Prince is crowned in front of bumper Warwick crowd

Montdragon on his way to winning The Star Sports novices' Hurdle ridden by Richie McLernon. Picture: Les Hurley
Montdragon on his way to winning The Star Sports novices' Hurdle ridden by Richie McLernon. Picture: Les Hurley
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A bumper crowd enjoyed the bank holiday sunshine at Warwick yesterday, when Prince Des Marais and conditional jockey Michael Heard took the feature event in impressive style, writes David Hucker.

Bookmakers Star Sports sponsored five races, including the afternoon’s most valuable race, a chase over two-and-a-half miles, for which Bob Tucker headed the betting market.

Although he ran on well to take third after getting behind down the back straight, Bob Tucker never looked like winning, as the race went to Prince Des Marais, who led at the third-last fence and ran on strongly to beat Moorlands Jack.

Three horses dominated the betting in the opening novices’ hurdle with Laurium sent off the odds-on favourite to land the prize for trainer Nicky Henderson and jockey David Bass.

They set a good pace up front until being challenged by 7-2 shot Montdragon approaching the last flight and the former French hurdler, now owned by J P McManus, asserted on the run-in to deny the favourite, with Faithful Mount back in third.

The second, a conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle, went to Bennachie, who was always close up and collared Good Value at the final hurdle to win comfortably, with Sea The Springs staying on for third place.

Cars were still queuing to get into the course as the runners went to the start for the third, in which champion trainer Paul Nicholls saddled Celestino, his only runner at the meeting.

Celestino was having his first run over fences after failing to win in eight outings over hurdles but could make no impression on Notnowsam, who made a winning debut for Warwickshire trainer Dan Skelton.

The largest field of the afternoon lined up for the Quantum Manufacturing Handicap Hurdle over three miles and a furlong and it went to Crack Of Thunder, ridden by leading northern jockey Brian Hughes for Over Norton trainer Charlie Longsdon.

The tumble of leader Eastern Calm at the third-last flight had changed the complexion of the race, with Sandynow having to be light on his feet to avoid the fallen horse.

Despite being impeded, Sandynow led going to the penultimate flight but he had no answer to the finishing kick of Crack Of Thunder, who stayed on well to score by seven lengths.

Benzanno led the field until the home turn in the two mile handicap hurdle where Christopher Ward sent Cut The Corner to the front.

Despite an untidy jump at the second-last, Cut The Corner had too much pace for Shalambar and Watt Broderick and should win again.

After riding in the first race Kempton Park, Gavin Sheehan made the trip to Warwick to partner Via Volupta in the finale, but he had to settle for second place behind Surtee Du Berlais, who got off the mark on her first run over hurdles.

There is racing again on Saturday when the Mardi Gras Party Night meeting, featuring seven races, gets under way at 5.25pm.