Lanzarote hero West Balboa gives Bridget Andrews a winner to savour

West Balboa just pipped Red Risk in a thrilling finish to the Coral Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle at Kempton – capping a memorable afternoon for trainer Dan Skelton and providing Bridget Andrews with one of the most valuable winners of her career.

Skelton had stayed closer to home at Warwick where he was on hand to witness a Grade Two double courtesy of Galia Des Liteaux and Grey Dawning, both ridden by his brother, Harry.

It was Harry’s wife Andrews who was on board West Balboa, and the pair cruised into contention as one by one the field thinned out.

Still in it was Charles Byrnes’ ante-post favourite Green Glory, Up For Parol and Red Risk, ridden by 7lb conditional Freddie Gingell.

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West Balboa (12-1) held a slight advantage on the run to the final flight but met it all wrong, seemingly handing the initiative to Red Risk, as Up For Parol weakened.

Bridget Andrew won the Lanzarote
Bridget Andrew won the Lanzarote (PA)

To the mare’s credit, though, she battled back gamely and while a photograph was needed to separate the pair, there was a short head in it.

“She gave me a dream ride and I couldn’t believe the race went so smoothly. I travelled into the race so well and ended up getting there too soon and was left on my own,” said Andrews, who has bounced back from a serious injury suffered in a fall at Warwick last year.

“I’ve always known she was good. After the Challow (second) last year we put her away and she’s come back better than ever, so much so that I think she can step forward again.”

She added: “It’s races like this that you come back for. I had a broken neck which resulted in a long break, but I was lucky it happened in the summer.

“I get as much joy watching Harry ride big winners and everyone at the yard were so incredibly supportive.”

It was a great day for Dan Skelton
It was a great day for Dan Skelton (Simon Marper/PA)

Speaking from Warwick Skelton said: “She was gutsy when she needed to be.

“She probably made life harder than she needed to at the last two hurdles, she just got under them. If she had pinged either of the last two life would have been easier.

“But I’m very happy, she’s obviously stepped forward from her last run and that Stage Star form from last year is top form so she was entitled to go and do that.

“She could come here for the Listed race on February 11- the race Marie’s Rock won last year. But I would be very respectful of the fact she has just put in a big effort so if she needed a bit more time then we would have to have a think.”

Skelton’s yard went quiet over the busy Christmas period but are well and truly back in form now.

“There was never any question in my mind there was a bug,” he said.

“But what they did, two weeks before Christmas when we went down to minus 8C, a few of them got a cold. That’s all it was, I was never ever concerned there was a bug, because they weren’t going round bleeding or all the other things when you get a proper bug.

“I just knew they were under par as an overall and a few individuals were well, well below where they should be. But we give them 14 days off and their flu vaccinations and they can come out of it well.

“Results are the most important part of it and they have gone our way. No grumbling.”

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