Hurricane blows in to reward the patience of connections.
PATIENCE is pretty much a prerequisite for the owner of a jumper, and racecourse photographer Mel Fordham has needed it more than most.
Fordham, who has enjoyed success over the years with greyhounds as well as horses, has always had high hopes of Like A Hurricane, but the gelding could not quite win a bumper and then injured himself when turned out in a paddock two summers ago.
Switched to Alan King, he then met with another little setback when ready to run in November, so yesterday's hurdles debut in the 2m maiden came after a racecourse absence of 678 days. Now a seven-year-old, Like A Hurricane had reportedly been in good form at Barbury Castle, but King felt he was almost sure to need the run, so a three-quarter length defeat of Horseshoe Reef was a pleasant surprise all round.
Fordham said: "It was worth persevering. We've waited nearly two years, but he had some decent bumper form."
King, who had seen the oddson Stormhoek beaten comprehensively by the Paul Nicholls-trained Elevenses in a novice hurdle half an hour earlier, said: "We'll give him plenty of time, but he's a likeable prospect and Choc [jockey Robert Thornton] said he'll improve for the run."
Amateur Tom Cannon won plenty of admirers when Days Of Pleasure repeated last year's win in the conditionals and amateurs handicap hurdle.
Days Of Pleasure was never going, and he traded at a high of 100 in running on Betfair, but Cannon somehow resisted the temptation to pick up his stick in this 'hands and heels' race and just kept pushing and shoving - to such effect that the pair were bang in contention on the home turn.
In front two out, Days Of Pleasure then came clear of tired rivals to score by 20 lengths and provide the 18-year-old with a first winner under rules after success in pony racing and pointto-points.
Herald Angel won by an even wider margin in the longdistance handicap hurdle, following up last month's Taunton win with a 28-length romp, ridden once again by 7lb claimer Chris Timmons, who was partnering his 12th winner. Trainer Barry Brennan has worked wonders with the seven-year-old, who changed hands for 1,000 guineas last year.
Ray Mond completed a hattrick, and made it four wins this season, with a game defeat of Honour's Dream in the 2m4f handicap chase, to the delight of owner Arthur White, a retired farmer from Suffolk.
He said: "Ray Mond didn't have a very good reputation when Sean [Curran] took him over, but he's got him happy and relaxed and he's doing really well."
The Alan and Ann Potts colours of leading Arkle fancy Sizing Europe were carried successfully by newcomer Sizing Santiago in the bumper. Richard Johnson feels the four-year-old will be a nice type for novice hurdles next season.
Charlie Mann gave the credit for Fine Parchment's handicap chase win to his wife Susanna, who he says is effectively his trainer.
Star performance Herald Angel has returned from injury in terrific form and could win again next week Bred for the game The impressive young amateur Tom Cannon, who is attached to Alan Fleming's stable and has schooled Champion Hurdle candidate Starluck, is from a family steeped in racing on both sides, the Cannons and the Savages both having a long history in the sport Which placed horse in the 2m2f maiden hurdle will do better over fences? Results and analysis, page 84
Alan King: Hurricane is a "likeable prospect" Elevenses, ridden by Harry Skelton, right, stalks Stormhoek and Robert Thornton on the way to winning the novice hurdle at Fontwell