Top Notch performance gives novice first victory over fences

Class told in the £15,000 Highflyer/Million In Mind 4-Y-O & 5-Y-O Novices' Chase, the highlight of Warwick's seven-race card on Wednesday, as 1-8 favourite Top Notch easily saw off his three rivals to land his first success over fences, writes David Hucker.

Thursday, 17th November 2016, 8:26 am
Updated Friday, 18th November 2016, 12:21 pm
Top Notch clears the final fence in the Highflier/Million In Mind Novice Chase. Picture:

Although only attracting small fields, this race has been won by some good horses over the years and owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede were hoping to follow up the success of their Bristol De Mai in 2016 with Top Notch, who was near to the top of the hurdling tree, finishing fifth behind Annie Power in last season’s Champion Hurdle.

Top Notch had made his debut over fences when a close-up third to the highly-regarded Charbel at Uttoxeter last month and, despite getting in a bit close to the fourth-last fence, came right away from Pemba in the home straight to complete a double on the afternoon for jockey Daryl Jacob.

A field of 13 had lined up for the opening PJ & KR Smith-Maxwell Horse Ambulances “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle over two miles and it was the Dan Skelton-trained Asum who headed the betting to build on his promising debut run over the course in April.

Held up by Harry Skelton, Asum made a mistake at the penultimate flight and could finish only fourth behind Midnight Maestro, who asserted on the run-in to follow up his Doncaster bumper win and make a successful hurdles debut for owner J P McManus and trainer Alan King.

The rain had really got into the ground as the runners set out for the Whitson Bloodstock Mares’ Novices’ Handicap Chase, won in determined style by Lilly Of The Moor, who proved too strong for Troubled Soul from the final fence.

Chepstow winner Colin’s Sister topped the ratings in the Thoroughbred Breeders Association Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle and she was well-backed, shortening from 2-1 to 13-8 as her market rival Which One Is Which drifted in the betting.

Any chance that Which One Is Which may have had evaporated at the sixth hurdle when a bad mistake saw her drop to last and those who had followed the money collected as Colin’s Sister led two flights from home to bring up jockey Paddy Brennan’s 1,000th winner in Great Britain and Ireland.

The Racing Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle turned into a procession from the third-last flight, with 5-2 favourite Royal Plaza and William Featherstone finishing 15 lengths clear of Reilly’s Minor.

Yanmare followed up his Uttoxeter win in the long-distance Geoff Hancock Celebration Handicap Chase before Shearling took the concluding National Hunt Flat Race in a photo finish from True Self, who had steered an erratic course up the home straight.