The highlight of a mainly cloudy day with a few bright spells was the performance of the high class The Worlds End in his first run over fences. The going was good.
The booking of Richard Johnson for Bernard Llewellyn’s Shadow’s Girl (10/1) caught the eye in the opener, a 2m handicap hurdle for mares. She looked destined for a place at best because the favourite, Stop Talking, had a useful two-length advantage coming to the last. However, that one jumped scrappily and let Shadow’s Girl and Chilli Romance get past her on the run-in. She rallied but the champion jockey had pinched enough of an advantage to scramble home by a nose and a head. It was the third winner in three days for the Llewellyn stable.
A 3m2f novices handicap came next and that last two furlongs made a big difference to the result. The Dan Skelton-trained Potters Approach (16/1) was fourth and making no progress until that final quarter of a mile. Bridget Andrews steered him through a gap on the rail before the last and with a good jump there, he ran on well to beat Garrane by three lengths. The winner was dropped in class and tried with cheekpieces for the first time.
The five-year-old Senior Citizen (5/1) in dramatic style won a dramatic race for the 2m4f maiden hurdle. He was left in a narrow lead when the odds-on favourite Before Midnight fell at the penultimate flight. He was immediately pressed by hurdling debutant Copper Coin, who came down at the last, and Mr Macho, who was green but ran on well to get to within a length and a quarter at the line. A P Heskin rode the winner for Alan King. Though it’s impossible to say what would have happened had the two fallers remained on their feet, the likelihood is that all the four horses mentioned here will turn out to be useful.
It was three years ago when Solstice Star (3/1) won five handicap hurdles in a row, and today saw his first win since. Down in the weights and coming off a break, Martin Keighley’s horse was given an easy lead, and with Richard Johnson on board he was able to stay in front throughout the three mile trip. After taking a breather on the home turn he kicked on, and galloped resolutely on to beat Western Wave by three quarters of a length. The Star could be back here next week.
After this race a presentation was made to Marilyn Kirton, who can be found on the Premier Enclosure ticket desk on race days. This was to recognise her work at Chepstow over a period of 50 years.
The Worlds End (2/5 fav) won three times at Chepstow in 2016/17 and was confidently expected to make it four in his debut over the larger obstacles today in the 3m beginners' chase. Tom George’s gelding jumped well and saw out the three miles well, his only serious opponent Now McGinty accepting defeat before the final fence. A P Heskin’s second winner of the afternoon had 14 lengths to spare over the runner-up.
Gaelic Flow (7/2 fav) took the 2m4f handicap hurdle by a length and three quarters under Bryony Frost. He led before the third last and the crowd of pursuers gradually thinned out as he ran on strongly up the straight to beat Out For Justice. Chris Down’s improving seven-year-old won ten days ago at Stratford with the same rider, but will be put away now until good ground returns in the spring.
Bryony Frost completed a quick double in the bumper riding Eason (7/4 fav) for Paul Nicholls. Moving smoothly into the lead half a mile out, the horse knew his business despite it being his first racecourse appearance and responded to his jockey’s coaxing to hold off Doctor Dex’s slightly half-hearted challenge by two and a half lengths.