20 January 2018
All six favourites won on this sunny Friday afternoon. The going was heavy. The normal second last hurdle was omitted, and one fence on the far side was bypassed.
The first race, a 2m4f novices hurdle, resulted in an easy win for the well supported Scorpion Sid (11/8 fav), trained by Jamie Snowden and ridden by Gavin Sheehan. He took the lead at halfway, with Snuff Box shadowing him until the first flight in the home straight. Jumping that one Sid landed three lengths clear and he gradually increased his advantage to 15 at the line. He’s a staying chaser in the making.
Richard Johnson set out to make all in the 3m maiden hurdle on Jammin Masters (4/7 fav) and once he’d jumped the third last the only possible challenger, Trixster dropped back. The leader went clear, only to idle on the long run after the next. Trixster caught up approaching the final obstacle but he came to grief there, leaving the favourite to come in 27 lengths ahead of Rocco. The runner-up’s trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, rode a winner on this day 41 years ago.
The four runners in the 3m novice chase hunted round for most of the race and the lead frequently changed hands between the three principals. Rons Dream tried to kick on four out but Tom Scudamore on David Pipe’s Ramses De Teille (11/8 fav) soon overhauled her and stayed on well for a seven length success. The winner looks like a Welsh National candidate in eleven months’ time.
Jamie Snowden and Gavin Sheehan completed a double in the 2m4f mares hurdle with Naranja (13/8 fav, backed from 3/1 in the morning). She made all the running until Lerichi Belle drew alongside two out, looking like a big threat. They duelled for a furlong but Naranja proved the stronger and galloped on to a nine length victory.
Paddy The Oscar, having his first run since his 15th birthday, jumped well and led the field for most of the 3m handicap chase. At the fourth last Richard Johnson drove the Henry Daly-trained Back To The Thatch (11/4 fav) into the lead and he quickly gained a clear advantage. Catching On ran on from well behind to get to within three lengths at the last, when a good jump by the leader propelled him to forge on to an 11 length success. Paddy kept on well for third place.
There was another all the way winner in the finale, a 2m4f chase. Venetia Williams’ Becauseshesaidso (4/1 fav) set the pace and had most of his rivals in trouble before Charlie Deutsch pressed on after the fifth last. He soon had the race in the bag, going a long way in front before easing down to a 14 length victory over Kings Cross.