Warwick benefits as title rivals go head to head

What Larks, left, and Sounds Of Italy jump the final fence in the Play The Saturday 7 At colossusbets.com Handicap chase. Picture: www.dwprattracingphotography.co.uk
What Larks, left, and Sounds Of Italy jump the final fence in the Play The Saturday 7 At colossusbets.com Handicap chase. Picture: www.dwprattracingphotography.co.uk

Towcester’s loss was Warwick’s gain, as the transfer of Thursday’s fixture proved a bonus for local racegoers with title rivals Richard Johnson and Harry Skelton both riding, writes David Hucker.

Johnson was keen to set a good pace on Samburu Shujaa in the opening Play Your Racing Pools At Colossus Maiden Hurdle but was joined at the third-last flight by the Skelton-ridden Redzor, who opened up a clear advantage as the runners turned towards the home straight.

But, in behind, Nico de Boinville was travelling ominously well on favourite Nestor Park and he took command over the penultimate flight to put daylight between himself and the staying-on Samburu Shujaa, with Redzor, who had no answer when the chips were down, back in third.

There was an interesting contest in prospect in the following mares’ novices’ hurdle with Market Rasen bumper scorer Definitelyanoscar, who had hurdling experience on her side, preferred in the betting to Barbados Blue, an impressive wide-margin winner over the course back in May.

As the betting suggested, they came to the second-last hurdle together where Barbados Blue made a mistake to hand the advantage to Definitelyanoscar, who powered clear with Noel Fehily to score by two-and-a-half lengths.

The smallest field of the afternoon lined up for the Cash Out & Consolations At Colossus Novices’ Handicap Chase but it produced one of the best finishes as top-weight Cuddles McGraw overcame Agent Memphis, who had led from the off, in a battle over the final two fences.

Fourteen set out in the feature, the £11,000 colossusbets.com Handicap Hurdle, run over two miles and five furlongs, with a red-hot favourite in the shape of bottom weight Unblinking, runner-up in a big field at Cheltenham 11 days earlier.

Despite being untidy at the penultimate flight, Unblinking proved a decisive winner for conditional jockey Jordan Nailor, beating the lightly-raced Hastrubal, with long-time leader Subcontinent back in third.

The grey Rule The Ocean led the runners into the straight in the mares’ handicap hurdle, with just Field Exhibition looking like laying down a challenge, although she did her best to throw away her chance when running wide. Straightened-up by Nick Scholfield, Field Exhibition got her head in front jumping the last and ran on strongly to post a 4-1 success for Glamorgan trainer Christian Williams.

Dan Skelton’s Sounds Of Italy was another well-supported favourite in the three-mile handicap chase and, jumping to the front four fences out, proved too good for bottom-weight What Larks, despite Harry’s Skelton’s right foot slipping out of the stirrup after the last.

There was little form to go on in the closing bumper for three-year-olds but the betting market singled out €75,000 purchase L’Incorrigible as the one to back and he forged clear of Frenchy Du Large inside the final furlong.