It was a good weekend for the Welsh jumping fraternity.
The Irish may have dominated the two-day Cheltenham meeting but they could only claim second, third and fourth in Saturday’s 3m novice hurdle thanks to Sean Bowen winning on the Olly Murphy-trained Butch. Having been passed on the run-in, Butch rallied to get up on the line and win by a neck from Antrim Coast. The ride drew praise from Racing TV pundits, one of whom used the phrase, “you can see why we can now call him champion-elect with rides like that.”
Connor Brace rode a confident race guiding Crambo to victory in Aintree’s 2m4f hurdle on Sunday. Against a decent field, he only needed to wave his whip at the horse in the closing stages to go a couple of lengths clear. Brace has been aboard for all of Crambo’s six wins, achieved from just eight starts. Running on into fourth past beaten horses was Christian Williams’ star stayer Kitty’s Light, who when in peak condition would hardly have got warmed up going this far.
Elsewhere on the Aintree card, though Williams’ Uno Mas finished 21 lengths back in fourth place in the 3m hurdle he shaped with great promise coming back from a 581-day break, running prominently for a long way.
Al Dancer ran an honourable third in the Grade 2 Old Roan Chase for Sam Thomas and Dai Walters. He lost his place in the middle of the race before staying on stoutly up the home straight. Just two weeks after he’d won at Chepstow’s Unibet Jump Season Opener, it was a fine effort for a horse usually best fresh.
Some of Paul Nicholls’ horses have been needing a run, but this wasn’t the case at Wincanton where Liari, ridden by Lorcan Williams, won on his first start in this country at odds of 4/5. This ex-Aga Khan gelding landed the juvenile hurdle by three quarters of a length. He’d won on the flat in France and was a little bit more professional than his opponent, who was making his debut.
Ben Jones (photographed) rode a double at the Somerset track. To begin with he partnered the 2/1 favourite Lowry’s Bar to justify a gamble on the Philip Hobbs and Johnson White runner. Jones had a hair-raising ride on the Rebecca Curtis-trained Boston Joe in the 2m chase. The horse generally jumped violently to the left, yet finished with energy to spare and trotted up by ten lengths. He was returning after 433 days off and off a three pounds lower mark than the last time he’d won.
Thursday 2nd November marks the 2023 edition of the Welsh Horseracing Awards held at The Vale in Cardiff, there are some great contenders and we look forward to announcing the winners and celebrating the best in Welsh racing!
Our next meeting at Chepstow is Tuesday 31st October. We have two fixtures in November on the 8th and 24th. And don’t forget we are counting down to the Coral Welsh Grand National on Wednesday 27th December. Tickets and hospitality are available via the website or by calling 01291 622260.