Curtain comes down on Newbury’s Jump season with tomorrow’s Sri Lankan Raceday
The inaugural Sri Lankan Raceday brings the curtain down on another top-class season of Jump racing at Newbury on Thursday, March 26.
Highlights on the track in 2014/15 include the three-day bet365 Hennessy Festival in November and Betfair Super Saturday in February, which both provided key pointers to the Cheltenham Festival.
The feature Hennessy Gold Cup saw Many Clouds register an emotional success for Lambourn trainer Oliver Sherwood and Grand National-winning jockey Leighton Aspell. Sherwood has endured a turbulent period since capturing his first Hennessy Gold Cup with Arctic Call in 1990 and the triumph of Many Clouds was met with jubilant celebrations in the winner’s enclosure.
The Hennessy Gold Cup is one of the most competitive handicaps of the year and this season’s race proved no exception with beaten favourite Djakadam taking second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and The Druids Nephew, who finished seventh, storming to victory in the three-mile handicap chase on the opening of the Cheltenham Festival.
Other Cheltenham victors to have run at the prestigious November meeting include Ladbrokes World Hurdle hero Cole Harden, who was second in the Grade Two bet365 Long Distance Hurdle, and Grand Annual Chase winner Next Sensation.
Newbury played a key part in Coneygree’s rise to Gold Cup stardom. The Mark Bradstock-trained eight-year-old made a winning debut over fences at the bet365 Hennessy Festival and returned on Betfair Super Saturday to run experienced rivals ragged in the Grade Two Betfair Denman Chase.
Betfair Super Saturday produced two other Cheltenham Festival winners in Uxizandre and Wicklow Brave, but the action on the track was eclipsed by A P McCoy’s announcement that he would be retiring towards or at the end of the season.
The 19-time champion jockey has enjoyed many memorable days at Newbury, headlined by three victories in valuable Betfair Hurdle on Copeland (2002), Get Me Out Of Here (2010) and My Tent Or Yours (2013).
Andy Clifton, Head of Communications at Newbury Racecourse, commented: “The 2014/15 Jump season at Newbury Racecourse was very memorable on many levels.
“The victory of Many Clouds in the Hennessy Gold Cup was enthusiastically received by the crowd as it represented a significant local success for Lambourn trainer Oliver Sherwood and his team.
“No fewer than six winners at this season’s Cheltenham Festival had previously run at Newbury earlier in the campaign.
“This half-dozen is headed by the remarkable Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Coneygree, who won his first race over fences at Newbury in November and set himself up for Cheltenham with a storming victory in the Grade Two Betfair Denman Chase on February 7.
“We bring down the curtain on the Jump season with a competitive six-race card on Sri Lanka Day and racegoers have the chance to win a luxury 10-day holiday to Sri Lanka. ”
The highlight of Sri Lankan Raceday is the £10,000 Win A Holiday To Sri Lanka Handicap Chase over two and a half miles. A field of nine includes lightly-raced nine-year-old Kadalkin, who impressed when scoring by eight lengths on his chase debut at Doncaster on February 27.
Trainer Nigel Hawke reported: “Kadalkin seems absolutely fine and the most important thing to this horse is the good ground.
“He won very well at Doncaster but that was more to do with how the race panned as the second horse bled. It is not ideal to run around Newbury in a competitive handicap on just his second start over fences, but I have not go too many choices.
“He has been a very tricky horse to train – you could write a book on his problems – but he has got a fair bit of ability. You could see that at Doncaster and the handicapper obviously thinks the same.”
Other notables include Owen Na View (Fergal O’Brien/Paddy Brennan), who will shoulder a 7lb penalty for winning at the course last Saturday, and the consistent Trickaway (Philip Hobbs/Richard Johnson).
The six-race programme starts at 2.30pm and concludes at 5.20pm.