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Gillard guides mount to opening race glory

THE first of Warwick’s four meetings in May saw a big crowd flock to the always-popular Family Fun Day on Monday with the going riding good for the first time this year, reports David Hucker.

Warwickshire trainer Dan Skelton, who was so near to becoming champion trainer last season, is clearly out to strike early this campaign and, after landing two winners on the opening day on Saturday, had 14 entries to choose from on Warwick’s seven-race card.

He selected Clararose, runner-up to Tip Top Tonto at Fakenham last month, from his three entries in the opening eventmasters.co.uk Mares’ Handicap Hurdle and, backed from 11/2 to 9/2 favourite, she was brought with a smooth run by Fergus Gillard to join the leaders at the penultimate flight, coming right away to win easily from Midnight Gold and second-favourite Kit’s Coty.

Richie McLernon on board Trapista. Photo: David Pratt
Richie McLernon on board Trapista. Photo: David Pratt

There didn’t look to be much between Skelton’s two runners Get Sky High and Hot Fizzy Lizzy in the first division of the eventmasters.co.uk Mares’ Maiden Hurdle, but it was Alan King’s dual bumper winner Avakate who headed the market at 8/11. Adopting different tactics to the previous race, Gillard took 3/1 shot Get Sky High into a clear lead and she was never troubled to see off Dame Sarra and Red Panda to bring up a quick double for trainer and jockey.

Skelton also ran two in the second division, but it was Irish Lullaby, three times a winner on the flat in Ireland, who punters wanted to back, going off the 8/11 favourite. Third to Pitwood Road on her hurdles debut at Market Rasen, Irish Lullaby soon pulled her way to the front and, although joined by Irish Chorus at the penultimate flight, had too much speed in the end winning comfortably.

There was close betting in the Visit racingtv.com Novices’ Handicap Chase with Skelton’s In This World just shading favouritism ahead of Olly Murphy’s Fiston De Becon, who was seeking a hat-trick after wins at Hereford and Southwell, They came into the straight with the race between them, but it was Fiston De Becon, on whom Sean Bowen hugged the inside rail throughout, who got up to win.

After the narrow defeat of In This World, Skelton looked about to land another winner when Kielan Woods brought God’s Own Getaway with a well-timed run to lead after the final fence in the Lewis Badges 1832 Handicap Chase, only to have victory snatched from his grasp by the flying finish of the mare Trapista, who got up on the line under Richie McLernon to win by a neck.

Davidoc was a well-supported 11/8 favourite to take the racingtv.com Handicap Hurdle and Ben Jones had him in the firing line from the off. He went to the front at the penultimate flight, but was caught on the run-in by 8/1 shot King’s Castle on whom Bryan Carver timed his challenged to perfection.

In another exciting finish, Newtonian relished the better ground to win his first race at the 21st attempt when taking the closing Welcome Hills Vineyard Handicap Hurdle.

There is racing again on Saturday with Ladies Night when the first of seven races starts at 5.35pm.

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