Doing Fine refuses to be denied London National honours

Doing Fine – first past the post when the race was declared void 12 months ago – put the record straight this time in the Betfair Exchange Back And Lay London National Handicap Chase at Sandown.

Neil Mulholland’s 12-year-old led for most of the gruelling three-mile-five-furlong journey and rallied in admirable fashion at the business end to come out on top.

Crosspark looked like he might take his measure, but Doing Fine (15-2) proved a willing partner for conditional jockey Millie Wonnacott and got the verdict by three-quarters of a length. Regal Flow was 11 lengths away in third place.

Mulholland said: “It is great result. It is good for the yard, good for the horse, good for everybody. I think it is good for racing.

“For a handicap chase everyone really got behind him and knew it was a deserved success. In racing you have to move on.

“It was one of those things really and we have had to deal with it again at Fontwell the other day so we are getting used to it.

“I think it is all about today really. What happened last year was unfortunate, but thankfully today made up for it.

“This horse is a good, solid fun horse for the Neil Mulholland Racing Club. They don’t pay big fees, but they get good days out and the prize-money is between all of them and you are giving people back something at a lower level and there is no big expectations because they haven’t forked out big money.

“I think we will give him a little break now and we can bring him back for things like the bet365 Gold Cup and things like that.”

Wonnacott was delighted the horse was able to make amends for last year when the race was voided due to a fatal injury to Houblon Des Obeaux, with a number of riders failing to stop after a yellow flag was waved.

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“He always tries his best and he jumps for fun and that’s the best I’ve seen him travel,” she told ITV Racing.

“He was very unlucky last year when it was taken away from him. Thank god he’s done it again.”

Millie Wonnacott riding Doing Fine (left) clear the last
Millie Wonnacott riding Doing Fine (left) clear the last (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The 7lb claimer only recently returned from a bad injury she sustained in August.

“Three months ago I got some pretty nasty fractures in my vertebrae and I wouldn’t be riding here if it wasn’t for Oaksey House,” she said.

“They were fantastic in getting me back. I wanted to get back before this weekend ideally and they made it happen.”

Wonnacott had earlier been involved in an incident during the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase, when she and Angus Cheleda together with their jockey coach were on the track as the horses were turning into the home straight on the final circuit.

The three, together with the clerk of the course, were interviewed and shown recordings of the incident, with the stewards reminding them of their responsibility to remain vigilant when walking the course, so as to ensure their and other participants safety at all times.

Fifty Ball set up a potential shot at Grade One glory in completing a double for Gary Moore in the Read Paul Nicholls On betting.betfair Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.

The five-year-old followed up his inaugural British victory at Ascot last month when making his first start over two miles a triumphant one under Niall Houlihan.

Taking control of matters mid-race, the 5-2 shot continued to pour on the pressure from the front before crossing the line 13 lengths clear of runner up Naizagai.

Fifty Ball could return to Sandown for the Tolworth Hurdle
Fifty Ball could return to Sandown for the Tolworth Hurdle (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Moore said: “The form of his Ascot win had been boosted earlier in the day as the horse he beat (Straw Fan Jack) won fairly comfortably at Aintree.

“Today the drop back in trip was a bit of a concern, but I felt that the strength of the race wasn’t that strong and the stiff track track on heavy ground would play to his strengths.

“If the Tolworth came up heavy we could maybe come back for that. The next race was going to be a 0-135 at Ascot over two-miles-five on the 19th, but that might come too quick.

“If the handicapper did the sensible thing the Lanzarote would be a good race.”

Golden Boy Grey took both Moore and those in the stands by surprise after flooring 2-11 favourite Grand Mogul by nine lengths to make a winning debut in the My Oddsboost On Betfair “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle.

Moore said of his 11-2 winner: “It was a little bit of a surprise. Me and Jamie (Moore) went through the race last night and we thought there would be a strong gallop that would test his fitness as it was his first run, but they have hacked.

“He showed a rare turn of foot in bad ground and it played into his hands. You wouldn’t want to go too mad too soon.

“His owner (Bob Arnold) is a lovely man and that is the first winner I’ve trained for him in his colours.”

Paddy Brennan in winning action aboard Elham Valley
Paddy Brennan in winning action aboard Elham Valley (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Fergal O’Brien praised the work fellow trainer John Gallagher did with Elham Valley (11-2) after he ran out a length-and-three-quarter winner of the Betfair Free Bet On The 1.50 Introductory Juvenile Hurdle.

O’Brien said: “The owners were at Goodwood and they saw him run and they tried to buy him on the day as he was in a seller. That didn’t come off on the day, but we spoke to Andrew Balding the day after and managed to get him.

“A lot of credit goes to John and Rebecca Gallagher as they did a lovely job with him when they got him back home.

“His jumping was very slick and every time Paddy (Brennan) wanted him to go through gap he was there. He was so good over his hurdles and that is all credit to the boys and girls that have schooled him at home.”

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