Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle
Grade 2, Cheltenham 15:10
£50,000 added,
4yo plus,
2m 4f 56yds, Class 1  
Tuesday 1st January 2019

1 Midnight Shadow 8/1
2 Wholestone 6/4F
3 Old Guard 7/2
6 ran Distances: 2¼l, ½l, 4l
Time: 4m 58.70s (slow by 11.70s)

Midnight Shadow
© Grossick Photography
Midnight Shadow

Northern challenger Midnight Shadow, trained by Sue Smith in Yorkshire and ridden by Danny Cook, caused a slight surprise when winning this G2 hurdle at 8/1 from 6/4 favourite Wholestone (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Daryl Jacob), who was attempting to capture the race for the second year running.

The winning margin was two and a quarter lengths, with Old Guard (Paul Nicholls/Bryony Frost, 7/2) another half-length back in third.

Wholestone disputed the running with Clyne (Evan Williams/Adam Wedge, 9/2) for much of race and then Old Guard harried him, before Midnight Shadow challenged at the last and went away.

Smith explained:

"Midnight Shadow is a great jumper and has improved all the whole time we have had him, from his bumpers, novice hurdles and handicaps. He is still improving. He has got a big engine. He is a little bit bull-headed at home and we don't have a horse in the yard that can work with him. He has had to do a lot of things a little bit on his own, but he has come here and won. He is tough and brave. I don't know where he would go later in the season. He belongs to Cyril and Aafke Clarke. Cyril always wanted to go for the Champion Hurdle, but I don't think the Champion Hurdle is on the agenda because of the trip.  They are away in Spain and we will discuss what to do with him when they return. We are going to have to sit down because obviously with his rating we have to sift through and see where we can go next."

Cook declared:

"Luckily, I had enough horse to push my way up there (on the inside). He was travelling well everywhere and I was just getting there a bit soon jumping two out. I took him back and rode him with loads of confidence. Turning in, I just made sure I had my position going to the last. After the last, I opened him up and he really picked up well. He won the Scottish Champion Hurdle last year as a four-year-old. We always thought a lot of him and it is good for him to prove us all right. He is a fair horse now and is still only a baby. We have schooled him over fences and he jumped beautifully. He is a horse to look forward to for the future. Next season I think there will be lots of races for him when he goes chasing. This season, we will pick our races. It was a good performance today and he has so many gears. Maybe now he has won at Cheltenham, he will have an entry for the Stayers' Hurdle."

Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle (Grade 2)
£50,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m 4f 56yds, Class 1
6 ran
Going: Good to Soft

Pos D Horse SP Jockey Weight Trainer Age
1st Midnight Shadow 8/1 Danny Cook
11-6
Mrs S J Smith 6
2nd Wholestone (IRE) 6/4f D A Jacob
11-6
N A Twiston-Davies 8
3rd ½ Old Guard 7/2 H Cobden
11-6
P F Nicholls 8
4th 4 Thomas Campbell 8/1 James Bowen
11-4
N J Henderson 7
5th ¾ Clyne 9/2 Adam Wedge
11-0
Evan Williams 9
6th 33 Cyrus Darius 14/1 R M Power
11-0
C L Tizzard 10