A day of exciting National Hunt racing, young progressive horses and Cheltenham pointers. And certainly one for the West – six of the day’s winners are trained in the West Country.
Balder Succes plotted his path to Cheltenham and the Ryanair Chase with a taking victory in the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase, the 2m5f race proving an ideal distance for the Alan King-trained victor.
“He was just out of his comfort zone when running over 2m,” reported Alan King, “the sharp two milers were just too quick for him over the early fences. This longer trip is ideal and, though I need to talk to the owners, the Ryanair will be the plan.”
Geraghty on the mark with Carole
Barry Geraghty gave Carole’s Destrider a superb ride to take the 3m WeatherbysHamilton Chase. The horse has a couple of entries at The Festival and trainer Neil Mulholland explained that he wants to chat further with Geraghty before committing to any of the options.
Cheltenham not the plan for Arpege D’Alene or Ainsi Fideles
The winners of the first and second, Paul Nicholls’s Arpege D’Alene and the David Pipe-trained Ainsi Fideles, are both likely to sidestep Cheltenham for options at Aintree.
The lightly raced Arpege D’Alene may have only one more run this season, with a chasing campaign in mind in the autumn. “He is a really nice horse,” said Nicholls, “and he is a chaser in the making. We thought today was the day to take on Tea For Two. If we go anywhere it will be over 3m at Aintree.”
Double for Pipe and Scudamore
Pipe and jockey Tom Scudamore later doubled up with Unique De Cotte, the French-bred son of Voix Du Nord, owned by JP McManus.
“I will chat with JP about plans,” said Pipe. “The horse needs to go up in the handicap to get into something such as the Coral Cup at The Festival. But we’ll be looking for a nice handicap now, and he will go chasing in future.”
Thistlecrack keeps it in the family
The penultimate race also went Colin Tizzard’s Thistlecrack, who was skipped clear after the last in the Racing UK Novices Hurdle, showing off a fine turn of foot for his excited owners John and Heather Snook.
“We’ve had to be patient with him, but he looked a machine today,” laughed Heather Snook. “We owned his older brother, who was very good, and then bought Thistlecrack – we also own his younger brother West Approach who ran in the last. He won on his debut, and ran a good race today to finish fourth.”
No Waiting for Me
The winner of our finale, the Neptune Investment Management NH Flat race, could not have been more impressive. Wait For Me, a son of Saint Des Saints, was always prominent and jockey James West kicked clear off the home turn to win by an easy 5l.
“We won’t think about Cheltenham and the Champion Bumper yet,” said owner Andrew Cohen. “We bought him as a foal and he has run in two schooling bumpers in Ireland. He is a lovely young horse and we are in no rush to make plans – it all starts here.”
Cheltenham preview: food for thought
Plenty of racegoers stayed after racing for our Cheltenham Preview, with a three-man expert panel up Paul Nicholls, Aidan Coleman and Betfair’s Barry Orr – the trio were very illuminating! Racing UK’s Oli Bell did a great job chairing the Question and Answer session… we hope it has produced more answers than questions for those planning their bets for Cheltenham.