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Bangor-on-Dee doesn’t attract many Welsh-trained runners – most of them being based at the other end of the country – but two of them struck there on Tuesday, writes Jim Beavis.

Dai Rees found a weak race for Gone Platinum and on his favoured decent ground was able to benefit from a falling handicap mark to run out a 25/1 winner of a 2m4f novices handicap chase.

 

He has an entry at Ffos Las on Monday in the Dai Rees Racing Handicap Hurdle, but his record suggests he’s not one to follow up quickly, and he is 0-10 over the sticks.  Rees’ Gardiners Hill tried to follow up his Hereford win last week, but ran flat.

Evan Williams’ Holdbacktheriver improved hugely on his first two runs of the season and finished strongly to plunder the three-mile chase.  Stamina is clearly his main asset.

Last weekend, in the Veterans Chase Final at Sandown, the yard’s old favourite Buywise was also finishing well before coming down at the final fence.  It was unlikely that he would have caught the winner, and fortunately he got up unscathed.  His owner Hywel Jones gained some compensation when stablemate On Tour stayed on into third place in this valuable and popular event.



Buywise and Adam Wedge part company at the last fence during the Unibet Veterans’ Chase at Sandown. Both horse and jockey were unscathed
Buywise and Adam Wedge part company at the last fence during the Unibet Veterans’ Chase at Sandown. Both horse and jockey were unscathed

Williams is likely to enter Silver Streak in the Champion Hurdle.  The horse has done nothing but improve since winning at Chepstow’s Jump Season Opener in October 2017 and two second places in big Cheltenham handicaps before Christmas entitle him to have a go.

The trainer is realistic about his chances, telling the Racing Post: “I’d say we’ll probably run in the Champion Hurdle, but we’re not kidding ourselves we’ll win it – it does look more open now, though.  Verdana Blue beat Buveur D’Air and we’ve beaten Verdana Blue!”  Silver Streak will run in one of the trials before the Festival.

Peter and Sean Bowen had successes at opposite ends of the country earlier this week.  Ontopoftheworld made all the running in a two-horse race at Musselburgh – the yard’s first winner there – a day after Alf’N’Dor won at Plumpton.  Alf, who is perhaps not the most determined horse in the yard, was brought out again on Thursday.  He was an uneasy favourite and could only manage third of five behind Evan Williams’s Market Road, who came back to form in a modest race.

The stable’s Lord Napier has been running well in good two-mile handicap hurdles lately, and has been nibbled at for the ultra-competitive Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday.  This race is over five furlongs further, but he has winning form at this sort of distance.



Sean Bowen speaks to his father Peter, left
Sean Bowen speaks to his father Peter, left

Ron Harris had a rare winner over obstacles when Texan Nomad won at Wincanton on Saturday.  He’d shown some promise before a poor run last time out, and that accounted for his 20/1 starting price.  The trainer explained that the horse is headstrong, and he’d been assisted by the good pace set in this race. 

The form of Christian Williams’s latest runners is 41512F1241.  Of those figures, Uno Mas accounts for 121; first, a lucky victory at Hereford last week due to his stablemate Cottonvale falling when looking set to score; he then ran second stepped up to three miles at Doncaster on Wednesday, and he stayed in Yorkshire to win a small-field race easily at Catterick the next day, all off the same handicap mark.

 

Some of Wales’ smaller yards have been suffering near misses at long odds.  Driftwood Haze, trained by Philip Dando at Peterston-super-Ely, went down by a neck at 14/1 at Ludlow last week.  Jane Mathias, who trains near Evan Williams at Llancarfan, saw her Definately Vinnie fly at the finish of a three-mile chase at Chepstow on Monday to go down by three quarters of a length at odds of 20/1.  Timeforaspin was a close third in the bumper at Bangor at 33/1 for Brecon’s Brian Eckley.

There should be no shortage of Welsh runners at Ffos Las on Monday, where admission can be as little as £10 per person if booked in advance.

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