SOMERSET trainer Philip Hobbs has hit a rich vein of form and he made it four wins in two days when Ozzie The Oscar landed the feature race at Warwick’s Business Networking Raceday on Friday, writes David Hucker.
Shantou Rock, who won well on his first run over fences at Newton Abbot, was sent off the odds-on favourite to lift the £15,000 Integral Novices’ Chase for leading trainer Dan Skelton.
He raced keenly from the off, attacking his fences with gusto and opening up a useful lead. Four-time hurdles winner Ozzie The Oscar was the only horse to get near him down the back straight, but still had ground to make up with just two fences to jump.
However, the leader had taken plenty out of himself and his stride began to shorten, giving Richard Johnson and Ozzie The Oscar their chance.
Jumping to the front at the final fence, Johnson pushed his mount out for a two-length win, bringing up his 95th winner of the campaign as he chases a third consecutive title.
Beaten jockey Harry Skelton wasn’t giving up on Shantou Rock, however, saying “He’s a talented horse and next time, we’ll get a lead off one, if we can.”
We Have A Dream, who had three runs in France before joining champion trainer Nicky Henderson, was an impressive winner of the opening Racing UK’s Biggest Ever Free Trial Juvenile Hurdle in the familiar green colours of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede.
He had been entered at Market Rasen the day before, but Henderson chose to run at Warwick instead and We Have A Dream justified favouritism when making every yard of the running to beat the Skelton-trained Etamine Du Cochet by ten lengths for the stable’s 34th winner of the season.
Second favourite Fields Of Fortune was held up early on, but was looking booked for second spot at best when unseating Wayne Hutchinson at the final flight.
A Ludlow double the previous day confirmed the well-being of Gloucestershire trainer Kim Bailey’s horses and he was on the mark again with Station Master in the day’s longest race, the Hy-Kleen Of Warwick Novices’ Hurdle over three and a quarter miles.
Bought for £48,000 after winning a bumper at Aintree in May, Station Master was a promising third on his hurdles debut for Bailey at Exeter and he proved too strong here for favourite Just A Thought, who was finishing runner-up for the second time.
Jockey David Bass was impressed with the winner, saying: “He travels well and stays and is a nice horse for the season.”
Despite nine months off the track, top-weight Oxwich Bay was an early market mover in the Trial Racing UK For Free Now Handicap Hurdle, being backed from 11-4 into 11-10.
Although easing slightly before the off, he looked like justifying the support when jumping the last flight just in front, but he couldn’t hold off the challenge of 12-1 shot One For Billy, who was brought up the stands rail by Harry Skelton to score by half a length for owners Paul and Clare Rooney.
There was another well-backed horse in the following Racing UK Free For A Month Handicap Chase in the shape of Zerachiel, who shortened from 7-1 to 5-2, just behind favourite Lunar Flow, who was looking to follow up his Uttoxeter win.
However, they had to settle for places behind 11-1 shot Water Wagtail, who was going far better than the rest turning for home, being eased down by Nick Scholfield near the post.
Money talked in the racinguk.com/freetrial Handicap Chase when favourite Jarlath held off the challenge of Shanty Town, who was the gamble of the day, being backed at all prices from an initial 16-1 to a starting price of 5-1.
A maximum field of 18 set out for the concluding George Mernagh Memorial Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race with Diamond Gait, who had been at the sharp end from the off, holding on from Kimberley Point to give trainer Kim Bailey a double for the second day running.
Racing returns to the track on Wednesday, 22nd November with Winter Warmer Raceday, when the gates open at 10.35am, two hours before the first race.