TESTING ground greeted horses and riders at Hereford racecourses first meeting of 2020 last Friday, but racegoers were treated to a fine display from the winner Dame Du Soir who easily scored in the two-mile novices chase.

Dame Du Soir, from the Gloucestershire yard of trainer David Bridgewater made a promising debut over fences last time out at Devon and was opposed in the betting by the even money favourite Red Risk who had been a 72,000 euro purchase from France for the Paul Nicolls yard, but it soon became clear that the favourite was ill at ease early on the two-mile contest.

Dame Du Soir ridden by Brendan Powell was always travelling well and once Powell sent her to the front, chased by eventual runner-up Colorado Doc, it was clear the favourite would not be concerned in the finish and Dame Du Soir stayed on well to record a three-length success and a follow-up win is not out of the question.

When the ground is heavy at the Hereford course the better going is often found on the outside of the track and jockey Sam Twiston-Davies gave a master class in the extended three mile handicap hurdle when partnering Broughtons Admiral for Claines trainer Dr, Richard Newland.

Almost in the gardens of the Highmore Street properties on the final circuit Twiston-Davies kept his mount tight to the outside and stayed on strongly from the chasing Rosserk Abbey to score by 12 lengths, a good performance carrying top weight of 12 stone in the testing ground.

Early on the meeting survived a scare after the second hurdle race when Batttlebrave fell on the bend past the winning post and brought down another runner.

The course passed an inspection but a further check of the ground after another fall in the extended three mile hurdle won by Broughtons Admiral caused the final contest, a mares novice hurdle to be abandoned.

Stipendary Steward Richard Westropp confirmed: “The issue with the hurdles course brought about the fall on the flat after the fifth hurdle of Battlebrave in the second race was initially put right with rails realignment.

"However, after the subsequent fall of runner-up Rosserk Abbey on the winning line in the fourth race the decision was taken to abandon the final hurdles racer on the card on the grounds of safety, but the two chases went ahead as normal on fresh ground.”

The final race on the card following the abandonment of the concluding hurdle race was the extended three-mile handicap chase and a local winner looked a distinct possibility over the final four fences as the Tom Symonds trained Eaton Miller was in contention.

Jockey Robbie Dunne briefly had the Hoarwithy trained Eaton Miller in the lead but the Welsh challenger Ballybreen for trainer Evan Williams and jockey Conor Ring always just had enough in reserve and held on by half a length with the 9/4 favourite Kilcrea Bridge two and a half lengths back in third place.