It was a dry, mild day for the first meeting of Chepstow’s flat season. The going was soft, heavy in places along the back straight. Punters got off to a bad start, with odds on favourites going down in the first two races.
The 1m4f handicap that began the programme resulted in a straightforward victory for the Ed de Giles-trained Bombero (9/2). He ran second until coming alongside the leader two out, when he was shaken up by Callum Shepherd, and quickly went well clear. The favourite Astute Boy struggled to get second place, five lengths in arrears.
King Lud’s fourth in the Wood Ditton justified his short-priced status in the 1m2f race but he was put soundly in his place by Sue Gardner’s experienced hurdler Coeur Blimey, ridden by Jamie Spencer. He very deliberately chose a route down the middle of the track and kicked on almost half a mile out. The horse galloped on remorselessly all the way to the line to win by four and a half lengths.
After a disappointing ride on King Lud Oisin Murphy donned the Qatar Racing colours to partner Gilded Hour (11/8 fav) in the 7f fillies handicap. She took the lead with no bother two out, but didn’t do much in front and needed plenty of encouragement from the saddle to stay a length ahead of Milan Reef. Ralph Beckett trained the winner.
Statuario’s impressive debut here in September was followed by two runs down the field in better company. Running over a mile today, the 3/1 shot led all the way against the stands rail. With a single crack of the whip from Charles Bishop he trebled his advantage before coasting home, five lengths ahead of Tallow. There’s more to come from him. The Eve Johnson Houghton stable’s fine form of the last two years continues.
A 6f handicap went to Counterfeit (12/1), who ran on gamely for Rhiain Ingram once she’d hit the front a furlong out, repelling the challenge of Diamond Express by a neck. Nobody could begrudge this success for Devon trainer Karen George, her first winner in five years.
Twice a course winner over six furlongs, David Evans’s Satchville Flyer (5/1) was outpaced for most of today’s veterans’ race over five. His jockey Fran Berry didn’t give up, though, and he came home strongly as the pacesetters faded. Half a furlong out he took the lead and won, going away, by a length and three quarters from another locally trained dual course winner, Kinglami.
We concluded with a two mile handicap. Ocean Gale (4/1), who before today had one win, no seconds, and seven thirds to her credit, was going best when David Probert asked her to go for home two and a half furlongs out. She soon put daylight between herself and her rivals and was untroubled to score by almost three lengths from Unblinking. It was Herefordshire trainer Richard Price’s first winner on the flat this year.