Newton Abbot Report Monday 5 June
Cleni Wells, who had gone down by just half a length at Newton Abbot on Tuesday, was back at the course yesterday, this time going one better to land the feature £20,000 Totequadpot Insure Your Placepot Last Four Handicap Hurdle for Littlehempston trainer Martin Hill.
It was another close finish, but the camera favoured Cleni Wells, who came out on top by a neck, denying favourite Limited Reserve, with the pair having drawn 16 lengths clear of Warwick winner Golden Birthday in third.
Conditional jockey Charlie Deutsch, who rode 25 winners last season, was making it two wins from three rides on the horse, having also been on board when Cleni Wells was successful at Kempton Park in February and his 3lb claim made all the difference, as they clung on to the lead on the short run-in after landing flat-footed at the final hurdle.
Racegoers were greeted by damp and breezy weather, with the rain having got into the ground, changing the going to good to soft, with soft places in the home straight. The change from the expected fast conditions caused a number of withdrawals across the card, including two in the opening Toteplacepot Six Places In Six Races Handicap Hurdle, leaving twelve to line up for the two and three-quarter mile trip.
The race went to the 11-year-old Rainbow Haze, one of the best-backed horses of the day, who followed up his win at Worcester last month for trainer Phillip Dando, who owns him jointly with Dr. Michael Armitage, and amateur jockey Conor Orr, for whom this was a sixth career success.
Runner-up was another veteran Fuhgeddaboudit, who had looked to be going the better when leading off the home bend, but he couldn’t see off the persistent challenge of Rainbow Haze, who took over at the last flight to win comfortably in the end in a time nearly 29 seconds outside the Racing Post standard.
Paul Nicholls, who is looking to regain the champion trainer title from Nicky Henderson, selected top-weight Alcala from his three entries in the Totepool Racecourse Debit Card Betting Available Chase. A winner at Ludlow in April, he finished last of three at Fontwell Park on his latest start, but was taking on more experienced rivals there and, back in novice company, returned to winning ways.
Despite some awkward jumps along the way, Alcala was always travelling better than his sole rival Exxaro and showed a good turn of foot to put the race to bed and bring up Nicholls’ 36th winner at the course over the last five years.
Calin Du Brizais was another making a quick return to the course, having won by a neck on Tuesday evening but, with a 7lb penalty raising his handicap mark to 111, he looked to have plenty to do in the long-distance handicap chase.
Nigel Hawke’s runner shrugged off the extra weight, however, to come home 10 lengths clear of Railway Storm, although the result could have been different but for a good recovery by jockey Ciaran Gethings, who lost an iron when Calin Du Brizais blundered three fences from home.
The absence of likely favourite Polly’s Pursuit opened up the mares’ maiden hurdle and it went to Undisputed who, despite jumping to her right throughout, prevailed from 40-1 outsider Moontripper to give trainer Noel Williams his second winner of the season.
With two absentees, including top-weight Stynes, just three set out in the Totepool Betting On All UK Racing Handicap Chase and it was Huntingdon winner Deauville Dancer who was sent off the even-money favourite to score for owners Favourites Racing and trainer David Dennis.
Taken into the lead four fences from home by Aidan Coleman, Deauville Dancer went further and further away from his two rivals, having 12 lengths to spare over Cape Caster, with early leader The Yank a long way back in third.
There were five absentees in the concluding conditional jockeys handicap hurdle, but it still looked a pretty competitive affair. In the end, there was a comfortable win for 9-2 shot Lake Chapala, who has been mixing chasing with hurdling, as David Noonan brought him through to lead between the last two flights and complete a four-timer for trainer Chris Gordon.
The next fixture at Newton Abbot Racecourse is Friday 16 June, with gates opening at 12:10 and the first race starting at 14:10. Tickets can be bought online until 17:00 on Thursday 15 June and will be available at the gates on the day. For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.newtonabbotracing.com.