THE lightly-raced King Of Realms, trained at Alvechurch by Ian Williams, overcame a bad mistake at the third-last fence to land the £30,000 St Mary’s Lands Handicap Chase, feature race of Warwick’s Spring Raceday on Thursday, writes David Hucker.
A winner on his first outing of the season at Ascot in November, King Of Realms then finished a well-beaten last of four behind Rocky’s Treasure at Doncaster the following month before making much of the running when runner-up to Samuel Jackson at Exeter in February.
The handicapper had dropped him 2lbs to a mark of 137 and Robbie Dunne set out to dominate the small field, as King Of Realms, wearing a visor for the first time, put in some slick jumps to gain lengths in the air over his rivals.
It all went wrong, however, at the last of the five fences down the back straight, but Dunne sat tight and King Of Realms fought off the late challenge of market rival Coup De Pinceau to score by one and three-quarter lengths.
Diomede Des Mottes ran out an easy winner of the opening racingtv.com Maiden Hurdle, leading over the third-last flight and putting daylight between himself and his six rivals in the home straight to post a seven-length success for Alcester trainer Dan Skelton.
This was Skelton’s 176th winner of the season as he chases a double-century, a feat last achieved by the legendary Martin Pipe.
Such was Pipe’s domination, he was crowned champion trainer on 15 occasions and passed 200 winners eight times in all and, although time is not on Skelton’s side this campaign, he has come closer to the benchmark than any trainer since Pipe retired.
With 14 runners, the following Join Racing TV Now Novices’ Handicap Chase looked a competitive affair, but few ever got into contention as 9-4 favourite Coopers Square made it four wins from his last five races, seeing off the challenge of top-weight Boughtbeforelunch by three-quarters of a length.
Outsider Change Ur Tune had jumped past Coopers Square at the fourth-last fence, but a mistake at the next put paid to his chances and the favourite, who had been at the front almost from the off, was able to regain the lead and make the most of his weight concession from the runner-up.
With Dustin Des Mottes a non-runner, five lined up for the second most valuable race of the day, the Olly Murphy Racing Handicap Chase.
The progressive A Little Magic was making his first appearance for nearly two years after wind surgery, but he was a spent force going down the back straight as the favourite Generous Day took the race by the scruff of the neck, turning for home well clear of the rest, putting 22 lengths between himself and Bandsman at the line.
With 12 winners on the board so far, David Maxwell is gong flat out to land this season’s amateur riders’ title and he was on Marinero in the Overbury Stud Air Wedding Open Hunters’ Chase.
Highest rated of the six runners, Marinero had twice finished behind the useful Road To Rome at Ludlow, but it was Risk A Fine who headed the market and it paid to follow the money as, having got a flying start, he made all the running with James King to see off Stratford winner Brave Jaq.
There was little form to go on in the closing Bet At racingtv.com Maiden Open National Hunt Flat Race, but the betting suggested that the Skelton-trained Bourbon Borderline was the horse to follow.
Winner of an Irish point-to-point at the second attempt, Bourbon Borderline wore a tongue strap for his Rules debut, but couldn’t peg back Welsh Saint, who led from start to finish with James Bowen, making his experience count after chasing home the promising Now Look At Me last time.
The eye-catcher of the race was Hostile, a half-brother to the useful Valdez, who stormed up the home straight to snatch second. Described by his trainer Alan King as “a playboy” he will have learnt a lot from the experience and is one to watch out for.