Champion jockey-elect Richard Johnson was the man of the moment at Warwick on Friday, as he brought up his 200th winner for the season with a typical never-say-die ride aboard Cheat The Cheater, writes David Hucker.
After disputing the early lead in the Listers Audi Novices’ Handicap Chase, Cheat The Cheater started to back pedal as Glendermot looked to be going like the winner, but Johnson does not give up easily and he drove his mount to challenge again at the last fence and forge ahead on the run-in.
“He showed plenty of heart from the second-last and I was pretty sure I would get to the one in front,” said Johnson after the race.
There was a field of 15 in the opening EBF Stallions “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle (Qualifier) over two miles and three furlongs, with Paddy’s Field, trained at Bourton-on-the Water by Ben Pauling, backed from 9-4 to 7-4 to follow up his Market Rasen win.
He was always well placed behind the leaders, but could not quicken up when it mattered, finishing only third to Will O’The West, who was brought with a well-timed run by Jake Greenall to collar Ballypoint at the final flight and run on strongly to score by three-quarters of a length.
As the only winner in the race, Pillard had to give weight to his eight rivals in the Simon Butler Celebrating 25 years Juvenile Hurdle.
It proved decisive in the end as he could not live with Forgiving Glance from the penultimate obstacle, Alan King’s filly scooting away for a six-length success, with the pair finishing well clear of the rest.
The biggest race of the afternoon was the £30,000 Budbrooke Chase and it produced the easiest winner in the shape of Minella Reception, who put eight lengths between himself and Renard, who had made a valiant attempt to lead from start to finish.
Although Renard was still in front going to the second-last fence, he was being stalked by Minella Reception and it was only a matter of time until Noel Fehily pressed the button.
When he did, the response was immediate and, despite an awkward jump at the last, his mount strolled clear for an easy win.
Jamie Moore had made all the running to land the feature Kingmaker Novices’ Chase at the last meeting with Violet Dancer and he repeated the trick when taking the Walking The Courses Handicap Chase on Leo Luna, who saw out the three-mile trip well to repel the challenge of No Duffer in the home straight.
Johnson quickly moved on to 201 wins for the campaign when Little Miss Poet, who was short of room two furlongs out, proved too good for debutant Nightfly in the concluding British Stallion Studs EBF Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.