THE grey mare Goodnight Charlie continued her love affair with Warwick when leading all the way with regular jockey Bridget Andrews to land the My Dream Boat Handicap Chase, highlight of Sunday’s Countryside Raceday, writes David Hucker.
At the previous meeting, Goodnight Charlie had looked like making all the running over hurdles only to be collared on the run-in by the in-form Uno Mas.
Making her eighth appearance at the track and over fences this time, she led from start to finish over the marathon three miles and five furlongs trip to beat Optimistic Bias by eight lengths.
Dan and Harry Skelton combined to take the opening Sloane Helicopters Novices’ Hurdle (Novices’ Championship Hurdle Series Qualifier) with odds-on favourite Flash The Steel, who came to collar long-time leader Bardd approaching the final flight and quickly put daylight between himself and the rest of the field.
Having broken Martin Pipe’s record for the earliest century of winners over jumps last October, Dan Skelton shows no signing of letting up and Flash The Steel was his 165th success of the campaign which has also seen brother Harry notch up a career-best total of 147 with over a month of the season still go.
There was drama aplenty in the following Class Three EBF/TBA Mares’ Novices’ Chase over two-and-a-half miles when favourite Dalila Du Seuil, who had made a winning British debut at Exeter, collided in mid-air with All Currencies jumping the second fence, unseating jockey Barry Geraghty.
Continuing riderless, she then almost carried out Whatduhavtoget on the turn into the home straight first time around, before joining in again with the others facing up to the five fences down the back straight.
Fortunately, she kept a pretty straight course this time, leaving the remaining four runners to themselves and it looked pretty straightforward for Whatduhavtoget who was bowling along with Harry Skelton.
In behind, however, 33-1 shot Lucca Lady started to make steady progress and she forged ahead with Ben Poste to score by 13 lengths,
The Newark Livestock Market Handicap Hurdle had been divided into two and the first division produced another surprise winner when 16-1 shot Avantgardist joined Éclair De Guye jumping the penultimate flight and strode clear under James Davies for a comfortable success.
The second division was a much closer affair with Espoir De Loire and market leader No Getaway jumping the final flight as one.
The two flashed past the post together, but the photograph showed Espoir De Loire and Nico de Boinville had prevailed by a neck to give his American owners, who had flown in ahead of the Cheltenham Festival, a good start to the week.
Nine lined up for the Pony Racing Authority Graduates Handicap Hurdle (Conditionals & Amateurs) with Bahama Moon, having his first run after wind surgery, opening up the 15-8 favourite.
He took a walk in the market however, drifting out to 5-2 before shortening up again before the off.
Held up by Jonjo O’Neill Jnr, his cause wasn’t helped by a mistake as the pace hotted up, and he could finish only fourth behind Star Of Rory, who came to pass Collodi going to the final hurdle and shoot clear to give his amateur rider Charlie Todd a first winner under Rules on his 61st ride.
Run in a snowstorm, the E. L. Jackson Charitable Trust Handicap Hurdle produced another exciting finish as Ocean Cove, taken into the lead by Paddy Brennan rounding the home turn, came out on top in a prolonged battle with Supremely Lucky to win by a neck.
Irish point-to-point winner Chantry House repaid a small part of his £295,000 purchase price when taking the closing National Hunt Flat Race for owner J.P. McManus and could, in time, have a bright future as a chaser.