This evening fixture was transferred at short notice from Wincanton, where the ground was deemed too firm to be safe. No such problems at Ffos Las, where the going was good after watering.
Racing began with a 2m mares hurdle. Katy Price’s Definite Winner (11/4) had won over further and Gavin Sheehan wisely set out to make all the running on her. Her stamina enabled her to fend off her rivals coming up the straight.
Sin Sin kept on for second, almost three lengths away.
Three market leaders had the 2m novice hurdle to themselves in the home straight. Isaac Wonder’s fall at the penultimate flight handed the race on a platter to Nicky Henderson’s Dieu Benisse (11/4), ridden by James Bowen. Twice a faller in her short hurdling career, she was hesitant at the last obstacle, but once over it had ample resources to repel the jumping debutant Dream Machine by three and a quarter lengths.
A fascinating 3m novice chase came next. Four classy hurdlers who failed to fire over fences last season, were up against Dead Right, a chasing debutant who was 2-2 over hurdles.
Colin Tizzard’s Pingshou (11/4) made all the running. Harry Cobden asked him for a big jump at the fourth last, which got all his rivals in trouble, and more bold leaps at the final two obstacles sealed it. The nine-year-old came six lengths clear of Dead Right.
The Tizzard-Cobden partnership struck again half an hour later, in the 2m6f hurdle. Sizing At Midnight (5/2 fav) was driven into the lead between the last two flights and was all out to hold off the locally-trained Gone Platinum by a length. Linguine finished fourth, running on in eye-catching style.
Fortunes Hiding was 33/1 when winning his first attempt over fences at Uttoxeter ten days ago, but was backed in to 11/10 favourite to follow up here over almost three and a quarter miles. Peter Bowen’s charge travelled well through the race, but a nod on landing at the second last obstacle interrupted his progress and James Bowen had to get serious to overhaul the gallant front-runner River Of Intrigue. He took the lead half a dozen strides from the post to score by half a length. The six-year-old will still be at the right end of the handicap if aimed at one of the big summer jumps season steeplechases.
There was another Welsh success in the 2m chase. Tim Vaughan sponsored the first two races on the card and gained some reward when his Alltimegold (5/2 fav) trotted up by 14 lengths from Babytaggle. Four of his opponents departed by various means in the home straight, but that made no difference to the outcome. Alan Johns, on the winner, was looking around for dangers fully five furlongs out.
Nicky Henderson’s fourth winner of the day – two at Sedgefield, two here – was Marie’s Rock (9/4) in the mares-only bumper. Nico de Boinville scrubbed her into the lead with a quarter of a mile to go, and from there she ran on well to win by almost three lengths from the staying-on Balladame. The first four could all be useful. The Milan Girl, penalised for a win at Bangor, was just one length away and Pogo I Am a further short head behind.