Fanzio makes his mark at Stratford once again
FANZIO, a winner over the course back in March, landed the feature Charlie Longsdon Racing Handicap Chase at a damp and blustery Stratford last Thursday, writes David Hucker.
Fanzio and Templehills, who was looking to post back-to-back course wins, had a ding-dong battle throughout the two-and-a-half mile contest, turning into the home straight with nothing between them.
It was the younger Fanzio, ridden by Paul O'Brien, who prevailed on the long run to the line, the final fence again having been omitted, with Town Parks staying on late to deprive Templehills of second spot.
The eight-race card got off to a good start for favourite backers as Go Millie Go, who had run with promise after a long absence to finish runner-up to Wynn House at Bangor-on-Dee at the end of last month, got off the mark at the fifth attempt in the 25 Club Mares' Maiden Hurdle over two-and-three-quarter miles.
Taking over from leader Whiteoak Fleur before the home turn, she ran on well to see off the challenge of Sandymount Rose, who was finishing runner-up for the fourth race in a row, with Olly Murphy's A Perfect Gift, having her first run since February, staying on to finish third.
The classy Black Op took last year's running of the Charlotte Cole Memorial Beginners' Chase with Lisnagar Oscar, who was later to spring a 50-1 surprise in the Paddy Power Stayers Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, back in third.
Whether this year's renewal produces a Festival winner is open to debate but, Happygolucky, last seen out when finishing fourth in the competitive Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Hurdle in March, jumped well throughout on his chasing debut, running on resolutely to deny Paint The Dream.
Market leader Happygolucky was another winner for trainer Kim Bailey who has been operating at a 33 per cent strike rate in the last fortnight, and the 19th success of the season for jockey David Bass.
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies landed last year's running of the Annual Membership Conditional Jockeys' Selling Hurdle with Ballyellis and he ran Larch Hill, a faller over fences at Carlisle on his previous outing, in this year's contest.
Taking over from early leader Floating Rock, he made the running with Jordan Nailor until two flights out, but had no answer to the renewed challenge of his rival who went clear to win on his first run for trainer Mark Walford.
Ridden by Alexander Thorne, who had been on the mark at Fakenham the day before, Floating Rock was bought back by connections for £6,400 at the post-race auction.
There was a chaotic start to the first division of the British Stallion Studs EBF "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle (Qualifier) with a number of runners, including favourite Galice Macalo, whipping round in all directions.
After being reluctant to join in, once the race got underway, Galice Macalo quickly went into the lead and never saw another rival as she followed up her Warwick win under substitute jockey David Bass, who completed a double on the afternoon.
There was an upset in the second division, as odds-on favourite Champagnesuperover, making his first appearance over hurdles for Olly Murphy, was run out after the final flight by When You're Ready, who found an extra gear under the promising Kevin Brogan.
Four came into the straight with a chance in the J.H. Rowe Memorial Handicap Chase and it was 6-1 shot Cuban Pete who prevailed by a neck from Jean Genie, before Soyouthinksoagain and Harry Skelton proved too good for Scrutinise in the closing Stratford Racecourse Handicap Hurdle.