After a break since the Tote Heritage Meeting on 7th February, racing was warmly welcomed, both metaphorically and literally at Bangor-on-Dee, with beautiful weather filling course. A bumper nine race card provided some thrilling racing, albeit without the loyal racing lovers who usually flood to the popular North Wales venue.

Hiconic took the first race back at Bangor-on-Dee since the resumption of British racing in the Tote Placepot – Your First Bet Juvenile Hurdle. The short-priced favourite was given a positive ride by Keilan Woods and held the field for complete contest over the extended two-mile trip. Soldier On Parade joined the filly turning in, with the pair readily drawing clear. However, Hiconic found an extra gear and stayed on strongly up the home straight to defy a penalty and back up her Newton Abbot success five days earlier for trainer Alex Hales.

Early drama in the free streaming every UK race Novices’ Handicap Chase (Div1) as Rathnure Ranger was knocked out of the contest at the first fence by Do You Know What. Unsafe Conduct lead the field at a strong pace with the field stringing out in the final mile. The winner, Dancing In The Sky was the first to be noticeably pushed along by his jockey Sam Twiston-Davies, but responded strongly under pressure to win a late battle with Cool Country to take the contest for Dr Richard Newland.

Secret Melody bid to take the race from pillar to post in the second division of the free streaming every UK race Novices’ Handicap Chase, and after jumping boldly throughout, looked likely to do so until a disastrous error at the final fence when locking horns with Tim Rocco. The Brian Ellison trained gelding, who had made smart progress after being settled towards the rear of the field in the early stages by Sean Quinlan, took advantage of the late mistake of the long-time leader to win on his chasing debut.

The now never beaten by SP Novices’ Handicap Chase was up next and saw a great battle up the straight from Monty’s Award and Soldier Of Love, who pulled a staggering 25 lengths clear of their nearest pursuer. The Paul Nicholls trained gelding made his challenge approaching the last and ground out a gutsy finish to nudge Monty’s Award by a neck crossing the line. The success of Soldier Of Love keeps the ball rolling for the in-form Nicholls stable who have now had five winners since the resumption of racing.

Mercian Prince rolled back the years as the nine-year-old proved experience is best in the New Join the New Novices’ Hurdle. The seven-time chase winner made all, jumped smoothly and was only required a gentle nudge from Jack Quinlan to put the race to bed in dominant fashion. A stalwart of the Amy Murphy yard he is also owned by her father, Paul.

Donald McCain had to wait until race 5 to have a winner at a track where his runners are always so successful. Ridden off the pace by champion jockey Brian Hughes, Dear Sire was always travelling strongly before he came with his challenge to long-time leader Some Day Soon at the last. The grey quickly nipped a length clear to land the Join Tote for New Tote Guarantee Handicap Hurdle for his tenth career win.

The Tote Quadpot Handicap Chase was taken by the 9-year-old, Licklighter. On his first run for Laura Morgan, the gelding was settled towards the rear of the field for much of the contest, before sweeping into contention on the home turn. He joined the Neil King trained, Regulation two from home but rallied on to a two-length victory landing a double for jockey Kielan Woods in the process.

Robyndzone started where he left off last season in the Tote Supporting Racing Since 1921 Handicap Chase. The ultra-consistent son of Frammassone has not finished outside the first four in his last seven starts and backed up his win at Huntington in January when last seen and provided an equally impressive display for the popular combination of Fergal O’Brien and Paddy Brennan.

Kim Bailey runners at Bangor-on-Dee are worth taking note of and Yeavering Belle was no different as she landed the Back Tomorrow With Another Tote Placepot Handicap Hurdle under David Bass. The mare lead from pillar to post and romped home by seven and a half lengths under top weight. She remains unbeaten over hurdles with three wins from three runs.

The next meeting at Bangor-on-Dee is the second of our Racing Behind Closed Doors Fixtures on Wednesday 29th July.