Porticello shines in Finale Hurdle

Porticello turned what looked a strong renewal of the Grade One Coral Finale Juvenile Hurdle into a procession at Chepstow.

With stamina the emphasis on rain-softened soft ground and with the final hurdle omitted, leaving a three-furlong run-in, it proved tough going for many of the 11 runners.

Yet the Gary Moore-trained Porticello, who had finished runner-up to Knight Salute in a muddling Summit Juvenile Hurdle at Doncaster, jumped to the front at the penultimate flight and drew readily clear to give the Horsham yard their first Grade One success over hurdles.

His hurdling, which had been a little indifferent at Doncaster, was better here, although he made a slight mistake of the fourth of the seven flights of hurdles under Jamie Moore.

The strapping son of Sholokhov was keen early on, and his rider did well to hang on to him. After settling him, he got into a good rhythm and readily drew clear after jumping the penultimate flight.

The 100-30 chance had eight and a half lengths to spare from Saint Segal, with Forever William a further three-quarters of a length back in third.

The 9-4 favourite Forever Blessed was pulled up before the penultimate flight with Sean Bowen’s saddle having slipped when he did well to stay aboard after being squeezed for room on the rail approaching three out.

Porticello shone under Jamie Moore
Porticello shone under Jamie Moore (David Davies/PA)

The winning jockey told Sky Sports Racing: “I can’t believe dad hasn’t had a Grade One hurdle winner to be honest. We have hit the crossbar a few times.

“I was not mad about running him today due to the quick back-up from Doncaster, but dad and Ollie Harris, the owner, were keen to have a go and it has proved the right call.

“He is a lovely big horse and I just thought we could mind him a bit this year, but they are here to race and we’ve won a Grade One, so we will all enjoy that.

“When he is in tight, he smashes through the hurdles, but he will be better when he jumps a fence.”

Moore added: “I got a nice position and we had quite a smooth run around. When he hit the front, he was having a bit of a look around and he was probably looking for another hurdle.

“He will be better when he is a five- or six-year-old, as he is a chaser. He has gone on that ground today, but he is equally effective on good ground. I mucked up at Doncaster, as I went too slow on him. If I had gone hard at Doncaster, I might not have had a horse for today, though.”

Moore senior said: “It was a good performance, but a lot of things were in his favour today, which helped. But he can only do what he has done.

“He is a big horse and the hurdles just get in the way. He doesn’t treat them with much respect.

“As for another run, it depends if we go to Cheltenham or not. It is not the be all and end all for me. He is big horse with a future, but we’ll see how he comes out of the race today.

“Jamie was not keen on running him. He’s such an expert for telling me not to run!

“I wouldn’t know when or where he runs next, whether it is the Victor Ludorum, as he needs the experience, I don’t know what else there is for him.

“He is horse that is one for the future. I wouldn’t put him away, as they are a long time in the stable.

“Apparently this is my first Grade One win over hurdles. What a crap trainer – I’m 65 years of age and that is my first Grade One over hurdles!”

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