Basked in glorious sunshine the only thing missing from Warwick was you – the racegoers.
We might be into the closing stages of this year’s jumps season with just two days remaining until the bet365 Jump Finale at Sandown Park, but the action came thick and fast on what proved to be a fun afternoon of racing.
There were several notable winners across the seven-race card and we asked Nick Seddon to speak to their connections …
‘RATFACE’ CHALKS UP IMPRESSIVE FIFTH WIN OF THE SEASON
His name might not be the most poetic, but Ratfacemcdougall is thriving at the moment and showed exactly why when picking up his fifth win of the season in the day’s feature race, the South West Syndicate Handicap Hurdle.
The eight year old was handed an 11lb rise by the handicapper for his fine win in a valuable race at Musselburgh last month, but he dug deep under Max Kendrick to deny the Dan Skelton-trained Supremely Lucky in a tight finish.
And McPherson was delighted with his charge, who took him over the £200,000 seasonal prize money mark for the first time in his career. He said: “We look back in the autumn and he struggled in his first two or three starts, but Max (Kendrick) has found the key to him.
“He rides him really positively and he’s won here today off 133 having started on 100. That’ll definitely be him now and he’ll have his summer break and fingers crossed we can see a bit more improvement next autumn.
“He’s run over fences in the past – he’s never won over fences – but he’s run well in point to points and I think over fences is where we might have to look next year. We’ve been saying all winter that we’ll go over fences when he finally stops winning over hurdles, so that will have to be next year now!”
UNAI ADDS STRENGTH TO PAULING’S SUMMER ARSENAL
It’s rather unfortunate for Unai that his footballing namesake was sacked at his owner Simon Munir’s beloved Arsenal before he could even get his second season underway.
However, trainer Ben Pauling’s patience seems to have paid off with the six year old, who picked up a deserved success in the Watch On Racing TV Novices' Handicap Chase.
Unai had been holding his form well this term – finishing a good third over two and a half miles here in February – and Pauling was hopeful that his charge would be able to pick a few more races up over the summer now that he’s opened his account.
He said: “He’s a horse that we thought an enormous amount of before he ran and he ran really well in a bumper and then last season – we had a rotten year as it was – but he just never really turned up.
“This season he’s been much more consistent, if not a little bit confident in the fact that he can just dawdle along in his own race at his own speed, so we changed the tactics today and made the running.
“I don’t know why he jumped right slightly early doors but as soon as he was switched wide he was straight and he’s done it well enough, it certainly wasn’t the Gold Cup but it’s a win by his name and hopefully he can go on and win a couple more in the summer.”
SEVENTH TIME LUCKY FOR ODDS-ON FAVOURITE THOR
There’s no such thing as a freebie in racing, but the opening Join Racing TV Now Maiden Hurdle looked a good opportunity for Sopran Thor, who justified odds-on favouritism to open his account over hurdles at the seventh attempt.
The six year old hasn’t been doing an awful lot wrong this term, arriving here having hit the frame on each of his last four outings, and winning jockey Jamie Moore felt that he had more than earned a holiday after his eight and a half length success.
He said: “He’s gone and got the job done today and he can have a holiday now. I do think he’ll be a bit better over fences, we’ll see what dad (Gary Moore, trainer) wants to do but it’s definitely an option for next year. He’s a nice big horse and you’d like to think even just strengthening up over the summer will help.”
LARCH HILL GETS BACK TO WINNING WAYS IN STYLE
Of all the impressive winners on the card it was perhaps Larch Hill who caught the eye most, a convincing five length winner of the Bet At racingtv.com Handicap Chase.
The eight year old built on a pleasing reappearance at Southwell last month to regain the winning thread for the Nigel Twiston-Davies team.
Afterwards winning jockey Sam Twiston-Davies said he was hopeful that Larch Hill can go on to enjoy a productive summer campaign.
He said: “He was a nice second last time and was quite keen throughout, so it’s nice he’s got his head back in-front.
“He’ll keep running throughout (the summer), he likes a bit better ground and probably going forward we’ll be a little bit more aggressive next time. I thought there’d be a good bit more pace on paper and he was still quite keen in behind, so we’ll probably go forward next time and hopefully he’ll keep progressing.”
REVASSER OVERCOMES “BABY WOBBLES” IN DEBUT VICTORY
You get used to hearing certain clichés from jockeys and trainers alike in the aftermath of victories, but Bryony Frost pulled a term from the left-field when describing Revasser’s impressive debut success in the finale, the racingtv.com Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.
The four year old showed plenty of determination and resolve to fight off Dalamoi and the fast-finishing The Odissey in a pulsating photo finish. Frost was clearly delighted with what she saw from the debutant – who in her words overcame some “baby wobbles” to make a winning start.
She said: “That was awesome and I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I was under pressure near enough the whole way so it really shows what sort of animal he is in his ability to keep finding.
“I then started to get into top gear and got a bit of a baby wobble around the home bend, but he battled really well for me and there’s loads to like.
“He’s taking it all in here in the winner’s enclosure and he’s a wonderful horse.”
Let’s hope that phrase catches on!