After a chilly week leading up to the meeting, the sun came out for Saturday’s Think Pink Ladies Night, with jockey Noel Fehily and trainer Harry Fry making hay with a double in front of another big crowd, writes David Hucker.
Brahms De Clermont, who was making a quick reappearance after scoring at Exeter four days earlier, was a solid favourite to follow up for trainer Paul Nicholls in the £10,000 Whites-Buyers Of All Scrap Metal Handicap Hurdle. Sent to the front by Sam Twiston-Davies, Brahms De Clermont made the running until joined by Golden Birthday, who looked like posting a comfortable success.
But, a mistake at the penultimate flight opened the race up again and it took all of Fehily’s strength and experience to keep the leader on an even-keel and hold on for a second success over jumps.
Fehily and Fry had struck earlier with Black Mischief in the Ardencote Spa & Golf Interactive “National Hunt” Maiden Hurdle. Get Rhythm was just preferred to Fehily’s mount in a tight betting market and he set a strong gallop from the start in the hands of Adrian Heskin.
However, Fehily was just biding his time in behind the leader and, having jumped the second-last flight alongside, Black Mischief, quickly went clear to atone for his fall on his hurdling debut at Wincanton.
Blairs Cove and Harry Skelton set a steady pace at the head of affairs in the opening Kevin Holder Novices’ Hurdle over two miles and three furlongs. Skelton tried to quicken the tempo off the home turn, only for Blairs Cove to hang right. Straightened up approaching the final flight, he then jumped awkwardly but still had too much in hand for his five rivals.
With 11 runners, the Pertemps Network Group Handicap Hurdle boasted the biggest field of the evening, with the Nicholls trained Braqueur D’Or sent off the 7-2 favourite. Given every chance by Twiston-Davies, Braqueur D’Or never looked like winning, finishing only third to Bendomingo, who led into the straight and went clear under amateur Zac Baker, with 50-1 outsider Mr McGuiness filling the runner-up spot.
Just four lined up for the first steeplechase of the evening, with Bagad Bihoue a red-hot favourite to follow up his easy Kempton Park win. Never out of third gear, he made all the running with Twiston-Davies and despite some sketchy jumps, recorded another facile victory to bring up win number five of the season for Nicholls.
Riding performance of the evening came from Charlie Deutsch who steered veteran The Last Bridge to another course success in the Listers Skoda Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase in an exciting finish with Kings Cross.
Seven set out in the concluding National Hunt Flat Race and it was favourite Paddy Boss, owned and trained by Alan King, who swept from last to first to send the large, enthusiastic crowd home happy.