Stan & Rocco serve up a double for Danny
Danny, Julia & Kev set off for a busy day at Sedgefield on Thursday with three runners; Silkstone in the 1st race, Rocco Storm in the 4th, and Humps And Bumps having her first run for the yard following her recent arrival from Ireland in the last.
Although Rocco’s majority owner was unable to make it, the horses were well supported with Jackie & the Dalby family in attendance (but unfortunately minus Nick) to cheer for Silkstone (aka “Stan”), and Mary & Peter Sadler, Mervyn & Jen Buckley, and Phil Bulley all there to see “Humps” make her debut for them.
Stan was understandably sent off joint favourite in the Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle over 2m1f having finished 2nd by a neck over course & distance in September under Emma Smith-Chaston.
Emma was once again in the saddle and initially jumped Stan out quietly towards the rear of the field of 11 runners. They had taken a more prominent position by the midway point jumping the 4th, and then smoothly took it up rounding the bend at the top of the hill before two out.
A beautiful jump at the last sealed the contest and Stan went clear under hands & heels to win comfortably by four and half lengths.
Ecstatic scenes quite rightly ensued in the paddock with Jackie leading the celebrations. She & Nick have been so patient with this lovely six year old, waiting for the right ground for him and never putting us under pressure to run so we really couldn’t be more pleased for them.
Jackie & Stan having a congratulatory cuddle post-race
Three races later it was Rocco’s turn in the Handicap Chase over 2m3½f with Henry in the saddle, the pair bidding to follow up their win at Hexham a month before.
As on that occasion, Henry held Rocco up at the rear of the field of nine runners but they remained comfortably in touch jumping the 9th of the 16 fences. He had the seven year old in a more prominent position by the time they cleared the 12th fence and the pair began to press the leader on the final turn for home.
Rocco was travelling well when going to the front before two out and soon went readily clear when shaken up. Despite having what looked like (from the vantage point of the stand at any rate!) an achievable long stride approaching the last, Henry was clearly in the best seat to make that judgement and sensibly sat still allowing the horse to decide what he was comfortable with. Rocco concluded that chipping in a short one was the best plan and consequently for a split second everyone’s heart jumped into their mouth, but although he clipped the fence in reality it was never going to stop him and he scooted on up the hill to win by 7 lengths.
Danny & Julia accepting Rocco’s prize
Rocco Storm’s 12 length win at Hexham last time out clearly made the handicapper very happy as he went up 12lbs for that performance. Hopefully the margin of victory this time won’t generate the same level of excitement in those reassessing his mark – even if it did for us….!
In the absence of Rocco’s main owner, Humps And Bumps connections proved to be willing & able stand-ins when accepting Sedgefield’s kind offer of a post-race celebration. In fact they showed remarkable speed & stamina in making the best of their way through the champagne and largely ignoring the sandwiches! That’s the kind of team performance we like.
The day took a desperately sad turn in the Mares Hurdle that followed when two horses separately suffered fatal injuries and we take this opportunity to offer our sincere condolences to the connections of Thermusa and Sweet Auburn.
As a result Sedgefield officials took the decision to abandon the remaining two races to undertake further inspection and investigation of the track and consequently Humps returned home without seeing a hurdle. But there will be another day for her…..
It was a landmark day for Danny in achieving his first double – no mean feat at the best of times for a small yard but, as one of the country’s youngest trainers making his way in the sport, it was a really proud day for all of us.