What's happening at Chepstow

Race Meeting Report - Saturday 25 February

Sun, Feb 26, 2017

The going was soft for the Winter Ladies Day meeting, the rain arriving after a dry breezy morning. As a result the Bonanza Boy marquee, the venue for the fashion show, became an appealing place to dry out between races and to try and pick the winners of the Best Dressed competitions.

Horses with Milan in their name and breeding are usually good stayers and Forza Milan (7/4 into 11/8 fav) confirmed the promise shown in his last two races when taking the opener, a 2m4f maiden hurdle. Killian Moore produced him between the last two flights to take the lead off Glenforde and pushing him three and a quarter lengths ahead of Rock My Style, who kept on well for second. Trainer Jonjo O’Neill was present to greet his winner; his stable normally hits form in time for Cheltenham.

The 3m novice chase attracted some useful sorts who had disappointed after winning in the first part of the season. The favourite Missed Approach unseated at the first and proceeded to cause a nuisance by veering left and right in front of the others for most of the race. Tom O’Brien, on Philip Hobbs’s Rock The Kasbah (2/1), took the lead five out and kicked clear two out to get out of the way of the loose horse. That succeeded, but he tired in the closing stages and allowed the rallying 100/1 shot Swincombe Scorchio, who led for most of the race, to get to within a length.

It was fairly straightforward for Evan Williams’s The Gipper to score for the third time over course and distance in the 2m handicap hurdle. A well backed 11/8 favourite, he was niggled into the lead three out and from there held on to a three length advantage over Makethedifference and then Yorgonnahearmeroar all the way to the line. It was compensation for jockey Leighton Aspell after his first-fence tumble in the preceding race.

In the 3m hurdle Gayebury (4/1 fav) shared the lead until Tom O’Brien asked him to quicken up turning into the straight, and he gradually went further and further clear. Gordon Elliott’s first runner at Chepstow had moved nicely into contention three out but had no answer to the winner’s relentless gallop. Evan Williams’s lightly-raced seven-year-old, having his first race over this distance, won by 13 lengths.

Grey Gold had finished second three years running in the main event, a 2m chase, but never looked like figuring today. Instead the twelve-year-old Sew On Target (7/1), one of the lesser lights of the Colin Tizzard stable, led or shared the lead throughout and repelled a series of challenges. The last of them came from Bold Henry, who came alongside two out, but the leader found more for Brendan Powell and stayed on for a length and a half success.

Six of the seven in the next, another 2m chase, had failed to complete last time out. It was the course winner Modeligo (5/1) who came back to form best of all, hitting the front three out and quickly poaching a decisive lead. What’s Up Rory followed him home, four and a half lengths away. Stan Sheppard rode the winner for his father Matt.

Jonjo O’Neill completed a double in the bumper with the well supported Lad Of Luck (5/2 fav), ridden by his son, another Jonjo. Though he is an inexperienced amateur he rode a very confident race, justified by the ease with which the horse bounded clear of the rivals he overtook a furlong out. He could be anything. The winning distance was 11 lengths, with Hidden Impact and Crucial Role taking second and third places.

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Jim Beavis