A CHANGE to front-running tactics suited Impek in the first leg of the Order of Merit challenge that was launched by the British Horseracing Board at Aintree last Sunday and runs through to the Grand National next April.
Jockey Timmy Murphy allowed the nine-year-old to dictate the pace throughout the two-and-a-half mile Bonusprint.com Old Roan Chase worth £50,000. Supreme Prince matched strides with the 4-1 shot but could not sustain the gallop as My Will challenged up the home straight but had to be content with second place, two-and-a-half lengths behind Impek who now heads for the Peterborough Chase.
Overnight rain had produced softer ground for the second day of the meeting that began with the Digital Prints From bonusprint.com Handicap Hurdle. Lord Jack was going easily in front after a circuit before Midnight Creek went on. Patrick Merrigan aboard 3-1 chance Jorobaden made steady progress to take up the lead two flights from home and went for home to score unchallenged by three lengths.
Jumping proved to be crucial in the Bonusprint.com Novices' Chase with the second placed horse Supreme Serenade making errors at a number of fences. Ruby Walsh partnering 11-4 shot Star de Mohaison put up a stylish performance for a four-year-old to romp home by 13-lengths on his chase debut.
Racing last Saturday began with a muddling pace in the intercasino.com Introductory Juvenile Novices' Hurdle Race at Aintree last Saturday. Etoile Russe had set the early pace before fading and the race unfolded into a duel up the straight between Federstar, who lost ground by drifting left and 10-1 shot Pace Shot who prevailed by a neck on the line.
Baby Run didn't appear to be a straightforward ride in the intercasino.com Molyneux Novices' Steeplechase but jockey Antony Evans kept the gelding up to his work alongside Andreas. A great leap from 3-1 chance Baby Run sealed the result as Andreas found nothing extra on the flat to finish two lengths adrift of the winner.
Town Crier looked the winner of the intercasino.com Handicap Hurdle Race having raced handily and leading three out. Gary Berridge brought Brooklyn Breeze with a well timed run to gallop clear inside the final furlong and record a two length win for the 13-2 shot. The gelding reportedly goes for the Paddy Power Gold Cup next month.
New Alco, returned at 11-4, was the most impressive winner of the Play Blackjack At intercasino.com Maiden Hurdle. Mr Lewin was going easily coming out of the back straight but the field were left toiling when Keith Mercer asked New Alco to go on. The official winning margin was 18-lengths.
Ruby Walsh sent his mount Fair Prospect into the lead as the runners came up the final straight for the £600 A Year From intercasino.com Handicap Steeplechase and passed Soeur Fontenail on the flat. The gelding survived a jumping error at the last fence before opening up a margin of seven lengths and returned a starting price of 7-2.
The feature race this weekend is the Charlie Hall Chase over at Wetherby when the spectacular Grey Abbey will attempt to notch up back to back victories. The field has more depth this year but the front runner runs well when fresh and his experience may deny the promising Ollie Magern a win on his seasonal debut.