TALK Of The South, runner-up in the feature race at Warwick’s Air Ambulance Countryside Day 12 months ago, went one better on Sunday, clinging on with Paddy Brennan in the very testing conditions to beat to his nine rivals, writes David Hucker.
There were a number of course regulars up against Talk Of The South this time, with Classic Chase winners Russe Blanc and Rigadin De Beauchene, as well as Muckle Roe and Vice Et Vertu in the line-up.
Last year Brennan was on Vice Et Vertu, who was pulled up at the 15th fence but, this time, he was on the right horse, partnering Talk Of The South, who had put his best foot forward to score at the last meeting, and followed up to land the top prize of the day by a diminishing length from Muckle Roe.
There were no rich pickings for racegoers in the opening Newark Livestock Market Novices’ Hurdle, as 4-11 favourite Piton Pete, the only winner in the field, went past 28-1 shot Cloudy Glen, who had led from the second flight, to grind out a win on the flat, coming home two and three-quarter lengths clear.
Although the chase course was slightly better, the four runners in the following European Breeders’ Fund/Thoroughbred Breeders Association Mares’ Chase went even slower, with the winner Timeforwest clocking a time more than 44 seconds over the standard.
Now McGinty led home the finishers in the E.L. Jackson Charitable Trust Handicap Hurdle, recording his first win at the 13th attempt.
The easiest winner of the afternoon came in the Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle when Chief Brody and James Bowen led before the penultimate flight to post a 25 length success before Galway Jack made it a hat-trick of wins in the Air Wedding Open Hunters’ Chase.
Jockey Richard Johnson is leaving no stone unturned as he looks to land a third consecutive championship, travelling from his Herefordshire home to Lincolnshire for just one ride on Rio Quinto for Wilmcote trainer Olly Murphy, before dashing south to Warwick.
Rio Quinto could not peg back leader Florrie Knox, going down by half a length, and the afternoon didn’t get any better for the champ as his mount Melchior King beat just one home in the National Hunt Flat Race, won by Milanstorm, ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies for his father Nigel.
For Murphy, there was to be a happy ending to the day with conditional jockey Fergus Gregory bringing Calipso Collonges home in the last at Market Rasen to make it 43 wins for the season over jumps and a 51st success in all since he started training last summer.