MELISSA JONES SAYS: What a weekend at Chepstow

First published in Sport

TOP chasing prospect Fingal Bay lived up to the hype with a near- perfect round of jumping at Chepstow.

Making his debut over the larger obstacles, the six-year-old was chased hard but in vain by Welsh runner Tiger O’Toole on the run to the line.

Jockey Richard Johnson, who was left in front by market rival Poungach’s departure at the very first fence, reported the son of King’s Theatre was idling and was not hard pressed to win.

Trainer of the second Evan Williams said he didn’t think the form was worth much, but that his charge ran a "great race".

With one Welsh pairing playing catch-up, Haverfordwest’s Peter Bowen was already on the scoreboard with Awaywiththegreys in contest number two.

He nearly threw it away with a blunder at the last, before jockey Jamie Moore regained the momentum.

"He’s one of the best horses I’ve ever had," said Bowen, who reported his retired stable star Swansea Bay to be enjoying eventing with Rebecca Curtis’ head lad.

A career in dressage and showjumping beckons for 2012 Grand National winner Neptune Collonges, but the horse came back to familiar territory on Saturday.

The veteran was part of a ‘Parade of Champions’ in the paddock, which featured 2008 National winner Comply or Die, his former stablemate Well Chief and 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander.

Owner of Neptune John Hales revealed he had a special film made of the Aintree race and has watched it nearly every night since.

That’s because the Shropshire businessman was hardly watching when he jumped the last fence in April’s showpiece.

"I turned away then as I knew he was safe and going home. It was an amazing finish," he said, as the nose victory over Sunnyhillboy was replayed to the Chepstow crowd.

The course’s leading trainer, Paul Nicholls, showed his hand for the rest of the season with a double, courtesy of juvenile Far West and Hinterland.

He told readers of the Chepstow races live blog favourite Rangitoto would probably need the run in race six and he was spot on as that one didn’t figure.

At the business end, it was Lost Glory under an ‘AP’ drive which ran out a gutsy winner, although Argus racing column selection Victor’s Serenade was travelling well when a blunder five out ended all hope.

"Aidan (jockey) felt he would have been first, second or third. He came back and said he had never been so happy in that situation," said Anthony Honeyball.

McCoy was able to brighten up the trainer’s day in the last with a taking victory on Regal Encore.

The four-year-old was not much to look at in the paddock, but showed why leading owner JP McManus bought him over the summer with a power-packed display.

"He’s a bit decent. I’m delighted he’s done the job for JP," said Honeyball.

The four-year-old is likely to stick to the bumper route, while Victor’s season could be geared around a crack at the Welsh National, the trainer added.

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