With ground conditions remaining Heavy (Soft in places) throughout the afternoon, there were plenty of strong stayers on show for the 2024 edition of the Broughton Hall Estates North Wales National at Bangor-On-Dee. The big race of the day came at 3:20pm, with nine-runners going to post in what would turn out to be a slowly run, stamina-sapping marathon over three miles and five furlongs.


Race 1 – John Hewitt Memorial Novices’ Handicap Chase (Class 5, 5yo+, 2m 1 ½f)

Providing local trainer Donald McCain with yet another winner at the track, Yellow Jacket (100/30) proved to be a tough nut to crack under Peter Kavanagh in the first race of the day, holding off stablemate Malpas (9/1) by just half a length at the line to get the 2024 Bangor season underway. With the pace set by runaway leader Happy Du Mesnil (8/1) through the opening mile and a half of the contest, Yellow Jacket raced mainly towards the rear of the field throughout, Kavanagh biding his time aboard the 7-year-old gelding. As the leader gradually began to toil out in front having negotiated the third-last, Malpas and Yellow Jacket both made their moves towards front-rank, the former travelling slightly the better of the two. However, despite coming under a strong ride in the home straight, Yellow Jacket responded well to Kavanagh’s urgings, joining Malpas for the lead over the last and staying on strongly in a slow-motion finish to take home first prize. With 13 winners now in the bag for 2023-24, Kavanagh is just one winner away from equalling his tally of 14 in 2022-23!


Race 2 – Dragonbet Born From The Betting Ring Handicap Chase (Class 5, 5yo+, 3m)

Having only switched stables from Christian Williams to Venetia Williams a week prior, Montgomery (3/1) showed a real upturn in form during the second race, jumping with aplomb to win going away by 8 lengths under Charlie Deutsch at the finish. Always in a prominent position, Montgomery sat a length or two off the early pacesetter Furkash (6/1) before taking over at the head of affairs upon jumping the seventh obstacle, Deutsch keen to allow his mount room to manoeuvre up front. Popping over each obstacle with the minimum of fuss, Montgomery readily went clear with market leader Breeze Of Wind (2/1F) when rounding the home turn into the straight, travelling much the best and kicking on again on the run towards the second-last fence. Negotiating the final two obstacles with ease, Montgomery was soon in the ascendancy in the final furlong, kicking on powerfully up the run-in under Deutsch to record a taking victory on his chasing debut, with Breeze Of Wind unable to live with the winner back in second place. Enjoying another sterling season, Deutsch and Williams also combined to win the Betfair Chase (Grade 1) with Royale Pagaille!


Race 3 – Broughton Hall Estates North Wales National Handicap Chase (Class 4, 5yo+, 3m 5 ½f)

The second running of the Broughton Hall Estates North Wales National at Bangor-On-Dee proved to be a real test of stamina for the nine-runner field, the winner eventually coming in the form of plucky front-runner Stellar Stream (9/2), who stayed on strongly through the rain-sodden turf to hold on by a length under Ben Godfrey for trainer Kayley Woollacott. Another to benefit from racing prominently, Ben Godfrey kept Stellar Stream in the first two positions throughout the marathon contest, holding a narrow lead in the main over recent scorer Whydah Gally (8/1) through the first circuit, with the locally trained Duke Of Deception (7/2) joining issue as the leaders embarked on their final circuit. Leading the way into the final couple of furlongs, this trio readily broke clear of the remainder on the run down to two-out, Stellar Stream still holding a narrow advantage as Whydah Gally began to flounder in the soggy ground. Responding well for pressure between the final two obstacles, Stellar Stream stole a couple of lengths out of Duke Of Deception over the last fence, just about keeping enough in the tank to hold off his rival in the closing stages as Haute Estime (12/1) flew home for a fair third. A conditional jockey on the rise, Ben Godfrey was also in the starlight as recently as last Saturday when steering home Forward Plan to scoop the valuable Coral Trophy at Kempton!


Race 4 – Camden Stout Mares’ Maiden Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 3, 4yo+, 2m ½f)

A progressive mare in the making, Strong Belle (3/1) provided Sam Twiston-Davies with his 89th winner of the season in the fourth race of the afternoon, pushed out by 4 ¼ lengths to score for respected trainer and Sam’s father Nigel Twiston-Davies. Positioned in second place for the majority of the contest, Strong Belle raced a couple of lengths behind early leader and big outsider Bob O Rhino (50/1) for the most part, with odds-on market leader Pitwood Road (8/15F) keeping close tabs on them in third place along the inside rail. The only grey horse in the field, Strong Belle was sent to the front by Twiston-Davies having safely negotiated the third-last flight of hurdles, the mare kicking a length clear as Pitwood Road moved smoothly into a close second place. Yet to fully come off the bridle, Strong Belle found an extra gear between the final two flights, taking advantage of an under pressure Pitwood Road and rapidly extending her lead to an unassailable 4 ¼ lengths upon crossing the line. Donning the same colours of James & Jean Potter, Sam Twiston-Davies also combined with his father Nigel for a Grade 3 success at Cheltenham in January 2022 with smart mare Vienna Court!


Race 5 – Ruabon Novices’ Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 3, 4yo+, 2m 3 ½f)

Denying the Potters and the Twiston-Davies’s a second winner in quick succession, Henry Brooke delivered his mount Mr Bramley (9/2) to perfection in the penultimate contest, taking the lead over the last to go on to score by 3 ½ lengths and bring home the spoils for trainer Jedd O’Keefe. Towards the rear of the field through the opening two miles of the contest, Henry Brooke was content to bide his time aboard Mr Bramley in the fifth race of the day, racing behind odds-on market leader and two-time course winner Guard The Moon (4/7F) in midfield. Travelling sweetly up onto the heels of the leaders, Guard The Moon took over the lead four from home, stalked all the while by a smooth travelling Mr Bramley along the inside rail on the turn into the home straight. Ranging up alongside the leader over the second-last, Mr Bramley swiftly dispatched Guard The Moon on the run down to the last, and having hopped over it nicely, readily came clear in the closing stages to record his first success under rules. Another jockey fresh from a successful weekend, Henry Brooke also did the steering aboard Anglers Crag when victorious in the four-mile marathon Eider Chase on Saturday!


Race 6 – Bangor-On-Dee Handicap Hurdle (Class 4, 4yo+, 2m 7f)

In a similar vein to the opening contest, the final race of the day was also settled between two stablemates, this time a pair of Dan Skelton runners, with previous course winner Gwennie May Boy (9/2) coming out 1 ¾ lengths on top of Catch Him Derry (11/8F) in a ding-dong battle down the home straight. Racing in the middle of the sextet through the first couple of miles, Gwennie May Boy settled into a nice rhythm under Fergus Gillard, the 6-year-old gelding racing ahead of stablemate Catch Him Derry in rear division as the well-fancied Globe Player (5/2) led the field along at a modest tempo under Ciaran Gethings. Gradually making ground around the turn for home as Global Player came under pressure, Gwennie May Boy soon found himself in a narrow lead, with only Catch Him Derry for company as the pair jumped two-out. The pair in unison on the run towards the final flight, a slick leap at the last appeared to settle things in favour of Gwennie May Boy who stayed on strongly in the final 100 yards to see off his stablemate in determined fashion. With this his 14th winner of the season, Gillard has now beaten his 2022-23 tally of 13 winners; nice work, Fergus!

Race report by Adam Perkins