ONCE again, the weather has had its impact and many meetings, unsurprisingly, have been called off but Catterick did go ahead on Monday and the Grand National-winning combination of Sue Smith and Ryan Mania teamed up for a double.
Herdsman and Pinerolo were their two winners, with Mania donning Festival-winning silks on both occasions as Herdsman is owned by Trevor Hemmings and Pinerolo runs in the old Mister McGoldrick colours.
Herdsman won the £12,000 Weatherbys Private Banking Handicap Chase by two and a quarter lengths from the staying- on Everaard and could be Eider Chase-bound.
“I think he’s best in small fields, he sulked a bit at Haydock last time out,” said Mania. “He’s got loads of scope and stays all day, but he’s had plenty of problems.
Hemmings’ racing manager Mick Meagher said: “We’ll think of something like the Eider Chase but you’d have to worry about that being on, it’s only a week on Saturday at Newcastle.
“He’s in the four-miler at Cheltenham but we’ll have to see, he stays very well.”
Pinerolo, the well backed 13/8 favourite, justified strong support in the market to win the Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Handicap Chase in fine style.
Last of three behind two classy types at Wetherby, he was far from disgraced and with the winner of that contest Many Clouds heading for the Reynoldstown and the runnerup, Indian Castle, subsequently winning at Cheltenham, the form is clearly useful.
Smith said: “I think the step up to three miles has helped him, but I was concerned about the ground, it is very sticky out there.
“I’m pleased for the owners, it’s been a long time since Mister McGoldrick was winning races for them. He wasn’t disgraced at Wetherby, I suppose, but he was beaten a fair way.”
Smith’s husband Harvey said: “I think the others just stopped, hopefully the handicapper will take that into consideration.”
Smith and Mania were denied a treble when top weight The Clock Leary wore down long-time leader Blake Dean in the yorkshireoutdoors.
co.uk Handicap Hurdle.
Hailing from the red-hot yard of Venetia Williams, The Clock Leary was only fourth at Southwell when well-fancied.
As with so many from his stable he showed endless reserves of stamina to just get the better of Blake Dean by half a length after a terrific tussle on the run-in.
Aidan Coleman was once again seen to good effect on the 100/30 chance as he took his strike-rate for February to over 30 per cent.
“I think I rode him wrong the last day at Southwell, I tried to make the running,”
said Coleman. “He’s only a novice still, so to win a handicap off top weight is a good effort.”
Champion jockey Tony McCoy has been a regular visitor to Catterick of late and was also rewarded with a double.
His first win came as a surprise in the racinguk.com Novices’ Hurdle when Jonjo O’Neill’s Capote got the better of the long odds-on favourite I Need Gold.
McCoy had done his homework and kept a wide passage throughout, whereas Jason Maguire stuck tight to the rail and while the favourite drew level again at the last, Capote, also owned by Hemmings, pulled out more to win by a length and three-quarters.
Meagher said: “That was nice, Tony said he did everything right and he’ll make a nice chaser.”
It was McCoy and Maguire who dominated the finish to the Cheltenham Preview Evening February 28th Handicap Hurdle, with McCoy coming out on top again on Hawaii Five Nil.
This time McCoy was on the favourite as O’Neill’s six-yearold was sent off at 11/4, but Maguire changed his tactics and also took the wide route.
Hartside still had claims at the last, too, and while Maguire forced Short Takes up to challenge McCoy after the final flight, Hawaii Five Nil eventually prevailed by a length and a quarter.
Alan Swinbank’s Georgian Firebird was an impressive nine-length winner of the bumper under Paddy Brennan.
The in-form Swinbank was also on the mark at Ayr on Tuesday with Tiny Dancer in the novices’ Chase under Brian Hughes, who said afterwards: Tiny Dancer is a big lad and was never going to be a hurdler. He missed a couple out but it was tacky ground and was his first run over fences and though he didn’t beat a lot he’ll improve on that.”
Musselburgh staged a good card on Wednesday and there was a dramatic conclusion to the Edinburgh Evening News Handicap Chase.
The 3-1 favourite Brieryhill Boy had jumped his rivals silly and had the race in the bag for Willie Amos and Brian Harding only to fall at the last.
That left Civil Unrest in front, but he was running on empty and Chris Grant’s Alpha One (8-1) stayed on grimly to win by a length in the hands of O’Regan, providing Grant with the second leg of a treble.
The opening Rural Insurance Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase was won in good style by the 4-1 joint-favourite Tears From Heaven, the first of Grant’s three winners.
He was ridden by Richard Smith, grandson of Denys Smith who trained the 1968 Grand National winner Red Alligator.
“When the snow was coming in your face it was quite hard, but to be fair to the horse, he dug deep and kept galloping,” said Smith.
“I just wanted to be in a handy position when we turned in as I knew he was just a galloper, he needed every yard of that.
“Chris has been good to me, he has a few point-to-pointers and he lets me ride them. I use his gallop as well for my pointers.
“My granddad still goes racing at Catterick and Sedgefield and still keeps an eye on things.”
Grant round off his threetimer with Donna’s Diamond in the closing bumper, ridden by O’Regan’s younger brother Diarmuid.