Iceo pleases Nicholls – but not certain to head for Triumph

Iceo made an impressive British debut for Paul Nicholls in the Ladbrokes We Play Together Introductory Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton.

A winner on his only previous start in France during the summer, the son of Coastal Path was the 9-4 favourite to follow up in the hands of Bryony Frost.

Iceo raced keenly from the start, but had plenty left to give from the home turn and ultimately left his rivals trailing in his wake. Rewired was 17 lengths behind in second.

Nicholls said: “I wasn’t sure what to expect, to be honest. Although he’d won, and I was very taken by the way he’d won in France, he had been very keen at home and we’d just been trying to get him to relax and get him fit and jumping well, so what he did out there today was going to show us really.

“We thought we’d get a lead in front for longer than we did. The other horse (Illico Des Places) lit him up early on, but once he got by him he dropped the bridle and obviously won very nicely.”

Betfair cut the winner to 16-1 from 50-1 for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, but Nicholls warned: “For a horse like him the Triumph Hurdle is not necessarily the be all and end all.

Bryony Frost after winning on Iceo
Bryony Frost after winning on Iceo (Steven Paston/PA)

“He’s a National Hunt horse of the future. If the Triumph Hurdle came up testing ground then you might look at it, but there’ll be nice races for him along the way and ultimately he’s a chaser of the future.

“We’re not too worried about Triumph Hurdles at the moment, unless he proves differently.”

Emmpressive Lady (3-1 joint-favourite) went one better than last year in the Play Ladbrokes 5-A-Side On Football Mares’ Handicap Hurdle.

Runner-up to the smart Molly Ollys Wishes 12 months ago, Sue Gardner’s charge made no mistake under Sean Houlihan – passing the post with five and a half lengths in hand over Tequila Blaze.

“We came here with a lot of confidence,” said Gardner.

“She’d had one run this season and was jumping out of her skin at home. We knew she’d improved a bit and the horse that beat her last year was a good horse. She only had to find a bit of form to win.

“She’s an out-and-out stayer with a massive heart and loves this ground – she’ll keep going when others can’t.

“The owner wants to get a bit of black type because he’d like to breed from her.”

Five Star Getaway got back on the winning trail in the Play Ladbrokes 1-2-Free On Football Handicap Chase.

Five Star Getaway (right) in action at Kempton
Five Star Getaway (right) in action at Kempton (Steven Paston/PA)

The 12-1 shot was one of three runners for trainer Christian Williams along with the fourth-placed Kitty’s Light and the eighth home Cap Du Nord.

Five Star Getaway won three times last season – and while he was well beaten on his return to action at Chepstow in October, Nick Scholfield’s mount raised his game to claim this £50,000 contest by a length from Fortescue.

Williams said: “The other two have had little setbacks and we’ve had a nice run with this horse, so we’d have been in trouble if he didn’t run well today.

“We knew he’d improve from his run at Chepstow. The owners (Carl Hinchy And Mark Scott) are from Liverpool and I suspect they’d love to have a crack at the Grand National.

“He could come back here in six weeks’ time for what was the Racing Post Chase.”

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