NICK SCHOLFIELD and Lord Wishes swooped late to land the Bobby Renton Chase, the opening day highlight of Wetherby’s 2016-17 National Hunt season.
The feature appeared to have been won by bottom weight Degooch, who swooped clear before being hauled in by Pair Of Jacks.
However, the complexion changed again in the final strides when Scholfield’s mount – owned by Leeds Plywood and Doors Ltd and trained by James Ewart – became the third different leader of the race after the final fence.
“I had hoped to be handier, but there was a lot of pace in the race,” said the winning jockey, who was recording his fifth win of the month.
An enthusiastic crowd, who gave the thumbs up to the new £3.2m grandstand under construction, were treated to a compelling afternoon of action which began with Middleham trainer Micky Hammond’s Canford Thompson stealing a march on his rivals to land the opener under an enterprising Finian O’Toole ride.
O’Toole sensed his opponents were dithering at the start – and built up an unassailable 40-length lead at one point.
The 24-year-old spent three months on the sidelines with a bruised spinal chord and fractured vertebrae, but he remains one of the most gifted conditional riders in the North.
He told The Yorkshire Post his aim is “to ride as many winners, make as many contacts as possible and stay in one piece”.
Meanwhile, High Eldwick’s Sue Smith has a nice prospect in ex-Irish pointer Sharp Response, who won the novice hurdle under Sean Quinlan, with Cloud Monkey second.
“He’s got plenty of size and scope about him,” said the trainer. “I thought he’d need it but I’m very pleasantly surprised to be proved wrong. He will get three miles in time. He was bought as a chaser.”
Cheltenham’s Open meeting in November beckons for Nautical Nitwit, who won the handicap hurdle for Catterick trainer Phil Kirby and jockey Adam Nicol.