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Oct 07, 2016

Newton Abbot race report Friday 7 October

Our penultimate fixture proved as thrilling as expected with the feature of the largest prize fund of the season.

Although just four lined up for the feature Weatherbys Racing Diaries Intermediate Chase at Newton Abbot, it turned out to be a cracker, with Virgilio, trained by Dan Skelton, having six lengths to spare over Brother Tedd at the end of the two miles and five furlongs contest.

Since setting up on his own after assisting multiple-champion Paul Nicholls, it has been an upward-curve of success for Skelton, who posted 104 winners last season, earning over £1.25m in prize money. Virgilio, four times a winner over hurdles, had made a successful chase debut at Warwick in May and set the standard in a race worth more than £21,000 to the winner. He had the field on the stretch turning for home and, although chasing debutant Brother Tedd tried to close the gap, Virgilio had no problem in holding his advantage to the line and looks an exciting prospect.

Nicholls is odds-on favourite to land his 11th championship next April and the success of Coillte Lass at Hereford the day before had made it 30 wins for the season. He still trailed David Pipe in the championship table by some £30,000 but, with a strong-looking hand, was expected to close the gap.

All seemed to be going to plan when odds-on Black Corton made all the running to beat Djarkalin in the opening British Stallion Studs EBF “National Hunt” Novices´ Hurdle (Qualifier). A winner at Exeter before finishing third to West Approach over the course in May, Black Corton had to concede 7lb and upwards in weight to his seven rivals, but he made light of that burden to score comfortably.

Classy hurdler Old Guard, who had rattled up a hat-trick of wins before finishing fourth to Faugheen on Boxing Day, was another hot favourite to add to the Nicholls prize money tally in the following Eggy Birthday Novices´ Chase, but his race was over at the very first fence when he crumpled on landing and, although recovering his balance, was pulled up by Sam Twiston-Davies. Nicholls confirmed that Old Guard was “absolutely fine with not a mark on him” after the race which went to 6-1 shot After Eight Sivola, who made a winning debut over fences in the hands of Daryl Jacob for South Molton trainer Nick Williams.

Milan Bound was looking to repeat his win of twelve months ago in the Class 2 Weatherbys & Paul Ferguson Jumpers To Follow Handicap Hurdle over an extended three and a quarter miles, in which owner J P McManus also had Listen And Learn. But, neither finished in the frame, as top-weight The Romford Pele, ridden by claiming jockey Jonathan Moore, proved too good for Fontwell Park winner Young Dillon. The title of former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour’s autobiography, The Romford Pele had enjoyed mixed results over fences, but a good run over hurdles at the Punchestown Festival at the end of April from a handicap rating of 139 showed that the old spark was still there. Despite racing from a 5lb higher mark here, a good leap at the last flight took him past Young Dillon and he stormed home on the short run-in.

There was another Devon success in the Happy 70th Birthday Pat Love From Del Mares´ Handicap Hurdle when Midnight Sapphire, trained near Barnstaple by Victor Dartnall, was sent to the front before the penultimate flight by Nick Scholfield, going clear to hold off the challenge of On Demand.

Dual course winner Louis Phillipe swerved an opportunity at Exeter the day before to run in the Attheraces In App Betting Handicap Chase but, although he stayed on after being hampered by Mrsrobin at the penultimate fence, he couldn’t peg back Moorlands George, who was turning the tables, having finished third when they last met at the end of August.

Misterton, trained by another former Nicholls assistant in Harry Fry, had been knocking on the door in his three runs to date and was sent off the 6-4 favourite to beat twelve rivals in the concluding Bettrends National Hunt Super Saver Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race. Experience told, as he held on in an exciting finish from the unraced pair of Sgroppino and The Caller, whose winning turn shouldn’t be long in coming.

Make sure you join us for our final race of the season on Thursday 20 October. Racing begins at 14.20, with gates open at 12.20 and the last race at 17.10. Buy tickets now online here or call the racecourse direct on 01626 353235 or call in to the racecourse office. Tickets will be available to purchase from the gate on the day.