Buffalo charges at Haydock
Broadway Buffalo dug deep for Tom Scudamore to clinch a determined victory in the Pertemps Network Long Distance Handicap Hurdle at Haydock.
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The David Pipe-trained six-year-old was sent off a well-supported 5-1 favourite and raced on the heels of the pacesetting Wyse Hill Teabags from the outset.
The pair were still fighting it out at the head of affairs when they rounded the home turn and although Wyse Hill Teabags eventually faltered, Broadway Buffalo stuck to his guns admirably.
Kris Spin briefly emerged as a threat on the run to the final flight, but he was three-quarters of a length adrift at the line.
Pipe said: "The rain came for us as he loves soft ground. He goes on any ground, to be honest, but he is definitely better when conditions are testing.
"I have to admit I thought Kris Spin was going to come and do us, but in fairness to our horse and jockey, they toughed it out really well.
"We weren't sure whether he'd stay three miles at one stage, but he ran a cracking race in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham (finished eighth) and dropping him back in trip was probably the wrong thing to do last time.
"We'll see how he comes out of the race, but we might go chasing with him during the summer."
Jake Greenhall, rider of runner-up Kris Spin, was slapped with a nine-day ban for using his whip above the permitted level. The jockey will be sidelined from May 24 to June 1.
Pipe and Scudamore completed a double in the Pertemps Network Intermediate Handicap Chase as the pint-sized Shotavodka (7-2 joint-favourite) saw off Baby Shine by three and a half lengths.
Pipe said: "There's not much of him and I don't think he's what you would call an embryonic chaser, but what he does have is a big heart. He likes that ground and is probably at his best in the spring."
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Attentions then switched to the Flat for the Pertemps Network Handicap, with 14-1 shot Red Stargazer getting up late in the day for trainer David Barron and jockey Graham Gibbons.
Chatez looked likely to deliver for favourite-backers in the hands of Fergus Sweeney, but Gibbons conjured a telling late run out of Red Stargazer, who held a neck advantage at the death.
Gibbons said: "I always felt we were getting there, slowly but surely. I've never ridden him in anything but soft ground, so I don't know how important it is to him, but he handled it well.
"He stayed on well and will probably benefit from going another couple of furlongs."
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Intibaah further enhanced his reputation with a smart display in the Pertemps Network Conditions Stakes. Making his first appearance since registering an impressive victory in an Ascot handicap in early October, Brian Meehan's four-year-old was easy to back ahead of the six-furlong heat.
Dane O'Neill cut a confident figure in the saddle before giving Intibaah his head and he quickly settled matters, picking up well to seal the deal by a length and a quarter. Annunciation filled the runner-up spot, with Intibaah's fellow 5-2 joint-favourite Hawkeyethenoo in third.
The hard-luck story of the race was that of Morache Music, who was stuck with nowhere to go on the inside rail but finished full of running to take fourth place.
"He's a four-year-old now and has strengthened up a lot over the winter," said O'Neill. "He's got a lot of speed and settles better off a strong pace. He handled the soft ground well and hopefully he'll develop into a smart sprinter."
The main event on the level was the Pertemps Network Spring Trophy, with David Simcock's Breton Rock taking the Listed prize in the hands of Fergus Sweeney.
The 11-4 chance was settled at the rear of the four-runner field early on and made his challenge away from the other runners on the far side of the track. Although he drifted left under pressure in the last of seven furlongs, he had enough in the tank to get the better of the determined Custom Cut by half a length.
"He's a lovely horse, he loved the ground and did it well," said Sweeney. "I'd say seven furlongs is his optimum trip and you have to let him get into his own rhythm - you can't push him too much.
"It's been a good start to the season and it's nice to get chances on horses like this."
The final jumps race on the card was the Pertemps Network Handicap Chase, with victory going to Tim Vaughan's 9-1 shot Wings Of Smoke, ridden by Richard Johnson.