WARWICK REPORT THURSDAY 31 MARCH 2022
Rikoboy and Sam Twiston-Davies won an eventful Lewis Badges Limited Handicap Chase, feature race on St. Mary's Land Raceday at a cold and blustery Warwick on Thursday, writes David Hucker.
Rikoboy had won just once from 20 starts over hurdles and fences, but was 2lbs lower than when second to Another Crick at Wincanton in January. Held up as hat-trick seeking Prince Escalus set out to make all the running, he came to challenge at the final fence and go clear on the run-in to give Twiston-Davies his 100th winner of the season.
The field had been reduced to just two when Moonlighter fell, bringing down Casa Tall in the process, and Rikoboy took full advantage of the 16lbs in weight he received from his sole remaining rival.
There was a turn-up in the opening race, the first division of the Join Racing TV Now Maiden Hurdle, when Olly Murphy's Benign Dictator was brushed aside by point-to-point winner Flaming Ambition, who stepped up in his hurdles debut at Doncaster, leading at the third-last flight to come home five lengths clear of his fancied rival.
Benign Dictator had finished fourth to Hector Javilex at Southwell last time with Dan Skelton's Jeffery's Cross just a head in front in third, and punters weren't put off by his defeat, making Jeffery's Cross the even-money favourite to take the second division. Leading turning into the home straight, Jeffery's Cross duly obliged in the hands of Bridget Andrews, comfortably beating Royal Lake, who ran his best race so far and looks a chaser in the making.
Juniper and Daryl Jacob made every yard of the running to land the Watch On Racing TV Mares' Novices' Handicap Chase over three miles. Jumping well out in front, she had enough in reserve to see off the persistent challenge of Lightning Gold up the home straight and record her first win in seven starts under Rules.
The longest race of the afternoon was the Every Race Live On Racing TV Novices' Handicap Hurdle over three and a quarter miles and it went to Pottlerath, winning at the 29th attempt, who was brought with a well-timed challenge by Charlie Deutsch to score going away. Not for the first time, Bardd had led the field going to the final obstacle, only to tie up on the run-in and finish third.
Outsider Smith's Bay set a strong pace in the lewisbadges.co.uk Handicap Hurdle, but was joined by favourite Head Law at the final flight. Despite putting in an untidy jump, Head Law quickly asserted on the run-in under Jonjo O'Neill Jr. to score by four lengths and follow up his Huntingdon win earlier in the month.
Favourite Stratagem led into the home straight in the Air Wedding Open Hunters' Chase, but Tristan Durrell conjured up a strong late run from Not That Fuisse to catch the leader close home, before £125,000 purchase Are U Wise To That made a winning debut under Rules in the closing National Hunt Flat Race.