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Comanche Chieftain proves he's a horse for the Stratford course

Commanche Chieftain jumps the last on his way to win the Stuart Stanley Supporting Acorns Children's Hospice Handicap Chase. Photo: David Pratt
Commanche Chieftain jumps the last on his way to win the Stuart Stanley Supporting Acorns Children's Hospice Handicap Chase. Photo: David Pratt

IT was a case of horses for courses at Stratford on Tuesday, as Comanche Chieftain recorded his fourth success at the Warwickshire track when landing the feature £20,000 Stuart Stanley Supporting Acorns Children’s Hospice Handicap Chase, writes David Hucker.

Top-weight Wells De Lune was looking to defy the burden of 12-2 as he sought his fifth win in a row after a successful summer which saw him triumph four times at Cartmel.

He led his three rivals from the off, but was in trouble before the fourth-last fence where he dropped back quickly after bleeding from the nose and was pulled up by Sean Bowen.

From that point on, there only looked to be one winner, as Comanche Chieftain, who failed to follow up his latest course win when running over hurdles at Worcester two weeks ago, appreciated the return to the bigger obstacles, coming home an eight-length winner with Wayne Hutchinson to record a sixth career success.

The absence of Djin Conti with an abnormal blood analysis deprived the opening Acorns Children’s Hospice Novices’ Hurdle of much of its interest, leaving Henry Smith to go off the hot 4-9 favourite to beat his four rivals.

Well behind multiple winner Hatcher here in July, he had returned after a wind operation to score at Bangor-on-Dee and, despite untidy jumps at the final two obstacles, duly followed up to beat Accord, who had shortened in the betting just before the off, by an easy seven lengths.

Champion jockey Richard Johnson, who closed the gap on Harry Skelton at the top of this year’s table to 15 after a Saturday treble, was on board favourite Smoking Dixie in the Equine Products Novices’ Handicap Chase over two and three-quarter miles.

Having set out to make all the running, Smoking Dixie had run his race by the fourth-last fence, where top-weight Filemon went to the front, seemingly with plenty left to give.

But, a bad mistake at the next fence put paid to his chances, although he never gave up trying, staying on to be third, as Overtoujay and Torhousemuir fought out the finish, with the former holding on by half a length at the line.

Although only four lined up for the Hibbert Family Handicap Hurdle, there was still plenty of excitement with three of the runners in contention turning for home.

Collodi had struck for the Neil Mulholland Racing Club when beating Red Ochre at Market Rasen and Noel Fehily, who returned after a four-month absence through injury to finish second on his only ride at Newton Abbot on Saturday, sent him to the front from the off.

Hat-trick seeking Beach Break had made all the running to score at Bangor-on-Dee last time out, but Brian Hughes was content to let Collodi make the pace, sitting in behind the leader before coming to challenge as they jumped the penultimate flight.

They rounded the home turn together, with favourite Lovato also throwing down a challenge, but it was Beach Break who asserted going to the last to make light of his 8lb rise in the weights, looking like he may yet have further improvement to come.

Mr Caffrey had finished runner-up in his last three races after returning from a year’s break and was backed from 13-8 into 5-4 to get his head in front in the Jessica Wilcox Race To The Rainbow Handicap Hurdle.

Charlie Hammond had to ride a patient race as Abbie McCain and Danceintothelight set up a long lead but, having taken over at the second-last, Mr Caffrey strode away for a 16 length success from top-weight Tynecastle Park.

Versifier was sent off favourite to break her duck when finishing runner-up to Hoponandsee at Newton Abbot last month and the two faced each other again in the closing Bet At racinguk.com Mares’ Handicap Hurdle, with Hoponandsee heading the market this time.

Also prominent in the betting was Scotsbrook Night, who made all the running to record her first win over the course last month, and she set off in front again, looking like doubling up until tipping over at the final flight, gifting the prize to 33-1 shot Kristal Hart, who had been the only one to get close to her throughout the race.

There is racing at the course again on Saturday when the seven-race card gets underway at 2.20pm.

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