Skelton winds up to Saturday speed

A worms eye view of Jigginstown King leading the field before victory at Stratford. 9/10/2023 Pic Steve Davies

Dan Skelton’s Alcester yard is girding up to full speed as the first of the significant Saturday cards hoves into view this weekend, and introduced another smart newcomer at Luddington Road in Kartoon & Co, a juvenile in the ownership of the Betts family, owners of some terrific horses in the past, including private Audition, winner of the 1988 Cesarewitch. Big winners have been harder to come by in recent years, but in this well-bred French gelding, there was plenty to like, even in a small 4 runner field. The winner was 7 1/2l ahead of the runner-up, the two more than 60l apart from the only other finisher.

There was plenty else to enjoy during a day shared by many winning partnerships. Shetland Tony continued the rich vein of form enjoyed by the Twiston-Davies team when justifying 7/2 favouritism for the Newport Recycling Novices Hurdle, under Sam Twiston-Davies in a bloodless 18l victory. Recent success is small compensation for the loss of Greatwood Hurdle winner I Like To Move It on his chasing debut at Uttoxeter on Saturday, but Nigel is nothing if not phlegmatic. Twiston-Davies Jnr is a man in a hurry presently; his last week’s rides have served up no less than 7 winners for 4 separate trainers.

Shetland Tony and Sam Twiston-Davies jump the last to win at Stratford. 9/10/2023 Pic Steve Davies

Perseverance is everything in racing, and the point was amply proven in the Re-Gen Waste Novices Handicap Chase over 2m 3f. Winner Martalmix’jac – a commentator’s tongue twister – finally got his head in front at the fifteenth attempt in one of the card’s two chases with a 2l margin over Famoso, a winner here at the end of August. This looks a horse that needs everything right for him, which, as we all know, happens rarely in this sport. Full marks to trainer-rider partnership Mel Rowley and Alex Edwards for persistence, and to syndicate owner High and Low, who have experienced more than their share of the latter adjective.

Martalmix’Jac [left] gets his head in front at the 15th attempt at Stratford. 9/10/2023 Pic Steve Davies

The other chase of the day produced the most exciting finish of the afternoon, when the Oliver Signy-trained Jigginstown King justified his short 2/1 favourite’s tag in holding off the in-form Lavelle yard of Minella Buster. Given Emma Lavelle’s team is also primed for a productive autumn, it shouldn’t be too long before he is winning either, but credit is die to Ben Jones for a forceful ride that saw off Tom Bellamy by 1/2l at the line. Jigginstown King was completing a hat-trick following Spring victories at Fontwell and Fakenham.

Another of the top rank trainers running into a rich vein of form is David Pipe, who struck here with the Jack Tudor-ridden Myristica in the 2m 2f Novices handicap hurdle. The five year old mare has done little wrong since joining Pipe from Yorkshire in April, running up a hat-trick in mid-summer and never being out of the frame. Pipe is hunting down a rider for his Cesarewitch hope Wordsworth, well fancied to defy top weight in this Saturday’s big staying handicap.

Robbie Llewellyn is another product of the South Wales centre of racing excellence. The Vale of Glaorgan trainer was previously 2 i/c to David Brace, and has worked for Tim Vaughan and Evan Williams, mainstays of Welsh Jump racing. Based on his percentages, this could be a breakthrough year for him, notching up his seventh winner of the term, a personal best, with 11/4 favourite Top Cloud in the opening conditionals hurdle, ridden by another man on the march, Liam Harrison.

Just as Llewellyn is a product of the British Point-to-Point circuit, so the final winner of the day celebrated a team back training under its own name with a fine history of success between the flags. Graeme McPherson disappeared from the training ranks when joining forces with Fergal O’Brien, but that partnership drew to a close due to the complications of running two training sites 15 miles apart. Moon Chime, a five year old gelding that had won at Worcester under the ancien regime earlier in the summer, made it 2 from 2 in the concluding bumper with a handsome 7l margin under claimer Nick Slatter to get the old firm on the scoresheet once again.

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