Cobra De Mai is an ideal ambassador for in-form Skelton

Cobra De Mai jumps the last ahead of Drumlee Sunset in the Entire Cheltenham Festival On Racing UK Budbrooke Handicap Chase. Picture: www.dwprattracingphotography.co.uk
Cobra De Mai jumps the last ahead of Drumlee Sunset in the Entire Cheltenham Festival On Racing UK Budbrooke Handicap Chase. Picture: www.dwprattracingphotography.co.uk

Cobra De Mai landed the day’s big prize for course ambassador Dan Skelton at Warwick’s Budbroke Chase Family Fun Day on Friday, writes David Hucker.

Weights for the Class 2 Entire Cheltenham Festival On Racing UK Budbrooke Handicap Chase over two-and-half miles were headed by Olly Murphy’s Mussleburgh winner Knockgraffon but it was another Warwickshire trainer who landed the spoils as Cobra De Mai, who had not run since November and was returning after a wind operation, out-battled Drumlee Sunset from the penultimate fence to bring up Skelton’s 141st winner of what is turning into a career-defining season.

Indian Hawk was always travelling well behind the pacesetting Lygon Rock in the opening British Stallion Studs EBF “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle (Qualifier) and, having jumped to the front at the second-last flight, was too strong for Murphy’s Weebill, whose turn will surely come in the not too distant future.

Wilmcote-based Murphy saddled three in the following Whitson Bloodstock & Olly Murphy Juvenile Hurdle, two of whom, Eolian and Zamalight, were making their stable debuts.

They were up against a formidable-looking duo from the Alan King yard and it was Doctor Bartolo, who had been knocking on the door, finishing runner-up in both his races to date, who came out on top proving too strong for stable companion Jaboticaba.

The consistent Socksy headed the market in the Faller Refunds At 188Bet Mares’ Handicap Chase but could not find an extra gear when needed, finishing fourth.

Three had jumped the final fence in a line and it was 14-1 shot Sheneededtherun who proved stronger to give jockey John Kington his second winner of the season.

Sahara Haze had failed to win in 22 races in point-to-points and under Rules but it was to be her day in the sunshine when, after leading at the fourth-last jump, she ran right away from her rivals to land the afternoon’s longest race, the 188Bet Download The App Hands And Heels Handicap Hurdle.

Paddy Brennan, who had been reunited with top-class chaser Cue Card at Ascot the previous weekend, was on board Talk Of The South in the Six Nations Rugby At 188Bet Handicap Chase. The combination had finished runner-up to The Artful Cobbler over the course last month and, with the winner scoring again at Lingfield Park on Monday from a 5lb higher mark, the form had a solid look about it.

Brennan always had the 2-1 favourite in the perfect position, turning into the straight ahead of Capard King and Talk Of The South skipped clear over the final two obstacles for a comfortable success.

There was plenty of money for well-bred debutant Be That As It May in the concluding National Hunt Flat Race, but her backers knew their fate some way out as Midnightreferendum, who had run with promise on her debut at Towcester, stepped up to give trainer King a second winner of the afternoon.