Impulsive Star shows Fes­ti­val qual­ity

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - RACING - MAR­CUS ARMY­TAGE

THE McCoy Con­trac­tors Civil En­gi­neer­ing Clas­sic at War­wick of­ten pro­vides a Grand Na­tional clue and, while that may be the des­ti­na­tion 16 months down the line for yes­ter­day’s lightly-weighted 8/1 win­ner, Impulsive Star, it was a more im­me­di­ate pointer for Chel­tenham’s four-mile Na­tional Hunt Chase.

“Go­ing back to Chel­tenham for the four-miler has been the plan all sea­son,” said owner Robert Wa­ley-Co­hen af­ter watch­ing Impulsive Star beat Calett Mad by three-and-a-half lengths to record his first vic­tory over fences at War­wick’s big­gest meet­ing of the year.

“He had a tricky sea­son last year. He looked like win­ning eas­ily first time up [in the four-miler at the Fes­ti­val] but slipped and fell a cou­ple of strides af­ter a fence and tore some mus­cles. Neil Mul­hol­land [the jockey] did well to get him back to fin­ish fourth.”

Impulsive Star was rid­den here by the owner’s son, Sam, who said: “He had to keep com­ing up to­day and he did which is the sign of brave stay­ing chaser.

“I schooled him in Lam­bourn and had to throw him over the fences but a big field seems to bring him alive. He’s a Na­tional horse one day but that’s a long way off yet.”

At Chel­tenham, Impulsive Star is likely to meet an­other of the day’s win­ners, OK Cor­ral.

Both en­hanced their claims for the Fes­ti­val’s long-dis­tance am­a­teur rid­ers’ novice chase and OK Cor­ral is even the 4/1 favourite af­ter beat­ing Se­cret In­vestor by an im­pres­sive six lengths in the McCoy Con­trac­tors Hamp­ton Novice Chase.

The ma­jor clue about OK Cor­ral’s Fes­ti­val tar­get was in his jockey, the crack Ir­ish point-to-point rider Derek O’Con­nor who flew over for the day to have a feel of the Nicky Hen­der­son-trained and JP McManus-owned nine-year-old with a view to rid­ing him at Chel­tenham.

Even though O’Con­nor said he was sure Barry Ger­aghty would like to ride him there (in the RSA Chase), this had the look of a half-com­pleted long-hatched plan.

“But,” he added, “I’d love to ride him in the four-miler if he ran in it. What­ever he runs in, he’s a nice horse.”

Lo­cal trainer Dan Skel­ton sends out a lot of win­ners but is still search­ing for a world-beater and, in time, Beak­stown could fit the bill though it may be when he has a fence in front of him next sea­son.

Yes­ter­day he won the Bal­ly­more Leam­ing­ton Novice Hur­dle, a race with a ter­rific record of throw­ing up good win­ners, yes­ter­day by three-and-a-half lengths from Stoney Moun­tain.

The mas­sive six-year-old, owned by Brian Drew, showed he is still a work in progress by hang­ing left af­ter the last but it was a vic­tory of great po­ten­tial. “He’ll get en­tered for the Bal­ly­more and Al­bert Bartlett — he’ll get all the en­tries be­cause I can’t help my­self — but you can see how big he is, he’s re­ally a chaser,” said Skel­ton.

At Kemp­ton, Jonjo O’Neill jnr rode the big­gest win­ner of his ca­reer when bring­ing Big Time Dancer, a 16/1 shot trained by Jen­nie Can­dlish, with a well-timed run to beat Solomon Grey by a length and a half to win the Uni­bet Lan­zarote Hur­dle. It was his 25th win­ner.

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