Hatcher lands hat-trick of fences wins after impressive performance at Stratford Racecourse's Ladies Day
HATCHER and Harry Skelton continued their love affair with Stratford when taking the feature Class 2 Mark & Jackie Nixon Ruby Wedding Handicap Chase, highlight of Sunday's seven-race Ladies Day card, writes David Hucker.
In the absence of Solar Impulse, just four runners were left to fight it out for the £22,500 prize fund and it was Hatcher, who won four hurdle races in a row here in 2018, who landed a hat-trick of wins over fences in impressive style.
He beat Tikkinthebox by six lengths at Newton Abbot and, although was 6lbs worse off in the weights this time, the result was just the same, as he produced a telling turn of foot from the final fence to go clear.
Us And Them, a first runner at the course for Irish trainer Joseph O'Brien, never threatened to challenge and favourite Scardura led early, but faded out of contention to finish a tired last of the four runners.
Jockey Harry Bannister came in for a winning ride on Dylan's Sea Song in the opening Visit racingtv.com Mares' Handicap Hurdle, replacing regular rider James Davies who was unwell.
Going past long-time leader Karannelle after the penultimate flight, Dylan's Sea Song quickly went clear and, despite jumping slightly to the right at the final obstacle, ran on strongly to hold Topkapi Star by three lengths.
Longest race of the afternoon was the Class 3 Peter Allsopp From Bell Green Coventry Memorial Handicap Hurdle over an extended three and a quarter miles and Drakes Well, who had been led into the start, got a flyer and quickly established a lead which he held until the end of the back straight.
Here course winner Wbee, who was chasing a hat-trick, went on under Sean Bowen and he saw out the trip well to beat Oksana and Drakes Well who faded, but just held on to third place.
Wbee had beaten Drumlee Watar here back in April and, with the runner-up going on to notch his own hat-trick at Worcester a few days earlier, his form looks solid and he could step up in class next time.
With three non-runners, six lined up for the Ardencote Destination Spa Handicap Chase over two and three-quarter miles and it was Demon D'Aunou, a beaten favourite at Newton Abbot last time, who was sent off at the head of the market again to score for the first time since last July.
Outsider Steeles Terrace and Harry Bannister took the runners along on the first circuit, but the lead changed over the water jump when Somethinboutangela went on with Sam Twiston-Davies.
All the while, Demon D'Aunou was being patiently ridden by Jonjo O'Neill Jnr and he came to challenge on the home turn going much the better.
When the jockey pressed the button, the race was quickly over as they came away to win easily by eight and a half lengths.
It was back to the minimum trip for the Terry O's 60th Birthday Novices' Hurdle which featured four previous winners including hat-trick seekers Chez Hans and Peaked Too Soon.
The race went to Chez Hans and amateur Ben Bromley who jumped into the lead at the final flight and repelled the challenge of course winner Gregor to deny the Skeltons a double on the day.
Training honours of the afternoon went to Nicky Henderson who brought Royal Ruby back from a 527 day absence to land the LWK MS Group 50th Anniversary Novices' Handicap Chase by 23 lengths.
Jumping into the lead at the second fence, Royal Ruby made the rest of the running over the two miles and three furlongs trip, easily seeing off the challenge of Babytaggle, who finished runner-up at the course for the second Sunday running.
On the hottest raceday of the year so far, there were no jumps to negotiate for the closing Support Retraining Of Racehorses (ROR) Open National Hunt Flat Race in which Luke San, third at Market Rasen, looked to open his account.
He had every chance with a furlong to go, but Lady Excalibur, who shortened from 13-2 to a starting price of 4-1, went past him as if he was standing still to record an easy debut win in the hands of Tom O'Brien for Somerset trainer Alan Jones.
There's racing again at the course on Thursday, 29th July when the eight-race card gets under way at 1.00pm.