Twelve-year-old Paddy The Oscar landed the day’s feature race, the Local Parking Security Ltd Handicap Chase, in front of a bumper crowd of close to 5,000 at Warwick’s New Year’s Eve meeting, writes David Hucker.
In testing ground, Paddy The Oscar and claiming jockey Conor Ring made every yard of the running over the three-mile trip to deny another veteran in Incentivise who, hard as he tried, could not close the gap on the run-in.
Despite heavy rain in the lead-up to the meeting, the course was passed fit for racing after an early-morning inspection, although an open ditch and flight of hurdles down the back straight were omitted.
Racegoers were still queueing to get in as the runners set off for the opener, a novices’ handicap hurdle.
With early leader Lady Helissio dropping away quickly after the fourth flight, Rebekah Rabbit set sail for home, but she could not see off the challenge of Solidago, who stayed on the stronger in the home straight to get off the mark at his 21st attempt.
There was another heat for the Challenger Series of jumps races in the second, a handicap hurdle for conditional jockeys over three-and-a-quarter miles.
Chepstow winner Battle Dust made a valiant effort to defy weight but, in a thrilling finish, went down by half a length to Howaboutnever, who provided young jockey Toby Wheeler with his second winner.
It was 15 months ago that Wheeler first came to the attention of Warwick racegoers when riding 50-1 outsider Be My Witness to success, defeating multiple champion AP McCoy on long odds-on favourite Vaihau.
The first of the three chases on the card was the Local Parking Security Ltd Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase over two-and-a-half miles and it went to King Of Glory who, having led to the sixth fence, came again in the home straight to outgun Muckle Roe and make it 101 wins for the season for jockey Aidan Coleman.
On the back of a wide margin win at Fontwell Park last time out, Katie Too was sent off the hot 1-2 favourite to land the mares’ novices hurdle and, having taken the measure of the hard-pulling Lamanver Alchemy turning for home, she powered away for another easy success.
The weather took a turn for the worse as the runners lined up for the LPS Ltd Handicap Chase, with the early sunshine giving way to driving rain.
Merchant Of Milan and I Am Colin emerged from the gloom to fight out the finish, with just a short head between them at the line.
Mystical Knight and Informationisking headed the betting in the concluding National Hunt Flat Race, but it looked like Holbrook Park might spoil the party when leading out of the back straight.
However, Sean Bowen was only biding his time on Mystical Knight and, once hitting the front, they quickly went clear, with the one-paced Informationisking plugging on for third.