New season well under way at Stratford
AFTER being in doubt the week before with parts of the course waterlogged, it was all systems go for Stratford's opening meeting of the 2020 season on Monday as jump racing geared up for its biggest event of the year, the Cheltenham Festival, writes David Hucker.
After a bright and sunny start to the day, rain had set in by the time the runners went out for the opening Win £1000 Today On The Low6 App Juvenile Hurdle in which The Pink'n, having his sixth start over jumps, proved too good for his rivals, making steady progress to go past Zarafshan at the last flight and stride clear to record his second win.
Seamus Mullins' runner has been a model of consistency, finishing third to the useful Sir Psycho, who holds an entry at the Festival, at Haydock Park on his latest start, and he quickly asserted on the run-in.
Disappointment of the race was favourite Elysian Flame, who never got into contention, finishing fifth, beaten over 13 lengths.
Ludlow winner Darling Alko opened up as favourite for the Download The Low6 App Novices' Handicap Chase, but drifted in the market as support came for Destined To Shine.
With two fences omitted because of the wet ground and the open ditch bypassed on the first circuit, the runners had just seven to jump and, in the long run to the first, it was Fanzio who set up a useful lead.
He got in close to the penultimate fence where Destined To Shine closed the gap, but the favourite didn't get any nearer as Fanzio opened up again approaching the final jump to score on his third attempt over fences for Cotswold trainer Richard Hobson.
Kapgarry, trained like Darling Alko by Nigel Twiston-Davies, was another uneasy favourite in the feature £50 Free Bet Low6 App Handicap Chase, but that didn't stop him winning, as he proved too strong for Not A Role Model over the final fence.
Always in the front two, Kapgarry had a tendency to jump to his right, but his momentum wasn't seriously affected by it and, having seen off top-weight Eceparti, he readily found more when tackled by Not A Role Model to give his jockey Sam Twiston-Davies his 94th winner of the season.
Just four had been declared for the Read The aidan-coleman.com Blog Novices' Chase, but it looked a fascination contest nevertheless and so it proved, with useful hurdler Tidal Flow scoring for the second time over fences in the familiar colours of Brocade Racing.
After winning at Uttoxeter, Tidal Flow had failed to concede 10lbs to Burbank at Newbury in December, but he returned to winning form here, making all the running with champion jockey Richard Johnson to see off the challenge of Moonlighter, who had finished fourth to Cheltenham Festival hopeful Rouge Vif in Warwick's Kingmaker Novices' Chase last month.
Tom Cannon looked to have made a winning move when jumping top-weight William H Bonney into the lead at the final flight in the Low6 Cheltenham Festival Preview Handicap Hurdle, but he was passed on the run-in by favourite Le Cameleon, produced with a perfectly-timed run by Chester Williams, and lost second place on the line to another strong finisher in River Bray.
Favourite Risk And Roll overcame a mistake at the second fence to prevail in the Low6 Sports Betting Reborn Novices' Hunters' Chase, overhauling Neil The Legend on the run-in, before Hunny Moon denied Grandads Cottage by a head in the tightest finish of the afternoon to land the closing National Hunt Flat Race.