Atlantic Storm edges out Larch Hill as pair renew rivalry at Stratford Racecourse
ALTHOUGH two non-runners, including the fancied Getariver, reduced the field to just five for Stratford's Visit racingtv.com Handicap Chase on Sunday, the re-match between Larch Hill and Atlantic Storm, first and second at Warwick last time out, provided an exciting finish, writes David Hucker.
It was Ar Mest, claimed out of a selling hurdle at Fakenham earlier this month, who headed the betting In front of course regular Atlantic Storm, but favourite backers knew their fate some way out as he hit the third-last fence and could only run on at one pace to finish a well-beaten third.
Up front, it was Larch Hill and Atlantic Storm who approached the final fence with the race between them and, with the benefit of a 6lb pull in the weights, Atlantic Storm prevailed this time by three-quarters of a length.
There was a turn-up in the opening Racing Welfare Supporting Mental Health Awareness Week Maiden Hurdle over two-and-three-quarter miles when odds-on favourite Drakes Well was collared on the run-in by 10-1 shot Barrowmount, who had been brought from last to first by Micheal Nolan to score at the fifth attempt for owner/trainer Seamus Mullins.
There was another surprise winner in the following Join Racing TV Now Novices' Handicap Chase over two miles and three furlongs as 22-1 shot Dawn Sunrise, who had been up at the front from the start, stayed on well under James Best to see off Ardbruce and joint favourite Nefyn Point.
The other joint favourite Bardd made a bad blunder in the middle of the race from which he never recovered, finishing a well-beaten sixth.
Pepper Street, a winner of a handicap hurdle at Southwell last time, had to concede weight to her six rivals in the Come Racing On The 22nd May Mares' Novices' Selling Hurdle over two miles and half a furlong, but had no problem in following up in this lower class for jockey Tom Midgley, riding a winner on his first visit to Stratford.
Connections went to £4,400 to buy Pepper Street back at the post-race auction and, in this form, she could notch a hat-trick.
Une De La Seniere was another odds-on favourite to bite the dust in the afternoon's longest race, the Stratford Touring Park Is Open Mares' Handicap Hurdle over three miles, two and a half furlongs, finishing only third behind The Wicket Chicken and Sam Twiston-Davies, who proved too strong for long-time leader My Lady Grey on the run-in.
Trainer Kerry Lee produced Shaman Du Berlais, having his first outing for the stable, fit and ready to run after an absence of 604 days and he made every yard of the running under top weight to land the Visit stratfordracecourse.net For Tickets Handicap Chase over an extended two-and-three-quarter miles from Lies About Milan.
All the money was for the unraced Dusky Days in the closing Bet At racingtv.com Open National Hunt Flat Race and he just got home by a neck from Blue Collar Glory in the closest finish of the afternoon.
This Saturday sees the return of crowds to the course for the first time since March last year when the Class 2 Peter Allen Thanks For The Great Memories Handicap Hurdle tops the seven-race card.
The first race is at 5.40pm and viewing will be from the centre of the course for which tickets, which cost £15 including a racecard, must be bought in advance from www.stratfordracecourse.net.