Sizing Tennessee heads Newbury one-two for Tizzard
Elegant Escape is second home in Ladbrokes Trophy Buveur D’Air wins Fighting Fifth for trainer Henderson
Sizing Tennessee, a 12-1 shot, gave Colin Tizzard a one-two in the Ladbrokes Trophy after he beat stable companion Elegant Escape by 10 lengths at Newbury yesterday. A third Tizzard runner, West Approach, was fifth.
Occasionally it can be awkward beating your own horse in such a valuable race, particularly if it is close, but Tom Scudamore on the winner had the race under control for the last mile and when he touched down in front of long-time leader Dingo Dollar, the eventual third, at the last ditch the race was as good as over.
“Everything else had dropped away and it was just a case of not messing up,” said Scudamore, who had also won the race when it was the Hennessy on Madison Du Berlais 10 years ago. “And he didn’t.”
Tizzard, who won it two years ago with last season’s Gold Cup winner, Native River, could not really believe his luck. “Sometimes these things happen in racing and we don’t know why but that’s the beauty of National Hunt racing,” he said.
“Tom filled me with encouragement in the paddock, saying he was one of the best handicappers in the race. He bolted up first time out, we left him six weeks and then he’s gone and done this.
“He just strode away with it. He’s low mileage, he’s had leg trouble. I kept looking back to Elegant Escape staying on but he was never going to catch him.”
Tizzard added: “We’d come to Newbury and been disappointed with three or four this weekend. It’s mega competitive and then we go and have three in the first five of the Ladbrokes Trophy. I must be good at training big, slow horses!”
When Native River won the race he went on to win the Welsh National, although it was another year before he won the Gold Cup. After yesterday’s victory, Sizing Tennessee, who is already 10, has been pencilled in for the Chepstow marathon at Christmas.
Nicky Henderson has had a couple of things not go to script over the past two weekends and so it was with trepidation verging on self-doubt that he sent Buveur D’Air, the two-time Champion Hurdle winner, to Newcastle to contest the BetVictor Fighting Fifth against two other Cheltenham winners from last season, Samcro and Summerville Boy.
Often, the Fighting Fifth, as it had been for Buveur D’Air last year, is a penalty kick for the reigning champion but Samcro set out to exploit any fitness issues Buveur D’Air might have had by making it a solid gallop.
But Barry Geraghty and Buveur D’Air just stalked him the whole way round, picked up Samcro going to the last like a disposable lead horse and, despite a rare mistake, still quickened away to win by eight lengths.
“That was amazing,” said Henderson, who had also seen Santini, a potential big gun over fences, make a winning chasing debut at Newbury. “I don’t know why Buveur D’Air walked through the last but he looked better than ever.
“The horses are fit and have been winning but you suddenly start playing the big boys in the big games and you start asking yourself if they’re ready. After Might Bite [in last week’s Betfair Chase] I was half expecting another bloody nose as we knew they’d make the running and test our fitness; test me.”
It is probably fair to say that, hitherto, Buveur D’Air had been one of the most underrated dual-Champion Hurdle winners, while Samcro was by some margin the most overhyped novice hurdler. Yesterday’s result should go some way to redress the balance.
“He wasn’t himself in last season’s Champion,” said Henderson. “He took a long time to get over it and couldn’t go to Aintree. I don’t think it was a coincidence that the one horse in the yard who went down sick on the Monday before Cheltenham last was We Have A Dream, who was in the stable next door to Buveur D’Air.”
Buveur D’Air, Santini and Might Bite will all now head to Kempton on Boxing Day.
In control: Sizing Tennessee, ridden by Tom Scudamore, gallops to victory in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury