There were ideal warm sunny conditions for a bumper crowd at Chepstow’s Bank Holiday Monday, and a host of attractions for families seeking a diverting day out. The lack of rain meant the ground had dried out to good to firm, and there were fewer runners than would normally be expected.
Three of the nine runners for the first race were withdrawn as a result of being stuck in traffic. Of the six that did line up for this 2m4f hurdle, the grey Picture Painter travelled strongly, and despite fluffing the second last, he took the lead on the long run to the final flight. It looked like he had the race won after jumping it, only for Silk Run (6/4 fav) to lay down a late challenge. Stan Sheppard urged the favourite ahead in the last 50 yards to give the Tom Lacey stable a three-quarter length winner.
Only two competed for the second race, a 3m novice chase. On paper they were well matched, but it turned into a procession. General Bux (8/11 fav) took the lead, and jumped more boldly than Trafalgar Rock, who was niggled along from time to time. Along the back straight a big gap opened up, and although the General tired near the end he strolled home under Jonjo O’Neill junior by 64 lengths. He’s trained by Sophie Leech just across the border in Gloucestershire.
Nine-race maiden Stephanie Sunshine set the pace in the 2m4f mares-only novice hurdle. For a long time she looked like giving Sophie Leech a quick double, but she couldn’t shake off her only challenger in the home straight, the Emma Lavelle-trained Forget Me Knot (7/2). That one hit the front approaching the last, only to bungle her way over it and allow Stephanie to draw level again. The pair fought out an exciting finish, culminating with Adam Wedge driving Forget Me Knot to a one length victory.
They went a brisk pace in the £25.000 feature, a 2m chase. The odds on favourite, Magic Saint, had to be cajoled along from halfway and though he briefly shared the lead five out he was soon a spent force. Sizing Platinum (11/2), who’d led from the sixth last, ran on enthusiastically up the straight. Despite bungling the penultimate fence, Colin Tizzard’s veteran came out on top by five lengths, enjoying the fast ground and ending an 18 month spell without a win. Jonjo O’Neill junior was completing a double.
Faced with only one modest opponent, Paul Nicholls’s Friend Or Foe (1/25 fav) only had to jump round to collect the first prize for the 2m novice hurdle. Harry Cobden set a steady pace on him before increasing his lead between the last two flights, cruising home from Tilson by six lengths.
Four of the premier jumps owners supplied the runners for the 3m chase. Thedellercheckout vied for the lead with Lovely Job (2/1) for most of the last circuit before pulling up early in the straight. This left Sean Bowen to bring Lovely Job home by 89 lengths from Shanahan’s Turn. The winner is trained by Fergal O’Brien.
The best finish of the day came in the bumper. There were three abreast a quarter of a mile out, when Southfield Harvest (2/5 fav) took a narrow lead from the grey Stolen Silver. They sprinted for the finish, and hard as Silver tried, he couldn’t get past. There was a neck between them at the line. Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden were completing doubles.