He may not have been a tempting betting prospect for most of the huge 6,000-plus crowd that flocked to Warwick’s New Year Eve’s meeting, but Buveur D’Air took another step on the road to the Cheltenham Festival in March when landing his second win over fences, writes David Hucker.
Haydock Park’s loss had been Warwick’s gain, as the abandonment of the previous day’s meeting at the Lancashire course saw Buveur D’Air re-routed to the £8,000 Local Parking Security Novices’ Chase, where Nicky Henderson’s promising young chaser was a hot 3-10 favourite to see off his four rivals.
It was the oldest horse in the race, Gino Trail, who took the field along, followed by Gala Ball and Buveur D’Air, on whom Aidan Coleman was content to bide his time.
Joining Gino Trail at the final fence, Buveur D’Air, who was receiving 6lb in weight, found the leader a tough nut to crack, but he showed his superiority on the run-in to maintain his unbeaten record.
There was still a long queue of cars trying to get in as the runners went down to the start for the opening race, won in good style by top-weight Sparkling River and champion jockey Richard Johnson.
Johnson hoped to double up on odds-on favourite Copper Kay in the following LPS British Stallion Studs EBF Mares’ “National Hunt” Novices´ Hurdle and it looked all over bar the shouting when she went clear after the third-last flight.
But, the complexion of the race changed after the last hurdle, as Copper Kay seemed to be distracted by a photographer crouched under the running rail, losing her momentum and giving Ellens Way an unexpected chance for victory, which she took, getting up on the line to win by a head.
Paddy The Oscar looked likely to repeat last year’s win in the Local Parking Security Handicap Chase as he went clear seven fences from home, building up a healthy lead.
It was not to be, however, as the 13-year-old started to tire approaching the final fence as Muckle Roe and amateur Zac Baker came with a well-timed run and win going away.
The longest contest of the afternoon was the conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle over three-and-a-quarter miles and it went to Saint John Henry, who had proven form on soft ground two seasons ago, but had not shown the same sparkle since.
Twojayslad and Will Kennedy then turned the sixth race into a procession when going further and further clear of their rivals from the home bend to win by 12 lengths, before Marten, a 75th birthday present to owner Lord Vestey, took the concluding National Hunt Flat Race from favourite Ice Cool Champs.