Another National for Sue Smith
A review of the action from Catterick on Thursday, where Straidnahanna landed the North Yorkshire National under Danny Cook.
Godolphin supremo John Ferguson chose to go to Catterick on Thursday to watch High Bridge win.
Straidnahanna jumped his rivals into submission to give Sue Smith and Danny Cook back-to-back wins in the North Yorkshire Grand National at Catterick.
But while 12 months ago Cook was hard at work for most of the race on Lackamon, this time he had a more willing partner, and after taking up the running on the second circuit he soon had the rest in trouble.
Several big leaps kept him in front as although Itstimeforapint looked menacing in the straight, he could never quite get on terms and Cook had enough up his sleeve.
It was Gonalston Cloud who was finishing best of all but he could only take second, a length and a quarter behind the 11/2 favourite.
"He's always been a nice horse," said Cook. "He was going to win at Haydock last season when we tipped up late on and it took a while to get his confidence back.
"He was back down to his last winning mark and I was confident he'd go well today, but he hadn't jumped well at Doncaster last time out.
"Basically I knew if I got him into a rhythm earlier he had a chance. He likes it here, it tends to be better ground.
"He was aimed at this race and it's nice when it comes off."
Neil Mulholland's Doing Fine was the morning favourite but was a late withdrawal after not taking the journey well.
"He had a poor trip up, we gave him chance to have a drink and what have you but he wasn't himself. The race would have been hard enough to win as it was, so we did the best thing by the horse," said Mulholland.
Despite there being a valuable meeting on in Dubai at Meydan, John Ferguson was on hand to witness High Bridge maintain his unbeaten record over timber in the Watch On 3 Devices racinguk.com/anywhere Novices' Hurdle.
The Godolphin chief executive instead chose to watch his son, Alex, ride one of just three horses he kept to run in his own colours after he handed in his training licence.
Now with Ben Pauling, the six-year-old was sent off the 1/3 favourite and the Cheltenham Bumper sixth accordingly beat Alan King's Top Tug by nine lengths.
Ferguson told Racing UK: "He ran really well at Cheltenham. We just thought running at Catterick would sharpen him up. When I was training we had a lot of luck here.
"He had two mistakes and they are mistakes that he'll learn from, both he and the jockey.
"He could go to Newbury on February 11 or the Dovecote at Kempton and then we'll think about whether he's a Supreme (Novices' Hurdle) horse."
Pauling said: "He looked good, he made a couple of mistakes but they didn't slow him down and he pulled away under a well-judged ride.
"He's won a nice race at Newbury and now under a penalty and I hope to be aiming at some of the better two-mile novice races in the spring."
Mulholland's Impulsive Star was sent off the 4/6 favourite for the Racing To School Novices' Hurdle and had to be ridden strongly by Noel Fehily to beat Same Circus by two and a quarter lengths.
"We'll see what the handicapper does," said Mulholland.
"He can't put him up too much as the second had a low rating. I'll maybe look for a novice handicap, but he's a staying chaser in the making."
Fehily was also seen to good effect on Jonjo O'Neill's A Little Magic (11/4) in the WL And Hector Christie Memorial Handicap Chase.
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