Blue Hills completes Phelan double
Jockey Tommy Phelan booted home a double at Newton Abbot yesterday on a day which had favourite backers counting their winnings, with four out of seven delivering.
Phelan's second winner came in the Follow Us On Facebook Handicap Chase on the grand old veteran Blue Hills, who was making his 107th appearance on a racecourse and started the 7-4 favourite.
Course specialist and local favourite Knapp Bridge Boy, at 12 a year older than Blue Hills, had been popular in the betting, but James Payne's old campaigner was having an off day, leaving Blue Hills to lead the field a merry dance.
Phelan, who had earlier scored on the Mark Gillard-trained Petito in the Newtonabbotrace On Twitter Handicap Chase, had ten winners last season and is already on five this time.
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He said: "I don't know what's going on – there must be something in the water. Confidence is everything and I'm riding a fair bit for Mark [Gillard] at the moment. That was his [Petito's] best run at Exeter last time. We thought we'd give him a run there, and he ran a blinder."
The feature At The Races Sky 415 Novices' Hurdle featured two very promising types in Victor Leudorum and Traditional Bob, with the former proving too good for Evan Williams' new charge and giving jockey Gavin Sheehan a seventh win of the season.
Andrew Thornton has been without a winner at Newton Abbot for five long years, but Wilde Ruby's easy win in the Racing For A Tenner August 4 Handicap Hurdle got him back on the winners' board.
Seamus Mullins' mare had been desperately unlucky at Fontwell last time out when her saddle slipped in the closing slides, depositing Thornton on the deck, but the partnership stayed intact this time. "She's very raw," said Thornton. "She gets to the front and still has a good look around, but we've picked our way and found the better ground. She's only five and she's a big filly."
Williams has a smaller team of summer jumpers than in previous years, but the trainer is still enjoying a good spell, with the AP McCoy-ridden Behtarini landing the opening Fake That 25 August Novices' Handicap Hurdle. "He's had a wind operation, the tongue tie and sheepskins helped and the type of race," said the trainer.
Tony Carroll is another trainer in good form, and his ability at placing his horses to good effect was in evidence when Jolly Roger rattled up his fourth win in succession in the Newtonabbotracing.com Handicap Hurdle. On board was the decent claimer Lee Edwards, who has steered the five-year-old to each win.
The concluding Sunflower Day Conditionals' Handicap Chase went to Pacha D'Oudairies, who jumped like a buck to win under Micheal Nolan.