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Thrilling finish for Warwick’s big return

RACING returned to Warwick for the first time since November on Saturday and racegoers were treated to a thrilling finish to the feature £100,000 Wigley Group Classic Chase won by My Silver Lining, who held off Galia Des Liteaux by three-quarters of a length, reports David Hucker.

Ridden by James Best and owned by his mother-in-law Celia Djivanovic, the Emma Lavelle trained grey mare had set sail for home up the straight, but she started to tread water after the final fence as Harry Skelton galvanised Galia Des Liteaux to close the gap. The post came just in time for the 17/2 shot My Silver Lining to deliver victory for Best who described it as “the best day of my career.”

Despite the narrow defeat of Galia Des Liteaux, it proved an afternoon to remember for Alcester trainer Dan Skelton, on a winter break in Barbados, who had six winners across the country, starting with the opener at Warwick, a chase which remembered successful owner/trainer Edward Courage. Restricted to novices this year, it had attracted just two runners and Skelton’s Etalon, sent off the hot 1/6 favourite, was never out of first gear to beat sole rival Salamanca Bay.

My Silver Lining Jumps the last at Warwick. Photo: David Pratt
My Silver Lining Jumps the last at Warwick. Photo: David Pratt

Donnacha was another winning favourite when leading three flights from home and seeing off Klitschko, who had trailed the field early on after a bad mistake at the first flight, and Koenigsstern in the Michael Costello Memorial Handicap Hurdle.

Diamond Ri, runner-up on his hurdles debut to Insurrection at Exeter, continued the run of good results for favourite backers when taking the Wigley Support Fund “National Hunt “Maiden Hurdle in style, much to the delight of trainer Joe Tizzard who said of his winner “he learnt as the race went on, but is still a big baby who is just getting the hang of it.” A chasing career awaits Diamond Ri in due course.

With big fields in qualifying races in Ireland, Gordon Elliott sent Mel Monroe to Warwick to contest the eight-runner Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle, but she failed to secure a place in the final when finishing only fifth behind the 11 year-old J’Ai Froid, who had been in a battle with hat-trick seeking Kyntara from the start, prevailing by ¾ length, with Shallow River just a neck further way in third.

Another on a hat-trick was the progressive Broadway Boy, winner of his last two races at Cheltenham, in the Grade 2 Trustatrader Hampton Novices’ Chase, but it was Skelton’s Grey Dawning who was preferred in the market. Punters got it spot on, as Grey Dawning jumped past leader Apple Away at the penultimate fence, striding away to win impressively by 14 lengths with Paddy Power shortening her from 16-1 to 10-1 for the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Jonathan Burke once again showcased his riding talents when bringing Sam Brown, trained in Dorset by Anthony Honeyball who had won the race two years ago, to collar long-time leader Aye Right at the final fence and land the £75,000 Unibet Veterans’ Handicap Chase (Series Final), re-scheduled from last weekend’s abandoned Sandown Park meeting.

With the evening quickly drawing in, Bill Joyce, a £225,000 purchase after winning his sole Irish point- to-point, made all the running to take the closing Wigley Community Fund Open National Hunt Flat Race.

There is racing at the course again next Monday (22nd January) starting at 1.45pm.

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