More than 7,500 festive revellers attended Warwick Racecourse’s New Year’s Eve fixture, making it the largest crowd witnessed at a race meeting there since records began in the 1970s, writes David Hucker.
They had plenty to cheer, with some exciting finishes, including the day’s feature Local Parking Security Conditional Jockeys’ Veterans’ Handicap Chase in which High Counsel held off the late charge of the mare Troubled Soul by a length.
Including point-to-points, High Counsel was lining up for the 35th time and he gave his jockey Alexander Thorne a 19th career winner, beating the more experienced Connor Brace on the runner-up.
Fifteen set out in the opening Local Parking Security Novices’ Handicap Hurdle over two miles and three furlongs and supporters of the well-backed With Pleasure would have been feeling pretty happy as Ben Jones sent him clear approaching the penultimate flight.
But, the petrol tank emptied on the run to the final jump and he was joined and passed by Galtee Mountain, himself the subject of market support from 12-1 into 9-1, who went clear with Jonathan Burke to come home six lengths ahead of Go As You Please.
Burke was to make it a double on the afternoon when riding Manofthemoment to victory in the later LPS Handicap Chase, beating Summit Like Herbie.
Emmas Joy was a hot favourite to take the following LPS British Stallion Studs EBF Mares’ “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle for Dan and Harry Skelton and, having led from the start, looked to have the race in the bag with second-favourite Cill Anna seemingly unable to make any impression.
It all changed, however, after they had jumped the last flight, with Cill Anna responding to the urgings of Harry Cobden to prove the stronger on the run-in and score by half a length. The winner was well-supported in the morning with Paddy Power from 5-2 into 7-4, but on-course punters will have been well-pleased with her 7-2 starting price.
There was an open-looking field for the two-mile handicap chase but, in a race run at a good pace thanks to the trail-blazing Battleofthesomme, there was only one horse in it from a long way out as Seeanythingyoulike, still winless after 17 previous attempts, powered clear with Matt Griffiths for a wide-margin success.
Winning trainer Jeremy Scott doubled up in the long-distance handicap hurdler with Urtheonethatiwant, who was another decisive winner, this time in the hands of Bryan Carver.
There is nothing like a winning favourite in the last race to send everyone home happy and, judging by the cheers, Wilde About Oscar had plenty of supporters as he coasted clear with Harry Skelton to take the National Hunt Flat Race in the style of a useful horse.
Warwick racecourse general manager Andre Klein said it was the perfect end to a successful year for the course.
“We made several changes to ensure that we maximised people’s experience of what is always a special festive day,” said Klein.
“Feedback has been really positive and we felt the day had a great atmosphere and was much improved from last year. “