DJIN Conti and Tikk Tock Boom fought out the finish of the afternoon in the Brian Overson Stephen Allday Perpetual Plate, highlight of Warwick’s Coventry City Football Club Raceday on Wednesday, writes David Hucker.
Jockey Gavin Sheehan had brought up his 400th career win when scoring on Cracker Jak at Exeter the previous day and he added to that success when getting top-weight Djin Conti home by a head from chasing debutant Tikk Tock Boom, the pair being locked in battle all the way up the home straight.
Alcester trainer Dan Skelton had got off to a flying start when Bbold, ridden by his brother Harry, took the first division of the Coventry City FC Maiden Hurdle in some style, beating Top Up The Fashion and I’m A Starman.
They struck again with Comrade Conrad, wearing a tongue-tie for the first time, in the Andrew Whiting Wealth Consultancy Handicap Hurdle to make it 186 winners for the season for Dan as he strives to be the first trainer to reach a double-century since the legendary Martin Pipe in 2001-02.
The second division of the Maiden Hurdle looked to lie between the two market leaders and they turned into the straight together with Bubbles Of Gold and champion jockey Richard Johnson just holding an advantage over favourite Sojourn, who was looking to build on a promising hurdles debut at Wincanton.
It all changed approaching the penultimate flight, as Sojourn ran out of petrol and Bubbles Of Gold, trained at Wilmcote by Olly Murphy, stayed on stoutly to deny the running-on Cool Destination, who looks a winner in the making.
This success took Johnson on to 192 winners for the campaign and, although Harry Skelton has pushed him hard with a career-best 165, he looks assured of a fourth consecutive title when the season ends this month.
Murphy introduced Irish point-to-point runner-up Notre Pari in the Event Support Team Novices’ Hurdle, but it was Elusive Belle, the choice from four entries by Lambourn trainer Nicky Henderson, who headed the betting market, taking a big drop in class after running at the Cheltenham Festival.
Leading at the final flight, Elusive Belle proved too good for Laxey, who had led from the start, with Notre Pari, who travelled well throughout the race, catching the eye in third.
Fifteen lined up for the Nationwide Windows and Doors Handicap Hurdle, but it was all over bar the shouting once Little Millie hit the front halfway down the back straight and she had five lengths to spare over Three Star General at the line.
Longest race of the afternoon was the Shortland Horne Handicap Chase over three miles and five furlongs and it went to Welsh trainer Christian Williams, who saddled both the winner Fifty Shades, ridden by James Bowen, and the third Conas Taoi.
Williams and Bowen were back in the winner’s enclosure when 14-1 shot Lace Bonnet, wearing cheekpieces for the first time, took the concluding Mares’ Handicap Hurdle by half a length from Infiniti.