Trainer Nicky Henderson and jockey Noel Fehily were both in double-winning form at Warwick’s Ladies Day on Wednesday as the curtain came down on the track’s inaugural all-jumps season, writes David Hucker.
The day had started with To Begin springing the shock of the season in the opening Ardencote “I Do” Novices’ Hurdle, as he got up on the run-in to collar course winner Benissimo, who had been sent off at odds of 1-10 to beat his three rivals.
As at the last meeting, Benissimo travelled well in the lead but, after jumping the third-last flight, Harry Skelton started to get anxious as To Begin closed the gap.
A mistake at the penultimate obstacle seemed to have put paid to To Begin’s chances, but Fehily switched him to the inside going to the last and, with the benefit of the running rail to guide him, got up to win close home.
Six lined up for the Robert Walters Handicap Chase, but there was only one horse that mattered from the turn into the home straight, as Lough Kent, trained by Henderson and ridden by Nico de Boinville, found another gear to beat Un Anjou by 15 lengths and record a first win over fences in this country.
Another looking to follow up a recent course win was Prince Des Marais in the Ardencote “Spa” Handicap Chase and, despite a 7lb hike in the weights, seemed to be travelling best of all when taking over the lead from Uhlan Bute at halfway.
But, he could not shake off dual point-to-point winner Cardinal Rose down the back straight and, with the pair clear of the rest, had to dig deep over the last two fences to score by one-and-a-half lengths.
There were four non-runners in the day’s longest race, the Feldon Dunsmore Building Legal Solutions Handicap Hurdle over three miles and one furlong, leaving On The Bridge carrying top weight.
He was well backed to go off 9-4 favourite, but was never in contention, being outpaced from the third-last flight.
Up front, it was Henri Parry Morgan who set the pace and he looked like leading all the way, only to be caught on the run-in by the flying finish of stable companion Grape Tree Flame, ridden by Sean Bowen.
With the withdrawal of one of his intended mounts, Bella became Tom Scudamore’s sole ride of the afternoon before travelling to Southwell’s evening meeting and she made just about all the running to beat outsider Stoneham in the £40,000 Wigley Group Fillies’ 4-y-o Handicap Hurdle, the richest race run anywhere across the country.
Fehily produced the ride of the afternoon when doubling up on 5-1 shot War Singer in the two-mile handicap hurdle, creeping slowly into the race and jumping to the front at the last flight to win going away, before Henderson’s Ballinure, ridden by Jeremiah McGrath, took the concluding National Hunt Flat Race from favourite For Instance.