Molly Ollys Wishes (far left) takes the bet365 Mares’ Hurdle (JTW Equine Images)
By Tom Williams
Molly Grants Trainer’s Wishes
Trainer Dan Skelton had a luckless outcome in last year’s renewal of the Charlie Hall, when Shan Blue came down when in position to score a memorable, runaway success.
Whilst he did not field a runner in this year’s contest, with Shan Blue not quite ready to make a reappearance as of yet, he did manage to score a treble on the card.
The first of those to make the frame was the talented Molly Ollys Wishes, who made it a repeat success in the Bet 365 Mares’ Hurdle under Harry Skelton for owner Dean Pugh, 12 months on from taking the contest for the first time.
Sent off the 15/8 favourite, she had to battle hard against the gallant and persistent Martello Sky, who would not give her a moments peace down the home straight. However, she started to edge ahead in the final 100 yards, to score by just over 1 length.
Normally seen at more stamina-sapping trips, it was exactly that which saw her battle hard and ultimately prevail, and her trainer was full of praise afterwards.
“She’s magnificent”, he beamed to the media assembled afterwards. “I’m delighted to have come out on top”.
“It may not be the biggest race of the year, but not many will give me more enjoyment”. “She’s a credit to everybody ( at the yard and her owners ).
Dan was full of praise for his brother Harry, who had ridden a “no nonsense” ride, and been “different class” to his rivals.
“For those who think Harry was a lucky champion jockey ( in 2020/21’s National Hunt season ), just go and watch that”.
“It was a magnificent ride”.
He also mentioned that we may not see the sparkling mare until next year, with a race in January at Ascot pencilled in for her next appearance, and just like this race at Wetherby, it is one she won last year too.
“I’ll leave her now. She’s had such a hard race there, but she’s just magnificent”.
“She’s not deteriorating – that was probably a better run than in this race last year”, he added.
A British-bred mare, she has now won £100,000 in prize money, which includes a Great British Bonus.
A real gem in the crown of British National Hunt Racing.
Proschema Is Back at the Top Table in West Yorkshire Hurdle Victory
It was May 2021 when Proschema last tasted success in a handicap hurdle at Aintree, but the long time from the top table was banished to history as the seven-year-old powered away from his rivals to take the Grade 2 Bet365 Hurdle under Harry Skelton.
Registered as the West Yorkshire Hurdle, the son of Declaration Of War went one better than this time last year by steadily making progress from 3 out to join Thomas Darby at the last, lengthening right away after the hurdle and galloping all the way to the line to score by 10 lengths.
It was a double for the Skelton duo, who had scored 35 minutes earlier with Molly Olly’s Wishes, and it looked to be the finest performance from the horse, who travelled well and jumped impeccably.
Threeunderthrufive looked unsuited by the return to hurdles, blundering at several fences, while favourite Sporting John was disappointing and laboured in 4th, unable to pick up.
“He’s had a few problems with his joints”, his trainer mentioned post-race. “It’s taken him until now to grow out of those”.
“I’m delighted….. that was sublime from Harry.”
“It was absolutely top drawer. That’s a brilliant result for the horse.”
On future plans, the trainer noted that he would keep the winner away from heavy ground, but he mentioned Newbury ( Long Distance Hurdle ) or Ascot ( Long Walk Hurdle ) as their next target.
“He is a million to one for the Long Walk and a zillion to one for the Cleeve. We will look to the Festival ( at Cheltenham ) and Aintree.”
The treble was completed in the concluding Handicap Hurdle, when Rocky Man landed the spoils at odds of 11/4, defeating Findthetime by just shy of one length.
The four-year-old son of the great French sire Doctor Dino was returning after a 306 day break since his seventh of eleven behind Porticello in the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow.
Travelling and jumping well, aside from a small error at 2 out, he held off the relentless Findthetime in a fine performance after such a break, which would have been much to the delight of owner Mr Colm Donlon.
He may be a horse to look forward to over the season, and beyond.
The Rest of the Action
The day started with the Bet365 Novices Hurdle, and it was one for the bookmakers as Hall Lane and Tom Bellamy caused an upset to win at odds of 22/1 for trainer Alan King and owners Jerry Wright and the Lee Family.
Making their debut over obstacles after a fifth-place finish in their only start to date last March in a National Hunt Flat Race at Kempton Park, he was held up and produced with precision to take order at the last, knuckling down for a fight with Hurricane Bay and Bryony Frost, coming out a neck up at the line.
Favourite Joe Dadancer looked to be comfortably cruising to victory at 3 out, but the petrol tank went to empty heading towards the second last and he quickly dropped away.
66/1 shot Tommy Cullen took it up at 2 out before he was headed by Hurricane Bay and Hall Lane, who fought it out all the way to the line, the latter prevailing where it mattered most.
Deyrann De Carjac tried gallantly to last home in the Bet365 Handicap Chase, but his stamina just ran out and he was surpassed by Ladronne and Sean Quinlan in the shadows of the post.
Deyrann de Carjac dived at the last when trying to repel the challenge of the Tjade Collier-trained rival, and whilst he gained a length at the fence, he couldn’t maintain the gallop to the line and was collared with yards to go.
It denied jockey Tom Bellamy a double on the day, after the success of Hall Lane earlier in the day.
Post-race, the trainer was full of praise for his “stable star.”
“We started him off at 2 and a half miles, and just try to make much use of him”.
He was “absolutely delighted” to secure a victory on the day of the Charlie Hall Chase, especially as he is a local trainer, residing not too far from the course itself.
Neil Mulholland and jockey Tom Scudamore got onto the winners board with Tango Boy, who took the “Bet Boost At bet365” Handicap Chase at odds of 6/1 for owner Mr Tony Bloom.
Travelling at the rear of the field, he made smooth progress to challenge 2 out and stayed on well all the way to the line, repelling the challenge of Cash To Ash by just under 1 and a half lengths.