WHITE AND GOLD
A LONG-HELD plan came to fruition at Sandown on Saturday when Anthony Honeyball’s good recent form was capped with the victory of Jepeck in the £100,000 Unibet Veterans’ Handicap Chase series final.
Run in memory of last year’s winner Houblon Des Obeaux, there was to be no fairytale win for his trainer Venetia Williams as her Burton Port was one of the first beaten and pulled up.
Honeyball had his eyes on the valuable prize as long ago as last March, though, when Jepeck was second to Takingrisks in a qualifier for the series at Carlisle.
Given Nicky Richards’ charge had subsequently won the Scottish National and the Eider Chase, Jepeck looked a well-handicapped runner and had been kept to hurdles this season to preserve his mark.
Sent off the 3-1 favourite, everything went well for young Rex Dingle through the race and he took up the running turning for home, although on the run to the final fence he was almost carried out by a loose horse. Thankfully for connections Jepeck he prevailed in a three-way photograph from Regal Flow and Theatre Guide.
“With the 129 [rating], we were not sure if we had much in hand,” said Honeyball.
“But the facts were that the only veterans’ chase we’d run in before today, the winner went on to win the Scottish National, so we thought we would go hurdling [first].
“I thought there was a good chance he would run to this mark, or beyond it. We already had a good season, so to pocket that is great. I was not quite sure how bad it was if we were going to get taken out – but thankfully he came back in, and had enough in reserve.”
Meanwhile, Fiddlerontheroof justified strong market support to impressively land the Grade One Unibet Tolworth Hurdle.
Trainer Anthony Honeyball