After a cold night and two inspections, we were given the go ahead to racing at 10:30. The ground remained as Good, Good to Soft in places following the previous day’s raceday. The card was sponsored by bet365.
Our opening race was the bet365.com Handicap Hurdle run over a distance on two miles and about half a furlong. Leading approaching two out, the Charlie Longsdon trained CASTAFIORE kept on well under five pound claimer Paul O’Brien to win the class 4 contest. Just a head behind and running on well was 11/1 shot GRAN MAESTRO ridden by the young Ryan Winks and trained by his father Peter Winks. Third went to the Pam Sly trained favourite ESKENDASH and fourth went to CRACKDELOUST for Brain Ellison under Danny Cook.
The second race of the day was the class 3 bet365 Novices’ Hurdle also run over two miles and about half a furlong. The Nicky Henderson trained COUNTISTER went off as 4/6 favourite following an impressive career in France before moving to Seven Barrows. The small mare showed her rivals how it’s done to win by an impressive seven lengths and showed no signs of competition. COUNTISTER also gave jockey Nico de Boinville his first win for owner JP McManus. Second place went to the Emma Lavelle trained DE RASHER COUNTER who was ridden from three out to stay on well. Third place went to 5/2 shot CLONDAW CASTLE for trainer Tom George and a further 9 lengths behind him was the Malcolm Jefferson trained TAYZAR.
The third race was the class 3 bet365.com Handicap Chase. With a field of just six, MORKOV went off as 2/1 favourite following a win on his chasing debut at Fontwell last month. Despite carrying an extra 3lb, this didn’t stop the Ben Pauling trained gelding from winning by an impressive six lengths. Second place went to the Nicky Richards trained TAKINGRISKS who tracked the leader well but lost touch after the second to last. Third place went to CUSHEEN BRIDGE for the Pogson Team and fourth went to the Tom George trained CALL ME VIC.
The fourth race was the class 2 bet365 Handicap Hurdle over a distance on two miles and about half a furlong. The Peter Atkinson trained IRISH ROE headed off as 3/1 favourite following two previous wins so far this season including a class 3 Handicap Hurdle at Doncaster on 2nd December. Ridden by Henry Brooke, the six-year-old gelding held on well to win by half a length in front of MOHAAYED for the Skelton Team. The Paul Nicholls trained AMOUR DE NUIT raced keenly and joined the leader after the fourth out however was ridden after two out to finish third under Bryony Frost. Fourth place went to the highest rated horse in the field, the Nick Williams trained FLYING TIGER who went off at 4/1.
The fourth race was the class 1 Grade 2 bet365 December Novices’ Chase run over a distance of three miles. With only four in the field, it proved to be a competitive race. The Tom George trained ROCKLANDER, who went off at 7/4 joint favourite with BRAQUEUR D’OR, unfortunately unseated jockey AP Heskin at the first fence leaving it a three-horse race. With the Warren Greatrex trained KEEPER HILL not very fluent over his fences, his stamina proved to make up for this and he stayed on well to win by an impressive eight lengths. The Paul Nicholls trained BRAQUEUR D’OR stayed at one pace and made a mistake at the last but finished second. Just one and three-quarter lengths behind was the Brian Ellison outsider BALLYCRYSTAL who was pushed along after six out.
The penultimate race was the class 1 Grade 2 bet365 Summit Juvenile Hurdle run over two miles and about half a furlong. The Nicky Henderson trained WE HAVE A DREAM headed off as 5/6 favourite with ACT OF VALOUR just behind him in the betting at 7/4. The Daryl Jacob ridden favourite jumped very well and made all the running to win by a very impressive ten lengths. This was Nicky Henderson’s third win in this Grade 2 and owner’s Mr Simon Munir and Mr Isaac Souede second success in the race following PEACE AND CO’s impressive win in 2014. 16/1 shot CITY DREAMER tracked the leader three fences out but had no chance of catching him. Brian Hughes rode the John Quinn trained JE SUIS CHARLIE into third place. Fourth place went to ERAGON DE CHANAY who finished fourteen lengths behind third place for Gary Moore. ACT OF VALOUR quickly lost ground when pushed along before three out and the Charlie Longsdon trained SOMMERVIEU pulled up before three out.
The final race of the day was the bet365 Handicap Chase over three miles. KILCREA VALE headed the betting as 11/4 favourite in the class 2 contest with previous Doncaster winner SEGO SUCCESS just below him starting at 4/1. However, it was the Jonjo O’Neill trained MUSTMEETALADY who impressed on Town Moor. Heading off at 16/1, the seven-year-old challenged his rivals well and held on gamely to win by a neck. Second place went to the Emma Lavelle trained VIBRATO VALTAT who narrowly led and stayed on well but couldn’t catch the winner. The Donald McCain trained WHAT HAPPENS NOW finished third and previous Doncaster winner KILLALA QUAY finished fourth for Charlie Longsdon under Brian Hughes.