Chepstow’s first evening meeting of the year, and its final jumps racing of the 2018/19 season, benefited from 20mm of rain since Monday’s fixture. This changed the going to good, good to soft in places.
The action began with 13 runners for a 3m2f chase, which culminated in a great finish. The favourite, Conas Taoi, took the lead three out, only to be joined soon after by Dont Be Robin. While that pair battled their way up the straight Midnight Magic was close behind them on the rails, going well and waiting till after the last to make his move. However, his challenge couldn’t peg back Dont Be Robin (7/1), who didn’t want to give up his hard-won lead and he held on by a neck. Jonathan Burke rode the winner for Dorset trainer Richenda Ford.
In the 2m4f novices hurdle Alrightjack led until the third last, when the Philip Hobbs-trained Jatiluwih (4/6 fav) took over. One tap from his rider Mr David Maxwell sent him two or three lengths clear, travelling comfortably. He seemed fully in command, but on the long run to the final flight Alrightjack rallied and got closer and closer. Hearing the shouts from the crowd, Mr Maxwell looked round for dangers, only to choose the wrong side first, which added to the excitement. On the short run-in he had to ride out Jatiluwih to scramble home by a head.
Grey Diamond (6/4 fav) took the 2m maiden hurdle apart. Owned by Dai Walters and trained by Alan King, he was keen early on and set a pretty brisk pace under Wayne Hutchinson. Yet after taking a breather going into the far turn he powered back up the home straight and finished full of running. Chapmanshype’s challenge ran out of steam two out and he trailed in 12 lengths behind.
Six closely matched rivals went to post for a 2m4f chase. Keep Moving (8/1), ridden by James Best, gave the Philip Hobbs yard a double. He hit the front three out and just lasted home from the staying-on Triple Chief. There was a diminishing length and a half between them at the line. Air De Rock probably would have played a part in the finish but for unseating his jockey at the final open ditch.
Jeremy Scott’s team have had their best ever season, and their Espalion was made 7/4 favourite in a field of 18 for the 2m4f hurdle to repeat his recent course and distance success. Iron Horse kicked on about six furlongs out, and put on an extra spurt in the home straight that left all bar Espalion struggling. Rex Dingle inexorably made up ground on the favourite, who jumped the last boldly and stayed on stoutly to beat the rallying, well-named Iron Horse by a length and a half.
The Dunraven Bowl for novice hunter chasers went to Pink Eyed Pedro (11/4), owned and trained by the sponsor, David Brace. This familiar figure on the South Wales pointing scene has been trying to win his own race for many years. Pedro galloped into the lead going great guns with Mr Jack Tudor three out. Thegirlfrommilan did her best to keep him company, but she had no answer to the leader’s great jump at the last, and he drew away to win by 11 lengths.
It was getting quite murky by the time the consistent Delface won the seventh race, a 2m hurdle, for the David Pipe-Tom Scudamore combination. The 7/2 joint favourite had shadowed the leader Bardd for some time, taking over in front two out. Both of them fluffed the final flight, but Delface was the stronger and ran on well to win by two lengths.