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Race Meeting Report - Friday 20th January

Fri, Jan 20, 2017

It was sunny, cold day at Chepstow and the going was soft, heavy in places. The course passed a 9am inspection after a light overnight frost.

The betting suggested the 2m4f novices hurdle would be a two-horse race, and so it proved, with The Worlds End (1/4 fav) over-coming the front running 9-4 second favourite Testify.

Between the last two flights the favourite came alongside and on the run-in Adrian Heskin drove him ahead to a three length victory. The Tom George-trained winner has become a Chepstow specialist early in his National Hunt career, this being his third course success from just four starts.

In contrast, fancied horses fell by the wayside in the 3m novices chase. Tim Vaughan’s Tanit River (16/1) travelled well and moved smoothly into the lead approaching the second last. Jumping slightly to the right there may have put off Robinsfirth, his nearest rival, who unseated his rider, leaving Alan Johns to coast home by 17 lengths from Join The Clan. Connections hope the winner will develop into a Welsh National contender at the end of the year.

The mares hurdle over 2m4f resulted in an easy win for Shaama Grise (5/4 fav), who took the lead approaching the third last and skipped a long way clear. Tom Scudamore could afford to ease up near the finish, halving his lead over Culture De Sivola to seven lengths. It would be no surprise to see trainer David Pipe run the winner again soon.

Denis O’Regan is based in Ireland nowadays, but his decision to come over to Chepstow proved significant as he partnered Court Frontier (9/2 fav) to win the 3m handicap chase by eight lengths. He had to get to work from five out when only in sixth place, and from there he made steady progress as others dropped away, taking the lead at the last and galloping on strongly to beat the recent course winner Allchilledout. Local trainer Paul Morgan’s good run of form continues.

Imperial Bay (3/1) led throughout the 3m maiden hurdle. He and Dashing Perk drew well clear of the rest up the straight and after a prolonged battle the challenger, making his hurdling debut, only conceded defeat in the last half furlong. It will be interesting to see how far up the ladder these staying chasers of the future can climb. David Bass rode the four length winner for Ben Pauling.

Punters sometimes call the last race of the day “the getting-out stakes” by plunging on the favourite. They did so with Gardiners Hill (11/10 fav), a winner of a 3m chase at Hereford nine days ago, who was being dropped back to 2m4f in today’s finale to take advantage of not yet being reassessed by the handicapper. Under a typical Paul Moloney ride – creeping into contention in the last half mile and taking the lead at the last – he scored convincingly by five lengths from William Money. His Pembrokeshire trainer David Rees may run him again at Hereford on Sunday if he comes out of the race looking as fresh as he did when passing the winning post.

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Jim Beavis