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Patience rewarded for Pacific De Baune in Warwick showpiece

Pacific De Baune ploughs through the last fence in the Highflyer Bloodstock Novices' Chase. Photo: David Pratt.
Pacific De Baune ploughs through the last fence in the Highflyer Bloodstock Novices' Chase. Photo: David Pratt.


PACIFIC De Baune added his name to the roll of honour for Warwick’s Highflyer Bloodstock Novices' Chase on Wednesday when winning an eventful renewal in the hands of Jeremiah McGrath, writes David Hucker.

French import Djingle, making his second appearance in this country, set off at a fierce pace, opening up a clear lead over the favourite Pacific De Baune. His jumping was anything but assured, however, and he was a beaten horse when unseating Adrian Heskin at the final fence.

Given a patient ride, Pacific De Baune had been travelling much the stronger coming out of the back straight but, with the race at his mercy, put in a short stride approaching the last giving his supporters their only anxious moment of the race.

“He’s very professional and a lovely horse who could be very progressive,” said winning rider McGrath. “He put in a short one at the last, but was clever on his feet.”

My Mate Mark was well-backed for the opening Sodick "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle, gong off the even-money favourite ahead of the forecast market leader Harambe. Always at the head of affairs, My Mate Mark dug deep to see off the challenge of his rival on the run to the line, holding on by a diminishing margin of three-quarters of a length.

Trained at Bourton-on-the-Water by Ben Pauling, My Mate Mark had gone down in a close finish on his first run for over a year at Bangor-on-Dee last time and progressed to win here, although was pulled up after the line by Daryl Jacob after sustaining a cut below the knee which will keep him out of action for a while.

Six runners set out on the two-and-a-half mile trip for the Fourpenny Plate Mares' Novices' Handicap Chase, the first of three races on the card restricted to fillies and mares, with hat-trick seeking Marienstar bidding to defy top weight.

Sent straight into the lead by amateur Jack Andrews, Marienstar made every yard of the running, jumping well in front to easily hold off the staying-on Black Tulip by five lengths.

“She is a very tough mare, who is in great form at the moment,” said Andrews. “Although not very big, she is brave and, when given a squeeze, comes up for you.”

Irish raider Biddy The Boss topped the weights in the Thoroughbred Breeders Association Mares' Novices' Hurdle, carrying a penalty for her Wexford win. She had every chance jumping the penultimate hurdle, but the weight began to tell as She Mite Bite and Maebh took the final flight together looking like fighting out the finish.

Making her debut under Rules, She Mite Bite veered sharply to the right after jumping the hurdle, leaving the way clear for Maebh to open up an unassailable lead and, despite idling close home, hold on by one-and-a-half lengths to reward her backers, having shortened from 14-1 to 10-1 before the off.

After his success in the feature, trainer Nicky Henderson was looking to top-weight Malachite to double up in the Sodick Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle, but he could never land a blow on leader Erick Le Rouge who made all the running with Chester Williams, riding for his mother Jane.

Just three lined up for the first running of the £30,000 Smarkets Carlow Veterans' Handicap Chase, the ninth leg of the Veterans' Chase Series, with Exitas and Beat That renewing rivalry after their run over Aintree’s Mildmay course three weeks ago.

Exitas won easily that day but, on 10lb better terms and given a positive ride by James Bowen, Beat That gained his revenge to bring up the Henderson double.

The largest field of the day lined up for the closing Smarkets David Nicholson Memorial Fillies' 'Junior' Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race, in which Eyes Right was well-supported to win for trainer Alan King, who learnt his trade with Nicholson in whose memory the race is run each year.

But Eyes Right could make no impact as Felicidad and Chester Williams set a good pace up front, only to be collared by Lunar Baby and Jonjo O’Neill Jr. in the final furlong.

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