WOULD he have won? This was the question on many race-goers minds after they had completed a rollover Scoop6 ticket and focused on the first day of the Northwest Masters meeting last Saturday.
In front of packed stands at Haydock Park, the 2-5 favourite Kauto Star, who raced with a first-time sheepskin noseband fitted, unfortunately sprawled on landing when in contention over the last fence in the Betfair Steeplechase and was out of the race as he unseated Sam Thomas.
The favourite’s misfortune left the long-time leader Tamarinbleu with the race seemingly his for the taking, but Seamus Durack galvanised Snoopy Loopy on the flat and the 33-1 outsider had sufficient pace at the end of a three-mile gallop to grab an advantage in the final strides and win by half a length.
Medicinal, backed down to 9-2 favourite, provided some compensation for Thomas and survived a series of jumping errors to land the Thanks to Betfair Stevenage Handicap Steeplechase by three- and-a-quarter lengths from Something Wells.
According To Pete justified being sent off the 11-2 favourite in the Betfair “Fixed Brush” Handicap Hurdle.
The seven-year-old made all the running for jockey Graham Lee, crossing the winning line nine lengths in front of his nearest rival, top weight Souffleur, and recording a hat-trick of wins.
Binocular had already cruised into the ante-post Champion Hurdle picture with an eased-down three-and-a-quarter-length success in the Betfair Hurdle Race, his seasonal reappearance.
Jockey Tony McCoy said: “He’s a very talented horse with lots of speed. I always kept hold of his head, he was fresh, it was his first run.”
The gelding led three flights from home, pricked his ears and the result was never in doubt.
Action moved to Aintree on Sunday when two races took place over the unique Grand National fences, beginning with the totesuper7 Grand Sefton Handicap Steeplechase.
Endless Power, sent off at 11-1, lived up to his name for jockey James Reveley as the partnership quickly got into a rhythm and jumped the fences with relish to win. Brooklyn Brownie stayed on well to get within two-and-a-half lengths of Endless Power.
As the wet weather continued the going was changed to heavy, ensuring the totesport.com Becher Handicap Steeplechase was a real stamina test over three miles and two furlongs.
Denis O’Regan soon had his mount, Black Apalachi, a 15-2 shot, racing in the same style as Endless Power.
Last year’s winner Mr Pointment was dropped out of the race in the early stages, gradually made headway and put in a spectacular jump across the Canal Turn, gaining lengths before losing momentum and almost pulling up on the run-in.
This enabled Black Apalachi to record a distance win as Mr Pointment picked up again in the straight to be second home.
The toteswinger Handicap Hurdle was the main supporting race on the card over the smaller obstacles. Trainer Peter Bowen was responsible for the 9-2 winner, Serabad.
The field were slowly away and Auroras Encore set the pace. Paddy Brennan brought Serabad to jump the last flight to land in front and extend their lead galloping to the line with a four-length advantage over Nevertika.