Regal goes with the flow to land big prize
Regal Flow put up an admirable performance when ploughing through attritional conditions at Uttoxeter to take the honours in the Betfred Midlands Grand National.
The 11-year-old was produced by trainer Bob Buckler as a fresh horse for this four and a quarter mile slog, just five days after winning over an extended three and a half miles at Taunton on Monday for which he had to carry a 5lb penalty.
Regal Flow was patiently ridden by 5lb claimer Sean Houlihan as The Artful Cobbler and Russe Blanc made the early running before Milansbar took the race by the throat with well over a circuit of the course to cover.
Milansbar made a brave attempt to go one better than in 2016, but he could not live with Regal Flow over the last three fences as the 16-1 shot steadily pulled clear to score by 10 lengths.
Ballymalin nabbed third spot by half a length from top-weight Silsol, but four and a half lengths behind Milansbar. "He's a lovely horse," said Buckler. "He came back after Monday and we had to confirm for this meeting before then. We did it on the off chance if something went wrong or Taunton was abandoned.
"Monday night when I got home, he came off the lorry and was as perky and chirpy as could be. I rang Heather (Dunn, owner) that night and said I was certainly going to think about Saturday.
"Tuesday was the one nice day we had this week, so we turned him out in the field. He bucked and barged all over the place and I thought 'you're feeling very well mate'.
"I rang Heather up and said 'we've got to go for it' and it paid off. You always have a bit of self misbelief coming up to the races, thinking 'am I being too greedy and running him too quick'. I told Sean if he wasn't happy to look after him.
"We were aiming for the Challenger Series at Haydock in a fortnight. That was the next plan. We'll have to see what the handicapper does on Tuesday."
Meanwhile, Kildisart kept up the good work for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede with victory in the Matchbook Racing Is Commission Free Silver Plate Handicap Hurdle at Kempton.
Their green colours were carried to success by Footpad in the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham on Tuesday and Kildisart (5-1) ensured they ended the week on a high, albeit at a less exalted level.
Hitting the front between the last two flights, the Ben Pauling-trained six-year-old got first run on Zubayr, who came from last place but never looked like getting to the two-and-a-quarter-length winner. Monbeg Theatre plugged on for third.
"I'm delighted to see him win as he was running well at Ascot last time before he made a mistake, so it's nice to see him pick up where he left off," said Pauling.
"Apart from the last, it was a pretty foot perfect display of jumping. We could look at one of the novices' hurdles at Aintree for him now - perhaps the two-and-a-half-mile race (Betway Mersey Novices' Hurdle on April 14).
Cepage came from the clouds to land Matchbook Silver Bowl Handicap Chase. Cobra De Mai looked to have the race in the bag when sent on by Bridget Andrews, but the complexion of the race changed dramatically at the final fence.
Charlie Deutsch produced Cepage (14-1) from the rear and at a terrific leap saw Venetia Williams' six-year-old overtake Cobra De Mai before going on to win.
Sunday Indo Sport