A RECORD crowd of 7,688 flocked to Warwick Racecourse for its popular New Year’s Eve meet, writes David Hucker.
They had plenty to cheer about, with some exciting finishes, including the day’s feature Local Parking Security Conditional Jockeys’ Veterans’ Handicap Chase in which High Counsel held off the late charge of the mare Troubled Soul by a length.
The race was for horses aged ten and upwards and provided an interesting mix of jockeys at the start of their careers teaming up with mounts who have had plenty of experience at jumping.
Including point-to-points, High Counsel was lining up for the 35th time and he gave his jockey Alexander Thorne, who is attached to Alan King’s stable, a 19th career winner, beating the more experienced Connor Brace on the runner-up.
Fifteen set out in the opening Local Parking Security Novices’ Handicap Hurdle over two miles and three furlongs and supporters of the well-backed With Pleasure would have been feeling pretty happy as Ben Jones sent him clear approaching the penultimate flight.
But, the petrol tank emptied on the run to the final jump and he was joined and passed by Galtee Mountain, himself the subject of market support from 12-1 into 9-1, who went clear with Jonathan Burke to come home six lengths ahead of Go As You Please, who was prominent throughout, but never looked like landing a blow.
Emmas Joy was a hot favourite to take the following LPS British Stallion Studs EBF Mares’ “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle for Dan and Harry Skelton and, having led from the start, looked to have the race in the bag with second-favourite Cill Anna seemingly unable to make any impression off the home turn.
It all changed, however, after they had jumped the last flight of hurdles, with Cill Anna responding to the urgings of Harry Cobden to prove the stronger on the run-in and score by half a length, with Thoor Castle, the only other one to get into contention, back in third.
The winner was well-supported in the morning with Paddy Power from 5-2 into 7-4, but on-course punters will have been well-pleased with her 7-2 starting price.
There was an open-looking field for the two-mile handicap chase but, in a race run at a good pace thanks to the trail-blazing Battleofthesomme, there was only one horse in it from a long way out as Seeanythingyoulike, still winless after 17 previous attempts, powered clear with Matt Griffiths for a wide-margin success.
Winning trainer Jeremy Scott doubled up in the long-distance handicap hurdler with Urtheonethatiwant, who was another decisive winner, this time in the hands of Bryan Carver.
The field was still tightly grouped after a circuit and it was here that Mille Wonnacott on The Wicket Chicken injected some pace into the race.
They saw off all their rivals except for 4-1 favourite Urtheonethatiwant, another backed in the morning with Paddy Power from an early price of 7-1, who asserted rounding the home turn to score by five lengths.
Jonathan Burke was another to notch up a double when he rode Manofthemoment to victory in the LPS Handicap Chase over two and a half miles.
Summit Like Herbie looked a real threat as he came to challenge at the final fence, but the winner proved too strong on the run to the line.
There’s nothing like a winning favourite in the last race to send everyone home happy and, judging by the cheers, Wilde About Oscar had plenty of supporters as he coasted clear with Harry Skelton to take the National Hunt Flat Race in the style of a useful horse.