Top Notch by name and nature as he thunders Ascot win
TOP Notch brushed away the opposition in the straight to run out an easy winner of the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot.
Leading before the second-last flight, Nicky Henderson’s six-year-old soon put the race to bed and galloped clear.
Smad Place was prominent early on while last year’s winner Royal Regatta forced his way into the lead after being slowly away from a standing start.
Nico de Boinville had Top Notch in the perfect position and the 5-2 jointfavourite went on to score by eight lengths from Double Shuffle for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede. Frodon was another two and a quarter lengths away in third.
De Boinville said: “He’s a legend – what an absolute hero.
“He’s all heart and kept finding up the hill.
“He’s given me a really nice feeling there.”
Top Notch was cut to odds of around 6-1 about winning the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
Henderson said: “If you had a poll of the most popular horse in the place, he would win.
“Everybody loves him. You could not have a nicer horse.
“He would die for you and he has been like that all his life.
“I never thought he would jump a fence as they must look enormous to him.
“He is just game, tough and loves it. He came back in fatter than me. These horses are just taking a run.
“He didn’t run particularly well when he was third of three (over hurdles) at Aintree (on November 11).
“It was all well saying it was fine but it was still a little bit disappointing.
“I think this is his perfect trip. One day we might have a peep at three (miles). He goes on any ground and Nico de Boinville riding Top Notch clear the last to win The Christy 1965 Steeple Chase at Ascot racecourse yesterday. any way round. A lot of horses are more talented, but nobody puts more in than he does.”
Meanwhile at Haydock, relentless and remorseless were suitable adjectives to describe Bristol De Mai’s spectacular victory in the Betfair Chase.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained six-year-old had been earmarked as a likely contender for the Grade One contest with a similar demolition job in Haydock’s Peter Marsh Chase all the way back in January.
Having significantly enhanced his claims with a comeback victory in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby, he was an 11-10 favourite to make a successful return to the Newton-le-Willows circuit. Those who took the cramped odds will have had few concerns, with the bold-jumping grey devouring the Merseyside mud in the hands of Daryl Jacob and passing the post a jawdropping 57 lengths clear of Cue Card.