Trainer Polly Gundry celebrated victory in the Somerset National Handicap Chase on Thursday with Dawson City – then hailed “wonderful” Millie Wonnacott for the ride.
Cheers of elation from Gundry rang around the empty stands of Wincanton as the gallant 12-year-old veteran rolled back the years to add to his two Devon National victories at Exeter in this 3m 2 1/2f contest.
Working his way steadily into the race the 13-2 shot was timed to make his challenge by Wonnacott on the run to the last, which he jumped almost as one with eventual runner-up The Kings Writ, before forging clear late on to score by three quarters of a length.
Gundry, who also joint-owns Dawson City, said: “I shouted so much, and hopped up and down so much that I saw stars! I rang my co-owner Kim Franklin and she was in floods of tears watching.
“He really enjoyed it and appreciated Millie. She just keeps her weight back a bit and he felt a bit in charge of her. She did a wonderful job, kept him on fresher ground and kept him out of trouble and her seven pounds claim helped enormously. It was a very good balanced ride.”
Dawson City will now bid to add to his 2018 and 2019 victories in the Devon National Handicap Chase at Exeter on February 26th according to Gundry. She added: “This was a prep run for the Devon National, which he has won twice. That is the 26th February which is perfect timing for him.
"It would be good for him to run well in it again at the age of 12. Three miles six is more his cup of tea and he does like Exeter."
As for Wonnacott the victory had an added significance, with it being her first at the Somerset track at the 11th attempt. She said: “He has given me a fantastic spin. We went a good gallop and that suited him as he wants the best part of three and a half miles.
“He just enjoyed it the whole way round. There are not many 12 year olds that enjoy the game as much as he does. As soon as they started slowing down he kept finding more and more. It is not every day you get to ride a horse like him.
“I’ve ridden around here plenty of times and I’ve never quite got there so it is great to finally have a winner here."
Meanwhile Aidan Coleman and Olly Murphy teamed up to secure a double on the card, including a victory on debut for Sure Touch in the Racing TV Extra 4 Screens Live “Newcomers” Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.
The 5-4 chance made light work of testing conditions in the 1m 7 1/2f prize to strike gold at the first time of asking by three lengths.
Ger Tumelty, assistant trainer, said: “It was our first runner for Mr Waley-Cohen and his family and it was great to get off the mark. He is a horse with a lovely pedigree.
“He travelled well and he picked up nicely. He was a little bit green and he didn’t do a whole pile when he got there but that’s a good sign. I’d say he won with a little bit up his sleeve. I’d like to think further down the line better ground would suit him in the spring.”
Fabrique En France (11-4) had got the ball rolling for Murphy and Coleman when making his first start since a wind operation a triumphant one by two and a quarter lengths in the Timeform Premium Ratings Available At racingtv.com “National Hunt” Maiden Hurdle over the same trip.
Tumelty said: “He is a straightforward horse and it’s great to get another winner for Mr and Mrs Moran as they are great supporters of the yard. I’d say the wind operation has really helped him and that has made the difference. At Leicester he travelled nicely but he didn’t go on late on.”
Elsewhere on the card, Richard Rowe praised jockey Niall Houlihan, who reduced his claim from 7lbs to 5lbs when celebrating the 20th victory of his career with a length and a quarter victory aboard Mister Murchan in the Follow @RacingTV On Instagram Novices’ Handicap Chase.
The Storrington handler said of the winning rider: “For a young lad he has a mature head on him in the race. What I like is he doesn’t panic which is a good sign in any jockey. He is with good people with the Moores and they will teach him well. If he gets on the right horses he will have a bright future.”
The decision by trainer Evan Williams to put the chasing career of Mack The Man on hold was instantly rewarded when taking the Visit racingtv.com Handicap Hurdle by three quarters of a length.
Jockey Adam Wedge said of the 10-11 winner following his victory in the 1m 7 1/2f prize: “He has gone and got a bit of confidence today and it is a lovely little race to come back over hurdles in. He hasn’t enjoyed the ground but his class has got him through it. I don’t see why he couldn’t go for a nice handicap again.”
Brinkley (5-2) left behind his below par return at Exeter last month when bouncing back to form with a decisive nine length success over 2m 5 1/2f in the 100% RacingTV Profits Back To Racing Handicap Hurdle.
Jockey Tom Scudamore said of the David Pipe-trained winner: “I liked him a lot after Newbury and I don’t know what went wrong with him at Exeter last time and we were very disappointed. That was more like back to his Newbury run. He will make a nice chaser in time."