Sprinter looking good, but Bullets better today
It was not quite the result that everyone wanted, racing fans hoping to see Sprinter Sacre gallop to glory, but trainer Nicky Henderson and jockey Barry Geraghty pronounced themselves more than happy with their superstar horse’s return to action and second placing to Dodging Bullets in the Clarence House Chase.
“He felt the winner everywhere, just tired on the run-in,” said Barry Geraghty. “We went a good gallop, the time was good, I am very pleased with him.”
Henderson sentiments echoed his jockey’s view. “It was very pleasing to see him jump with the same exuberance as before and show signs of all his ability,” said Henderson. “He put in a big leap four out and if fully race fit Barry could have kicked from there. We’ll give him an easy fortnight now and I am so pleased we ran here. It’s all gearing toward Cheltenham now.”
The match between today’s pair looks to be heading to March for the Champion Chase, the race holding no fears for today’s winning jockey Noel Fehily. “Dodging Bullets stays well and will get up the Cheltenham hill,” he said with confidence of the Frankie Dettori-bred son of Dubawi.
Top might be a Triumph Hurdle hope
Henderson and Geraghty got the day off to a good footing with victory in the opening Sodexo Juvenile Hurdle with Top Notch.
“He’s very professional, a very neat jumper and straightforward,” said Geraghty, who was later beaten a neck on Lyvius in the Grade 2 Keltbray Hurdle by Aidan Coleman on Baradari. Top Notch will be quietly aimed toward the Triumph Hurdle, but, as owner Simon Munir and Issac Souede have a number of other horses pointing that way too, Top Notch may divert elsewhere.
A big day Out for Sam
The Henderson-Geraghty team topped and tailed the day with winners, also taking the finale EBF Stallions Novice Hurdle with Out Sam. The son of Multiplex was sent off the 4-9 favourite, but he looked a little inexperience throughout the race, and it was natural ability that saw him come home ahead.
“That was very much a growing up experience,” said Henderson. “He was on and off the bridle – after an easy first time out win, he was just caught out by his inexperience here. He won’t be one for Cheltenham, if we go for anything it will be the 3m novice at Aintree.”
Puzzle was the solution in the OLBG Mares
The Grade 2 OLBG.com Mares Hurdle became a war of attrition and it was Bitofapuzzle who toughed it for Harry Fry, the trainer winning the race for the second year in succession.
“That was the plan,” he said. “She has had a tough race here and will have a break – it was only her third start over hurdles. She is a big mare and will go chasing next autumn.”
Kings for the day
Young 7lb claimer Jack Sherwood had a day to remember collecting his first win at Ascot riding Rebel Rebellion for boss Paul Nicholls in the bet365 Handicap Chase, while Daryl Jacobs gave Kings Lad a peach of ride in the Ascot Sponsors Novices Handicap Chase, ignoring the early pace and putting the horse’s head in front on the line. The jockey bided his time as rivals kicked for home a long way out and tired on the soft ground.
“We bought him as a three-year-old for just £2000 at Doncaster Sales,” said David Gingell. “He went through the ring as a really early lot, and everyone else was asleep! He was also quite small – but he has been a smasher for us.
“They say he is one of the fastest at home – a pocket rocket – so he has done well to win over this trip.”