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Copper strikes Swinton gold

Copperless could be heading for more competitive prizes after running away with the Pertemps Network Swinton Handicap Hurdle at Haydock.

The Galway and Greatwood Hurdles are already being suggested for the rapidly-improving six-year-old after he comprehensively disposed of 13 rivals to take this valuable prize.

Aidan Coleman took the shortest route on Olly Murphy’s charge before asking him for his effort. The 9-2 favourite was in command at the final flight and drew away to win by eight and a half lengths from Cormier.

Camprond was two lengths away third with Rowland Ward fourth.

Victory was handsome compensation for Copperless’ fall at Aintree last month when he looked certain to oblige.

“It was gutting what happened at Aintree. Obviously no fault of the young lad, (rider) Lewis Stones. He came to grief at the second last when looking to have the race at his mercy, but we’ve made amends today and he was quite impressive,” said Murphy.

“I was cursing the handicapper after he out him up 3lb for that, but how right he was.

“This horse is on an upward curve. I’m not sure where we go now, but today was a good pot and I’m chuffed.”

Copperless is co-owned by Murphy’s father Aiden and Alan Peterson.

“Dad is one of the unluckiest owners that’s ever owned racehorses, so I’m chuffed for him and chuffed for the Peterson family, who have supported me since I started training. It’s magic,” Murphy went on.

As for future plans, the handler added: “Whether he’d sneak into the Galway Hurdle at the bottom of the weights, I’m not sure. It’s certainly an option but the Greatwood is the obvious option at the moment. I’d say we’d stay hurdling for next season.

“I was very worried about the ground. If it had been a 20 grand race I’m not sure he’d have been here, but he handled the ground fine. It’s not as bad as you think.

“He was very impressive – he’s going to get clobbered for it, but he’s going to contest nice races from now on in.”

Dell’ Arca (11-1) came out of the clouds to snatch victory in the Pertemps Network Long Distance Handicap Hurdle.

The David Pipe-trained 12-year-old needed the long run-in from the final flight to reel in Trincomalee and score by a length in the hands of Fergus Gillard.

“I knew he would stay the trip and it was a such a long way from the last to the line, I needed every yard of it and he’s not stopped galloping,” said the 5lb claimer.

“When I won on Main Fact here it was a lot deeper. This place has done me good. Dell’ Arca is a lovely horse. I’m delighted for Caroline Tisdall (owner) and everyone at home. He’s such a yard favourite.”

Francky Du Berlais (4-1) capitalised on a mistake at the last by Fortified Bay to win the Pertemps Network Intermediate Handicap Chase.

Long-time leader Fortified Bay could not recover and Francky Du Berlais, trained by Peter Bowen and ridden by his son, James, moved ahead to gain a two-length verdict.

Francky Du Berlais had almost thrown away his chance with an error three out.

The winning rider said: “It didn’t do him any harm missing three out, otherwise I might have got there too soon. He’s won well.

“It all suited him. Two and a half (miles) is his trip and the ground was all right for him. He’s gone on worse than that.”

Exelerator Express (9-4) took advantage of Eamon An Cnoic’s blunder at the third last to comfortably win the Pertemps Network Handicap Chase.

Neil Mulholland’s seven-year-old went on and drew away to win by 10 lengths.

“He jumped well and was trying a bit further today which suited well,” said winning rider Sam Twiston-Davies.

“The race fell to bits a little bit and then when the Pipe horse made a mistake at the ditch, it put paid to his chances. Even so you’ve got to get it won and he’s done it nicely.”

Murphy has grounds for concern ahead of Copperless run

The prospect of a deluge over Merseyside could hinder Copperless’ bid for the Grade Three Swinton Handicap Hurdle at Haydock on Saturday.

Olly Murphy’s six-year-old was bidding for a hat-trick when contesting the Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle at Aintree on his last appearance, but the gelding suffered a fall when in contention only two flights from home.

Murphy reports to bay to be unscathed following that mishap, but his nemesis this time could be the inclement weather as a substantial amount of rain is forecast to fall on already soft ground.

“We were very pleased with the way he was going, he was travelling very well up until falling at Aintree on his last start,” the trainer said.

“But the heavy rain that’s been forecast would be huge concern for him.

“He’s in great nick and he really looks like he’s on a nice mark, he seemed absolutely fine after the fall he had, but if the forecast rain were to come, then that would be a concern.”

Benefiting from Copperless’ late Aintree fall was Stuart Edmunds’ gelding Rowland Ward, who went on to register a half-length success in the contest.

The five-year-old also takes his chance at Haydock at the weekend and will not be inconvenienced by soft going, with his trainer welcoming a fast-paced race to suit the horse’s running style.

“He is in great form and a strongly-run two miles really suits him as he travels so well in his races. The faster they go, the better it is for him,” he said.

“I think everything was perfect for him at Aintree as it was always going to be fast and furious.

“Olly Murphy’s horse Copperless was still travelling well at Aintree behind us when he took a tumble and if he is none the worse for that, he could be thrown in against us.”

Rowland Ward’s Aintree performance has seen his rating rise by 10lb, an allocation his trainer feels is a fair reflection of his abilities.

“He has gone up 10lb, but you don’t mind that when you win a proper race at a big track,” he said.

“He would have barely got in this off his old mark.”

Haydock hosts races under both codes and the Swinton Hurdle is followed by the Pertemps Network Spring Trophy Stakes, run over seven furlongs on the Flat.

Six runners have been declared, with Adrian McGuinness’ Current Option heading the field after finishing runner-up in the Group Three Gladness Stakes at the Curragh on his last run.

Archie Watson’s Highland Dress brings his all-weather form to the table, having last competed on turf in November, with Karl Burke’s Lord Of The Lodge also switching from synthetic surfaces after a successful spell on the all-weather.

Richard Hannon’s Qaysar, Brian Meehan’s Raaeq and the Ralph Beckett-trained Tomfre round out the contenders.