CHAMPION jockey Richard Johnson and Atlanta Ablaze took control of the feature £25,000 eventmasters.co.uk Lady Godiva Mares’ Novices’ Chase (Listed Race) at Warwick on Thursday, going to the front at the tenth fence to run and jump their rivals into submission, writes David Hucker.
The betting was headed by Jester Jet, runner-up to the useful Maria’s Benefit at Bangor-on-Dee and looking to be in with a good chance of opening her account over jumps. Once Johnson set sail for home, however, Jester Jet just couldn’t live with the leader, finishing 19 lengths in arrears, with another fancied runner, the Irish-trained Mrs Lovett, even further back after some less than fluent jumps.
All hurdle races were run on the outside track for the first time this season, providing fresh ground, described by clerk of the course Jane Hedley as good to soft, good in places. There was a well-backed favourite in the opening Agetur UK Juvenile Maiden Hurdle in the shape of debutant Wax And Wane, but he never got in a blow in a race dominated from the off by Metatrons Cube and Teaser.
Bought for 21,000gns in October, Metatrons Cube had showed promise in his first two starts and he set a good pace until the penultimate flight where Tom Scudamore brought Teaser through to challenge. David Pipe’s runner, a winner over a mile and a quarter at Leicester in October, had finished runner-up on his first start over hurdles at Wincanton and he stepped up to go clear and win by two and three-quarter lengths.
Point-to-Point winner Birchdale made his first appearance in the familiar colours of leading owner JP McManus in the Actioncoach Invest In The Best Maiden Hurdle over two miles and five furlongs and, with Barry Geraghty flying in from Ireland for the one ride, he was a pretty solid 9-4 favourite to make a winning start under Rules.
Hitting the front at the second-last flight, Birchdale had four lengths to spare over stable companion Clarendon Street at the line, earning a quote from Paddy Power of 20-1 for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
With the veteran Paddy The Oscar dropping away, it looked like Muckle Row had taken a decisive lead when going clear after the third-last fence in the Tom Gaughan Memorial Handicap Chase. Still in front at the final jump, only Quarenta posed a threat and he responded to Aidan Coleman’s urgings to catch Muckle Row right on the line and win by a neck.
There was drama aplenty in the Gillygallypaddyparry Handicap Hurdle, with Black Buble missing the start and Samson The Man and Sandy Boy both falling at the penultimate flight when challenging for the lead.
It was top-weight Daydream Aulmes, making his handicap debut, who came through to win, beating March Is On with Black Buble, who had made up a lot of ground to get to the leaders, back in third.
Reckless Behavior was another to spoil his chances at the start in the BHSF Handicap Chase in which Market Rasen winner Hard Station was made the 11-10 favourite to follow up for Hampshire trainer Richard Bandey.
Sent to the front by Richard Johnson, none the worse for his fall in the previous race, he was stalked by Keep Moving turning into the home straight. When Tom O’Brien pressed the button, the race was over in a matter of strides, as the lightly-raced Keep Moving went to the front and strolled away to score by 13 lengths.
Johnson went one better in the concluding M-Tec Consulting Group Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race, making it a double on the afternoon as Keep Rolling ran on resolutely to deny Edwardstone, who had looked to be going the better with a furlong to run. Disappointment of the race was the 3-1 favourite The Captains Inn, who led out of the back straight, only to fade into sixth and has some way to go to justify his £220,000 purchase price.