Racegoers were treated to a quality racecard for the Early November Meeting of 2022, with a Listed race and two Class 2’s, amongst other races, providing competitive action throughout the day at Bangor-On-Dee. On a dry day overall, the feature race of the afternoon came at 1:25pm in the Yorton Stallions Mares’ Novices Chase (Listed Race), with Ground conditions remaining Heavy (Soft in places) on the chase course, and Soft (Heavy in places) on the hurdles course.
Race 1 – Weatherbys nhstallions.co.uk Handicap Chase (Class 3, 4yo+, 2m 4 ½f)
The first race of the day was eventually dominated by those towards the head of the market with Garincha eventually claiming the spoils by 1 ¼ lengths as the 4/1 C2F under Adam Wedge, bravely holding off fellow 4/1 C2F Knight In Dubai in the closing stages. Despite travelling well at the head of affairs for much of the contest, 100/30F Crack Du Ninian eventually faded out of contention after the third-last fence, on what was very soft, stamina-sapping ground at the Welsh track. Having been kept in rear division throughout, Garincha and Knight In Dubai made strong headway to chase new leader Mister Watson rounding the home turn, the trio eventually going clear of the remainder. With a bad stumble on landing at the final fence leaving the leader struggling to hold his position, Knight In Dubai and Garincha sandwiched Mister Watson on the run-in and soon kicked a few lengths clear, the pair locked in battle all the way up the straight. Gallant under pressure, Garincha pulled out more in the final 50 yards and eventually wore down the valiant Knight In Dubai in the shadows of the post; two smart performances from horses returning from a layoff of over 200 days. A jockey known for his exploits over fences, Adam Wedge formed a strong partnership with talented chaser Coole Cody in 2021-22, the pair twice victorious at Cheltenham, including at the Festival!
Race 2 – Yorton Stallions Mares’ Novices’ Chase (Listed Race) (GBB Race) (Class 1, 4yo+, 2m 1 ½f)
Over a trip arguably short of her best, Gallia Des Liteaux turned the second race into a procession on her first start over fences, scooting clear by 9 lengths to provide Harry and Dan Skelton with yet another winner. Making her move after the 11/10F Found On folded tamely on the approach to three-out, Gallia Des Liteaux jumped well to make her challenge upsides the leader Galice Macalo on the turn into the straight. With the majority of those in behind now under pressure, Skelton sent his mare to the front and soon looked to be in cruise control on the way down to the penultimate obstacle. As the effort of Galice Macalo and Faith Du Val flattened out in the soft ground, Miah Grace (returning from 572 days off) boxed on well to take second position on the run towards the final fence but still could not lay a glove on Gallia Des Liteaux. Continuing to jump well, the leader soared over the last and soon put the race to bed, quickly accelerating clear up the run-in with Harry Skelton able to steal a few cheeky glances in behind, with Miah Grace eventually keeping on for the silver medal. Having started the jumps season off strongly yet again, the Skelton’s have already claimed Grade 2 honours in the bet365 West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby with Proschema!
Race 3 – Paul Ferguson Jumpers To Follow Handicap Chase (For The Sir Charles Lowther Plate) (GBB Race) (Class 2, 4yo+, 3m)
Won last year by Becher Chase heroine and Grand National contender Snow Leopardess, the third race of the day was claimed by another future Grand National type in Le Milos, who ploughed his way through the mud to score readily by 4 ¾ lengths as the 3/1F, providing Harry and Dan Skelton with a quickfire double. In a race where only 5 of the 12 runners managed to complete the course, Skelton kept his mount in mid-division throughout the contest, only making a challenge for the lead on the approach to the third-last, jumping up alongside fellow mud-lover Ask Me Early, with another respected mudlark Lord Du Mesnil tracking the pair on the turn towards home. Seemingly travelling best of all towards the second-last fence, Le Milos quickly gained a healthy advantage upon jumping the penultimate obstacle, with Lord Du Mesnil relegating the tiring Ask Me Early to third place on the run down to the last. With the race at his mercy, Le Milos sailed over the final fence with the minimum of fuss and soon quickened clear to record a very taking success ahead of Haydock specialist Lord Du Mesnil, who ran well on his seasonal debut. After winning last season’s Masters Handicap Chase at Sandown for Tim Vaughan, Le Milos looks a shrewd purchase for Team Skelton!
Race 4 – Weatherbys And Birdie Calendars Junior ‘National Hunt’ Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 4, 3yo, 2m ½f)
Despite just a four-runner field, the fourth race provided no shortage of drama when 4/6F Our Follet fell at the third-last, leaving 2/1 2F Javert Allen clear to record a facile 13-length victory under David Noonan for trainer Jane Williams. Seemingly about to make his challenge on the outside of Javert Allen upon jumping three-out, Our Follet appeared to overjump the obstacle and crumpled on landing, relegating Brian Hughes to the turf and giving Ghyll Manor and John The Pirate a chance of what could have been an unlikely victory had the SP Fav stayed on his feet. However, rounding the turn and taking advantage of his extended lead, Javert Allen barely looked out of second gear under David Noonan on the run down to the second-last flight of hurdles, cruising clear of Ghyll Manor whose sketchy jump gifted John The Pirate the opportunity to take second place on the approach to the final hurdle. Flying over the last, victory never looked in doubt for Javert Allen, and the 3-year-old gelding by notable sire No Risk At All certainly looks to be a smart recruit to hurdling for Jane Williams, who recorded a personal best of 19 winners over jumps last season!
Race 5 – Greenhous DAF Handicap Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 2, 3yo+, 2m 3 ½f)
They had to wait until the fifth race on the card, but Brian Hughes and Donald McCain successfully managed to score once again at Bangor-On-Dee when previous course winner Nayati kept on well to claim a very competitive handicap hurdle at odds of 7/2. Kept tucked away in rear from flag-fall, Nayati poached his way round for much of the contest, only starting to go forward after the fourth flight from home, sneaking up the rail into mid-division. As Bon Retour and Georges Saint (9/4F) led the field over the third-last flight, last year’s winner of the race Hunters Call launched a menacing challenge on the outside of the leaders as the tempo increased on the turn into the straight, all the while Brian Hughes stalked the leaders aboard Nayati in fourth place. With Bon Retour fading quickly out of contention, Georges Saint took the race by the scruff of the neck and stole a two-length advantage over the now under pressure Hunters Call after the back of the second-last. However, travelling smoothly to challenge the leader on his outside, Nayati made his move under Brian Hughes with just the final hurdle to negotiate, the 8-year-old managing to sneak into a lead of just over a neck upon jumping it. With Georges Saint unable to respond for his riders’ urgings, Nayati soon opened a lead of 2 ¼ lengths in the final 50 yards and went on to record a smart victory, maintaining his 100% Bangor-On-Dee record (2/2) in the process. With 155 winners over jumps last season, Donald McCain looks well on his way to even more success this year: good luck, Donald!
Race 6 – Peter Rosselli 90th Birthday Celebration Novices’ Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 3, 4yo+, 2m ½f)
Springing a surprise in the penultimate race of the day, Kellahen proved to be too much for 13/8F Ivar to handle in the closing stages, with the 12/1 Tom Symonds gelding keeping on comfortably to score by 6 lengths under Ben Poste. Fairly prominent behind the leaders throughout, Kellahen travelled well on the inside for much of the contest, playing his hand late in the day alongside Ramo as Ivar led the runners down the back straight towards three-out. With the leading trio soon establishing a healthy advantage over the chasing pack headed by Sporting Mike, it was Ramo that was first to crack under the increase in tempo enforced by Ivar, the leader quickly going clear with Kellahen in hot pursuit. As Sporting Mike took advantage of Ramo’s tiring legs by making his way into third place, the leaders remained well clear, with Ivar still holding a narrow lead over Kellahen upon jumping two-out. The pair now both under pressure from their jockeys, locked in unison on the approach to the final flight, it was Kellahen who responded best and stole a lead of a couple of lengths with a furlong to go, hopping over the last with ease and accelerating away from long-time leader Ivar in the final 100 yards, with Brian Hughes accepting the inevitable in the closing stages. A combination that has proved to be rewarding in previous years, Ben Poste and Tom Symonds also teamed up in 2013 for Listed success in the Doncaster Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle with Tweedledrum!
Race 7 – GBR Everyone’s Turf Novices’ Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 3, 4yo+, 2m 7f)
After disappointment in the previous race, Hughes and McCain were back with a bang in the seventh and final race when Maximilian galloped on strongly for a 9 ½ length victory at odds of 5/2, extending his unbeaten winning run to four (under rules). Seasonal pipe-openers proved to be unfruitful for talented chasers Fortescue and Saint Palais in the final race, the pair both struggling from a long way out and eventually finishing well beaten in fourth and fifth places respectively. Running to much better effect throughout, Dr Kananga led the way under Ben Jones throughout the contest, only challenged when turning into the home straight for the final time when Maximilian drew up alongside the leader upon jumping the second-last, the pair miles ahead of Keep Wondering in third place. After clumsy leaps from both at the penultimate flight, Maximilian and Dr Kananga looked all set to fight out a tight finish all the way to the line. However, as Hughes drew the whip aboard Maximilian, the 6-year-old responded immediately, and soon held a 3-length advantage on the lead up to the final hurdle. Jumping with more accuracy than at the previous obstacle, Maximilian maintained the advantage after the back of the last and responded well to kick clear in impressive fashion under Brian Hughes, recording a double on the day for himself and Donald McCain, and securing his 100th winning ride of the National Hunt season. Well done, Brian!
Race report by Adam Perkins