3:01pm Friday 29th November 2013
By Niall Hannity
WETHERBY staged a very decent card on Wednesday and Diamond King was the star on show, maintaining his unbeaten record with a pleasing first effort over hurdles, looking the real deal.
The well-bred son of King’s Theatre was an impressive winner of both of his bumpers last season and was even touted as a Cheltenham Festival possible at one stage, until trainer Donald McCain opted to keep the gelding’s sights to a lower level.
However he still looks good enough to make an impact at a much higher level, judged upon the promise of his victory in the Novices’ Hurdle.
The 4/11 favourite had to be asked a question two out by Jason Maguire when a couple of his rivals looked to be about to throw down a challenge, but Diamond King accelerated away again from the front to beat Secrete Stream by four and a half lengths with Another Mattie a neck back in third.
Beaujolais, who ran without the declared tonguestrap when it could not be fitted, finished just out of the placings in fourth.
“I won’t lie, I’d have been devastated if he’d got beat,” McCain said afterwards.
“Obviously he has a fairly big reputation. You never know what he beat in his bumpers but he’s schooled well and Jason looked after him a bit today.
“He’s smart. His jumping is very slick, he’s got a beautiful pedigree, he’s a good-looking horse and it’s nice when you get one with the engine to go with it.
“Without being rude to the other horses today, he’d probably appreciate a better race where they go an endto- end gallop.”
The winner remains a 33/1 chance with the sponsors for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the same price for the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle over two miles and five furlongs.
“I’ve left a bit to work on, so that was grand,” McCain added.
“He travelled smoothly and jumped well, he looked eyecatching all the way through.
“I really liked the way he quickened when one shot up his inside.
“We might leave him at two miles for now, but he’s not a two-mile hurdler, that’s for sure. He’s a chaser more than anything.”
On an informative card there was a smart winner of the closing EBF Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race in the form of Keith Reveley’s Star Lily (13/2), who came form last to first.
“She’s owned and was bred by our blacksmith, Ivor (Valentine),” said winning rider James Reveley, who made the diminutive fouryear- old look very small.
“She’s smart and will aim for Aintree (Listed bumper at the Grand National meeting), I’d imagine.”
Later in the evening, down at Kempton, James Bethell enjoyed a game winner with Thank You Very Much who stayed on the best under Ted Durcan.
Afterwards the winning handler said: “She’s done that well and we’ll put her away now for next year. She ran very well at Lingfield last time and that race looked strong with the winner coming out and winning at Wolverhampton this week.”
On Tuesday Sedgefield raced and the most popular winner came in the handicap hurdle when Amir Pasha came home in front under Jason Maguire, and trainer Micky Hammond paid tribute to his winner, saying: “That was the 99th race for Amir Pasha and his tenth win.
Hopefully we can place him to win another.”
Darlington handler David Thompson was also on the mark, saddling Great Ocean Road to come home in front under Adam Nicol in the staying handicap chase. The delighted winning trainer said: “I bought Great Ocean Road three years ago and he’s had plenty of problems.
He was handicapped to win and he likes this soft ground.”
Two massive highlights for jumping fans this weekend with the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle and the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury.
The Grand National-winning team of Sue and Harvey Smith have a live contender in the Hennessy with Cloudy Too.
A decent novice last season, Cloudy Too dished out an eight-length beating to the smart Tap Night at Carlisle on his seasonal reappearance, booking his ticket for Newbury in the process and the booking of Richard Johnson can only be a positive.
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