STRATFORD’S Super Saturday turned into a bonanza for racegoers, with five winning favourites as well as an afternoon to remember for Cotswold trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, who landed a double with Ballyellis and Topofthecotswolds, writes David Hucker.
There were two Irish entries in the Happy Birthday Andrew Fox Conditional Jockeys’ Selling Handicap Hurdle in the shape of Noel Kelly’s Best Not Argue and Falak from the Gordon Elliott stable.
But, it was Ballyellis, beaten one-and-a-half lengths by Capitoul at Market Rasen last time, who headed the market and, after sharing the lead with outsider Mustaaqeem, he went clear from the third-last flight and soon put the race to bed.
Despite jumping awkwardly at the final hurdle, he had 13 lengths to spare at the line and was bought back by Twiston-Davies at the post-race auction for £5,600.
Hat-trick seeking Topofthecotswolds, raised 10lbs for his defeat of Pink Eyed Pedro at the last meeting, topped the weights in the Pragnell Gold Cup Handicap Chase over two-and-three-quarter miles, but he showed once again his liking for the course, leading approaching the final fence to see off Shoal Bay, who had been up the front from the off.
As the betting suggested, the opening TM Resource Novices’ Hurdle over two miles turned into a duel between the two previous winners in the race, Pacify and See The Sea.
Both were looking for their fourth win in a row, but it almost went horribly wrong for See The Sea right at the start when Donald McCain’s runner, who bypassed an opportunity at Sedgefield on Thursday to race here, ducked out to her right, colliding with outsider Epsom Day.
Jockey Brian Hughes soon got her straightened up and, running keenly, she took the field along at a good pace, being joined by odds-on favourite Pacify down the back straight.
They raced head-to-head into the turn for home where Pacify, who is part-owned by the Duchess Of Cornwall, asserted to pass the post eight lengths to the good.
The following Grundon Waste Management Novices’ Chase looked to be another match between Potterman, a winner of two of his three chases and running in preference to the later Pragnell Gold Cup Handicap Chase, and Canton Prince, the choice from two entries for trainer Tim Vaughan.
Disputing the lead early on with outsider American Craftsman, it was hot favourite Potterman who took command, but Canton Prince joined and passed him at the penultimate fence, although they were back locked together heading for the last.
Here, Canton Prince blundered, throwing away his chance of winning, leaving Potterman to come home to a comfortable success.
Feature race of the afternoon was the £15,500 Pardy’s Dairies Fresh Milk Deliveries Handicap Hurdle and it produced a stirring finish, with the grey Teqany joining Beach Break approaching the final flight and proving the stronger with Paddy Brennan to score by one-and-a-quarter lengths.
Atlantic Storm, trained at Tanworth-in-Arden by Rob Summers, had run well in defeat in two subsequent starts since winning over the course in July and, in another close finish, he just got the better of Adman Sam, who had made much of the running to take the Keogh & Hows Handicap Chase.
Eva’s Diva, bought by owner/trainer Phil Middleton for £48,000 last month, was heavily backed to take the closing Andy Townsend Memorial Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race, but, after leading from the off, had nothing left to give when tackled by Wbee inside the final furlong.