In my neck of the woods there was only one place to be yesterday and that was at Exeter for their showpiece meeting of the season, the highlight of which is the Haldon Cup Cup. Exeter Racecourse has a rich history – it was the venue for the last recorded duel by pistols in Devon in 1833- and the Gold Cup has had some notable winners. It will forever be associated with Best Mate who won it in 2001 and died after being pulled up in the 2005 race.
With a prize fund of £65,000, the Grade 2 handicap is as good an early season test for 2 mile chasers as you will find. Eight lined up for yesterday’s race, including two previous winners, Sir Valentino and Vibrato Valtat. It also marked the return of Ar mad in his first race since finishing fourth in last season’s Tingle Creek. Fittingly enough he was ridden by Joshua Moore, also marking a comeback from injury. The favourite Politologue finished a comfortable winner. Leading from four out, Sam Twiston-Davies only really had to drive him when tiring after the final fence. The result marked a one two for Paul Nicholls, with San Benedeto finishing second. It was also the trainer’s sixth success in the race.
Another big name from hurdles made their debut over the larger obstacles when Ballyoptic lined up in the 3 mile Novices’ Chase. Leading from start to finish he ended 13 lengths clear and was the most impressive winner of the day, after an accomplished display of jumping. Not bad for a horse who hadn’t always jumped fluently over hurdles. The victory marked Sam Twiston- Davies third win of the day, However, he was not done and claimed his fourth win in the final race on Norse Light.