EARLY fog cleared in time to allow racing to go ahead at Bangor-on-Dee on Wednesday, and an enthusiastic crowd of 2,664 enjoyed a competitive card offering £44,000 in win and place money that attracted the top national hunt trainers to the meeting.
The action began with the Crewe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle Race and a decisive win for King of Barbury, ridden by James Davies and trained by Alan King. The gelding was always travelling well behind the leaders Beauly and Rutland Chantry, before hitting the front on the last bend to score by six lengths.
Mister Banjo, partnered by Ruby Walsh, justified being sent off the 6-4 favourite in the North West Racing Club Novices' Steeplechase. Palua made most of the running before fading and the winner pulled clear by four lengths from Patricks nineteenth.
'Just what we wanted, a nice clear round,' said trainer Paul Nicholls. 'We've given him lots of time and waited for soft ground.'
Favourite backers drew again following the feature event of the meeting, the £12,000 Althrey Hall Hurdle Race (Showcase Handicap). Tip Kash headed the field but was unable to maintain the pace throughout.
Despite hanging behind Kivotos, Liam Cooper persuaded 3-1 favourite Campaign Trail to hit the front and win by one-and-a-quarter lengths.
The marathon three-mile six-furlong Christmas Time Handicap Steeplechase produced an exciting finish as there was only half a length between the first two home and gave in-form trainer Alan King a quick double.
Gimme Shelter set a sensible pace until falling with a circuit to go, leaving Jolly Giant in front. The 9-1 shot Bear On Board kept galloping and making ground for jockey Robert Thornton to land in front two out and defy a prolonged challenge from Harlov on the run-in.
There was a photo finish to the Edward Timpson 30th Birthday Novices' Hurdle Race when 5-4 favourite Garde Champetre jumped the last two well and stayed on gallantly to hold Mister Mustard by a short head. Paul Nicholls, who was recording a double, regards the winner as being an improver and a serious chaser for the future.
Yet another favourite obliged in the River Dee Handicap Steeplechase. Coming from well behind, Russian Gigolo, ridden by Robert Biddlecombe and sent off at 5-4, led over the last fence and was clear by three-and-a-half lengths crossing the winning line.
Racing closed with the Whitchurch Intermediate Open National Hunt Flat Race and a four-length win over Look-sharp Lad for 40-1 outsider Wicked Weasel making his racecourse debut.