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Thyme Hill edges out last year's winner Paisley Park to land Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury

The opening day of the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival also saw Nicky Henderson secure a double

Liam Headd

Liam Headd


01635 886629

Thyme Hill edges out last year's winner Paisley Park to land Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury

THYME Hill stormed to victory at Newbury in the Long Distance Hurdle, managing to fend off last year's winner Paisley Park in a thrilling race on day one of the Ladbrokes winter carnival.

The two-day festival, which usually attracts 20,000 spectators on each day, is being held behind-closed-doors - due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

However, it didn't disappoint in excitement as Thyme Hill held on to the win for trainer Philip Hobbs and jockey Richard Johnson.

Speaking after the win, Hobbs said: "I am absolutely delighted. He has done everything very well and he ought to improve further.

"You wouldn't come to a race like this half-cooked and I am sure he'll improve because he is a lovely horse and everything went really well in the run up to it.

"We schooled him over fences last season and his jumping was very good, so he can definitely do that at some stage," he added.

Elsewhere, Hill Barn trainer Harry Whittington was impressed with Sir Sholokhov in the opening race as the five-year-old finished third, behind My Drogo and the Jo Davis-trained Saggazza respectively.

Speaking after the race, Whittington said: "I am absolutely thrilled with him [Sir Sholokhov] as he finished third in a maiden hurdle at Newbury.

"The owners arrived at the yard in summer and this is the first one they have sent me and he is a fine, big horse.

"He did have breathing problems and we have given him an operation, so to see him go and do that is really exciting for the future because he'll definitely step-up in trip and improve for a fence one day.

"I don't mind them getting beat over hurdles first-time because it means they can run a second race without having to carry a penalty and they have the experience."

The local trainer, however, was disappointed that Anemoi wasn't able to do much in the Novices Handicap Chase.

Despite being two-from-two this year, Anemoi finished last as it was the Nicky Henderson-trained Elusive Belle who finished ahead of Eritage.

"I was disappointed with Anemoi today because I really fancied him, but I think they went too quick on the ground because he was flat out and he was under pressure with his jumping.

"They went very fast and very hard and I think a step-up in trip and softer ground will help him bounce back."

Whittington was quick to praise the efforts of Newbury, who have worked hard once again to allow the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival to take place.

"The ground is beautiful, they have done a great job and Keith Ottesen has done a fantastic job," he said. "It's great to be racing here and, although it's sad without the fans, it is important we continue the sport."

In the third race of the day, Bravemansgame handed team Ditcheat the win, as Harry Cobden on board steered clear after the final hurdle.

There was more success for Henderson and the Seven Barrows team as Caribean Boy finished ahead of Fiddlerontheroof in the Novices Steeple Chase.

After the race, Henderson said: "We knew we had the whole of November to play with, to find a race, with his novice status.

"He'll have to play with the bigger boys now, but that was an impressive performance and he loves the very soft ground.

"You would like to think that there is more to come because he jumping was superb and it always has been," added Henderson.

Meanwhile, there was also success for the Tom George-trained Clondaw Castle, while Hill Sixteen won for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies in the last race.

Day two of the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival takes place on Saturday, with includes the featured Ladbrokes Trophy at 3pm.

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