It was an afternoon of mixed fortunes for racegoers at Warwick’s first Jumps fixture of the new season last Thursday, starting with a major upset in the day’s opening race, writes David Hucker.
Just five of the original entries stood their ground in the racinguk.com “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle at 2.10pm and there was a red-hot favourite in the shape of Vaihau, who had been dropped in at the deep end on his English debut behind Irving in a grade 2 contest at Kempton Park.
This was a much easier task, reflected in his starting price of 1-6, but the race did not go according to plan as AP McCoy’s mount was beaten by 50-1 outsider Be My Witness, trained at Great Alne by Robin Dickin.
Be My Witness set a steady pace in the lead under amateur Toby Wheeler until the second-last flight where he was passed by the favourite, but he came again on the short run-in to score by half a length.
Despite making a mistake at the last flight, Laser Blazer had run out an easy winner at Newton Abbot on Monday and trainer Alan King decided to strike whilst the iron was hot and run him again under a 7lb penalty in the following racinguk.com Handicap Hurdle.
It proved a wise decision, as the 4-6 shot led approaching the second-last flight and despite an untidy jump there, proved too good for his rivals, coming home seven lengths clear of Surf And Turf.
The consistent Moorlands Jack headed the weights for the Ignite Incentives Handicap Chase but it was In The Gate who was sent off at the head of the market, despite having failed to complete the course in his last four races, including when falling at the final fence at Stratford on his previous run.
He hit the deck again, unseating Aidan Coleman at the 12th fence, and it was Moorlands Jack who made light of his 11-12 burden to lead after the last and run on well to beat Unknown Legend.
After the disappointment of Vaihau’s run in the first, McCoy got on the scoresheet for the afternoon when Finding Your Feet took the Hague Print Handicap Hurdle to become the 142nd winner of what, even by his standards, could become a stellar season.
Newmarket trainer Lucy Wadham scooped the day’s feature race, the £10,000 Colliers International Reduces Your Business Rates Handicap Chase, with Wiesentraum, who was recording his first win for nearly a year when drawing clear of Carrigmorna King for a wide-margin success.
Java Rose, fit from a run on the Flat at Kempton four weeks ago, justified odds of 4-9 in taking the Trends UK Maiden Hurdle, before Always Managing became the fourth winning favourite of the afternoon in the concluding Rewards4Racing.com Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race, beating Dry Ol’ Party, who was finishing in the runners-up spot for the second time.