It was excellent to be back at Newton Abbot especially on such a glorious sunny day. It was a real shame for the course that there weren’t more runners given the excellent prize money on offer but Newton Abbot Racecourse was still a wonderful place to spend a Monday afternoon. I was speaking to someone very knowledgeable before racing who just could not understand the lack of runners. He said that having walked the course you’d not find better racing ground on any racecourse. He added that if Newton Abbot is good enough for Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls, Fergal O’Brien, Colin Tizzard, Philip Hobbs and the other top trainers supporting the card that he was baffled as to why others appear to have given it a swerve. Not least because it was the richest meeting in terms of prize money in the UK today.
PKF FRANCIS CLARK “NATIONAL HUNT” NOVICES’ HURDLE (GBB RACE) (Class 3) (4yo+)
The first race on the days card was worth £11,000 and contested by just three runners. The morning favourite was Paul Nicholls’ Kilmington Rose odds-on at 8/11, Fergal O’Brien’s Our Colossus was second in at 5/4 with Tracey Barfoot-Saunt’s Twice The Mustard the 100/1 outsider of three. The race went pretty much as the odds suggested it would. The favourite won with some ease under Harry Cobden from Our Colossus, sadly Twice The Mustard was pulled up. The bookmakers on course said that the business had been very light, much of the holiday crowd were happy to throw a couple of quid on the outsider at 100/1 rather than have £100 on the short ones. Paul Metcalfe on the Jack Bevan pitch had his sidekick Ian on the joint taking the money. He’d had his mask custom made, the jury was still out on whose measurements were used though The firm were using a new state of the art contactless gizmo which Paul said was working harder and better than Ian, may the ‘Hannibal Lecter’ look was putting those punters off.
Racing Partnership Novices’ Handicap Chase (GBB Race) (Class 4)
The market got the next wrong. Colin Tizzard’s 3/1 outsider of three Helford River won the second three horse race on the card by three and a quarter lengths under Brendan Powell from Anthony Honeyball’s 10/11 favourite Wagner. The market could be forgiven as the win appeared to take connections a little by surprise too. Talking to Luke Harvey after the race they told him that the gelding had been off for two years, they added that he had been jumping well at home but weren’t sure how that would translate to the racecourse, concluding that their options were now open. Down in the betting ring one of the bookmakers said he was surprised at the SP of the winner as it had been well supported on-course.
Happy Birthday Wayne Hockley Congratulations Handicap Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4yo+)
Paul Nicholls saddled both the uneasy favourite Celestial Force and the well-backed Easyrun De Vassey in this 3m 2f hurdle worth £18,500. The pair had to settle for minor honours behind Paul Henderson’s Ballyegan Hero which won by three and a quarter lengths under Nick Schofield. The winner landed a bit of a touch, it had been as big as 9/1 in the morning, that price was compacted after Drumlee Water came out before racing but still available at 11/2 in the betting ring. That price was snapped up by punters betting in hundreds, several layers reporting strong business for the winner.
Newton Abbot Racecourse On Facebook Selling Hurdle (Class 4) (4yo+)
It’s something of a nostalgia trip to witness a seller these days. Local meetings always appeared to have on on the card back in the day. Four went to post for this one. Fergal O’Brien’s Right Destination was sent off the even money favourite. The gelding made a valiant attempt to make all but capitulated approaching two out. Olly Murphy’s 3/1 chance Macho Mover on the other hand looked to be out with the washing four out before finding its second wind, eventually bolting up by over eight lengths under David England. There was a big crowd around the parade ring for the subsequent auction with the winner offered for sale starting at £4000. Sadly for those hoping for some frenetic auction action the winner was led out after no bid despite it’s impressive win.
Racing Partnership Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase (Class 5) (4yo+ 0-105)
The race before the penultimate provided racegoers and ATR viewers with the best race of the day so far. The had been a right old tussle going on at the business end of the race between the well-backed 6/1 into 7/2 chance Milton Harris charge Achy Breaky Heart and easy to back 8/1 to 12/1 O’Faolains Lad trained by Richenda Ford and ridden by Thomas Doggrell. Approaching the last the latter appeared to won the battle and began to go away, only to clobber the last, a mistake that would have unshipped a lesser pilot. Achy Breaky Heart was aptly named for her supporters, she appeared to have been handed the race but the Lad and Thomas had other ideas battling back on the short run in to win by just over a length. Talking to Luke Harvey after the race the winning pilot said that his gelding had jumped brilliantly until the last and had started to get a bit ‘idley’ in front but found plenty when headed.
Down in the betting ring you’d have thought that the bookmakers would be pleased with the bookie-friendly results they’d enjoyed basking in the sunshine this afternoon. Well, you have to remember that these are bookmakers. I spoke to probably the most grumpy in the ring, and that includes Star Sports’ Lofty. Richard Watson, when asked about the afternoon’s business he went into a lengthy monologue about how Stratford was so busy but they couldn’t get a short one beaten etc etc but today when they could only take shrapnel the results were a dream, and so it went on. His oppo Steve Copplestone at the business end of the firm just stood there quietly shaking in head in despair, not at the business but at the sad lament which only ended when our man witnessed the race just described and almost smiled conceding that it was a great finish.
Racing Partnership Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (Class 5)
It was lucky I didn’t go and speak to Richard before the penultimate because he’d have had the right needle after Susan Gardner’s Snug As A Bug under Sean Houlihan got the money for those favourite backers that hung in there. The winner returned at 15/8 so had been quite weak in the market having been a top-priced 13/8 in the morning.
Racing Partnership TRP Open National Hunt Flat Race (Category 1 Elimination) (GBB Race) (Class 5)
The concluding bumper was all about Debra Hamer’s Deal Em High 6/5 into 10/11 in the live betting. The mover overnight had been David Brace’s Brin Mo backed from 13/2 into 9/4. That money was misplaced as the race unfolded into a tremendous tussle between Harry Cobden on Deal Em High and Bryony Frost on Gorcombe Moon. The former got the better of the latter for favourite backers by a neck. That concluded an excellent day on the turf at Newton Abbot. If you’ve not been, there are still a couple of meetings left to enjoy. Hopefully more owners and trainers will support the remaining meetings of the season too.
You wouldn’t have wanted to be a passenger in Richard Watson’s car on the way home, at least it’s a short journey to Torquay!
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