Newton Abbot Race Review - Saturday 15 April 2017
The sun shone and the crowds were out in force for Newton Abbot Racecourse’s Easter Saturday fixture.
Jockey Nick Scholfield was in double-winning form, scooping the feature race on Fox Appeal and then getting the veteran Moorlands Jack up to win in a thrilling finish. With top-weight Cold March a non-runner due to the quickening ground, officially described as good to firm, good in places, after the second race, six lined up for the feature Class 2 Frank Loosemore Memorial Handicap Chase, with the Paul Nicholls trained Orbasa sent off the 5-2 favourite to add to the champion trainer’s tally of 152 winners for the season. Orbasa came into the race on the back of a light campaign of just four runs but, despite putting up a brave fight over the last two fences, couldn’t beat the battle-hardened Fox Appeal who, on his ninth start, went clear from the final obstacle to chalk up his second win of the campaign.
There was a field of twelve, the biggest of the afternoon, for the opening Attheraces Sky 415 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle over two and three-quarter miles, with the weights headed by Theatre Rouge who had been placed just once in her seven races to date.
Favourite was African Tiger, trained by Harry Fry, who had fallen at the last flight when in contention behind Anythingmayhappen at Wincanton in March. Sporting cheek pieces for the first time and with Kieron Edgar’s claim reducing his weight by 3lbs, he was sent off at 11-4 to make amends, but never looked like getting into contention. It was Theatre Rouge who moved powerfully into the lead after the third last-flight, but she was joined in the home straight by Arkadios, who looked to be going the better of the pair. The complexion of the race changed, however, when Arkadios crumpled on landing at the penultimate flight, leaving Theatre Rouge clear of 25-1 outsider Laoch Beag.
Although nine had been declared for the Racing Partnership Mares’ “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle, it looked a two-horse race on paper with Lamanver Odyssey and Little Miss Poet clear of the rest on official ratings. With the former a non-runner, that left the race seemingly at the mercy of Little Miss Poet, who had been runner-up in both her starts since winning at Market Rasen in February.
However, one of those finishes came when she was beaten at Exeter at odds of 1-10, so punters could have been forgiven for being wary of backing at short odds again, despite two other withdrawals leaving her with just five opponents. In the event, the race proved pretty plain sailing as, after taking the lead from Sue Be It leaving the back straight, Little Miss Poet went clear to record her second win over hurdles and third in all.
Nicholls gained some compensation for the defeat of Orbasa when Taunton winner Amour De Nuit made all the running in the hands of Sam Twiston-Davies to take the Smith Family Memorial Novices’ Hurdle in a canter from Theatre Stage. The winner, who joined the Ditcheat trainer after scoring five times on the Flat for Sir Mark Prescott, jumped well and showed a good turn of foot from the last fight and could be one to follow through the summer.
Three jumped the final fence of the Happy Birthday Eddie Rice Handicap Chase in a line, with Irish Thistle, who had been prominent throughout, looking the likely winner as they set off up the run-in. Just in behind was the veteran Moorlands Jack, who had been backed from 14-1 into 8-1 in the morning, and he was brought with a well-timed run by Scholfield to pass them all and get up to win by a three-quarters of a length.
There was another easy winner in the South West Racing Club Handicap Hurdle when 7-2 favourite Let’s Go Dutchess, owned and trained by Kevin Bishop, ran right away from her rivals and could well follow up.
Ally Stirling had Pantxoa up with the pace from the off in the St Austell Brewery Open Hunters’ Chase and, despite jumping right at a number of the fences, he went clear approaching the home straight to record an eighth career win.
Join us for our next race on Wednesday 10 May, gates open at 12 and the first race is at 14.00. Tickets on sale here now or call the office on 01626 353235 or drop in to the office to purchase tickets.