Bristol De Mai landed the feature race in impressive style at a wet and blustery Warwick on Wednesday afternoon, completing a double for jockey Daryl Jacob, writes David Hucker.
There were six lengths between Bristol De Mai and Karezak when the two met over hurdles last December and they clashed again in the day’s main race, the Highflyer/Million In Mind 4 & 5YO Novices’ Chase.
While Karezak was making his chasing debut, Bristol De Mai had finished runner-up to Garde La Victoire over fences at Uttoxeter on his previous run.
With the winner franking the form at Cheltenham on Sunday, he looked the one to be on and made all the running to beat his old rival yet again.
Just four had lined up in the Guy Salmon Land Rover Juvenile Hurdle with Winterfell, a winner on soft ground at Fontainebleau, making his English debut.
Winterfell set a good pace up front, but could not shake off another ex-French horse in Sceau Royal, who took over the lead approaching the last flight under Jacob and went away for a comfortable success.
There as a big gamble on the Paul Nicholls-trained Varom in the opener but punters knew their fate turning for home as, despite the urgings of Harry Cobden, he was making no impression on the leaders.
Space Walker had taken the field along from the off and Maurice Lineham kicked him clear approaching the second-last flight to try and steal the race.
The ploy almost worked, but Space Walker was caught and passed on the run-in by 14-1 shot Dazinski, to make it three wins from his last four runners for trainer Henry Oliver.
Top-weight Hollies Pearl was sent off the 2-5 favourite to score her fifth win in a row in the Trial Racing UK For Free Now Mares’ Novices Hurdle.
She had beaten Rene’s Girl last time out at Chepstow, but had to give weight away this time and Dan Skelton’s runner turned the tables in good style.
Barry Geraghty was on board Yanworth when he won at Exeter two weeks ago and he again travelled over from Ireland to take the mount in the PJ & KR Smith-Maxwell Horse Ambulances “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle.
Although a more competitive contest, Yanworth eased past Le Prezien at the final flight to win again.
Arthamint was disqualified after winning at Lingfield Park when his rider weighed in lighter than the allotted weight, but gained compensation when taking the Jeremy Deedes Tribute Novices’ Handicap Chase by a short head from Smartmax to complete a Skelton family double.
The well-bred Miss Fleming, by Flemensfirth out of a Montjeu mare, came out of the gloom to land the concluding David Nicholson Memorial Fillies’ “Junior” Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race for trainer David Loder and jockey Noel Fehily.