Henry’s Daly double on home turf
Trainers Henry Daly and Neil Mulholland shared the honours at Ludlow yesterday, each scoring a brace of winners in the final week of the season that concludes at Sandown on Saturday.
Mulholland will be sorry to see the counter revert to zero again as his team are in red-hot form. Four of his last five runners have been winners, and he has enjoyed his best season in stakes earned since 2016-17.
Both Trolley Boy, 11/4 winner of the opening Racing To School Novices Hurdle, and Sainte Doctor, 11/8 winner of the subsequent Music on Sunday Meeting Mares Handicap Chase 30 minutes later, won as favourites should, going away, the first under Joe Anderson, the second under Richie McLernon.
And Henry Daly had good cause to celebrate the division of the Phillip Matthews Memorial Mares Novices Handicap Hurdle, making equally easy work of the first division with Regal Renaissance under Alice Stephens, a comfortable 6l winner from Eaton Lady under Isabelle Ryder – a ladies 1-2.
Daly had to sweat a little for his second winner of the day. Richard Patrick earned every penny of his ┬ú173.59 fee in getting Maid of the Night home a nose winner in a blanket finish in which less than 3/4l covered the first four, but in truth, a dead heat would have been a fairer result on the second, our Laura, and Richie McLernon.
Marettimo’s four chase wins include two at Ludlow, the latest being in the day’s feature H R Smith Handicap Chase. But for hanging right after the last, this might have been the first leg of a Henry Daly treble had The Wrekin ran true, but it was to Marettimo’s benefit, running on well under Henry Kimber. Again, this was a close-set finish, just 2 1/4l covering the first four.
Winning trainer Bill Turner may now hold the dubious accolade of being Britain’s eldest trainer following John Spearing’s death a few weeks ago. However, he lacks nothing in appetite for runners and winners, and a 5f sprint winner at Nottingham two days before this 3m chase winner is a fair illustration of his versatility as a handler of horses, if they’re good enough.
Meantime, the northern end of the Wessex district’s Jumping powerhouse has been fairly represented these past few months by Emma Lavelle, who enjoyed her 31st winner of the term with Hardy Fella, a runner-up here at the outset of the month, who went one better by an easy 12l in the 10 runner Bet@racingtv.com Handicap Hurdle under Tom Bellamy.
Clive Hitchings has enjoyed many pointers and hunter chasers over the years, and Secret Investor, unchallenged 13/8 favourite for the Magnus-Allcroft Hunters Chase, found this contest rather easier than his tumble in the Cheltenham Foxhunter last month. That was his only blemish in an otherwise unbeaten season with victories at Bangor and Kelso. One of two Nicholls-trained runners, he is a likely candidate for one of the races at Cheltenham’s hunter chase evening next week, and could even stay on till the Stratford Foxhunter in early June – a peachy ride for his amateur partner Natalie Parker.
At a time of day when most attention was conferred on the build-up to the Punchestown Gold Cup thriller, Norman Fletcher got punters out of gaol with a runaway 12l victory in the concluding bumper for the Twiston-Davies’, the favourite Diamond Dealer crooking his jaw on the home turn to run out.