Festival calling for Cheltenham winner Destiny

Paul Nicholls could not hide his excitement as Ginny’s Destiny followed in the footsteps of Stage Star and booked his ticket to the Turners Novices’ Chase with an excellent display in the Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase.

A useful hurdler when trained by Tom Lacey last season, he has gone from strength to strength since sent over fences by the champion trainer this term.

Attempting to replicate the exploits of Stage Star – who won this contest 12 months ago before following up at the Cheltenham Festival – Ginny’s Destiny never missed a beat as the 4-1 favourite registered a flawless two-and-three-quarter-length victory over Theatre Man.

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“I was expecting that on his homework,” said Nicholls.

“He’s improved massively from run to run and I haven’t had too many improve so much over a short period since Master Minded funnily enough. Master Minded won at Sandown years ago and kept going forward and he has done the same, his work has been unbelievable. I think he’s a really smart horse.

“From his first run when he was ordinary, he had just got better and better and better and you like to see that – there’s not many horses who do that.

“The girl who rides him every day rides Pic D’Orhy every day and she puts him on a par with him. He is 162 and if he could be as good as him, we would be really happy. He obviously jumps and gallops and that is what you want.

“I honestly thought he would win today – and I know that’s being confident – but he’s a very smart horse.”

Ginny’s Destiny in action on Trials Day
Ginny’s Destiny in action on Trials Day (Nigel French/PA)

Ginny’s Destiny was cut to 9-1 with Betfair for the Turners Novices’ Chase after winning his third-straight chase at Prestbury Park and Nicholls confirmed that a return to the Cotswolds for the Festival would be his next port of call.

“He’s a very good work horse at home, he has class, he jumps and he will come back here now for the Turners,” he continued.

“He will get three miles, but I’m not going to do that until next year. He will follow the Stage Star route now and he is a bit stronger and more robust than Stage Star. You have to train him with kid gloves whereas this lad loves his work and thrives on everything you give to him and is a proper horse.

“Stage Star carried the weight last year and if they are good enough off that mark, then it doesn’t matter what weight they are carrying. He’s a massive horse and the weight was never going to worry him and Harry gave him a peach of a ride.”

Ga Law winning the Paddy Power Cheltenham Countdown Podcast Handicap Chase
Ga Law winning the Paddy Power Cheltenham Countdown Podcast Handicap Chase (Nigel French/PA)

Ga Law was another horse to showcase his love for Cheltenham when making a welcome return to the winner’s enclosure in the Paddy Power Cheltenham Countdown Podcast Handicap Chase.

Jamie Snowden’s eight-year-old was a winner of the Paddy Power Gold Cup in 2022 but has found victories hard to come by since, with a crushing fall at Doncaster on his next start knocking the wind out of his sail and halting his progression.

However, he was back to his best in the hands of Gavin Sheehan to tee-up either a shot at Kempton’s Coral Trophy Handicap Chase on February 24 or a return to Prestbury Park for the Plate in March.

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Snowden said: “He won the Paddy Power in 2022 and fell in the Sky Bet Chase (at Doncaster) when coming to win his race and it has taken a long time to get him back in that kind of form really – he lost his confidence and lost his way a little bit.

“We always thought we would get him back, but that fall at Doncaster was pretty nasty and it’s taken us a year to get him back. He ran really well in the Coral Gold Cup but just didn’t stay and the drop back in trip on the New course has helped him here today.

“He’s back now and it was lovely. He jumped really well out in front and got into a lovely rhythm. I thought the New course might suit him better than the Old course as he’s a long-striding horse and Gavin has given him a lovely ride.

“We were going to go to Kempton next, but we might have to come here instead. We will enjoy today and think about the next day tomorrow.”

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