The last waltz of 2022 for my sporting year came at Haydock last Friday, although being in that bubble between Christmas and New Year you’re never quite sure what day it actually is but the diary did say it was Friday.

Christmas racing always throws up some good racing and the recent cold snap, which led to an almost enforced hibernation by jump racing did mean that field sizes were pretty healthy and for six of the seven races that definitely was the case.

Feature race on the seven race card was the 3m 4f Last Fling Handicap Chase, which this year went to Scottish trainer Alan Hamilton with All About Joe, who showed plenty of stamina to land the spoils. He is an improving 8yo, who could find more improvement depending what the handicapper does.

All About Joe – The Last Fling Chase Winner

For many the biggest disappointment of the day came in the staying novice chase when Iron Bridge of Jonjo O’Neill’s came home alone after short priced favourite Crystal Glory was pulled up unexpectedly before the fifth fence from the finish, he had a tendon injury and will be off track for a bit.

As for future winners that potentially caught my eye here are three to stick in notebooks and trackers.

1 – Roccovango – 7yo Brown Gelding – Trainer : Ian Williams.

As was expected in the 2m novice hurdle, the two market protagonists finished first and second but one who caught my eye on the run in was this one trained by the very underrated dual purpose trainer Ian Williams.

Placed in two of his three Irish bumpers in the spring, he was making his British debut here and stayed on ok to grab third place, the two ahead of him were rated 116 and 126.

I think when he gets upped in trip and moved into handicap company he will be seen to better effect.

2 – Coniston George – 5yo Chestnut Gelding – Trainer : Nicky Richards.

Two from the same race and  I shall begin first with the runner up in the concluding bumper, which had some nice looking sorts and should prove to be an informative contest as the season goes on.

While the master of Greystoke had a bit of misfortune with Crystal Glory earlier in the day he definitely has a more than useful one in the name of Coniston George.

He moved pretty well and was still on the bridle getting to the business end and while the horse who beat him had the benefit of racecourse run, this one caught the eye of many.

I can’t imagine his trainer will be fussed about the big G1 bumpers but he should make into a nice novice hurdler next season.

3 – Pippin Took – 5yo Chestnut Gelding – Trainer : Nigel Twiston-Davies.

These bumpers often have horses in them, who are a bit green and it can take a while for the penny to drop before realising what the job of a racehorse entails.

One horse who did just that was Pippin Took, exiting the back straight he was someway off the pace but coming for home, things began to click and he ran on past beaten horses and eventually came fourth.

He will have learnt plenty from the experience and when he goes over timber he will definitely want further but I get the impression more will come from him in time.

Half way through the jumps season then, it has been a bit stop start with other events and abandoned meetings getting in the way but as often in life that is the nature of the racing beast.

Providing mother nature doesn’t get in the way then it’ll be a return visit here in three weeks for the Peter Marsh Chase Day which has four graded races on an always top class card.

Happy New Year to you all and may all your bets be winning ones.

Article & Pictures – Neil Watson ( @WattyRacing)

An AOLR Production – Published – January 2023

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