Aug 17, 2017
Newton Abbot Race Review 16 August 2107
Champion jockey Richard Johnson, who is bidding to land a third successive title, was in double-winning form at our eleventh fixture of this year’s eighteen fixture season, serving notice to the young rivals snapping at his heels that he won’t give up the crown easily.
Dan Skelton has set a scorching pace at the head of the trainers’ table and came into the meeting with a clear lead, having amassed 52 winners and nearly £350,000 in prize money. He saddled two in the opening Download The At The Races App Juvenile Hurdle over two miles, with The Raven Master, who had run promisingly on his debut at Stratford, preferred in the betting to stable companion Kereman. But, it was Charlie Rascal, a winner over the course on his first run, who headed the betting market being sent off the 11-8 favourite to follow up for Johnson.
Always up with the lead, The Raven Master went clear with Harry Skelton with a circuit to run and, with Charlie Rascal again fluffing his lines at some of the jumps, came home a comfortable winner to bring up his rider’s 48th success of the season and put him just one behind the champion.
Another of Johnson’s challengers is Sam Twiston- Davies and he was on board Gettysburg Address in the following Sarah Wilton’s 15th Birthday Celebration Maiden Hurdle. Dr Richard Newland’s runner had come up against a potentially useful hurdling recruit in Malton Rose at Uttoxeter last time and was well backed to get his head in front at the tenth attempt. Taken straight into the lead by Twiston-Davies, he saw off the challenge of Snow Castle down the back straight and then had too much in hand for Watcombe Heights, who ran with promise for local trainer Martin Hill, having been off the course since 2014.
Coeur Tantre, having his first run for Dorset trainer Anthony Honeyball, was the gambled-on horse in the £10,500 Claire Williams 50th Birthday Handicap Hurdle, shortening from 11-4 the evening before to go off an odds-on favourite on the track.
Keen to get on with the job, Coeur Tantre was soon clear of his field, but was chased out of the back straight by Curious Carlos, who had got no further than the first flight on his last run at Market Rasen. Curious Carlos ran right up to his best this time, but couldn’t land a blow on Coeur Tantre, who won with something in hand with Aidan Coleman and can score again off his current handicap mark.
Paul Nicholls has been in fine form at Newton Abbot this season, although had a rare blank day at the last meeting. He had chosen multiple winner Alcala from his two entries in the Steve Hexter 60th Birthday Celebrations Novices’ Chase who, with Knight Of Noir an absentee, was left with just one rival in what looked a straightforward task on form.
Already twice a winner over the course, Alcala added to his record here when, despite a bad mistake on the final circuit, he made all the running to beat Quick N’ Easy and give Twiston-Davies a double on the afternoon. “I always thought he was talented and he has improved throughout the season” said Nicholls. “He loves jumping and the ground and this is his time of year”.
Course winners Tamarillo Grove and Bulletproof both finished in the money behind Cillian’s Well here last month and they clashed again in the Racing Partnership TRP Handicap Hurdle. The weights favoured Bulletproof this time, but the result was the same, as Tamarillo Grove and James Best ran on strongly from the last flight to deny Kublai, with Bulletproof, who never got on terms after being hampered at the start, back in third.
Johnson finally got on the score sheet when The Geegeez Geegee, having his first run for rookie trainer Olly Murphy, ran out an easy winner of the Celebrating Steven and Helen Sheils 50th Birthday Handicap Chase to bring up his half century and put him two winners in front of Skelton again. He widened the gap further when Rosie Lea, a third winner in 24 hours for Cullompton trainer Stuart Kittow, denied newcomer Lady Vesta in the concluding Actuate Marketing, Plymouth Intermediate Open National Hunt Flat Race.
Our next fixture, on Tuesday 22 August, is St Austell Brewery Ladies’ Day, the social pinnacle of Newton Abbot’s racing calendar. Why not don your finery and join us – this is one event not to be missed! Tickets are available online here until 17.00 on Monday 21 August, or can be purchased direct from the Newton Abbot office or by calling 01626 353235. Tickets will also be available on the gates on the day: gates open at 15.30, first race starts at 17.30.
Children aged 16 and under plus students with a valid student ID / NUS card go free to all fixtures.
For more information, visit www.newtonabbotracing.com or call the racecourse office on 01626 353235.