conclusion to the 2m5f handicap chase. Peter Bowen’s Dr Robin (5/1) led from the end of the back straight and looked a winner until running out of steam in the last half furlong, and Dai Rees’s Gone Platinum ran on to join him on the line. The photo revealed that Sean Bowen had managed to get Dr Robin to hold on by a nose.

Sixteen competed in the bumper. Thomas Macdonagh hit the front a furlong and a half out but couldn’t get much of a lead and Encore Champs (4/1 fav) was able to collar him with 75 yards to go. Warren Greatrex and Gavin Sheehan were completing doubles. Connections of Young Bull and Ninth Wave will be pleased by the way they finished well in third and fourth.

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