Captain Teague extended Paul Nicholls’ stranglehold on the Coral Challow Hurdle with a battling success at Newbury.
The Champion Bumper third had claimed the Grade Two Persian War on his hurdling debut before having to settle for second on his next start at Cheltenham, and was backed into 2-1 favouritism prior to the final Grade One of the calendar year.
As chief market rival Willmount checked out tamely turning for home, Harry Cobden was motionless in the saddle aboard Captain Teague as he had he driven-along Lookaway and Ben Pauling’s The Jukebox Man for company heading up the Newbury straight.
Approaching the last Cobden was still at pains to delay asking his mount for maximum effort, but when doing so he found a willing partner as Captain Teague stuck his head down and defied greenness to grind out a one-and-a-half-success over Neil King’s Lookaway in second and The Jukebox Man who plugged on for third.
It was a fourth successive Challow success for Nicholls, who was registering a record-extending sixth victory overall in the two-and-a-half-mile event as Captain Teague joined the likes of Denman, Bravemansgame and Stage Star on the list of Ditcheat stars to claim this valuable Grade One prize.
“He travelled well and jumped brilliantly today and he’s learning all the time,” Nicholls told ITV Racing.
“He just idled in front and I said to Harry if you are going well stride on a bit and try and put the race to bed, but he wishes he had hung on a little longer because he just doesn’t do anything in front.
“He’s basically just learning all the time and he’s a lovely horse and I’m thrilled.
“He will keep on improving and he’s a laid-back horse. We’ve done a lot of work on his jumping and he jumped better today – he didn’t jump that great at Cheltenham. It just comes too easy for him and he’s almost too laid-back. There he’s travelled well, hit the front and thinks he has done enough.
“The best you will see of him is when he jumps a fence next season and he will ultimately get three miles one day, he’s a proper horse.”
On future plans, Nicholls answered: “I will discuss it with Johnny (De La Hay, owner) and I do think soft ground is very important to him.
“If you are talking about Cheltenham and things like that and it was goodish ground you would want to be going three miles (in the Albert Bartlett) and you wouldn’t be afraid of going three miles. If it was testing ground, this sort of trip is ideal, but soft ground is important.
“If you go where Bravemansgame, Stage Star and Hermes Allen are, then he is in that sort of mix and they all ended up being decent chasers and that is where he will be one day.”
In the aftermath, Captain Teague was cut to 14-1 from 33s by both Paddy Power and Betfair for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
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