Hazzaar and Statuario in tight finish at opening meeting of Warwick Racecourse's May Racing Carnival
WARWICK'S May Racing Carnival got under way on Monday and it saw one of the closest finishes of the year as Hazzaar and Statuario flashed past the post together at the end of the two-mile Watch On Racing TV Novices' Handicap Chase, writes David Hucker.
With Presentandcounting a non-runner because of the ground, Hazzaar was a short-priced favourite to lift the prize, having finished second at Exeter last time out.
Having his second run after wind surgery and jumping well from the start, Hazzaar lost his position down the back straight, but came to join Statuario, judged to be the best-turned-out in the race, at the final fence, prevailing by the minimum margin of a nose under Jonathan Burke.
On a damp and miserable afternoon with the going softened by the morning rain, eight set out for the opening racingtv.com Maiden Hurdle over three miles and one furlong.
Favourite was the Jonjo O'Neill trained Irish point-to-point winner Papa Tango Charly but, after being prominent throughout, he weakened approaching the final flight, giving way to Inca Rose and Monty Guiry, the latter getting up close home to score by a neck.
Sixteen lined up for the following Join Racing TV Now Mares' “National Hunt” Maiden Hurdle over two miles, with dual bumper winner Subway Surf, who had showed her best form so far over jumps when runner-up to Sorbet at Market Rasen last month, drifting in the market, ending as 11-4 joint favourite with Nina The Terrier, who shortened from 4-1.
Punters got it spot on as Subway Surf, always close up with the pace, led into the home straight, but was joined at the final flight by Nina The Terrier who proved the stronger on the run-in under a well-timed ride from Tom Bellamy.
The Every Race Live On Racing TV Handicap Hurdle over three miles and one furlong was divided into two, with the first division going to Harry Haze, winning his first race at the 16th attempt, who was always to the front in a steadily-run race.
The mare Shantou Sunset ran on well in the straight to close on the winner, but jockey Conor Ring had kept a bit up his sleeve and had a willing partner on the run to the line.
Lugg River and Sean Bowen took the runners along in the second division and they were still in front coming to the last, although course winner Tipalong Tyler was throwing down a challenge.
Tipalong Tyler was pulled up here on soft ground in February, but she stayed on strongly this time to overhaul the leader and get the new season off to a good start for trainer Kayley Woollacott.
Alcester trainer Dan Skelton, who finished runner-up to Paul Nicholls in the title race last season, got off the mark for the new campaign when Go Steady and Bridget Andrews held off Whoshotwho, having his first run for 534 days, in a close finish to the Visit racingtv.com Handicap Chase.
This win took Skelton's total to 14 in the current Warwick season, four ahead of Alan King with three meetings to go.
Top-weight Champagne City made most of the running in the familiar colours of owner Roger Brookhouse to record back-to-back course wins in the Bet At racingtv.com Handicap Hurdle before Rosy World beat Blarney Bateleur by half a length in another thriller in the concluding racingtv.com Mares' Handicap Hurdle.
Racing returns to Warwick on Saturday evening for the second meeting of the carnival with a seven-race card starting at 5.12pm.