Sunshine and showers greeted racegoers at Warwick on Wednesday when the Ardencote Think Pink Ladies Day brought the curtain down on the inaugural May Racing Carnival, writes David Hucker.
One of the features of the new season has been the determination of all the top trainers to get winners on the board, none more so than Nicky Henderson, who had sent out 34 individual horses coming into the meeting.
He saddled two more on the afternoon, starting with Towering in the Feldon Dunsmore Building Legal Solutions Handicap Hurdle, but he could finish only third behind top-weight The Tourard Man, who followed up his Exeter win under claiming jockey Kevin Dowling.
His second runner was River Wylde, bought for £100,000 after finishing second in an Irish point-to-point in November, who was sent off the 10-11 favourite to open his account under Rules in the concluding Ardencote Golf Intermediate Open National Hunt Flat Race.
Always handy, he was sent into the lead by Nico de Boinville two furlongs out and looked in a different league to his rivals as he stormed home 23 lengths clear of Cap Horner.
There was drama in the opening Ardencote Spa Novices’ Hurdle when Midnight Tour, ridden by champion jockey Richard Johnson, tried to duck the wrong side of the rail close to the finishing line and threw away her advantage over Indy Five, who got up to win by a neck.
Indy Five had not helped his chances by turning around at the start, but had made up the ground to chase Midnight Tour into the home straight.
An untidy jump at the penultimate flight seemed to hand the advantage to the favourite but Aidan Coleman never gave up trying and Indy Five scored an unlikely victory when getting in front in the closing strides.
Bottom weight Doitforthevillage scooted clear of his rivals after the third-last fence in the Guy Salmon Land Rover Interactive Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase and, although Queen Spud tried to mount a challenge in the straight, she could not make any impression, going down by two lengths with a big gap back to Cooper’s Friend in third.
It was turning out to be an afternoon to forget for Johnson as, after looking like landing the Askews Handicap Chase on another favourite in Allow Dallow, he again had to settle for the runner-up spot behind Ready Token, who ran on resolutely to complete a double for Aidan Coleman.
Feature of the afternoon was the £12,000 Wigley Group Handicap Chase over two miles and Johnson was on board another favourite in Ink Master, but he had no answer to the finishing kick of 14-1 outsider Miss Tenacious, who drew right away from the field for a 19-length success.