A BUMPER crowd of 6,719 cheered home the dashing grey Commodore, who made all the running to land the Local Parking Security Handicap Chase, the feature race at Warwick’s popular New Year’s Eve meeting, writes David Hucker.
With £11,400 in the prize fund, the race had looked a competitive event on paper beforehand, but it proved to be a demolition job for Commodore and Charlie Deutsch, as they made every yard of the running over the three-mile trip to see off their rivals with ease.
“He always promised to be a better chaser than a hurdler and he jumped immaculately,” said in-form trainer Venetia Williams, who doubled up for the day when Burrows won at Uttoxeter ten minutes later.
There was an on-course gamble on Urtheonethatiwant in the opening handicap hurdle for novices over two miles and three furlongs, with Rex Dingle’s mount shortening from 8-1 to 11-4 joint-favourite.
He had every chance turning for home, but faded over the last two flights, finishing only fourth behind 6-1 shot Top Decision, who just got the better of On Raglan Road by a neck in the hands of conditional jockey Fergus Gregory.
The trip was two miles and five furlongs for the British Stallion Studs EBF Mares’ “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle and the two dominating the betting market were course bumper winner Printing Dollars, who went off a hot 5-4 favourite, and She Mite Bite, who threw away a winning chance on her debut here in November when veering sharply after jumping the last flight.
They had to settle for the places, however, as Nico de Boinville made all the running on Yellow Dockets, trained like She Mite Bite by Nicky Henderson, to post a comfortable five-length success.
The first six home all qualify for the final of the EBF series to be run at Newbury in March, although it is difficult to see how any of those in behind will turn the tables on the winner.
Next up was a handicap chase over two miles and there had been plenty of money ahead of the meeting for Royal Act.
He had been backed with Paddy Power from 18-1 to half that price.
The gamble continued on course, with Sarah-Jayne Davies’ runner shortening further to 5-1, with the market headed by Wisecracker at 7-2.
The two went head to head from the off, but were joined by 18-1 shot Lightentertainment at the fifth fence and, with Royal Act back-pedalling at the end of the back straight, he came to challenge Wisecracker with two fences to jump and stay on strongly with David Bass to win by six lengths.
“We felt after his last race at Ffos Las in April that he needed a good break, so we put him away and the time out in the field seems to have given him a new lease of life,” said winning trainer Barry Brennan.
The biggest field of the afternoon lined up for the LPS Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle and it was Perfect Pirate who took them along, tracked by top-weight Optimistic Bias.
But, neither was to be involved in the finish, as His Dream and Jonjo ONeill Jr, riding for his father, came to lead at the penultimate flight and land the prize for the meeting sponsors Local Parking Security.
Runner-up was Captain Cargo, who had finished in the same position on his last run over the course, and looks a chaser in the making.
There was strong market support for Orchardstown Cross from 5-1 into 2-1 in the LPS Handicap Chase but, just like the stable’s Urtheonethatiwant in the opener, there was no happy ending for his supporters.
Having jumped into the lead at the final fence, he was run out of it close home by Arquebusier, making his third appearance in the race for Cotswold trainer Emma-Jane Bishop.
“He won here two years ago and seems to like Warwick,” said a delighted Bishop, who was welcoming back her third winner of the season.
“The visor sharpened him up and he set a good gallop and stuck to the task.”
Nobby, a winner over the course in May, gave weight and a beating to his eight rivals when landing the concluding bumper in impressive style for trainer Alan King and jockey Wayne Hutchinson.