Perhaps it was the sight of Nicky Henderson leaning thoughtfully in the sunshine on the owners and trainers’ balcony before thoughtfully sipping a glass of wine, but perspective drifted just a little as Towcester staged its final jumping fixture for over four and a half months on Monday afternoon.
The champion jumps trainer had just one runner – Forever Field in the 2m 5 1/2f novices’ chase, so the sight did little to weaken market confidence in a horse which was sent off as the 4/6 favourite.
Yet turn the matter on its head and persuade yourself Henderson was merely dropping by en route to the Doncaster Sales, and perhaps that made course and distance winner Midnight Shot (5/4) a good thing under 7lbs claimer Jordan Nailor.
“I didn’t want to run 9lbs wrong so decided to claim off him,” said the winner’s trainer Charlie Longsdon, who despite a double on the card which made him Towcester’s leading man with five winners since October, admitted things had been ‘quiet’ of late.
Longsdon, based at Hull Farm stables near Chipping Norton has sent out a plentiful supply of winners since taking out a licence in 2006 but is currently intent on improving the quality of his stock.
His double on the card here on April 13 was on an afternoon of small fields.
In fact, his first race winner Bestwork surprised him just a little, the 5/1 shot always being prominent before Aidan Coleman brought him home two lengths clear of Danny Kerrell.
Another trainer to saddle a double was Henry Daly with Crucial Role (6/1) in the 2m handicap chase and Vice Et Vertu (3/1 jt-fav) just half an hour later in the 3m 1/2f handicap chase.
The Caroline Fryer-trained Riddlestown was sent off the other joint favourite in his quest for a five timer but jockey Jack Andrews reported the course specialist had been run off his feet.
It was to his credit that Riddlestown still finished third and not beyond the possibility he will run at Southwell on June 13 with another victory still within his parameters.
Captainofindustry (11/2) left a few punters scratching their heads as Mark Pitman’s re-emergence as a trainer was hammered home with the old Malcolm Denmark colours but while there was market confidence in that horse, the same could not be said for 20/1 scorer Parlour Maid which took the 1m 7f conditional jockeys’ mares’ handicap hurdle for Richard and Robert Hawker.
Towcester’s last jumping contest for a while was a 2m 4f novices’ handicap chase and was taken by Fine Jewellery (4/1) for the Jamie Snowden team, with Gavin Sheehan in the saddle.