Elite jumps see London capitalise on switch from Flat
Six-year-old secures Wincanton hurdles success as
CESAREWITCH runner-up London Prize went one better in the Unibet Elite Hurdle at Wincanton.
The Ian Williams-trained six-year-old won the Imperial Cup at Sandown in the spring, since which he has claimed Flat races at Goodwood and Newcastle before finding only handicap blot Withhold too strong at Newmarket last month.
He was a 4-1 shot reverting to the jumping game and after travelling well in the hands of Tom O’Brien, took over the running from 5-2 favourite Lough Derg Spirit rounding the home turn.
Flying Tiger moved ominously into his slipstream, but wilted when asked for maximum effort and London Prize galloped all the way to the line to take the Grade Two prize by three lengths.
Lough Derg Spirit rallied to beat Flying Tiger to the runner-up spot.
Speaking after completing a notable across-the-card double with Saunter in the November Handicap at Doncaster, Williams said: “I thought London Prize was tremendous. I thought he was up against it, particularly over the two miles at Wincanton, but Tom has given him a great ride.
“Potentially he was well-handicapped on his Flat form, but I wondered if he would have the toe round there.”
The trainer raised the possibility of London Prize making a swift return at Cheltenham next Sunday.
He added: “He’ll potentially run in the Greatwood Hurdle. We originally went to Wincanton because the owners weren’t available on Greatwood day, but it depends on what the handicapper does and if he’s bucking and squealing.”
Jeremy Scott’s stable stalwart Melodic Rendezvous won the Elite Hurdle in 2013, but trailed home last of seven runners this time and was immediately retired by his trainer.
Bryony Frost claimed the biggest victory of her professional riding career Bryony Frost riding Present Man (L) clear the last to win The Badger Ales Trophy after steering the Paul Nicholls-trained Present Man to a narrow success in a thrilling renewal of the Badger Ales Trophy.
After a gruelling three-mile-one-furlong test, there were only two runners in with a shot with a couple of fences to jump, with Frost on Present Man going head to head with Leighton Aspell on Final Nudge.
Aspell looked as though he might just have stolen the advantage after the last, but Present Man, who is owned by the race sponsor, kept finding on the run to the line to win by a head.
Theatre Guide was eight lengths back in third with Southfield Theatre fourth.
Frost told ITV Racing: “He jumped and travelled – this is his Gold Cup. It’s their (owners) Gold Cup and they said to me I could ride him, I rode him at Kempton (last time out) and it’s brilliant to have pulled it off for them.
“He’s a brave horse. He has the heart of a lion and the braver you are, the braver he is as he answers every question.”
Nicholls added: “I was worried about the ground, but I must say I’ve never seen Tom O’Brien riding London Prize clear him look better. I knew he’d go in the ground, but it was whether he stayed in the ground.
“He’s a great example of Rome not being built in a day. He’s taken three years to get where he is
“It was a peach of a ride and it’s great for the owners.”
Nicholls was completing a big-race double on the card having earlier landed the John Romans Park Homes “Rising Stars” Novices’ Chase with Modus.
The JP McManus-owned chestnut was the 4-6 favourite to follow up his recent chasing debut success at Bangor and readily pulled nine lengths clear of Kalondra in the hands of Sam TwistonDavies, with the front-running Valhalla already tailed off when falling at the final fence.
Twiston-Davies said: “This fellow is very smart and he kept on nicely. He picked up well in the straight and he’s come home in front.
“At the end of the day, it was only a three-runner novice chase, if a competitive one, and there’s bigger tests in front of him.
“He jumped well today and hopefully he can keep progressing and get slicker over his fences.”