IMPULSIVE Star, owned by the chairman of Cheltenham racecourse, Robert Waley-Cohen, notched his first chase win under Rules when landing Warwick’s £75,000 McCoy Contractors Civil Engineering Classic Chase on Saturday, writes David Hucker.
The day before, Waley-Cohen had gone on Twitter to warn that his jockey son Sam might not make the low weight of 9-12, but his perseverance in shedding the pounds paid off as, despite being headed by Calett Mad going to the final fence, Impulsive Star fought back on the run-in to snatch the prize.
Waley-Cohen, one of a handful of amateurs to ride a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, will renew acquaintance with his mount, who he described as ‘very brave’, at the Festival, where their target will be the four-mile National Hunt Chase, for which he was cut from 50-1 to 12-1 by Paddy Power.
Lining up against them could be Ok Corral, who was an impressive winner of the Hampton Novices’ Chase (Listed Race), the first of four races shown live on ITV4.
Leading Irish amateur Derek O’Connor was having his first ride at the track and also his first for trainer Nicky Henderson, but it couldn’t have gone smoother as Ok Corral, who was friendless in the betting market, led at the final fence and quickly went clear of Secret Investor, who put in an untidy jump, to land another success in the familiar green and gold colours of JP McManus.
Disappointment of the race was Rocky’s Treasure, running against novices rather than tackling more experienced rivals in the big race, who couldn’t impose himself on the field and whose jumping let him down when the pressure was on.
In the absence of course winner Birchdale, all the money was for dual hurdles winner Tidal Flow in the Grade 2 Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle, but his supporters knew their fate down the back straight where he was struggling to go the pace, finishing last of the six runners.
The race went to Beakstown, who stands 17 hands high, a 134th winner of the season for jockey Harry Skelton, who poached a winning advantage when going clear round the home bend and come away from Stoney Mountain.
“He was a bit raw up the straight and is very much a chaser in the making,” said Skelton.
“We think an awful lot of him and he will only have one or two more runs this season.”
Trainer Dan Skelton, who moved to the 143 winner mark for the season, was also impressed with the winner.
He said: “He looked like a good horse all the way through the race.”
Star Of Rory was always in the thick of the action in the opening Trial Racing TV For Free Now Novices’ Handicap Hurdle over two miles, but he was joined by Dyliev jumping the final flight and Caroline Bailey’s mare soon asserted on the run-in to record her first win at the ninth attempt.
A drop back in trip proved just the job for bottom-weight Generous Day in the Class 3 racingtv.com Edward Courage Cup Handicap Chase as, having jumped to the front down the back straight, he ran on strongly to repel the challenge of Movie Legend and Baby King.
Bright New Dawn, making his debut for Wilmcote trainer Olly Murphy was reluctant to race and, although catching up with the field going the hill, beat only one home and is a horse to treat with caution.
There was no time for celebrations for jockey James Davies, who dashed off to Kempton Park, completing the journey in just 75 minutes, to partner Glen Rocco to success for trainer Nick Gifford.
Runner-up to Aaron Lad at Cheltenham last time out, Keeper Hill went one better in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle when jumping past outsider Oh Land Abloom at the last to score in the hands of conditional jockey Harry Teal and complete a double on the afternoon for trainer Warren Greatrex, successful earlier with Bailarico at Kempton Park.
With the light fading quickly, a field of six newcomers contested the closing National Hunt Flat Race and it was 4-1 shot Pour Joie who pounced late under Aidan Coleman to collar Frau Georgia.