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Dan's the man again as he lands a Stratford treble

One For Billy leads inside the final furlong of the New LDV V80 Van Handicap Chase. Photo: David Pratt
One For Billy leads inside the final furlong of the New LDV V80 Van Handicap Chase. Photo: David Pratt

THE crowds flocked to Stratford’s ever-popular Family Day on Sunday and it proved to be yet another good day at the office for Dan and Harry Skelton who landed a treble to continue their rich vein of form, writes David Hucker.

With no rain since the first week of June, clerk of the course Nessie Chanter had been watering the track in the early of hours of each morning to maintain good ground, applying 55mm in the week leading up to the meeting.

There were shared bends for chase and hurdle races to reduce the amount of water needed but, with no break in the weather on the horizon, the taps will be on again ahead of next Sunday’s Ladies Day.

Adams Park, beaten 22 lengths into third place by Boko Fittleworth on his debut at Market Rasen, was a well-supported favourite to get off the mark in the opening Pertemps Juvenile Hurdle over two miles, being backed from 2-1 into 6-4.

Second favourite was newcomer Parmenter, who had started the year with a Flat rating of 71, only for her form to tail off and it was to be seen whether jumping would reignite the spark.

The two came round the final bend together and, although Parmenter had looked to be going the better, she found nothing when Wayne Hutchinson asked her to go and win the race and Adams Park was four lengths to the good at the line, with Go Now Go Now, formerly trained by Mark Johnston, staying on into third after making a bad mistake on the first circuit.

Although out of luck with Go Now Go Now in the first, owners Paul and Clare Rooney didn’t take long to get in the winner’s enclosure as their Chu Chu Percy scored at Perth 20 minutes later and they made it a quick double when top-weight OneFor Billy and Harry Skelton took the New LDV V80 Van Handicap Chase.

Coming to tackle leader The Yank after jumping the penultimate fence, OneFor Billy stayed on well to win, with Salto Chisco taking second place without ever threatening to challenge the winner.

This was a 61 success of the season for trainer Dan and Hatcher soon added another when leading all the way to land the following Rio Gold Syndicate "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle from 50-1 outsider Cybalko and follow up his win at the last meeting.

It didn’t stop there, as Red Tornado, runner-up at Newton Abbot last time, took the feature Class 3 Mid Warwickshire Cleaning & Charles Peters Recruitment Handicap Hurdle (For The Stratford Summer Salver), going clear around the final bend to easily account for Regulation and the disappointing Melody Of Scotland.

Having not reached the half-century until 4th August last year, Dan is well on target to set another career-best, although whether he yet has the ammunition to challenge for the title, which is based on prize money rather than winners, remains to be seen.

For Harry Skelton, Red Tornado was his 61 success of the season, putting him 25 ahead of reigning champion Richard Johnson, who was also in treble-winning form at Southwell, and 33 in front of Brian Hughes. Even if Dan can’t be champion trainer, he may well make his brother leading jockey.

Drumhart, who was making a return to racing under Rules after a spell in point-to-points, looked to have the PSA Group Handicap Chase in the bag as he went clear coming out of the back straight, only to find nothing when tackled going to the last fence where the veteran What A Laugh found another gear to stride clear on the run-in.

Brinestine ended a long losing run stretching back to November 2013 when he was trained by Paul Nicholls, leading into the straight and repelling the challenge of favourite Too Hoots to take the Coventry Live Handicap Chase.

The stewards called in winning trainer Emma-Jane Bishop after the race to inquire into the horse’s improved form compared with its previous run, but she could offer no explanation other than Brinestine is quirky.

Tidal Watch had yet to win in 12 starts under both codes but, with James Bowen in the saddle for the first time, he broke his duck in the concluding Birmingham Live Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, holding on by a neck from Lord Ferndale, who fought back on the run-in after being headed at the last flight.

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