Embassy Gardens puts strong case for Cheltenham honours

Embassy Gardens is expected to go on to bigger and better things after claiming an impressive victory in the Grade Three Finlay Ford At Naas Novice Chase.

Willie Mullins used this race as a stepping stone to National Hunt Chase glory at Cheltenham with Stattler a couple of years ago, while several of his other recent victors took the same route without success.

This latest winner was cut from 7-1 to 4-1 favourite with Coral for the three-mile-six-furlong test for amateur riders at Prestbury Park.

Paul Nolan’s Albert Bartlett third Sandor Clegane set the pace for most of the way and was still in front after the penultimate fence.

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However, 8-13 favourite Embassy Gardens had jumped beautifully and travelled strongly throughout under Paul Townend before coming through to challenge between the last two obstacles.

Another grand leap at the last put him in front and the eight-year-old galloped on well all the way to the line to put 10 lengths between him and Sandor Clegane.

Mullins said: “That was a really good performance and what I like about this horse is that he really loves jumping. When he sees a fence, he wants to jump it and that’s a huge asset in this game.

“He jumps, he stays and does everything right. He’s learned to settle now and is much easier to ride.

“He looks a natural for staying chasing and he’ll go for one of the staying chases in Cheltenham.”

Regarding runner-up Sandor Clegane, Nolan commented: “He ran well and came up against a good horse. He’ll probably go to Cheltenham and see where that takes us.

“It probably wasn’t ideal to make the running but you couldn’t say that it cost us. He was a bit slow twice at the ditch but other than that jumped well.”

It was another good day for Mullins, who had enjoyed big-race success in England 24 hours earlier.

Lossiemouth returned to action with a stunning victory in the Unibet Hurdle at Cheltenham, where Capodanno kept on well to land the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase, both ridden by Townend.

Festival Trials Day – Cheltenham Racecourse – Saturday 27th January
Lossiemouth on the way to victory at Cheltenham (Nigel French/PA)

Up at Doncaster, Ashroe Diamond did the business in the SBK Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle with Patrick Mullins on board, with stablemate Gala Marceau back in third.

“Lossiemouth has improved nicely and did it well,” reported Mullins. “We took a chance and waited with her this season and it seems to have done her good.

“I was also happy with the other mares. Ashroe Diamond has come on and Gala Marceau may have just needed it yesterday. She’ll improve away from that.

“I thought Paul was very good tactically on Capodanno yesterday.”

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