Impulsive Star shows Festival quality
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.