Bumper crowd treated to thrilling finish in £30,000 feature at Proudly Warwick Raceday
ANOTHER big Warwick May Carnival crowd soaked up the sunshine at Proudly Warwick Raceday on Wednesday and they were treated to an exciting finish to the feature £30,000 Wigley Group Carnival Handicap Chase won by Leapaway, writes David Hucker.
Kelso winner Joke Dancer headed the betting market, but it was Sir Tivo, who was keen in the paddock and unshipped Kevin Brogan at the start, who led from top-weight Dolos.
Lorcan Williams sent Dolos into the lead turning into the home straight, looking the likely winner, but Leapaway came from last to first under Tom O'Brien to grab the lead close home.
There was a match for the opening Logicor Crudwell Cup Open Hunters' Chase, run over a distance of three miles and one-and-a-half furlongs, and the Dan Skelton-trained Debece made all the running to beat his sole rival Give Me A Copper without every really coming out of second gear.
He jumped the better throughout, the only blemish coming with an untidy leap at the last, sauntering home 49 lengths clear in the hands of Tristan Durrell.
There were joint favourites for the Join Racing TV Now William Eborall Maiden Hurdle two miles and three furlongs in the shape of Quid Pro Quo, having his first run for 437 days and returning after wind surgery, and Galahad Threepwood, twice a winner on the flat, who had made a promising debut over jumps when third at Newcastle.
Cadeau D'Or, who had been keen on his hurdles debut when third to Knappers Hill at Newton Abbot last month, took them along, tracked by Galahad Threepwood, with Harry Skelton content to bide his time on Quid Pro Quo.
The complexion of the race changed on the turn for home as Galahad Threepwood swept into the lead, but Quid Pro Quo was going ominously well behind him and, when Skelton pressed the button approaching the final hurdle, the race was all over and he coasted to a 14 length success.
The Coronation Handicap Hurdle over two miles celebrated the winner of the 1841 Epsom Derby, who took the Warwick Trial Stakes en route and, whilst the eight runners were a long way short of that standard, it still proved to be an interesting contest.
Top-weight Sofia's Rock set a good pace, although losing ground when jumping to his right, and his chance had gone when 9/4 shot Elham Valley swept past him with two hurdles to jump.
Despite clattering the final flight, Elham Valley was always in control from there on and ran out an easy winner from John Betjeman, with Sophia's Rock back in third.
Course winner Great D'Ange was sent off 6/4 favourite to follow up his win here last month in the Watch On Racing TV Chandler Handicap Chase over three miles and one-and-a-half furlongs.
Troed Y Melin set the pace at the head of a tightly-packed field, but Great D'Ange took over approaching the first of the five fences down the back straight and looked to be going well until taking a fall at the middle obstacle.
To his credit, Troed Y Melin, who had been pulled up in his last two races, fought back to re-take the lead in the home straight and stayed on well under Sam Twiston-Davies to beat Aire Valley Lad, who was nearest at the finish.
Winning trainer Chris Honour said that this was the horse's first win outside of the West Country, his two previous victories having come at Exeter, as he doesn't like travelling but, after this success, may be going further afield in future.
Owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede took last year's running of the Feldon Dunsmore Carnival Handicap Hurdle with Fix Sun and their green colours were to the fore again as ex-French Gipsy de Choisel made all the running to win his first race in this country, beating Percy's Word and Beyond The Clouds who couldn't land a blow in the home straight.
Starsky led four flights from home in the closing Logicor Warwickshire Handicap Hurdle over three miles and one furlong, but he had been caught by Apache Creek when coming down at the last flight, leaving Apache Creek and Kevin Brogan to come home clear winners.