What's happening at Chepstow

Race Meeting Report - Saturday 3rd December

Sat, Dec 3, 2016

The champion jockey Richard Johnson decided to come to this, the last Chepstow meeting before the Coral Welsh National, rather than the high-profile meetings at Aintree and Sandown. His decision was vindicated with a 489/1 four-timer. The going was good, good to soft in places.

The opener was a 3m hurdle for conditional jockeys. It was memorable for Daniel Sansom, riding for his governor Seamus Mullins. Not only was it his first ride at Chepstow, but it was a spectacular winning one. Furthermore, it was on a horse making his debut over hurdles. Robinroyale (66/1) was struggling and detached in last place going along the far side, only to get a second wind and to run on to such good effect that a great leap at the third last carried him into the lead. He coasted home to a six length victory over The Bay Oak, to the delight of the bookmakers.

The prize for the second race, a 3m novices chase, included the See More Business Trophy, honouring the 1999 Gold Cup winner who won five times at Chepstow. Most of the big stables were represented and it was Philip Hobbsís Sykes (4/1 fav) who took the spoils in what turned into a sprint up the home straight. Richard Johnson drove him into a narrow lead after the penultimate fence, and he hung on by half a length from Tempestatefloresco and a host of others snapping at his heels.

Geordie Des Champs (evens fav) was seeking his fourth consecutive win and had to give plenty of weight to his rivals in the 2m4f novices hurdle. Richard Johnson, wearing the J P McManus colours, was all out to get him past Wylde Magic on the run-in for a three-quarter length success. The rest were well adrift and Rebecca Curtisís charge will be obliged to compete in better company in future.

The Hobbs-Johnson partnership thatís endured for so many years was on target again with Atirelarigo (6/1) in the 2m4f chase. He was one of three that pulled clear in the home straight, and Johnson could afford to wait until the last fence before challenging the leader Tornado In Milan. That one was conceding 13 pounds and had to give way, going down by two and a quarter lengths.

Tobefair (9/2) hasnít looked back since joining Debra Hamerís Carmarthenshire yard and scored for the fifth time in a row in what looked a really competitive 3m handicap hurdle. He made up ground steadily in the straight and was one of three who jumped the last more or less together. He battled on up the run-in to hold off Dolores Delightful by a length, with the grey Corrin Wood finishing a creditable third. Harry Cobden was the winning jockey.

Sixth on the card was the Welsh National Trial, over 3m rather than the full distance of Chepstowís Christmas feature. Lamb Or Cod (6/1 co fav), having his second race after an 18-month lay-off, had been cut some slack by the handicapper and he completed Philip Hobbsí treble and Richard Johnsonís four-timer. Named with reference to the prolific Irish chaser ten years ago, Beef Or Salmon, he was carrying the familiar yellow colours of Terry Warner, whose best-known horse was probably Rooster Booster. Potters Cross made all the running till the last fence, jumping well, and ran a fine race in going down by just two and three quarter lengths, with the rest a long way behind.

The bumper was won by Asylo (7/1), brought from the back by Bridget Andrews to get the upper hand over Eaton Hill in the final furlong. On looks and breeding thereíll be more to come from this Dan Skelton-trained four-year-old, who finished a length and a quarter ahead.

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Jim Beavis