The covers did their job at Warwick last Thursday as, despite a biting wind, the ground stayed frost-free, with the afternoon proving a good one for jockey Aidan Coleman who took the first two races, writes David Hucker.
Top of the bill was the Class 3 Premier League Betting At 188bet Handicap Hurdle over three and a quarter miles for which Court Frontier was well-fancied to follow up his Chepstow win six days earlier. Available at 5-1 with the sponsors in the morning, he was backed into 2-1 at the off and, after being held up at the back of the leading group, was brought with a well-timed run by Tom O’Brien to hit the front at the final obstacle and win comfortably from Desert Retreat.
There was a steady pace to the opening Cameron Smart Rainbow Race Juvenile Hurdle over two miles as Sandown Park winner Don Bersy, who was sent off the even-money favourite, and outsider Black Buble disputed the lead. Taken clear after the third-last flight by Aidan Coleman, Don Bersy ran on strongly to repel the late challenge of Dino Velvet and can go on to better things.
The Dan Skelton trained Hestina looked likely to be involved in the finish until a mistake at the penultimate flight put paid to her chances, but she is still one to watch for the future.
With his intended mount a non-runner, Coleman switched to Ms Parfois in the following 188bet.co.uk EBF Mares´ "National Hunt" Novices´ Hurdle and punters were keen to back Anthony Honeyball’s runner, who headed the market at 5-4.
In another slowly-run race, Ms Parfois and Al Reesha headed the field until the latter dropped away with three flights to jump. The danger from then on was Wizard’s Sliabh, who was switched to the inside to challenge at the final hurdle, but couldn’t find any extra on the run-in.
There was another short-priced favourite in the Australian Open Tennis At 188bet Handicap Chase in the shape of Yanmare who was bidding for his fourth win of the season. With Incentivise pulling up early on, there was little to choose between the three remaining runners for most of the race, but, it was 8-1 shot Peckhamecho who found an extra gear when needed, going clear of Yanmare approaching the final fence and denying favourite backers another payout.
Dolatulo, runner-up in controversial circumstances at Kelso last time out, was an interesting contender in the 188bet Willoughby De Broke Open Hunters´ Chase. Jockey Dougie Gittins had been banned for 10 days after mistaking the winning line and easing his mount down too soon but, whilst he had his supporters to go one better here, it was Grand Vision who was best backed to give trainer Colin Tizzard another winner.
Punters got it spot on, as Dolatulo was struggling on the second circuit, finishing tailed off. Up front, Grand Vision jumped the penultimate fence like a fresh horse in the hands of Michael Legg to come right away and record a six-length success from Pearlysteps.
Adrian Heskin had just one booked ride on the afternoon and it came on King Of Realms in the first division of the concluding National Hunt Flat Race. Part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson and golfer Lee Westwood, King Of Realms had every chance turning for home, but couldn’t match the pace of leader Carlos Du Fruitier who was given a positive ride by David Bass to make his British debut a winning one.
As with some of the earlier races, nobody seemed to want to make the running in the second division, with the result that a number of horses pulled for their head and the race never really got going until the last half mile. It was the grey Cirano De Sivola, a £60,000 purchase, who forced his way to the front and repelled all challengers, beating Talkischeap and 11-4 favourite Ballygown Bay who made up a lot of ground in the straight.