Absent Ellison gets one in for Brian's Mates
The feature novice handicap chase attracted only five runners, but the quality was highly concentrated. Lake View Lad and Chidswell would be among the better prospects in the Nick Alexander and Nicky Richards stables respectively this year, but on the day Pistol Park was best equipped.
Pistol Park is trained by Brian Ellison and owned by Brian's Mates, a four-strong syndicate that reportedly includes Ellison. The trainer himself is enjoying a holiday in Thailand and only one of the Mates, Sean Hoare, was on hand to see the victory.
Hoare said: "I had a winner at this meeting here 25 years ago - ridden by Jimmy Moffatt, would you believe. We're over the moon for this lad today, he's flown the last and that has won it for him."
Winning jockey Brian Hughes suggested that the strapping Pistol Park, who is now two from three for Ellison since arriving from Alan Fleming, merely made sure at the last, as he felt he had runner-up Lake View Lad covered up the straight.
St Gregory brings up hat-trick
It was third-time lucky for Nicky Richards, who had horses beaten at 15-8 in both the first and second race but was on the scoresheet with St Gregory in the 3m handicap hurdle.
The 7-2 joint-favourite was securing her third straight win and Richards said afterwards: "She hits that flat spot every time, but she wants the better ground.
"If there was a 4m race on good ground, it'd be ideal. There's one over the trip at Hexham next week, but it's waterlogged there so I didn't even enter her."
St Gregory's current run might be forced to end, then, but Richards also revealed that owners Tarzan Bloodstock have long-term plans.
"She'll go to the sales in January," he said. "She'll make a cracking broodmare. She's got a bit of size and she has some pedigree."
More for Alexander
Nick Alexander also got delayed gratification, taking his third win in a week as Jet Master came home in front in the 2m4f veterans' handicap chase under Grant Cockburn.
Though sweet for the yard, the result might have made daughter Lucy feel even worse after breaking her collarbone on Wednesday, as Jet Master has been her regular ride.
Nick Alexander said: "It's such a shame, because Lucy's won a few times on him before."
What's more, there was the faintest whiff of a well-laid plan about Jet Master's success, which came on his return to fences from a mark 11lb lower than when he last ran in a chase.
"He's not the most natural jumper," explained Alexander, who suggested that the gelding will continue to mix fences and hurdles. "I thought it was a good opportunity for him today."
If Lucy Alexander is in any mood to look on the bright side she may wish to thank Cockburn, whose confident ride may have masked Jet Master's true superiority on the day.
Thought for the day
Jockeys were very complimentary of the ground, which has not been raced on since the spring. Hopefully word will get round in order to draw a bumper entry for the Fighting Fifth meeting on November 26, which will be the next time we see jump racing at Newcastle.