Sunday Mirror

Left proves so right for classy Cyr

- BY DAVID YATES Sports · Horse Racing · Cheltenham · George VI of the United Kingdom · Paul Nicholls · Charlie Hall · Paul Townend

RAC­ING

CYR­NAME cruised to an im­pres­sive bet365 Char­lie Hall Chase vic­tory — and opened the door to a Chel­tenham Gold Cup chal­lenge.

The ex-French eight-year-old’s as­cent to the top of the Bri­tish steeplecha­s­ing ranks had been achieved on right-handed race­courses — and at dis­tances short of three miles.

But Cyr­name (be­low) proved his abil­ity to pro­duce his best rac­ing an­ti­clock­wise with a two-length de­feat of Vin­ndi­ca­tion that erased the mem­ory of his 21-length hum­bling by sta­ble­mate Clan Des Obeaux in the King Ge­orge VI Chase over three miles at Kemp­ton last Christ­mas.

“Class is per­ma­nent, isn’t it?” purred Cyr­name’s trainer Paul

Ni­cholls, cap­tur­ing the Grade 2 test for the fourth time. “I wasn’t wor­ried about go­ing left-handed — he’s a dif­fer­ent horse now.

“To see him jump like that and travel like that. It just shows he’s grown up.”

Win­ning jockey Harry Cob­den ex­plained: “He’s get­ting older and wiser, he’s more re­laxed now.

“We had a lot of doubters to­day, but he was as straight as a die. He went every­where I wanted him to go, and I’m very pleased it’s come to­gether.”

Cob­den must now make a Box­ing Day choice be­tween Cyr­name, a 5-1 shot with Lad­brokes, and dual King Ge­orge hero Clan Des Obeaux, who heads the firm’s ante-post bet­ting at 3-1.

“Harry will have an­other headache!” added Ni­cholls. “I’d put a line through last year’s King Ge­orge. He wasn’t right when he ran there last year.

“It opens a lot of doors — he would def­i­nitely go round Chel­tenham, wouldn’t he?”

Lad­brokes make Cyr­name a 16-1 shot for the Mag­n­ers Chel­tenham Gold Cup over three miles, two fur­longs and 70 yards next March, and Ni­cholls went on: “Horses who win this race win Gold Cups and I don’t see any rea­son why he won’t get that trip.”

The Sto­ry­teller and Keith Donoghue got the bet­ter of a stir­ring duel with Chris’s Dream to lift the Grade 1 Lad­brokes Cham­pion Chase at Down Royal.

The nine-year-old’s pre­vi­ous top-level tri­umph had come in bizarre cir­cum­stances at the 2018 Punchestow­n Fes­ti­val.

The Sto­ry­teller was booked for third place when the race leader, and sub­se­quent two-time Chel­tenham

Gold Cup vic­tor, Al Boum Photo was in­ex­pli­ca­bly steered round the fi­nal fence by Paul Tow­nend, tak­ing the chal­leng­ing Finian’s Oscar with him.

“He’s a horse of a life­time and has al­ways been a bril­liant horse,” said trainer Gor­don El­liott.

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