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Talk Of The South digs deep to claim Warwick success

Talk Of The South jumps the last in the Sloane Helicopters Handicap Chase. Photo: David Pratt (dwprattracingphotography.co.uk)
Talk Of The South jumps the last in the Sloane Helicopters Handicap Chase. Photo: David Pratt (dwprattracingphotography.co.uk)

TALK Of The South, runner up in the feature race at Warwick’s Air Ambulance Countryside Day 12 months ago, went one better on Sunday, just clinging on with Paddy Brennan in the very testing conditions to beat his nine rivals, writes David Hucker.

There were a number of course regulars up against Talk Of The South this time, with Classic Chase winners Russe Blanc and Rigadin DeBeauchene, as well as Muckle Roe and Vice Et Vertu in the line-up.

Last year Brennan was on Vice Et Vertu, who was pulled up at the 15 fence but, this time, he was on the right horse, partnering Talk Of The South, who had put his best foot forward to score for him at the last meeting, and followed up to land the top prize of the day by a diminishing length from Muckle Roe.

There were no rich pickings for racegoers in the opening Newark Livestock Market Novices’ Hurdle, as 4-11 favourite Piton Pete, the only winner in the field, went past 28-1 shot Cloudy Glen, who had led from the second flight, to grind out a win on the flat, coming home two and three-quarter lengths clear.

The winning time was more than 39 seconds outside the standard for the course and distance reflecting conditions on the hurdle track, which were described as heavy, soft in places.

Although the chase course was slightly better, being mainly soft, the four runners in the following European Breeders’ Fund/Thoroughbred Breeders Association Mares’ Chase went even slower, with the winner Timeforwest clocking a time more than 44 seconds over the standard.

Timeforwest is trained by Jonjo O’Neill for the Jockey Club Cheltenham and South West Syndicate, for whom this was a third winner of the season, and there were plenty of members on hand to cheer their winner home.

Now McGinty led home the finishers in the E.L. Jackson Charitable Trust Handicap Hurdle, recording his first win at the 13 attempt to complete a good weekend for trainer Stuart Edmunds who had scored with his only runner at Sandown Park the day before.

The easiest winner of the afternoon came in the Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle when Chief Brody and James Bowen led before the penultimate flight to post a 25 length success before GalwayJack made it a hat-trick of wins in the Air Wedding Open Hunters’ Chase, named after one of the many good hunter chasers trained at Chesterton by the late John Thorne.

Jockey Richard Johnson is leaving no stone unturned as he looks to land a third consecutive championship, travelling from his Herefordshire home to Lincolnshire for just one ride on Rio Quinto for Wilmcote trainer Olly Murphy, before dashing south to Warwick to partner the un-raced Melchior King for his principal stable of Philip Hobbs in the concluding Kerry Burton Memorial Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.

Owned by Diana Whateley, for whom Johnson has ridden a number of big race winners over the years, Rio Quinto couldn’t peg back leader Florrie Knox, going down by half a length, and the afternoon didn’t get any better for the champ as Melchior King beat just one home, with race going to Milanstorm, ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies for his father Nigel, who owns and trains the horse.

For Murphy, there was to be a happy ending to the day with conditional jockey Fergus Gregory bringing Calipso Collonges home in the last at Market Rasen to make it 43 wins for the season over jumps and a 51 success in all since he started training last summer.

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