Gloucestershire trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies was the man to follow on Saturday, as Flying Angel, ridden by his son Willy, took Warwick’s feature Grade 2 Betway Kingmaker Novices’ Chase, the first leg of a valuable stable treble on the afternoon, writes David Hucker.
Gino Trail, who made Champion Hurdle favourite Buveur d’Air pull out all the stops here on New Year’s Eve, was soon in his customary position at the head of the field and a burst of acceleration around the home bend put paid to the chances of all bar one of his rivals.
That horse was Flying Angel, on whom Twiston-Davies had been taking the shortest route on the inside rail and, once pulled out to challenge approaching the second-last fence, joined the leader and went clear for an easy success.
Bridget Andrews chalked up her tenth winner of the season when making all the running on Aintree My Dream to land the opening racinguk.com Novices’ Hurdle over two miles and five furlongs.
Although Buster Thomas tried to lay down a challenge in the home straight, he could not reel in the leader, who had 12 lengths in hand at the line and looks a useful prospect.
The following olbg.com Mares’ Hurdle (Registered as the Warwick Mares Hurdle) (Listed Race) featured another well-fancied horse in Jessber’s Dream, runner-up to Flute Bowl in the contest last year.
Bought out of Harry Fry’s stable in November, she had failed to score in two races for new trainer Paul Nicholls, but punters sent her off the 7-4 favourite to make it third time lucky.
Taken to the front from the start by Jack Sherwood, Jessber’s Dream looked to have her rivals in trouble three flights from home but, Rons Dream, who had been pulled up on her chasing debut at the course in November, found another gear once they straightened up, joining the favourite at the penultimate flight and going clear approaching the last to post a six-length success under Sean Bowen.
Vibrato Valtat, who beat Top Gamble in the Kingmaker Chase two years ago, topped the weights in the £30,000 Racing UK In HD Warwick Castle Handicap Chase over two-and-a-half miles.
Usually seen out in graded races, he looked to be in with a chance of lifting this valuable prize from a rating of 152, but found the concession of 21lb to Templehills, who bounced back from a fall at Leicester last time out, just too much.
Well-ridden from the front by Dave Crosse, Templehills was bringing up a double for the Twiston-Davies stable at the track, topped 20 minutes later at Newbury by the success of Ballyandy in the day’s richest race, the £155,000 Betfair Hurdle.