Newton Abbot Report Tuesday 22 August 2017
The well-backed Coeur Tantre gave the big crowd enjoying the evening sunshine plenty to cheer about at Newton Abbot’s St Austell Brewery Ladies’ Day on Tuesday, as he followed up his course win last week to land the feature race.
With Free Stone Hill an absentee, eight set out in the evening’s big race, the £10,500 Austins Handicap Hurdle, with the betting headed by Coeur Tantre, who made all the running to score on his first outing for Dorset trainer Anthony Honeyball at the last meeting. He was allowed to dictate terms that day, but won pretty cosily and, even with a 7lb penalty, was all the rage with punters to score again, going off the red-hot 8-13 favourite.
Taken straight into the lead by Aidan Coleman, he again made every yard of the running, being driven out from the final flight and always doing just enough to hold Peruvien Bleu and St Saviour, who couldn’t close the gap on the run-in.
Although six lined up for the opening Babbacombe Scaffolding “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle over an extended two and a quarter miles, it looked a two-horse race on form, with the only previous winners in the field, Gustave Mahler and Whoshotwho, heading the betting market.
Gustave Mahler, who had scored twice before being caught right on the line at Worcester, has struck up a good partnership with champion jockey Richard Johnson, but his double penalty meant that he had to concede 6lb in weight to Whoshotwho, a wide-margin winner on his last start at the course.
Since that win, Whoshotwho had moved from Nicky Henderson to Dr Richard Newland, who boasts a 35% strike rate at Newton Abbot, and was the most-tipped runner in the race amongst the national newspaper pundits.
But, it was Gustave Mahler who got his head in front again, making all the running to repel the challenge of the odds-on favourite, whose chances weren’t helped by a blunder at the penultimate flight, to bring up Johnson’s 54th winner of the season.
Coming into the meeting, trainer Dan Skelton had saddled 80 horses already this season, amassing 55 winners and over £360,000 in prize money as he sets the pace at the top of the championship table. He sent out Kapricorne, formerly with Sophie Leech, in the In Memory Of Thomas James Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase, but the 6-4 favourite couldn’t make a winning debut, having to settle for second place behind Culm Counsellor.
By contrast to Skelton, Cullompton trainer Chris Down has saddled just eight horses from his much smaller string and Culm Counsellor was his sixth success, putting in a good jump at the last fence with Ciaran Gethings to seal the win, coming home one and a quarter lengths clear of the favourite.
Skelton’s Honkytonktennessee put his best foot forward when scoring easily last time out, but the handicapper punished him accordingly, raising him from a mark of 109 to 120. As a result, he topped the weights in the St Austell Brewery Handicap Chase over two miles and five furlongs, but failed to complete, parting company with Harry Skelton after hitting the top of the 10th fence down the side of the course.
Favourite backers collected again, as bottom-weight Hedgeinator made it a double for Johnson on the evening, getting back up to beat Shady Glen by half a length in a ding dong battle on the run to the line. This was the first runner over fences this season for jockey turned trainer Christian Williams and his first success of the campaign, doubling his career tally following the win of Juge Et Parti back in April.
Innocent Girl has been mixing hurdling and chasing and trainer Harry Fry had opted to run her in the following Remembering Alfie Truscott The Newton Legend Mares’ Handicap Hurdle. Despite being allotted 11-12, she ran her usual good race, but was beaten by Ambre Des Marais, who overcame an absence of 685 days on her first run for Enmore trainer Johnny Farrelly.
The concluding newtonabbotracing.com Handicap Hurdle saw the largest field of the evening and it went to Mont Choisy, who collared Sporting Boy to give 16 year-old James Bowen his fifth career win.
Racing returns on Tuesday 29 August for the last evening fixture of the season. Tickets can be bought online until Monday 28 August and will be available at the gates on the day. Racing starts at 16.45 with gates opening at 14.45.