There was traffic chaos because of a series of incidents on the roads around Newton Abbot before racing. The situation meant some jockeys didn’t get to the course in time for the first race the Racing Partnership TRP Novices’ Handicap Hurdle. Lucy Gardner’s loss was Gavin Sheehan’s gain when picking a spare ride on winner on Susan Gardner’s charge Alramz. Lucy’s non-participation wasn’t down to traffic but injury. The winner verily bolted up by four and a half lengths and returned 7/2 joint favourite. It wasn’t a great start for the bookmakers, seven of whom were in attendance. Most of them direct from Royal Ascot with various tales of fortune from there.
A big shout has to go to the Judge Guy Lewis who took valiantly took over commentary duties as the intended commentator Richard Hoiles was stuck in gridlocked traffic. Guy was still behind the commentors microphone when Gavin Sheehann made it a quick-fire double on spare rides when he steered Noel Williams’ Delight of Dubai to a one and a half length victory in the Racing Partnership TRP Handicap Chase. Anoraks out there, when was the last spare ride double ridden? The winner was another joint favourite, this time 3/1.
Richard Hoiles was back in the commentary box by the time Kilmington Rose won the third, the newtonabbotracing.com Novices’ Hurdle under Harry Cobden for Paul Nicholls, sent off the 10/11 favourite from 40/1 chance Get Up Them Steps which threatened to cause an upset two out but ultimately flattered to deceive. The winning rider said that the blinkers helped his mare and that she appeared to try harder. He added that she’s improving and would jump a fence in time and goes on any ground.
Amateur jockey Ben Bromley scored his second winner under rules when winning cosily on Paul Nichols’ Chez Hans in the Janet Denning Fifehead Farms Memorial Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle. The combination won by 11 lengths, the biggest margin of the evening so far. Talking to Mick Fitzgerald for ATR after the race the winning rider said that he came of the last bend picked up and just went, winging the last two hurdles. He added that the gelding was a lovely horse to ride and that he travelled brilliantly. The winner returned 11/4, the 9/4 favourite Mystic Court was back in third. Small mercies for the bookies.
The 7/4 favourite Darling Maltaix winning the Get Daily Tips On attheraces.com Handicap Chase under Harry Cobden made it a treble on the night for trainer Paul Nicholls. After his two and a half length victory the winning jockey said that he’d had some bad falls from his mount over hurdles but over fences he’s fine. He said the trainer had warned that he might need the run, then added that Paul’s half fit is still pretty fit. Harry concluded that the winner hadn’t been the most straight forward horses and had been quite free but had settled down now. For those that don’t know, and I had to ask, when a horse is described as ‘free’ it means that they are a keen and pull for their heads. If that’s the case, they need to be taught to settle before they can show their true potential. Ironically Gavin Sheehan’s first intended mount of the night Thistle Do Nicely was a non-runner. Down in the betting ring the bookmakers described the business as workable but slow. Given that crowd was very limited and was competing with the England match on the television it was OK.
There was only one the punters down in front the bookies wanted to be on in the penultimate, the St Austell Brewery Handicap Hurdle. That was treble-seeking jockey Gavin Sheehan’s mount Drumlee Water. Jo Williams on the Ivor Perry joint told me that the punters wouldn’t stop backing it, even though the biggest single bet he’d taken on the combination was £200 but all the smaller bets had added up. Luckily for those backers who had put their hard-earned on the combo Gavin Sheehan and 5/2 favourite Drumlee Water had read the script winning by 11 lengths for Warren Greatrex. Talking after the race Gavin said that he’d been staying with Daryl Jacob near Bristol so didn’t have to come far when he got the call for the spare rides. He was delighted with his treble. He said that his mount in this heat had done it well, that the cheek pieces had worked so he didn’t have to work hard as a result. Gavin Sheehan is brand ambassador for bookmakers Goodwin.
The lucky last, the Tich Cleave Ladies Man Classic Novices’ Handicap Chase, went to the David Rees trained Kingston King under jockey Sean Bowen. The 4/6 favourite had been as big as 7/2 overnight and appeared to have landed something of a touch. It did so without any messing about too, clear at the last and staying on nicely to win by three and a quarter lengths. So concluded another excellent night’s racing at Newton Abbot. A treble up for both Paul Nicholls and Gavin Sheehen it was probably one that the bookmakers would rather forget, but I don’t expect they’ll complain too much, just happy to be back on course and able to bet. Aye Aye.