The going was soft on this fine late autumn Sunday, with some good racing and a couple of Welsh-trained winners.
The card began with a 3m chase. At eleven years of age it looked like Horatio Hornblower’s best was behind him, yet he simply cruised alongside the leaders four out. When one of the others made a terrible blunder and another ran out of steam Horatio was left in front. Then Frankly Speaking tried to challenge, only to almost unseat his rider at the last. The winner’s sound jumping enabled him to come home eight lengths ahead.
That was a 5/1 winner trained by Nick Williams and ridden by his son Chester, the combination responsible for Prudhomme, a long odds on shot in the next race, a 2m novices hurdle. His effort petered out early in the home straight. Instead, it was Evan Williams (no relation) who supplied the winner, Holly James (10/1). Ridden by Adam Wedge and bearing the Dai Walters silks, he took the lead before the third last and gamely held off The Wire Flyer by a length and a quarter. The favourite’s stable companion Le Cameleon ran well in third.
Three good horses contested the 3m novice chase, which went to the one with the best form over hurdles, Newtide (5/6 fav). Making his fencing debut, he led for the majority of the race and increased his advantage on the run to the third last, so there was little doubt about the outcome from that point. David Bass eased him down to a two and a half length triumph over Secret Reprieve, but this promising Kim Bailey horse was value for double that.
A 2m4f maiden hurdle came next. The Harry Whittington-trained Young Bull (2/1, from 11/1 the day before) and Hideaway Vic shared the lead from some way out, until the former gained the upper hand on the run to two out. Although he was always being held from that point, Vic battled on with great determination, and Daryl Jacob on the winner had to keep his mount up to his work. He had three lengths in hand as they passed the post.
The David Pipe stable has been enjoying resurgence, and is doing specially well at Welsh tracks. Champers On Ice, despite form figures of P58/4P- and an absence of 241 days, was backed down to 6/4 favourite and made all the running to land the 3m hurdle. His jumping was less than perfect but Tom Scudamore conjured a fine leap from him at the last to ensure victory. Ballycross led the chasing pack in, finishing some four lengths away.
The 2m chase went to a Gordon Elliott cast-off now trained in Surrey, and ridden by his owner-trainer Mr Phillip York. The gallant Mr York has ridden over 350 winners in points and under Rules in a career spanning almost 25 years, yet this was his first ride at Ffos Las. Robin Des Mana (14/1) breezed ahead four out and, jumping nicely, soon had the race in safe keeping. He idled at the very end to let Royal Act close to within a length.
Five of the six runners in the 2m hurdle for conditional jockeys were trained in Wales, and it resulted in the third winner in a fortnight for the Bernard Llewellyn yard. Nabhan (7/1) was left behind when, coming into the straight, four of the others sprinted for home. However, his jockey Niall Houlihan was biding his time and when the others fell, made mistakes, or ran out of stamina he was able to capitalise. Staying on well, he took the lead on the run-in, getting the better of a tussle with On The Quiet, and won by a length and three quarters.