Conas Taoi claims spot in final of the Challenger Series

Conas Taoi, far side, on his way to winning the Challenger Series qualifier. Picture submitted
Conas Taoi, far side, on his way to winning the Challenger Series qualifier. Picture submitted

Conas Taoi, ridden by Conor Shoemark, took the £10 Free At Conditional Jockeys Chase at Warwick on Wednesday to qualify for the Challenger Series final at Haydock Park next year, writes David Hucker.

Overnight rain had eased the going, with both the chase and hurdles tracks being soft in places, but that did not hinder Conas Taoi, who jumped to the front at the 12th fence and stayed on strongly to deny Pure Poteen.

With Billy My Boy withdrawn at the start, a field of 17 lined up for the opening 32Red Handicap Hurdle over two miles and there was a solid favourite in bottom-weight David John, who was looking to follow up his Sedgefield win.

Orthodox Lad led out of the back straight, but he was being pressed by Crickel Wood going to the last flight. Jockey Aidan Coleman switched Crickel Wood to the stand side jumping the hurdle and it proved a decisive move as they gained the upper hand on the run-in, with David John staying on to be third.

There was a hot favourite in the Anixter Partners Day Juvenile Maiden Hurdle in the shape of Pemba, who had finished third on her only start at Auteuil.

But, it was the more experienced Chic Name, backed from 11-2 to 3-1 on the course, who triumphed, given a good ride by Alain Cawley to make all the running and score at the eighth attempt.

The Weatherbys Diary Novices’ Chase has been won by some good horses over the years, including Balder Succes and Vibrato Valtat.

Both had returned to win the Kingmaker Chase, one of Warwick’s feature races of the season.

This year’s contest went to Willow’s Saviour, trained near Alcester by Dan Skelton, who held on by a fast diminishing neck from Aso.

“We’ve done as much work as we can with him but, after such a long lay-off, he just got tired close home,” said winning rider Harry Skelton. “It was a good performance and he will improve.”

With a trip of three and a quarter miles to cover, the 32Red App Store Novices’ Hurdle was not for the faint hearted, and top-weight Net Work Rouge showed courage and determination in abundance to lead from start to finish and hold off the challenge of Dan Emmett.

Aloomomo and Gavin Sheehan took command down the back straight in the 32Red Handicap Chase, running out easy winners and, in the concluding George Mernagh Memorial Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race, Lamanver Alchemy just held on from the gambled-on My Khaleesi.