WITH all the rain around, the ground staff at Wetherby deserve plenty of credit for getting their meeting on last Saturday. The seven-race card saw some quality finishes and the feature race, the Towton Chase went the way of Ely Brown.
Trained by Charlie Longsdon, the winner was sure-footed and relentless as he took advantage of a stumble from favourite Green Flag that ejected Peter Buchanan from the saddle.
Green Flag and Buchanan returned unharmed but Coverholder, who was also pulled up alongside the favourite on the bend turning into the back straight, was euthanised after breaking down.
A race that had looked an intriguing contest between Green Flag and Ely Brown after Shutthefrontdoor was withdrawn due to the going, suddenly changed in complexion in a matter of tragic strides as the runners exited the home straight.
Ely Brown and Green Flag had been jumping smartly alongside each other when suddenly Green Flag’s head dipped and his rider tumbled into the sodden Yorkshire turf.
Much worse happened simultaneously alongside Green Flag with Coverholder coming to an abrupt halt having lost his action. His injuries proved fatal.
With only three runners left, including the outclassed Strike Fast, it was left to Milborough to keep Ely Brown company until the penultimate fence when the Charlie Longsdon-trained runner stretched clear to take victory by a comfortable nine lengths.
Paddy Power reacted to the win by cutting Ely Brown to 14-1 for the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival next month.
David Jeffreys, assistant to Charlie Longsdon, said: “I thought they were not going fast enough, but Noel knows what he’s doing.
He has bags of scope, he jumped well last time and has shown improvement from that. Noel said he would be a great horse for something like the Scottish National.”
Earlier on the card, Sue Smith had a winner with No Planning in the two-mile handicap chase.
Musselburgh staged their most valuable jumps meeting of the year on Sunday and Phil Kirby, who had a winner with Pass Munster at Kempton, was on the mark in the concluding handicap with Rumble Od Thunder under the yards conditional Adam Nicol.
This was Rumble Of Thunder’s eighth success and he holds an entry at Plumpton on Monday in a bid to make it number nine for this likeable type.
The was an all-weather fixture on Tuesday and Alan Swinbank was on the mark in the amateur riders race with Samoset.
Only a four-year-old, he was given a fine ride by Simon Walker.
Samoset holds an entry back at Southwell on Tuesday and would make plenty of appeal if turned out again.
The old team of Ruby Walsh and Paul Nicholls will team up with Tidal Bay in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Sunday.
In October 2002 Walsh became stable jockey for Nicholls, and the pair enjoyed many fantastic days with stars including Kauto Star, Denman and Big Buck’s.
However last year Walsh told his employer the journeying over from Ireland was becoming too much of a strain, so he stepped down.
Nicholls stated he would use Walsh when available, and the opportunity has presented itself on Sunday, the first time since November.
Walsh will get the leg up on the 13-year-old who appeared more likely to run at Newbury the day before in the Grade 2 Betfair Denman Chase.
In 2012, Walsh and Tidal Bay triumphed over course and distance in the Lexus Chase, with Sam Twiston-Davies in the saddle for Tidal Bay’s latest success at Wetherby last November.
Willie Mullins was intending to run Rubi Ball, but the nine-yearold returned lame from a schooling session at Punchestown on Sunday.
The new week starts on Monday with a seven-race card at Catterick, the first race due under way at 1.50pm.