Marie’s Rock Tenacious Winner of SBK Warfield Mares’ Hurdle as Great Yorkshire Chase Weekend Concludes

January 29, 2024

Marie’s Rock on her way to victory in the Warfield (JTW Equine Images)

By JTW Equine Images

Marie’s Rock and jockey James Bowen were tenacious in victory as they claimed the re-arranged SBK Warfield Mares’ Hurdle over 3 miles for trainer Nicky Henderson and owners Middleham Park Racing XLII.

The race, switched to Doncaster 8 days later than planned due to Ascot being frozen off, had a good-looking quintet on paper; West Balboa was a non-runner on the day. The race, for the first circuit at least, did not have much in the way of drama; Tweed Skirt and Coquelicot led the field from Marie’s Rock on the rail, Theatre Glory wider out and Dawn Run 2023 winner (Cheltenham Festival) You Wear It Well bringing up the rear. Theatre Glory moved up 4 out, and rounding the turn for home the dash was on.

Marie’s Rock made a mistake 3 out, but approaching the 2nd last it was almost 5 in a line, but after the flight Marie’s Rock, You Wear It Well and Tweed Skirt pulled clear of the rest. At the last, Tweed Skirt faded back, and the duel was only for a brief moment, as Marie’s Rock showed her stamina, exposing You Wear It Well’s range and won by just over a length.

Jockey James Bowen said that the winner had a great attitude, and when interviewed by Sky Sports Racing’s Mick Fitzgerald, any resemblance of stamina issues were thrown into the air.

“They didn’t go a great gallop, that ground suited her.”

It remains to be seen where she will be seen next, one can assume it would be Cheltenham, and perhaps more likely the Mares’ Hurdle over 2m 4f, rather than the 3 miles of the Stayers’ Hurdle.

Favourite backers attending the second day of Doncaster’s Great Yorkshire Chase meeting could not have got off to a better start, as the warm-favourite Dysart Enos swept all before her under Paddy Brennan to land the opener, the “Download the At The Races App Novices’ Hurdle” for trainer Fergal O’Brien and owner The Good Stock Syndicate,. Unbeaten in 5 starts under Rules, including a Listed bumper at Market Rasen in February 2023 and the Grade 2 bumper at the Aintree Festival in April 2023, she made short work of the field to make it 6 out of 6 in total, and 3 out of 3 over hurdles.

In a sedately run race for the majority of it, Jet Patrol took them along and despite the favourite being awkward over the third, there was nothing favourite backers needed to worry about as she cruised into the lead 2 out, and all Paddy had to do was pop the last and extend an inch of rein, as she cruised to a 6 and a half length victory from Justus, with Graze On Phoenix in third.

Dysart Enos sweeps to victory (JTW Equine Images)

Rider Paddy Brennan was very pleased with his mount, but did state that they needed somebody to lead as they could not let her lead on, but that “she just takes it in her stride, she’s very good.”

“It’s hard to get them (the good ones)… you keep dreaming, we give owners dreams, she’s never beaten, hopefully it stays that way!”

Trainer Fergal O’Brien was quoted as saying that the winner “had to win otherwise that’s a big bubble burst! It’s horse racing, anything can happen, I’ve seen 1/6 favourites beaten. She was in great form coming here, she jumped and travelled great, hopefully in the spring she will go again.”

“There’s definitely improvement in here, she improved from Market Rasen to Aintree, so it’s there. She will have a bit of a break for a week and then we can tee her up for Cheltenham (Mares’ Novices Hurdle, Thursday)”.

“It looked like a piece of work to her today so hopefully she will be alright in the morning.”

“I’ve got to say thanks to Neil Jenks for an incredible bit of race planning, she’s come here today rated 131 and horses are having to give her weight! That’s just phenomenal race planning. I can stand here and take the credit but it was Neil who planned it. You win 2 novice hurdles and get a pound or so off horses who should be giving her a stone and a half!”

Round up of the Rest of the Action

Snowy Evening draws clear (JTW Equine Images)

Snowy Evening and jockey Henry Brooke gave Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerriero a winner in the SBK Novices’ Handicap Chase over 2m 4f, where afterwards the representative Dan Astbury stated that the winner would likely be aimed at sneaking into a good-ground Saturday handicap chase off bottom weight.

Storminhome led the field under Ben Jones where Maclaine hit the 3rd fence, before Cerendipity dumped jockey Nick Scholfield at the water jump away from the stands. Both horse and rider were quickly on their feet, and turning for home Storminhome gave a beautiful leap at the fourth-last and began to draw clear. However, Snowy Evening and Henry Brooke had a peach of a trip round the inside the whole way, and challenged at two out before drawing clear at the last to win well for the Stockton Hall team.

Some Scope took forever to warm to the task but eventually flew home to win the SBK Handicap Chase comfortably under Gavin Sheehan for trainer Richard Hobson and owners Rubicon Racing. The 13/8F rattled home after some slow leaps down the side and being scrubbed along by Gavin, but won in the end by 7 ½ lengths going away.

Champagne Twist stamps himself as a smart prospect for his connections (JTW Equine Images)

Ben Pauling has another smart prospect on his hands in the form of Champagne Twist, who under Ben Jones won rather nicely in the SBK EBF “National Hunt” Maiden Race over 2 miles 3 and a half furlongs for owner The Pour Decisions Syndicate.

He led all the way from flag fall to finish, repelling all challenges in a race which qualifies him for the final at Sandown on Saturday 9th March 2024. After the race trainer Ben Pauling was very pleased with his performance.

“We bought him in May, and he hasn’t been right, but that was much better today. He will go straight for the EBF Final and then maybe Aintree, but we will not be going Cheltenham”.

“We’ve probably got our best bunch of Novice Hurdlers… he’s been in deeper waters the first two runs, and he will be a better horse with a summer on his back, he’s improved again today”.

“Hopefully he will keep going forward. If you can’t win a Maiden off a rating of 122 you’re in trouble.”

The concluding race, the Sky Sports Racing HD Virgin 519 Open National Hunt Flat Race (Go North Jodami Series Qualifier) was won in gruelling fashion by the Ben Pauling-trained Les’s Destiny Star, giving both him and jockey Ben Jones a double on the day, for owner Mrt Les De La Haye. The 6/5 favourite, son of Blue Bresil, ground it out after racing prominently throughout, and therefore it looks like Ben Pauling has yet another promising type for next year’s novice hurdles. As bumpers are usually won by staying types, his possibilities remain endless, and his debut run under rules resulting in a win will do no harm to connections’ dreams with him.

Contributing Authors

JTW Equine Images, Past the Wire

JTW Equine Images

JTW Equine Images are twin brothers Jack and Tom Williams from Wrexham, Wales, United Kingdom. Jack and Tom have always been into horse racing, from...

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