CHEL­TENHAM

Tom Wil­liams re­ports on an ac­tion-packed week­end from Chel­tenham on Novem­ber 16-18

Racing Ahead - - CONTENTS -

Tom Wil­liams re­port and photo-spe­cial from BetVic­tor meet­ing

Trainer Gary Moore re­vealed post-race that he had con­sid­ered pulling the win­ner out, as he was con­cerned the ground was too quick

Baron Alco de­liv­ered the prize he was al­ways threat­en­ing to win when tak­ing apart a classy field in an in­ci­dent-packed BetVic­tor Gold Cup at Chel­tenham. The seven year old was al­ways at the head of af­fairs, mak­ing an al­most pil­lar to post vic­tory from the ral­ly­ing top weight Frodon and Bry­ony Frost, stay­ing on stoutly up the hill to score by two lengths. Gui­tar Pete was eight lengths be­hind in third, while favourite Mis­ter Whi­taker took fourth.

Jockey Jamie Moore came in to ride Baron Alco af­ter his in­tended mount Bene­tar was with­drawn on the morn­ing of the race af­ter an ab­nor­mal blood scope, re­plac­ing brother Joshua, in­jured the pre­vi­ous day when un­seated from Graas­ten, stable­mate of the win­ner.

At the first there was drama as Whoshotwho fell and Ro­main De Se­nam un­seated af­ter a bad blun­der. Fur­ther drama oc­curred when Kalon­dra, well sup­ported be­fore the off, dived at the fifth last and un­seated Noel Fe­hily. At the last ditch, four out, Wil­lie Boy fell and brought down not only the favourite Rather Be but also Happy Diva. In­ci­dents con­tin­ued as King’s Socks un­seated Tom Scud- amore at three out, and at the last Move with the times fell af­ter a steep land­ing, ham­per­ing Shan­tou Vil­lage who un­seated Rob­bie Dunne. In the end only six fin­ished, but thank­fully all horses and jock­eys were up af­ter their in­ci­dents, al­though Tom Scu­d­amore and Richard Pa­trick both went to hos­pi­tal for fur­ther as­sess­ment.

Trainer Gary Moore re­vealed pos­trace that he had con­sid­ered pulling the win­ner out, as he was con­cerned the ground was too quick, given he had suf­fered a sus­pen­sory in­jury in March 2017 when sec­ond to Road To Re­spect on the same ground. In the end, owner John Stone con­vinced him to run him, and it all paid off as they cel­e­brated their first win in the cov­eted race.

He added it was Baron Alco’s jump­ing and the fact that Jamie kept him at the front and out of the way that were the rea­sons he was vic­to­ri­ous, wise tac­tics given the melee that oc­curred at the fourth last and fur­ther in­ci­dents at var­i­ous ob­sta­cles to­wards the end.

A re­turn to Prest­bury Park for the Caspian Caviar looks likely for the win­ner, while Paul Ni­cholls aims to step run­ner-up Frodon up in grade, po­ten­tially in next month’s Peter­bor­ough Chase at Hunt­ing­don. A long term view for him is that he could be­come a Ryanair horse, and with age on his side, it looks like this could be a pos­si­bil­ity. It is also fea­si­ble to note that if the win­ner con­tin­ues to im­prove as the sea­son goes on, then he too could line up in a cham­pi­onship race at the Fes­ti­val in March.

REST OF THE AC­TION

Fri­day saw a tre­ble for jockey Paddy Bren­nan and a dou­ble for lo­cal trainer Fer­gal O’Brien.

The duo struck with Red Hot Chilly in the Swa­nee River Sup­ports Coun­try­side Al­liance Novices Hand­i­cap Hur­dle, be­fore com­bin­ing again to

score with Coolanly in the Bal­ly­more Novices Hur­dle, putting an un­lucky fall in the Per­sian War at Chep­stow last month well be­hind him.

Paddy se­cured his tre­ble with the help of Bun Do­ran, who looked an ideal type to land the two mile BetVic­tor Hand­i­cap Chase, hav­ing shown some good form in com­pet­i­tive races last sea­son with­out ever get­ting his head in front. That changed on the day as he strode away up the Chel­tenham hill to rap­tur­ous ap­plause from the assem­bled crowd.

Fri­day also saw the first race of the new sea­son over the cross coun­try course, and fea­tured the re­turn of cross coun­try spe­cial­ists Josie’s Or­ders, Bless The Wings and Tiger Roll, who had also landed the race of the same name at the 2018 Chel­tenham Fes­ti­val en route to a mem­o­rable suc­cess in the Grand Na­tional a month later. This time it was Josie’s Or­ders who tasted vic­tory, swing­ing into the straight in front to­wards the last, be­fore bat­tling back up the Chel­tenham hill to deny Fact Of The Mat­ter and Gavin Shee­han, who had snuck up the in­side to chal­lenge af­ter the last.

Sat­ur­day be­gan with a fan­tas­tic-look­ing JCB Tri­umph Trial Ju­ve­nile Hur­dle, the favourite be­ing Never Adapt in the fa­mous green and gold colours of owner JP Mc­Manus. Trained by Nicky Hen­der­son and rid­den by Barry Ger­aghty, she was from the same con­nec­tions who had sent out Ap­ple’s Shakira to score im­pres­sively in the same race last year. How­ever, she was ex­tremely keen go­ing to the start, and con­tin­ued as the race be­gan, pulling her way to the lead and storm­ing 10-12 lengths clear go­ing into the coun­try. She was even­tu­ally passed by the ma­jor­ity of the field, and de­spite ral­ly­ing up the hill could man­age only third af­ter her early ex­er­tions.

The race turned into a ti­tanic bat­tle be­tween the Paul Ni­cholls-trained Quel Destin and the Si­mon Mu­nir and Isaac Souede-owned Cracker Fac­tory. It was the for­mer who pre­vailed by a length un­der jockey Harry Cob­den, with a fur­ther two back to Never Adapt. Quel Destin was fol­low­ing up a win at Kemp­ton in Oc­to­ber, com­ing a week af­ter his short de­feat to ri­val Mon­testrel at Chep­stow. In this case he more than han­dled the step up to Graded com­pany, turn­ing the ta­bles on his Chep­stow con­queror, who fin­ished last of the six.

Philip Hobbs was left dream­ing of po­ten­tial Na­tional glory with Rock The Kas­bah af­ter he pro­duced a great round of jump­ing to take the BetVic­tor.com Hand­i­cap Steeple­chase un­der cham­pion jockey and reg­u­lar part­ner Richard John­son.

Al­ways promi­nently po­si­tioned at the head of af­fairs dur­ing the al­most three and a half mile trip, he was pro­duced around the home turn to take up the run­ning, and af­ter two great leaps at the fi­nal ob­sta­cles, he stayed on gamely to re­pel Royal Va­ca­tion by a length.

Af­ter­wards, Philip Hobbs noted that he would be work­ing back­wards from Ain­tree with the eight-year-old, with many firms short­en­ing his price for the Becher Chase next month to a gen­eral 14/1.

The lime­light be­longed to an­other horse, how­ever, as 2015 Chel­tenham Gold Cup hero Coney­gree made his sea­sonal reap­pear­ance in the same race. The 11-year-old jumped with

The race turned into a ti­tanic bat­tle be­tween the Paul Ni­choll­strained Quel Destin and the Si­mon Mu­nir and Isaac Souede­owned Cracker Fac­tory

his usual aplomb and en­thu­si­asm, and de­spite get­ting tired to­wards the end, stayed on to claim third place, in a race that left con­nec­tions over­joyed, and look­ing po­ten­tially at a tilt at the King Ge­orge on Box­ing Day.

Sun­day be­gan with a com­mem­o­ra­tion of the cen­te­nary of the Ar­mistice, with a pa­rade of mod­ern units, both cadet and reg­u­lar, ac­com­pa­ny­ing the spec­ta­cle of the Great War Dis­play Team dog­fight­ing over Prest­bury Park. The rac­ing was of epic qual­ity, too, with a su­perb look­ing Arkle Trial Novices Chase whet­ting the ap­petite for the day ahead.

Lalor took the spoils with a su­perb round of jump­ing for a novice on their first time over the larger ob­sta­cles, ping­ing the last and barely touch­ing a twig all the way round. He stormed up the Chel­tenham hill un­der Richard John­son to pro­duce an emo­tional vic­tory for trainer Kay­ley Wool­la­cott and score by seven lengths, and also draw­ing some sim­i­lar­i­ties with an­other novice chaser who took the course by storm, Vau­tour in the 2015 JLT.

Sceau Royal ad­ver­tised his cre­den­tials for the Tingle Creek next month at Sandown Park and the Cham­pion Chase in March with a de­ter­mined vic­tory in the Shloer Chase.

Forced to miss the rest of the sea­son due to a sus­pen­sory in­jury sus­tained in Jan­uary, the Henry VIII Novices Chase win­ner con­tin­ued his ex­cel­lent form over the larger ob­sta­cles by out­point­ing the gutsy Sim­ply Ned by two lengths.

The favourite was set­tled in the rear by jockey Daryl Ja­cob, and crept into con­tention com­ing down the hill, scyth­ing his way past ri­vals to line up a shot at the long time leader. He was pushed all the way by Sim­ply Ned how­ever, so while not as facile as many had hoped, he still got the job done, and trainer Alan King be­lieves he will be bet­ter still next month at Sandown.

Ni­et­zsche took the fea­ture race of the day, the Uni­bet Great­wood Hand­i­cap Hur­dle, in what was some­thing of a sur­prise, given he had started at odds of around 20/1 for the two mile con­test.

The race lost some mo­men­tum as the hur­dles in the home straight were re­moved prior to the off due to the low sun, mean­ing in the end only five hur­dles were taken by the field.

Bot­tom weight at 10st and with a fur­ther 7lbs com­ing off due to jockey Danny McMe­namin’s claim, Ni­et­zsche was prom­i­nent along the trip and af­ter head­ing over the last, the usual two out, he kept on gal­lantly on the long run in to score from Welsh Cham­pion Hur­dle win­ner and hat-trick-seek­ing Sil­ver Streak by a neck, in what was only his jockey’s third ride at the course.

Speak­ing af­ter­wards, trainer Brian El­li­son stated that the win­ner would be en­tered in races such as what was the Lad­broke at As­cot, so it can be as­sumed he may also get an en­try for the Betfair at New­bury in Fe­bru­ary. All pic­tures by JTW Equine Im­ages

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