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May 09, 2016

Newton Abbot Race Report 4/5 May 2016

With £150,000 in prize money on offer for our two-day early May meeting, there was competitive racing and some close finishes at sunny Newton Abbot Racecourse last week.

On Wednesday, champion trainer Paul Nicholls hit the target with Art Mauresque and Abidjan as he looks to open up an early lead in this season’s title race. Art Mauresque, who had hinted at a return to form when finishing just behind Voix D’Eau at Cheltenham last time out, took the feature £25,000 totepool Handicap Chase but it was a close run thing, as Nick Scholfield just got him up to beat favourite Portway Flyer in a photo finish after losing momentum with a mistake at the last fence.

The Beginners´Chase went to Abidjan who, despite not being fluent at some of his jumps, got off the mark over fences. A course winner over hurdles, Abidjan is an interesting recruit to the bigger obstacles and should learn from the experience as his career progresses.

There was early drama in the Totepool Chip And Pin Betting Handicap Hurdle, won by Sheer Poetry, when Hinxworth stumbled and fell at the third flight, sending jockey Noel Fehily crashing into the turf. Although badly bruised, Noel escaped any serious injury.

The well-backed Starchitect and Tom Scudamore proved too good for their rivals in the £20,000 Handicap Hurdle on Thursday, running on strongly in the home straight to defy top weight in some style.

One of a large string of horses owned by Paul and Clare Rooney, who arrived by helicopter to watch the race, Starchitect had gone close in three valuable handicaps since joining David Pipe’s stable. Despite being raised 8lb in the weights for those efforts, he was always travelling well in behind leader A Little Magic, taking up the running turning for home and finishing five lengths clear of second-favourite Braavos.

Zula Oscar, unplaced behind Ibis Du Rheu at the Cheltenham Festival, but a winner at Kempton in December, looked well in at the weights in the Selling Hurdle, being sent off the 2-5 favourite to beat his six rivals. However, it was far from plain sailing as, after making a mistake at the second flight, he was being niggled along for the whole of the race by amateur rider Mickey Legg, eventually running on to take the lead from Key To Milan at the final flight and score a hard-earned victory. Despite his laboured win, there was a spirited post-race auction, with bloodstock agent Tom Malone paying £13,500 to secure the 7-year-old.

Looking forward to our next racing, an evening fixture on Wednesday 25 May with the gates open at 16.10 and the first race is at 18.10. The last race is 20:40. Tickets now available to buy here