THERE was another bumper crowd for Warwick’s Local Parking Security New Year’s Eve Party, as the snow and rain abated in time for the course’s most popular meeting of the season, writes David Hucker.
Jockey Nico de Boinville came into the meeting in a rich vein of form, having posted three winners from six rides over the Christmas period, including Might Bite in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, and he continued his run when Black Tulip jumped to the front at the last flight and ran on strongly to take the opening British Stallion Studs EBF Mares’ “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle.
Despite making an early mistake, Sensulano looked to have the race in the bag when leading at the penultimate flight, but she couldn’t resist the challenge of Black Tulip, with the two racing wide apart on the run to the line.
Highlight of the afternoon was the £10,000 Local Parking Security Handicap Chase over three miles and it saw the reappearance Paddy The Oscar, winner of the race in 2015 and runner-up last year. Although just a day off his 15th birthday, Paddy The Oscar holds his form well and was running from a 3lb lower handicap mark than in 2016.
In a race run at a good pace in the holding ground, Paddy The Oscar was always close to the lead and looked to have a good chance of winning again as the runners turned for home.
Stalking him was Themanfrom MInella, trained near Banbury by Ben Case and, hard as he tried, Paddy The Oscar had to give way to his younger rival, who won pretty cosily, being eased down by Max Kendrick on the run-in.
Just three faced the starter in the Novices’ Chase won last year by Buveur D’Air who went on to land the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, with Le Rocher a red-hot favourite to follow up his Exeter success for Devon trainer Nick Williams.
Those who had taken the odds of 1-10 must have had a few doubts when a slow jump at the third-last fence slowed the favourite’s challenge, leaving Royal Act to come into the straight with a clear advantage.
It all turned out right in the end, however, as Le Rocher joined the leader at the final jump and asserted on the run-in, coming home to some playful boos from the crowd who were denied the shock result that some were clearly hoping for.
Despite landing on all fours jumping the last flight, Flashjack, ridden by Jack Sherwood, one of the most experienced jockeys in the field, was a good winner of the day’s longest race, the LPS Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle over three and a quarter miles.
This completed a double on the afternoon for Ludlow trainer Henry Daly after the earlier success of Black Tulip, making it 17 winners for the season, just four behind his last year’s total.
The trip was two and a half miles for the LPS Handicap Chase and the race produced one of the easiest winners of the afternoon as 11-1 shot Native Robin defied top weight of 11-12 to score comfortably from Very Live.
Market leader Dontminddboys, trained by Robin Dickin at Great Alne, found himself behind in the early stages and, although making ground down the back straight, never looked like rewarding his backers, finishing only third.
There was a sustained gamble on Chandos Belle in the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle, run in glorious sunshine, with Stuart Edmunds’ mare backed from 5-1 into 7-2, but the money stayed in the bookies’ satchels as, after just getting her head in front at the third-last flight, she could only finish fourth to Samson’s Reach who gave Herefordshire trainer Richard Price his first winner of the season at the 33rd attempt.
Despite some people making an early exit, the stands were still packed for the closing National Hunt Flat Race in which Kingsplace, owned and trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, was sent off a clear favourite and he duly obliged in the hands of amateur Jordan Nailor, readily seeing off the challenge of Barley Hill, who stepped up on his Southwell debut to run a promising race.
Next up is the course’s richest meeting of the season, the Betfred Classic Chase Day on Saturday, 13th January, when the hurdle and flat races switch to the inner track, providing fresh ground.