Moon Racer (right) and Ballyandy jump together at Perth on Thursday
PICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
By Lewis Porteous 4:39PM 22 SEP 2016
Report: Perth, Thursday
Racing Post Readers Award Novices’ Hurdle 2m47y, 4yo+
MOON RACER narrowly came out on top in the battle of the Weatherybs Champion Bumper winners, as Perth served up a pre-winter treat for jumps fans on Thursday.
Facing off against Ballyandy, winner of the Cheltenham race in March, Moon Racer, whose finest hour to date came in the same race in 2015, emerged three-quarters of a length to the good after the duo went hammer and tongs down Perth’s long home straight.
Cheltenham in March may sound like a world away but the performance was enough to prompt bookmakers to adjust their festival markets earlier than is normally the case, with Paddy Power going as far as making Moon Racer their 10-1 favourite (from 16) for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the runner up 10-1 co-favourite (from 12) for the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle.
‘Improvement to come’
“He’s a fragile horse and it was important that we get a race into him as we might have had to wait a long time otherwise for something suitable,” said Moon Racer’s trainer David Pipe.
“He was fit enough today but there is plenty of improvement to come. We’ll probably be looking at some of those novice hurdles at Cheltenham for him next.
“The target at the moment is the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and who knows maybe these two will be first and second in that as well.”
Both horses were making their debut over hurdles and both jumped proficiently, Ballyandy certainly appearing to warm to his task as the race progressed.
Moon Racer was the first to hit the front, taking up the running from pace-setter Lake Malawi with under a mile to run but tracked all the while by his market rival.
The two pushed on from there and although Moon Racer led, it appeared Sam Twiston-Davies, the rider of Ballyandy, was the happier of the two.
However, while he managed to get upsides Tom Scudamore on Moon Racer, he could never gain an advantage and as the whips were drawn after the last, it was Moon Racer who edged ahead again to register a three-quarter length win.
On the runner-up, Nigel Twiston-Davies said: “I am a little disappointed but he’s still shown that he is a very good horse. I certainly don’t regret running him here as the race came at the right time I have no race in mind for him next but he won’t run anywhere where the ground is fast.”