The sight of the Devil's Dyke limned by a pale autumn sun dipping in front of populated grandstands on the Rowley Mile for the final time this year has for centuries been a signal for a change in emphasis. And sure enough, as the last rites at Flat racing's headquarters were elegantly enacted before a timeless backdrop, hurly-burly jumping blew into the calendar with a finish of heads in the day's feature chase and two top jockeys in trouble.
At Wetherby, younger legs proved too much for gallant Ollie Magern, going for an unprecedented third Charlie Hall Chase in five years at the age of 11. But it was not until halfway up the run-in that first Tamarinbleu and then, with a final-strides surge to score by a head, Deep Purple, got past the front-running veteran.
Eight-year-old Deep Purple gave trainer Evan Williams and rider Paul Moloney a second successive win in the Grade Two extended three-miler after State Of Play's defeat of the ubiquitous Ollie. "The boss said to make it the same again," said Moloney, "which meant not to get into a dogfight with that tough old horse two out. But mine is tough too. He'd just die for you every day of the week."
Deep Purple, having won for the first time over the trip, will be given an entry in the King George VI Chase, but one place owner Paul Green's son of Halling will not be aimed for is the Cheltenham Festival. "He won't be going anywhere near there," said Williams. "He's a horse for flat tracks but deserves a crack at a Grade One."
In the two-mile mares' hurdle, Barry Geraghty picked up a 12-day ban after taking the wrong course on My Petra, the 4-1 joint-favourite. The Nick Henderson-trained six-year-old was travelling sweetly in front turning into the home straight, only for her rider to steer the wrong side of a set of rails marking the division of the hurdles and chase tracks. The race went to Santia and Geraghty was booed as he returned, having pulled up his mount.
The Irishman, stuck on 999 winners in Britain and Ireland, blamed the low winter sun. "I jumped to the front down the back straight, going real easy," he said, "but as you come to turn in, the sun is in your eyes. But it's a small excuse." His 'holiday' will start on Saturday week, Paddy Power Gold Cup day at Cheltenham.
Paul Carberry can also expect a lengthy ban after failing a breathalyser test before racing at Naas. It was his second such offence; the stewards suspended him for the day and sent the case on to the Irish authorities.
The next time horses gather in anger here, the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals will be in the formbook and thoughts will have turned to the Classics. Yesterday was a day for names into notebooks, and any list must be headed by two-year-old Timepiece, courageous nose winner of the fillies' mile contest on sticky, rain-eased ground. The Henry Cecil-trained daughter of Zamindar is from one of Khaled Abdullah's best families – a half-sister to Passage Of Time and Father Time – and has 'Oaks' stamped all over her rangy frame.
Godolphin's red-hot recent run – eight wins from as many runners – ended, but Frankie Dettori, who will miss Tuesday's Melbourne Cup after his prospective mount Kirklees was withdrawn, signed off his domestic season by winning on their Secrecy.Reuse content