Warwickshire trainer Dan Skelton posted a career-best total of 118 winners in the 2016-17 season that ended at Sandown Park on Saturday and he got the new campaign off to the best possible start when landing a double at Warwick’s Kids Carnival Day on Monday, writes David Hucker.
Despite the showery weather, another big crowd turned out for the first of three meetings that make up the May Racing Carnival and Skelton struck in the very first race when Bedrock, who had run well when third in a better class contest at Aintree in April, took the John Greasley Sportsfield Contractors Novices’ Hurdle.
Bought for 70,000 gns after winning twice on the Flat, Bedrock drifted in the betting market in the face of sustained support for Imperial Eloquence, backed from 11-4 to 7-4, who was still travelling well when crashing out at the fourth-last flight. This left the way clear for Bedrock and Harry Skelton to coast home ahead of Nicely Indeed, whose jockey Mikey Hamill had done well to stay in the saddle after a blunder at the first.
Trainer Fergal O’Brien and jockey Paddy Brennan were looking for quick compensation after the fall of Imperial Eloquence with hurdling debutante Oscar Rose in the following Racing UK Now Live On Youview 231 Mares’ “National Hunt” Maiden Hurdle over the minimum trip of two miles. Another who had run well in graded company at the Aintree Festival, Oscar Rose, looked a cut above her rivals and was duly sent off the 8-11 favourite.
But, there was a shock in store as 50-1 shot Rebel Yeats, who had been unplaced in both her starts in Ireland, led approaching the final flight and had too much in hand for the favourite, making a winning debut for the Ian Williams Racing Club.
Cobra De Mai was fancied to keep the Skelton bandwagon rolling in the Watch Racing UK On BT TV Novices’ Handicap Chase and, having jumped into the lead at the second fence, he made the rest of the running for an easy victory, although the handicapper is likely to give him a hefty weight rise for his 24-length success.
Despite carrying a 7lb penalty for his Stratford success, Honkytonktennesse was all the rage in the betting ahead of the Racing UK Profits Returned To Racing Handicap Hurdle to give the Skeltons another winner, but he never looked like landing a blow as Bridget Andrews sent bottom-weight Goodnight Charlie clear of the field going out on the final circuit to post a six-length success for Wymondham trainer Caroline Fryer.
Another Warwickshire-trained winner looked on the cards as Garrahalish from the Robin Dickin stable jumped boldly in the lead in the Racing UK Now On Talktalk TV Handicap Chase, but he was collared between the last two fences by top-weight Aerlite Supreme, who ran on well to get jockey Tom Scudamore off the mark for the new season.
Punters latched onto hat-trick seeking Ashoka in the Follow @racing_uk On Twitter Handicap Hurdle over two miles, but there was also support for Destiny’s Gold who was making his debut for trainer Dr Richard Newland.
With Destiny’s Gold departing at the penultimate flight when in with every chance and Ashoka finding his recent exertions and weight too much, it was Attest, the youngest horse in the race, who was produced at just the right time by Harry Bannister to score at 20-1.
Only two horses attracted the money in the concluding JRFB Ltd Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle with Brereton, ridden by last season’s champion conditional jockey Harry Cobden, the 5-2 favourite and Yeats Baby, who had been unplaced in all her five starts under Rules, halving in price from an opening 10-1.
Favourite backers knew the fate some way out, as Brereton was making no progress down the outside, but Yeats Baby was running well for Stan Shepherd, only to find one too good in 10-1 shot Market Road, who made it a double on the afternoon for trainer Evan Williams after the earlier success of Aerlite Supreme.