The cold snap relented just enough for Warwick to be passed fit for racing yesterday, writes David Hucker.
When the mud is flying, Venetia Williams is usually the trainer to follow and she duly landed the rewards4racing.com Handicap Chase with her only runner of the day, Take The Mick.
Having elected to make the running, jockey Aidan Coleman never saw another horse, as Take The Mick strolled home 14 lengths clear of Goodtoknow to record his first win since last February.
Just half of the eight-strong field completed and the holding conditions also took their toll in the day’s most valuable contest, the £12,000 TurfTV Handicap Hurdle, where six failed to finish.
Vision Du Coeur came into the race on the back of two wins at Fakenham, but was penalised 7lb for the last of them just over a week ago, taking his handicap mark up to 122, a career high.
Formerly trained by Francis Flood in Ireland, Vision Du Coeur is now with Fiona Kehoe in Bedfordshire and punters sent him off the 7-2 favourite to complete a hat-trick.
Next best in the betting was The Tourard Man, who had finished runner-up to Flintham in a novices’ race at Ascot last time.
Jaunty Journey, one of two runners in the race for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, made the running until two flights from home where The Tourard Man took control and was driven out by Wayne Hutchinson for a two-length success, with Vision Du Coeur a long way back in third.
Newmarket trainer John Ferguson is on track for his best season with 47 winners on the board, just three short of last year’s total.
He ran Mantou in the opening racinguk.com Juvenile Hurdle and this well-bred Teofilo gelding was sent off favourite to follow up his narrow Catterick win.
Warren Greatrex is also have a cracking season with 39 winners at a strike rate of 24 per cent and he saddled Alzammaar, who had finished third to the well-regarded Chatez in a similar contest at the course last month.
But, it was newcomer Ultimate Act who landed the spoils, making virtually all the running under veteran jockey Andrew Thornton, although he only had a diminishing neck to spare over Alzammaar at the line.
Unsuccessful in ten starts on the Flat, Ultimate Act is not the first horse to be transformed by jumping hurdles, but he will have to step up a bit on this to carry a penalty in his next outing,
The Willoughby De Broke Open Hunters’ Chase was worth just £1,248 to the winner but it caused the most interest leading up to the afternoon with Teaforthree, who had finished third behind Auroras Encore in the 2013 John Smith’s Grand National, among those declared to run.
In the event, Teaforthree was one of three non-runners, leaving the way clear for 5-4 favourite Out Now to score an easy success for the Philip Hobbs yard.