THE jump season can truly be said to be under way following Chepstow’s successful two-day fixture at the weekend.

Plenty of quality runners were on display and many are sure to feature in the big Saturday races in the next few months.

Some will, hopefully, rise through the ranks to become top class in due course.

The big race, the Persian War Hurdle, was won by the Philip Hobbs-trained Thyme Hill, who according to the trainer is one of his top novices. David Pipe had a double, and Colin Tizzard’s horses ran well considering how early it is in the season. Most of those from the Paul Nicholls yard seemed to need the run or flounder in softer ground than his horses often prefer.

The rain hasn’t affected Wolverhampton, and David Evans consolidated his position as leading trainer there in 2019, gaining his 15th victory of the year on Saturday evening with Sea Fox. That night Ron Harris’ Viola Park scored his fifth course win and his ninth in all. As usual, David Probert was the man on board. On Monday the pair combined again to score with Powerful Dream. Probert’s total for the year is now 99.

Grace Harris has announced that her veteran chaser Paddy The Oscar has been retired. He joined Grace aged eleven, after having spent two years more or less on the sidelines. However, he thrived in her care, winning five times. The last of those came last February at Chepstow when aged fifteen. Paddy only managed a couple of below-par runs last season and connections have wisely decided that the old boy has done enough. He will stay at the yard to enjoy his retirement.

Searching has been placed twice over hurdles since coming to Grace’s yard in the summer. On a mark, two pounds higher than when Richard Johnson rode him to finish a good third, claiming seven pounds by using claimer Ben Jones gave the horse an obvious chance of his first success in three and a half years, and he trotted up by ten lengths. Jones was on board again at Hereford yesterday when the aim was to defy a seven-pound penalty.

Good Vibes ran up to her best form when landing the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday. An Aidan O’Brien horse was second and two Godolphin runners were unplaced. It was Evans’ biggest win since another Group 3 at The Curragh in 2010. Good Vibes sometimes gets worked up in the parade ring and going onto the course, so on this occasion she was taken down to the start early and slowly. This worked wonders. Dropping back to five furlongs was a worry, but that was countered by the ground being on the slow side. The filly will be put away for the winter now. Her owners, Paul and Clare Rooney, have spoken about reducing their large string, but they look set to keep this filly – unless someone makes them an offer too good to refuse.

Robert Stephens continued our local trainers’ appreciation of Wolverhampton on Monday when Secondo came from almost last to first to land a seven furlong handicap. Despite an SP of 16/1 he was quietly fancied by Stephens to land his second win of 2019.

Of the 8,000 people who flocked to Chepstow on Saturday, around 3,000 were students from universities in Cardiff, Swansea and Bristol. They were bussed into a special student-only enclosure, many of them having their first taste of racing and betting, with even more of them getting ample tastes of refreshment.