Volcano wins battle of the greys to land Warwick Racecourse's feature Handicap Chase
IN a battle of the greys, Volcano made it three wins from three runs at the course when beating the veteran Goodnight Charlie to land Warwick’s feature Class 3 MansionBet Bet 10 Get 20 Handicap Chase on Sunday, writes David Hucker.
Goodnight Charlie ran her usual game race, setting out to make all the running over the marathon three miles and five furlongs, but she was collared by Volcano approaching the final fence who, despite the 11lb rise in weight for his course win last month, stayed on strongly to extend trainer Sheila Lewis’s fairytale season with her small string.
With 21 of the 36 entries declared to run, the opening MansionBet Faller Insurance Novices’ Hurdle was divided into two and both divisions resulted in impressive wins for the favourites.
Trainer Alan King boasts a 23 per cent strike rate at the track and he added to that record in the first with the useful flat performer On To Victory, his only runner of the afternoon.
Carrying a penalty for his win at Wincanton, On To Victory appreciated the drop in class from his last race in the Betfair Hurdle to run out a ready winner.
Dan Skelton’s ex-German horse Calico looked the one to beat in the second division, also dropping in class after finishing runner-up in a Grade 2 event at Kempton Park last time, and he duly obliged, although was given a race by Olly Murphy’s newcomer Moore Margaux, the pair pulling clear of the rest.
Five lined up for the Class 3 MansionBet 2 Days Until Cheltmas EBF Mares’ Novices’ Chase, with Liberty Bella, a faller last time, heading the market.
She had finished ahead of Pink Legend when third behind Zambella over the course in December and, despite a mistake at the open ditch down the back, confirmed the form with a three and a quarter length success.
Hat-trick seeking Embole was a pretty short price to beat his 14 rivals in the Follow @mansionbet This Cheltmas Handicap Hurdle over two miles and five furlongs, but this was a more competitive event than the one he won at Southwell the previous Monday and he was a beaten horse when falling at the last flight.
The race went to 7-1 shot Coeur Serein, who had jumped to the front at the penultimate flight and ran on well with Richie McLernon to beat outsider Craic Magic and Miss Jeanne Moon.
Stamina was very much to the fore in the MansionBet Have Yourself A Merrycheltmas Handicap Hurdle over three-and-a-quarter miles as J’ai Froid, described by his trainer Laura Morgan as “a little bit of an oddball”, galloped all the way to the line to land his fourth win a row in the hands of Max Kendrick.
A morning gamble saw the odds for Ace Ventura shrink from 12-1 to 9-2 ahead of the Pony Racing Authority Graduates Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle over two miles, but he could finish only third behind 40-1 outsider Sadma, who was reluctant to line up at the start, but ran on resolutely to beat top-weight Detatched.
There was an even bigger priced winner in the closing bumper, won last year by Cheltenham Festival fancy Bear Ghylls, as 100-1 newcomer Mansoline proved too strong for her rivals.