Clondaw Westie brings Stratford cheer to Hill team

Lawney Hill and connections with Clondaw Westie at Stratford

There are few better remedies than celebrating a winner and after a testing few weeks connections of Clondaw Westie had their spirits lifted following his victory in the feature contest at Stratford.

The eight-year-old marked a return to form when providing trainer Lawney Hill – who was sporting a pair of crutches following a recent hip operation – with her first jumps winner in 156 days when holding on by half a length in the David Cowgill Memorial Handicap Chase.

Hill said: “I’m delighted with that. Paul’s (Caudwell, owner) son nearly died in a farming accident four weeks ago in New Zealand.

“They have had a terrible time, luckily he is all right now but it has been a long road back for them.

“We lost Broken Eagle after he won his 19th race for us at Ampton yesterday. He was a wonderful horse and we were devastated. We needed this winner.

On the 8-1 winner, she added: “He doesn’t normally go well left-handed, but he was really good today. He was just lazy in front, but once the other horse came he ran on again.”

It may have taken three runs for the penny to finally drop, but Phoenician Star (14-1) showed why connections were keen to get their hands on him at the sales after running out a four-and-a-half-length winner of the Lengthen The Odds With BetVictor Juvenile Hurdle.

Sally Randell, assistant and partner to winning trainer Fergal O’Brien, said: “I knew the step up to two and a quarter miles would help him because in both his other runs he has finished strongly.

“He really is a super jumper and it all came together today.

“I had watched him on the Flat for a long time and I ended up heading to the sales at Newmarket to snatch him up and I’ve been delighted from day one.”

Alan King enjoyed a double together with jockey Wayne Hutchison, initiated by the 13-length success of Timoteo (5-2) in the Free Bet Every Race At Cheltenham BetVictor Chase.

King said: “He has been very good from day one over a fence. He ran very well at Market Rasen and was not beaten far.

“That put him spot on as these big horses sometimes just need match practice. Going over a fence has improved him though.”

Dino Velvet (7-2) backed up his victory at Market Rasen to complete doubles for King and Hutchinson when crossing the line with a length and a quarter to spare in the Best Odds Guaranteed With BetVictor Handicap Hurdle.

King said: “We are now just learning how to ride him, which is to hold him up off a really strongly run race. They went a right gallop and I also think better ground helps.

“He will go up to Ayr now for the race he won at the Scottish National meeting last year.”

Ben Pauling can expect plenty of thanks from the new owners of Now Is The Winter (6-1) after he made his first start under rules a winning one when making all to take division two of the concluding bumper by half a length.

He said: “The owners only bought the horse three weeks ago and I had him for sale for eight months. They are all great mates and Cheltenham members so that has got their week off to a good start.”