Chepstow missed much of the recent rain round the country and although the going was heavy, jockeys reported that conditions were less testing than on Welsh National day. Nevertheless, the final fence on the chase course was being bypassed today.
The opener was a 3m chase, in which Nigel Hawke’s Alminar (4/1 jt fav) had finished third in 2019. Fresh from just two runs since, and blinkered for the first time since, he took the lead at the second last and ran on well to score by five lengths. The seven-pound claiming amateur Mr Kieren Buckley did the steering. Troed Y Melin gave chase, but though he tried hard he couldn’t bridge the deficit.
Next came a 2m3f novice hurdle. The odds-on Getaway Fred looked like maintaining the success of the Tizzard-Power team at Chepstow this season, as he set out to make all the running. He seemed to be doing enough to hold his market rival Fado Des Brasses (11/8) at bay, even though his lead became increasingly slender. To general surprise, in the last stride or two Fado worried him out of it (pictured), to win by a neck and give the Evan Williams-Adam Wedge combination their 23rd victory of the season. It was number 13 for the owners, Mr & Mrs William Rucker.
Richard Johnson had opted for two good rides here rather than a greater number at Musselburgh and the first of them, Port Of Mars (2/1, pictured) justified his decision in the 3m maiden hurdle. Olly Murphy’s point winner cruised into the lead two out and was seven lengths up before being allowed to ease down, which reduced his advantage at the post to a length and a half. The form horse, Kingsplace, just kept Some Detail out of second place.
Only two lined up for the 3m novice chase and the 150-rated Vision Des Flos (1/4 fav) gave Colin Tizzard and Robbie Power some consolation for their earlier reverse. He led all the way apart from a few moments turning into the straight, when Royale Pagaille headed him. That one promptly run out of steam and dropped back quickly. The pair came in in their own time, nine and a half lengths apart. The runner-up, having his first run for Mr & Mrs Rich Ricci, is sure to do better.
A decent 2m3f mares handicap hurdle went to the rapidly-improving Runasimi River (6/1), who had won three of her last five races for trainer Neil Mulholland. One of a bunch in contention three out, she hit the front at the next and ran on well from there to beat Pink Legend three lengths. The successful jockey, Miss Millie Wonnacott, was in the spotlight last weekend winning a race on ITV and is now 8-43 under National Hunt rules.
They went off at a good pace in the finale, a 2m3f chase, and each of the quartet in contention at the final obstacle looked like winning at one point or other. Kingston Mimosa (9/2) forged ahead as they went round the wing of the normal last fence. Blinkers, applied for the first time in four years, a drop in distance and the feather weight of 9st 9lbs in a moderate field, accounted for the improvement over his latest performance. Mark Gillard trained the winner and his son Fergus rode him. Five lengths in arrears were Tudors Treasure, General Girling and Jimmyjames, who all ran creditably.