John Timpson launched his new book Under Orders, The Diary of a Racehorse Owner’s Husband at Chepstow’s October Jumps Festival – and clinched the day with a winner in the last race.
Saturday 8th October saw plenty of top trainers giving their horses the first airing of the season – amongst them Henry Daly running John Timpson’s horse Upbeat Cobbler, a mare with a track record of wins on her first outing each season (no pressure there then!). The grey started as favourite in the Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Steeple Chase under Stan Sheppard and led the field for the first half of the race. She was caught three quarters of the way round but rallied with a tremendous display of jumping to take the race back in hand in the final straight. It was a thrilling finish to the day and a great crowd-pleaser.
Paul Nicholls returned to the top of the trainer championship after landing a five-timer over the two days of the festival. The champion trainer had one success on Saturday with the impressive Diego Du Charmil (6/4 fav), but it was on the Sunday that he secured a near 445/1 four-timer with the impressive Dolos (4/5 fav), Art Mauresque (10/1), El Bandit (13/2) in the Grade 2 Persian War Novices’ Hurdle and Coastal Tiep (13/2) in the first of two bumpers over 2m.
Nicholls, the 10-times leading trainer, said “We are delighted with how our horses ran over the two days. It is a great start to the season.”
The two day October Jumps Festival is widely regarded as the start of the 2016–17 jumps season. The fixture, run as a two-day meeting for the first time in 2015, saw a boost to the overall prize money available across the weekend to £300,000.
The feature race was the £50,000 Totepool Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) won by Nigel Twiston-Davies’s Ballyoptic (9/2). Twiston-Davies said “I thought Ballyoptic might need [the run] as that was a prep for Wetherby at the end of the month, but he’s very exciting and a proper horse. That proves he wants three miles and we’ll aim for the World Hurdle.”
Rebecca Curtis, the Newport based trainer, struck a treble over the two-day meeting with Geordie Des Champs (5/1), Potters Cross (12/1) and Definite Outcome (5/1) who is now being targeted towards the RSA Chase at Cheltenham in March.
Many of the weekend’s winners and placed horses should go on to run at the big Cheltenham and Aintree meetings in the next month or so. Phil Bell, Executive Director of Chepstow Racecourse, said “We are delighted with how this meeting has developed. We had a big increase in attendance across the weekend and visitors witnessed some fantastic racing alongside live music, lurcher racing and falconry displays. It has been a big success and we look forward to developing the meeting further.”