Dumfries-shire trainer Iain Jardine kicked off the Ayr jumps season in style at the Craigie track yesterday saddling a double in the final two races on the card.
First up was So Satisfied who stayed on well to land the two mile four furlong handicap chase under a fine ride by young claiming jockey Ross Chapman.
Sent off a 5-1 chance the five year-old stuck to his task to hold on by a head from the Jackie Stephen-trained Bright Prospect.
And, in the final race, a national hunt flat racer over two miles the Jardine trained, Chapman ridden Loud And Clear, 9-2 co favourite, shouldered top weight to fight out an epic battle up the home straight and prevailed by a neck from Donna’s Delight trained by Sandy Thomson in Greenlaw.
Leading trainer Dan Skelton sent Spritofthegames (3-1) on the 600-mile round trip from his Alcester yard and it paid off when his jockey brother steered the four-year-old to win the Racing UK Maiden Hurdle, the opening race on the card.
Nicky Richards has long been among the top trainers at Ayr and was successful with St Gregory (11-2) in the three mile hurdle race, with jockey Brian Harding allowing the horse to make all and win comfortably.
At Newcastle this evening, the Keith Dalgleish-trained Lomu returns to the fray.
He must have had a problem as he has not been seen since maintaining his unbeaten record at Hamilton in May.
In that time he has missed several targets that had been mooted, so it is difficult to know what to expect in the Attheraces Nursery Handicap. A mark of 85 could seriously underestimate the Dandy Man colt, but whether he returns in the same sort of form as in the first half of the season is open to debate. It is worth chancing he does.
Colin Tizzard takes the wraps off Thistlecrack in the Aspen Waite Complete Business Growth Service Novices’ Chase at Chepstow.
He ended the season before last as a 25-1 winner of a Grade One at Aintree as a novice.
Touched off at the Punchestown Festival afterwards, he went the whole of last season unbeaten, strolling to victory at Cheltenham and Aintree.
If all goes to plan, connections are eyeing the Gold Cup.