Christmas In April masters favourite in Warwick feature
There was another good Carnival crowd for Warwick's Ladies Night on Saturday and they were treated to a thrilling finish to the feature Qatar Airways Handicap Hurdle where just a nose separated the first two home, writes David Hucker.
After Barbrook Star had set a good a pace for most of the race, it was Spectator and market leader Quiz Master who looked to have it between them jumping the last. Favourite backers must have started to count their winnings as Quiz Master asserted but the race was not over as Nico de Boinville brought the Nicky Henderson-trained Christmas In April with a storming run to snatch the prize by the minimum margin right on the line.
There was little room for manoeuvre jumping the final flight in the Lawton Tubes Centenary Handicap Hurdle, with five horses in contention and any one of them capable of winning.
But, it was Cultivator who came out on top, denying top-weight I’m A Game Changer in another photo finish to make it a double for the Henderson/de Boinville combination, who look to be in for another good season.
With nobody keen to make the running, Turangi and Richard Johnson set a steady pace in the opening Lawton Tubes Novices’ Hurdle but they had nothing left to give when Clondaw Anchor swept past on the turn for home.
Another winner for Dan and Harry Skelton looked on the cards but travelling strongly in behind was Minella Warrior, who was making his first appearance in 407 days. Once David Bass pressed the button, Minella Warrior soon put the race to bed and brought up his first win to start repaying his £180,000 price tag.
Five set out for the Listers Audi “National Hunt” Maiden Hurdle and there was a red-hot favourite in the shape of Deyrann De Carjac, who had run with promise on his last start at Ayr. Wayne Hutchinson was content to track the front two until turning out of the back straight where he injected some pace into the race and it proved decisive as the combination went further and further away to post a 20-length win over Sgroppino.
The Ardencote Destination Spa Mares’ Novices’ Chase went to second-favourite Whatduhavtoget who bowled along in front under Harry Skelton and ran on strongly over the last two fences to hold off the late challenge of Treackle Tart by two lengths.
Only four completed the course in the three-mile Agetur Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase but, judging by the cheer from the crowd, plenty were on the winner Goodnight Charlie, before Nobby completed a double for trainer Alan King and jockey Hutchinson when taking the concluding National Hunt Flat Race.
The third leg of the Carnival comes up a week on Wednesday with Proudly Warwick Raceday, which celebrates the town and the racecourse’s involvement in the community. It is the richest day of the Carnival, with two feature races on the programme being the £30,000 Wigley Group Carnival Chase and the £25,000 Feldon Dunsmore Building Legal Solutions Carnival Hurdle.