TRAINER Gary Moore saddled two winners at Warwick Racecourse on Saturday afternoon including the impressive Violet Dancer in the feature Kingmaker Chase.
It proved to be one of Moore’s finest hours at Warwick as Flute Bowl took the honours in the OLBG Mares’ Handicap Hurdle – a race won last year by Glens Melody, who went on to win at the Cheltenham Festival.
The feature Kingmaker Novices’ Chase has previously attracted winners including festival heroe Finian’s Rainbow, Gold Cup winner Long Run and the talented Voy Por Ustedes.
With over £22,000 on offer to the winner, Violet Dancer – winner of last year’s Betfair Hurdle at Newbury – triumphed in a shock win over 1/5 chance L’ami Serge.
A former fancy for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, favourite L’ami Serge failed to pull back a three length lead Violet Dancer opened up when exiting the back straight.
At 8/1, the six-year-old pulled clear up the run in, following a tired blunder from L’ami Serge e at the last obstacle and is now priced 33/1 – from 66/1 – for Cheltenham’s feature Arkle Challenge Trophy, which will take place on Day 1 of the festival.
Earlier in the day, the Willie Mullins trained Irish raider Open Eagle landed the spoils in the opening Novices’ Hurdle over two miles and five furlongs.
Mullins has been subject to significant media-hype in the racing world over the past two months – bagging dozens of key British and Irish races with his formidable yard, spearheaded by Faugheen, Douvan, Un De Sceaux and Vroum Vroum Mag.
Seven-year-old Open Eagle wasn’t put off by a slight blunder at the last and quickly pulled clear of closest rival Mystical Knight on the bridal for travelling jockey Paul Townend.
A bounce back to form for Vivaldi Collonges and trainer Paul Nicholls occurred in the second race of the afternoon – a Novices’ Chase over three miles and a furlong.
Easy to back, Vivaldi Collonges recorded his second win of the season following a win at Kelso in early December.
A thrilling finish to the Guy Salmon Handicap Hurdle, won by Extreme Impact, was then followed by a return to form for Taquin Du Seuil in the Warwick Castle Handicap Chase.
Warwick Racecourse hold their next fixture on Friday (February 26) with the feature race being the Budbrooke Chase.