Enough rain had fallen recently to leave the going close to ideal – good, good to soft in places. Happily, the rain stayed away today, though it was mainly cloudy and a stiff breeze was against the runners in the home straight.
The sun came out for the Legends charity race, for former jump jockeys. This was in aid of the Bob Champion Cancer Trust, which has raised almost £15 million over the years. The veterans produced a fine finish between them. Midnight Chill, ridden by Rodney Farrant, held on by half a length from the running-on Box Office with Salto Chisco three quarters of a length away in third. Two of the riders came off after passing the post but no harm was done. Farrant recalled that he rode his first winner here in 1989.
Three years ago the 2m novice hurdle at this meeting was won by Nicky Henderson’s Altior. All the money in the first division of this year’s race was for his stablemate Pym (13/8 in to 11/10 fav), who was carrying the same colours. Nico de Boinville made all the running on him and with the help of a bold jump at the last fended off the challenge of Deyrann De Carjac by two lengths. The grey Volcano ran on to take third. The runner-up was carrying a seven pound penalty and on the book comes out as superior to the winner. Both the first two look smart.
Approaching the penultimate flight in the second division five of the seven runners were within a length of each other. The early leader Rocco (10/1) wasn’t going especially well until he rallied and regained the lead at the last. From there he ran on strongly to beat Benny’s Bridge by a length and three quarters. This was a winner for the father-son team of Nigel and Sam Twiston-Davies.
Festival Dawn set out to make all the running in the mares novices hurdle over 2m4f and she was 20 lengths clear at halfway. Her lead was steadily whittled away, yet she kept up a remorseless gallop and Posh Trish (7/2 jt fav) was the only one who could get to her and overtake her approaching the last. The four length winner was Harry Cobden’s first aboard a Paul Nicholls horse since returning from injury.
A promising quartet went to post for the Robert Mottram Memorial Trophy, a novice chase over 2m4f. The one with most fencing experience, Monbeg Legend, made most of the running. His cause was made easier when Master Tommytucker fell three out when about to challenge and Poetic Rhythm pulled up soon after. However, Harry Skelton, riding his brother Dan’s Spiritofthegames (7/1) had other ideas. Coming with a run between the last two, he flew the final fence and stayed on well for a six length victory.
Grand Sancy (11/2) came from last to first to take the 2m limited handicap for four-year-olds. The eight runners were still well grouped at the third last flight but the winner was travelling nicely in the rear and came wide to hit the front at the last. A fine ride by Harry Cobden completed a double for him and Paul Nicholls. Padleyourowncanoe was second, beaten a length and a quarter.
The Silver Trophy was an 18-runner puzzle that few punters solved. Every horse had a chance turning into the straight, but it was a 25/1 shot, Garo De Juilley, who joined the leaders at the fourth last and went ahead at the next. Paddy Brennan pinched a useful lead on him, and a good jump at the final flight sealed victory. A length and three quarters in arrears, Point Of Principle, Whatmore and Dans Le Vent filled the places. The Tricast paid almost £10,000 to a £1 stake. The successful trainer, Sophie Leech, is based only 20 miles away in Gloucestershire. The winner had been bought out of Paul Nicholls’s stable for just £8,000 in May.
The 13-runner 3m handicap chase was full of quality, but as in the previous race the favourites were eclipsed. The Young Master (14/1), without a win since 2016, was thrown in if he could recapture some of his old form. He took the lead early in the straight and repelled a number of challengers to score by just over two lengths. The likes of Traffic Fluide (second), Lovely Job (fourth) and Our Kaempfer (fifth) travelled smoothly into contention in the last quarter-mile, but the leader kept on finding more for Mr Sam Waley-Cohen and would not be denied. Restoring some sparkle to the not-so-young Master was a splendid achievement by his trainer Neil Mulholland. The clock suggests the race was run at a good pace and the form should hold up.
The final event was a 3m handicap chase for mares and it was a Welsh-trained horse that won it. Evan Williams’s Still Believing (7/1) jumped ahead at the last fence and held off the well-backed The Wicket Chicken gamely, Adam Wedge driving her out to prevail by a length.