Skywards reaps his Wetherby Reward
The Cheltenham Trail’s seven year old Darley bred Skywards Reward (12/1) relished the testing conditions as he ran out a ready winner of the opening two mile conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle at Wetherby today in the hands of Jamie Hamilton.
Always travelling sweetly, Skywards Reward was asked to go and win his race three out and he galloped on strongly all the way up the straight to beat Christmas In Usa by a comfortable five lengths and record the first success of his ten race career.
The son of Dubawi has progressed steadily and pleasingly this season, he unseated his rider at the first on his handicap debut at Wetherby back in November but then ran really well before finding two and a half miles in heavy ground stretching his stamina at Hexham. We expected him to run a big race last time but he had a real off day, so it’s been something of a relief to see him confirm the promise of his Hexham run this afternoon.
Skywards Reward made his racecourse debut just over three years ago for John Ferguson in a Listed bumper at Newbury, he was sent off at 10/1 and finished ninth of eleven, beaten around 33 lengths, in the hands of A P McCoy.
There might not be anything particularly remarkable about those bare facts, but there can’t have been many races that have worked out quite as well as that Newbury bumper, which was won by Barters Hill, who went unbeaten through his first seven races before finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham.
Second home was current Champion Hurdler Buveur D’Air, now a winner of five Grade 1s and red hot favourite to retain his crown at Cheltenham in three weeks’ time, and in third was Altior, who has gone on to win four Grade 1s including a Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and last season’s Arkle and is favourite for next month’s Champion Chase.
The eleven runners in that bumper have won a total of 64 races between them, including ten Grade 1s, and after Skywards Reward’s success this afternoon, all eleven have now been in the winner’s enclosure at least once. Even Present Man, who finished last at Newbory, has gone on to become a high quality chaser and won this season’s Badger Ales Chase at Wincanton under Bryony Frost.
Skywards Reward was off the track for the best part of two years after his Newbury debut so he has some catching up to do, he’s no Altior or Buveur D’Air but with today’s win coming off a mark of just 94, you can see why we think that there might be a fair bit more to come from him yet!
Later on the Wetherby card Give Every Man His Due’s ultra game seven year old mare Caraline, ridden by her regular partner Joe Colliver, ran possibly her best race yet as she was beaten just over a length into second by Dresden in the two mile handicap chase off a mark of 120.
Allfredandnobell finished fourth under Fin O’Toole after a very eventful conclusion to the two and a half mile handicap hurdle on his first run since a breathing operation.