The going was good, good to soft in places for this sunny evening meeting that celebrated the tenth anniversary of the opening of Ffos Las. As at the previous fixture, no hurdles were jumped in the home straight due to the setting sun. The last five races were notable for most of the field being closely grouped and in with chances as they started up the home straight.
Evan Williams trained the winner of the first ever race here, and he was responsible for this evening’s first winner too, in the 2m novices chase. Adam Wedge, riding Grania O’Malley (2/1) stalked the leader until taking over on the turn into the straight. She appeared to have the race in safe keeping from there, although Topofthecotswolds gave her a bit of a scare by making sure but steady progress all the way to the line, finishing only three quarters of a length down.
The multiple point-to-point winner Midnight Folie (4/6 fav) was confidently expected to take the 3m mares chase, and she did so with ease. She made all the running, jumping well, and extended her lead into a commanding one on the home turn. Though tiring a little towards the end, she came in 15 lengths clear of Silent Steps. It was another Welsh success, for she was trained by Tim Vaughan and Mr Ben Jones did the steering.
There was drama in the 2m4f chase, with two coming down at one fence on the back straight and two more exiting at the third last when very much in contention. There were four in line at the next, after which Paige Fuller drove Between The Waters (6/1) into a narrow lead, and with the aid of a bold leap at the final fence he held off the challenge of Market Road. The consistent Jamie Snowden gelding won by two and a quarter lengths.
Rebecca Curtis’s high strike rate for the new season was maintained when Sunset Showdown took the 2m4f hurdle. He looked a tricky ride once or twice in the past, but all was well today once Aidan Coleman asked him to overtake the toiling favourite Young Wolf with two furlongs to go. Two and a half lengths was the margin of victory.
The feature event, a 3m hurdle, went to Nicky Henderson’s Follow The Bear (9/2). Jeremiah McGrath took up the running on him at halfway, but when headed three furlongs out by Solo Saxophone it appeared he might be swamped by the rest of the field. Instead, he refused to capitulate. Responding gamely to pressure, he fought back to regain the lead with a hundred yards left, and went on to win by a length.
The fourth Welsh winner of the night came in the 2m hurdle. Patsio (11/1), trained by David Brace and ridden by his grandson Connor, led from the outset and kept finding more when asked for an effort three furlongs out. You wouldn’t have thought the eleven-year-old had won just once in the last four years. Outcrop tried to stay with him, but could not close the gap to any less than a length.
It was significant that the champion jockey, Richard Johnson, was here for only one race, the finale. It was a 2m4f hurdle, and he guided North Star Oscar (7/1) to a narrow success for Warren Greatrex, coming from last place to lead with just two or three strides left. The gallant front-runner Champagne Chaser battled back, but went down by a neck.