Hammond in business at Wetherby
A review of the action from Wetherby's first meeting of the season on Wednesday, as Micky Hammond saddled a 20/1 winner.
Action shot from Wetherby
Micky Hammond began the new season at Wetherby just as he ended the last one as Canford Thompson stole a march on his rivals to cause a 20/1 surprise in the Spinal Research Rachel Wright Memorial Juvenile Maiden Hurdle.
Crowned leading trainer at the course last season, Hammond loves having winners at the Yorkshire track but he admitted he did not expect Canford Thompson to get him off to such a flying start.
Somebody obviously did, though, as the youngster, having his third run over hurdles, was backed in from 50/1.
And those who took those odds barely had a moment of worry after he was gifted a 10-length advantage at the start.
That was reduced down the back straight but Finian O'Toole had saved enough to kick again, eventually winning by four lengths from Silver Streak.
"We won the last race here and I was leading trainer over the season so it's great to start with a win," said Hammond.
"They obviously gave him too much rope, but it's great to get a win out of him.
"Fin said he'd ride him handier but it wasn't the plan to make all (the running) like that."
The feature Bobby Renton Handicap Chase was won in thrilling style by James Ewart's Lord Wishes.
Ridden by Nick Scholfield, victory looked unlikely all the way up the straight as Degooch and then Pair Of Jacks looked likely winners, but Lord Wishes stormed home by a length.
"Two-mile-three is a bare minimum for him these days," said Scholfield, who was taking his record on the 7/1 chance to two victories from as many rides,
"There's just a bit of rising ground from the second-last to the line and that made all the difference. He's a very good jumper. He'd had a little break but he was very fit."
Ballybolley justified even-money favouritism in the racinguk.com Novices' Chase but only by the skin of his teeth. Daryl Jacob always seemed to be travelling better than Richard Johnson on Shear Rock but at every fence bar one in the straight he conceded ground.
Thankfully for Nigel Twiston-Davies' charge, his one good leap came at the last and he scrambled home by a neck.
"Essentially he's a good jumper but he got in deep a few times in the straight," said Jacob.
"I knew that when I asked him he'd produce for me and he did at the last. We landing running and that won us the race."
Cheltenham's Open meeting in November beckons for Nautical Nitwit, who prevailed in a photo-finish to the bet365 Charlie Hall Meeting 28 & 29 October Handicap Hurdle.
It was a welcome winner for Phil Kirby, who has endured a pretty miserable summer.
"We've been quiet so that's nice." said Kirby.
"The plan was to come here and win this so we got into the conditional jockeys' race at Cheltenham. The owners should have a good day."
Sue Smith is not renowned for winners in October but she has a nice prospect in the shape of ex-Irish pointer Sharp Response (3/1 joint-favourite), who claimed success in the Follow At Racing-UK On Twitter Novices' Hurdle.
"He's got plenty of size and scope about him but I wasn't convinced he'd be fit enough to win," said Smith.
"I thought he'd need it but I'm very pleasantly surprised to be proved wrong. He was bought as a chaser."
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