TOWCESTER RACES: Two winners in the Cann for trainer Grant

Harry Redknapp's Drumlee City was a winner at Towcester on Thursday
Harry Redknapp's Drumlee City was a winner at Towcester on Thursday

While all eyes were pinned on Cheltenham, Gloucestershire trainer Grant Cann drove his horse box in the opposite direction and delivered a Towcester double.

The Ides of March were come, but not gone when Cann was the first handler to check in his runners at the Northants track on Thursday morning.

Pointed to boxes one and two in the stable yard, Cann ultimately went home with both Cadeau Du Bresil and How’s My Friend as winners, both ridden by Nick Scholfield.

While this is familiar territory for How’s My Friend, who was registering his third win at Towcester this season and a fourth in total, it was less so for Cadeau Du Bresil who was returned a remarkable 28/1 outsider of three in a beginners’ chase contest where Scotchtown and Abbreviate were expected to dominate.

That still looked like being the case in the final half mile when Abbreviate weakened and Scotchtown went clear.

But Cann’s unconsidered runner gradually clawed back the deficit and eventually won as he liked by two and a quarter lengths.

How’s My Friend (5/2 second favourite) notched a first Towcester victory in a maiden chase in 2012 so it has taken him six years to truly blossom!

Now a 13 year-old, he is in the form of his life, also winning here twice in February.

It means Cann’s four Towcester winners in its 2017/18 season places him alongside Martin Keighley, one ahead of Nicky Henderson and Paul Webber although it would be fair to say Henderson will not be losing too much sleep over that!

Henderson saddled a Towcester winner as With Discretion (10/11 fav) delivered an expertly times ride under Nico de Boinville to take the 2m 5f mares’ novices’ hurdle.

How surreal for de Boinville who was happy to be interviewed by race day presenter Tim Peters just 24 hours after winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase on Altior.

There was an astonishing blanket finish to the 2m handicap hurdle as six of the nine runners were still in contention at the last flight of hurdles.

Spread across the track, it was 20/1 shot Gregarious declared a nose winner from Commodore with Walsingham Grange just a neck back in third place with a further short head to favourite Billy Hicks.

Who needs Harry Redknapp when you can have Hugo Bevan on site?

That was the question after Redknapp’s 12/1 Nick Mitchell-trained winner Drumlee City had taken the Happy To Birthday To Hugo Bevan Handicap Hurdle by a short head from Banco De Logos.

Redknapp was presumably at Cheltenham, but former Towcester clerk of the course Bevan made the presentation on his 82nd birthday.

While it has been 17 years since he retired his clerk duties, it is only in May that he will step down from his official ‘meet and greet’ role to winning owners at Towcester.