Hillview provided the most facile victory of the day yesterday in recording his fourth win of the campaign, and third within a month, in Stratford’s Savage & Stride Wedding Celebration Handicap Hurdle. The Irish-bred gelding, a winner previously at Bangor and Southwell (twice), notched up a 31st winner of the term for Cheshire handler Gary Hanmer, and there won’t have been many easier.
By contrast, the winner of the opener, Kinondu Kwetu, had to work rather harder to assert over long time leader Starsky from the powerful Skelton yard. The false pace of a three runner field made the race a sprint from the last, where the Sam Engkand trained winner was able to apply speed to overcome Starsky.
Morganstern was further confirmation of the in-form status of Somerset’s David Pipe when winning the Claudio’s 50th Birthday Novices Handicap Chase by 2 1/2l from Arbennig. This was the second leg of a cross-card double for Pipe following Neon Moon’s victory at Wincanton. Remarkably, the stable is running on a 40% strike rate over the past fortnight. Statisticians take note.
Anthony Honeyball has emerged to be a fearsome competitor in the middle ranks of the Trainers’ Championship. Fresh from winning a valuable handicap at Aintree on Grand National day, he followed up here with a horse of rather less ability. Midnight Callisto always had her rivals in hand and ran out a convincing winner of the Mares Handicap Hurdle for a 35th winner of the season for Honeyball.
A disappointing run from Snow Leopardess in the Randox Grand National wasn’t enough to knock the momentum from the Charlie Longsdon stable. Largy Nights and Kingston King fought out a tug of war for the lead from the final bend, neither excelling in jumping the last in the 3m3f Handicap Chase. However, it was Largy Nights who stayed on more dourly to win by 1 1/2l.
On a weekend when the amateurs of the game demonstrated their contribution to the sport in spectacular style through Sam Waley-Cohen’s Grand National victory on Noble Yeats, it was another accomplished amateur who snaffled the Stratford Grass Roots Hunters Chase, the last of our chases. Picking off the leader Tel ‘Art as they rounded the final bend, owner-trained and ridden Peacock’s Secret under Dale Peters ran on to be a convincing victor, and may well return here on May 31st for the Finale Hunters evening. The 14l margin could readily have been over 20.
All the extra accoutrements seemed to work for Mickyh as tongue strap and blinkers kept the 9 year old up to his work under a forceful ride from Jamie Moore in the Bet at Racingtv.com Novices Handicap Hurdle. The second, Justified, stayed on resolutely, and there is a race for him somewhere.