THERE were four in line coming to the last fence in the feature Skinner’s Handicap Chase at Stratford on Tuesday evening and it was Atlantic Storm, trained at Tanworth-in-Arden by Rob Summers, who came out on top in a thrilling finish to land a first success for owner Alistair Price, writes David Hucker.
Course winner Regulation and Bryony Frost set out to make the running over the two and a quarter mile trip and they were still bang there turning for home as the field closed up.
James Best had ridden a patient race on Atlantic Storm, not making his move until approaching the final obstacle, and his mount responded well on the run to the line to score by three-quarters of a length from Regulation, who held on to the runner-up spot in a photo finish with favourite Adrrastos.
The betting suggested that only three were in with a real chance in the opening Racing Welfare Racing Staff Week Maiden Hurdle over two miles and they finished in starting price order, with 4-6 favourite Purple King just clinging on by a short head from Bathiva and Dan Skelton’s hurdling debutant Surrey Blaze, running with promise in third.
A winner on the flat at Deauville, Purple King had run with credit on his two starts over hurdles in this country, being caught in the last strides by Pacify on his most recent outing at Southwell and, sent into the lead with a circuit to go, he made the rest of the running to give jockey Sam Twiston-Davies another career milestone with his 1,000th winner over jumps in Great Britain.
Twiston-Davies had chalked up his 1,000th career winner on Molliana in a flat race at Les Landes in Jersey and then hit the target over jumps in Great Britain and Ireland with victory on Nordican Bleue at Southwell on 23 June.
Useful hurdler Fidux was looking to follow up his Hexham win in the H.L.Barnes Novices’ Chase, although he had to concede 6lb in weight to his rivals.
Rated 142 over the smaller obstacles, he beat the Dan Skelton-trained Notwhatiam on his chasing debut and the runner-up wasn’t disgraced in Uttoxeter’s Bet365 Summer Cup the Sunday before.
Skelton saddled No Hassle Hoff this time, who was still looking for his first win over fences after five attempts, but punters latched on to him to get off the mark, sending him off the 9-4 favourite.
It was Kings Ryde who took the runners along, mixing some extravagant leaps with some less than fluent jumping, and he was still in contention coming to the last fence with Fidux right at his shoulder.
It was Fidux’s superior speed that proved decisive on the run-in and he scored by half a length, with No Hassle Hoff back in third.
The grey Dovils Date was bidding for a hat-trick in the Wheaton Lamb & Burrows Handicap Hurdle, running from the same handicap mark of 110 as when beating Grand Enterprise by 12 lengths at Southwell under regular jockey Charlie Price.
Punters had no doubt that he would collect again and, after another grey Du Destin had cut out the running, Dovils Date swept to the front on the turn for home and, despite an untidy jump at the last flight, came right away for another emphatic win.
Hidden Charmer had looked like winning at Newton Abbot the week before when a bad mistake at the penultimate fence had stopped him in his tracks.
Compensation seemed to await him in the Priority Sports Marketing Novices’ Handicap Chase as, having gone to the front after the second fence, he set up a good lead.
But, he couldn’t hold on to his advantage, being cut down by Magic River on the run-in who gave Wiltshire trainer Milton Harris his third winner of the season.
The concluding Download The Stratford App Intermediate National Hunt Flat Race for conditional jockeys and amateur riders looked a fascinating affair with leading contenders in Olly Murphy’s Vinnie’s Getaway, Hereford point-to-point bumper winner Durouyn and the Scottish trained Nomountainhienough.
Backed to odds-on favourite when second to Get Up Them Steps over course and distance at the beginning of June, Vinnie’s Getaway showed the benefit of that run when going clear of the other two in the hands of Fergus Gregory to record a 12-length success and looks to a have a bright future.