After a crisp cold night, we began the day with clear skies over Town Moor. With national hunt racing returning to Doncaster for the 2017/18 season, punters were eagerly waiting for an afternoon of competitive racing. The going was Good to Soft, Good in places on both the Chase and Hurdle courses. The forecast was bright with a few clouds developing throughout the afternoon and highs of 3 degrees.
The opener was the Class 4 Sun Bets Novices’ Hurdle Race. The Emma Lavelle trained ENNISCOFFEY OSCAR went off as 6/4 favourite with the proven DANDY DAN just behind him at 5/2. Under Nick Schofield, the favourite was held up in midfield before leading two out and stayed on well to win by 15 lengths. Second favourite DANDY DAN came in second followed by the Graeme McPherson trained MY CHARITY and the Alan King trained TALKISCHEAP. The winner also secured a place in the ‘Northern Staying Novice Hurdle Series Final’ held at our sister course, Newcastle, in March 2018.
Our second race was the Ice Cream Direct Members Handicap Chase with a total prize fund of £14,000. The Class 3 Chase was won by 13/8 favourite and proven novice chaser NO CEILING for the Ian Williams team. Making a few blunders he soon tracked the leaders before pushing clear comfortably between the last two fences. Seven lengths behind was 22/1 shot BLANFORDS GUNNER who stayed on well. The James Moffatt trained NICOLAS CHAUVIN finished third with the twelve-year-old CHESTNUT BEN finishing in fourth.
The third race was the Class 4 Kelly’s Of Cornwall Novices’ Handicap Hurdle. Jonjo O’Neill Jnr took the ride on 2/1 favourite MANNY OWENS who is trained by his father, Jonjo O’Neill. With the favourites taking centre stage for the first two races of the day, it didn’t stop Jackdaws Castle based five-year-old winning by 4 ½ lengths and giving jockey Jonjo O’Neill Jnr his second win as a conditional. The Alan King trained PEGGIES VENTURE kept of well after the final fence but had no chance of chasing the winner. Hot on her heels was 16/1 shot JACK LAMB with GLOBAL FERY just a few lengths behind.
The fourth race was the Eden Farm Hulley’s Steeple Chase (A Novices’ Limited Handicap). With Jonjo O’Neill hoping for a double, POWERFUL SYMBOL had plenty to prove following an easy win at Southwell on his last outing. Under Richie McLernon, the seven-year-old saw no issues by fighting a strong finish with the Charlie Longsdon trained NIGHTLINE to claim the Class 4. With the 9/4 favourite RED INFANTRY staying on well back in third and HEY BILL claiming a respectable fourth.
The feature race of the day was the Class 3 Mister Softie Nostalgia Handicap Steeple Chase with a total prize fund of £14,000. With five going to post, the Tom George trained DRUMLEE SUNSET heading off as 9/4 favourite and the outsider MONSIEUR CO at only 8/1, it was set to be an exciting renewal. Eventual winner MONBEG RIVER ran on well to lead from four out and left well clear after the last. Favourite DRUMLEE SUNSET finished 16 lengths behind the winner with MASTER BURBIDGE in third and the Oliver Sherwood trained THE FRESH PRINCE well back in fourth.
The penultimate race of the day was the Class 4 Flake 99 Handicap Hurdle. Carrying only 10-11, CHAPEL STILE went to post as favourite under three-pound claimer Ryan Day and made easy work of the 3m ½f on Good to Soft ground. Pushed along to lead narrowly before two out, he stayed on well to win by two lengths. Just on his heels was the Jonjo O’Neill trained and 9/1 shot BIG PENNY who stayed on well on the run-in. Just 1 ¼ lengths behind his was the Jennie Candlish trained TANARPINO and eventual fourth was 12-1 shot ASKAMORE DARSI.
The final race of the day was the Magnum Ice Cream Standard National Hunt Flat Race (Conditional jockeys’ and amateur riders’ race). With the biggest field of the day, the Olly Murphy trained SANGHA RIVER headed off as favourite from fourteen runners. Leading approaching the final furlong, the 10/11 favourite looked very strong before idling slightly resulting in a photo finish with the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained KINGSPLACE. Luck was on SANGHA RIVER by claiming the race by just a head and the 12-1 KINGSPLACE taking runner-up. Third place went to NET DE TREVE and fourth went to OSCARS LEADER just 2 ¾ behind third. You can enjoy more National Hunt racing throughout the festive period here at Doncaster, just click here to find out more!