Peter Scudamore is well aware Ahoy Senor has plenty on his plate when he bids to become the first horse since Denman to carry top-weight to victory in the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury on Saturday.
The eight-year-old produced a tremendous performance to land a Grade Two novice chase by 31 lengths at this meeting in 2021 and went on to round off his novice campaign with a Grade One success at Aintree.
He found life more difficult when stepping into open company last term, but did manage to win the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham and was second to Shishkin on his return to Aintree in the spring.
For the second year in succession Ahoy Senor failed to fire on his reappearance in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, but Scudamore – partner and assistant to trainer Lucinda Russell – hopes he can at least take a step forward under the welter burden of 12st back at the Berkshire venue.
“We’re hoping for a big run. It’s a big ask for him, but he’s won round Newbury and we’re looking forward to it,” he said.
“He’s come on since Wetherby – I’m happier with him than I was going into the Charlie Hall.
“He’ll be a big price and if he finished in the first four, I’d be delighted.”
Denman twice won the historic handicap under top-weight, carrying 11st 12lb to victory in his Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning season in 2007 before regaining his Newbury crown in 2009.
Ahoy Senor will concede upwards of 12lb to his rivals this weekend in the hands of Derek Fox, with the Sam Thomas-trained Stolen Silver next in the weights on 11st 2lb.
Denman’s trainer Paul Nicholls this year relies on the well fancied Complete Unknown as he goes in search of a fourth victory in the race as a trainer. He also won back-to-back runnings of what was the Hennessy Gold Cup during his riding career aboard Broadheath and Playschool in the 1980s.
Jonjo O’Neill’s Monbeg Genius and Dan Skelton’s Midnight River are also prominent in the market, as are the Irish pair of John McConnell’s Mahler Mission and the Gavin Cromwell-trained Stumptown.
Jamie Snowden has declared Datsalrightgino and Ga Law, although the latter’s first preference is to run against Shishkin in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle if the meeting survives.
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Derek Fox is relishing the prospect of reuniting with Ahoy Senor in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.
Lucinda Russell’s star chaser was bitterly disappointing and finished last when sent off the 11-10 favourite for the Grade Two event last season but would go on to prove any doubters wrong in the second half of the campaign.
Having won the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January, he was putting up a bold show when a faller six out in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and showed no ill effects when quickly backing that performance up to finish a fine second to Shishkin in the Bowl at Aintree.
Lying in wait once again for Ahoy Senor is a familiar face in defending champion Bravemansgame and Fox is thrilled to be able to take the ride having successfully appealed a 10-day ban picked up at the track last month, which would have left him sat on the sidelines on Saturday afternoon.
He said: “I’m delighted I’m able to ride him, it’s all systems go and we’re looking forward to getting him out again.
“I’ve rode him out and we’re all happy with him – he’s in good form and all seems well.
“He might have needed it (the run) a bit last year. I actually don’t think he ran that badly, he was just a bit free and got a bit tired.”
The Charlie Hall is set to be run in testing conditions with Wetherby abandoning racing at the track on Friday.
However, Fox is happy his mount will be OK on the ground despite it not being connections’ preferred going for his West Yorkshire return.
He added: “He’s handled heavy ground before. Probably for the first day out for the season, ideally you wouldn’t have it so heavy, but it’s the same for them all and he handles any ground.
“We’re going there hopeful that he’s in good order at home and hoping he’ll do well.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Russell’s partner and assistant Peter Scudamore, who said: “We’ve obviously discussed it and Derek doesn’t see it as an issue.
“It was very tacky and dead ground the day he won at Cheltenham. He’s a free-going sort, but I don’t see it being too big an issue.”
Scudamore is no stranger to top-class staying chasers and the former champion jockey is looking forward to seeing Ahoy Senor kick off his new campaign.
“You are always nervous when you run a horse like that,” said Scudamore.
“We really fancied him last year (in the race) and it all went wrong, but he picked himself up from that and was able to run some really nice races.
“To be fair to the horse, he had a bad start to last season but then he ran some fabulous races, the two Cheltenham runs and Aintree, so we just need to have him back to that level.
“I’m a little bit more relaxed than I was and I just hope he jumps sensibly and then we can look at the Coral Gold Cup for him.
“This isn’t the be-all and end-all of the season, but we’re looking forward to it.”
Following victory in this race 12 months ago, Bravemansgame would go on to add the King George VI Chase at Christmas before brave efforts in defeat at both the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals in the spring.
Trainer Paul Nicholls was originally keen to point his Gold Cup runner-up towards Haydock’s Betfair Chase, but concerned about bottomless ground on Merseyside later this month, has elected for Bravemansgame to defend his Charlie Hall crown before returning to Kempton on Boxing Day.
Nicholls told Betfair: “He enjoyed an amazing time last season and I couldn’t be happier with him as he bids to win the Charlie Hall for the second year running.
“I was leaning towards taking him to Haydock in three weeks’ time for his seasonal debut in the Betfair Chase but changed my mind after all the rain we’ve had. The way things are at the moment conditions could be bottomless at Haydock by the end of the month which would be far from ideal for Bravemansgame over almost three and a quarter miles first time out.
“It makes sense to go for the Charlie Hall with only three opponents declared against him. He won this race easily a year ago and the race comes at the right time for him ahead of the King George VI Chase at Kempton.”
Dan Skelton’s Midnight River successfully stepped up in trip when winning a big handicap at Aintree on Grand National Day and will ply his trade once again over a staying distance, while Mouse Morris will saddle the sole Irish challenger Gentlemansgame.
Morris has enjoyed success at Wetherby in the past, with the Tony McCoy-ridden Boss Doyle finishing second to Strath Royal in the 1998 Charlie Hall before going on to win back-to-back runnings of the West Yorkshire Hurdle in 2000 and 2001. He also filled the runner-up spot in the same race when bidding for the hat-trick in 2002.
Morris will now bid to enhance that record with the strapping seven-year-old who makes just his third appearance over fences.
“He’s travelled over and he’s in good shape so hopefully it’s on now, that’s the main thing,” said the Irishman.
“He ran well in Gowran and we just need to get a bit of experience into him. He’s being thrown in at the deep end on Saturday, but as long as he gives a good account of himself I’ll be happy.
“I don’t think the ground or the trip will be a problem, but you can’t beat experience in life.”
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Paul Nicholls has confirmed that Bravemansgame will be aimed at Saturday’s bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, rather than waiting for Haydock’s Betfair Chase on November 25.
The eight-year-old gave Nicholls his fifth success in the West Yorkshire feature 12 months ago at the start of a successful second season over fences.
He went on to claim King George glory at Kempton before finishing second to Galopin Des Champs in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Nicholls also has Aintree Grade One winner Pic D’Orhy among eight entries for the Charlie Hall, but the plan is to now keep him back for Ascot towards the end of November.
The Ditcheat handler posted on X, formerly known as Twitter: “After this evening discussing the weekend with Bryan Drew and Johhny de la Hay and with the prospect of soft ground and an uncertain forecast up to @haydockraces in 3 weeks we have decided to run Bravemansgame saturday @WetherbyRaces and leave Pic D’Orhy for @Ascot on 25th.”
Lucinda Russell’s Ahoy Senor disappointed as a hot favourite for last year’s renewal, trailing home last of five runners behind Bravemansgame, but is on course for a rematch.
The eight-year-old showed his true colours in the second half of the season – winning the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January before rounding off his campaign with a runner-up finish behind Shishkin in the Aintree Bowl.
Ahoy Senor is entered in both the Charlie Hall and the bet365 Hurdle this weekend, but Russell’s partner and assistant Peter Scudamore said: “I’m almost certain that Ahoy Senor will go for the chase. He seems OK, we’re happy enough with him.”
Dashel Drasher also holds a Charlie Hall engagement, but his trainer Jeremy Scott is leaning towards running over the smaller obstacles at this stage.
He said: “We’ve just been discussing it; are we better over fences or over hurdles? It’s an interesting question really.
“I think we’ll bide our time and see what everybody else is doing and try to work it out, but I think in principle the most likely race, I would imagine, would be the hurdle.”
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Lucinda Russell is readying two of her stable stars for next week’s bet365 Charlie Hall meeting at Wetherby, with Ahoy Senor and Apple Away both in line to make an appearance in West Yorkshire.
Ahoy Senor disappointed in the Charlie Hall Chase itself last season, but will be given the option of contesting the Grade Two feature once again, with the bet365 Hurdle being considered as a possible alternative.
The eight-year-old went on to prove his worth in the second half of the last campaign, winning the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January and signing off with a runner-up finish behind Shishkin in the Aintree Bowl.
“Ahoy Senor is getting himself ready for Wetherby, that’s the plan,” said Russell.
“He might get an entry in both races (Charlie Hall and bet365 Hurdle). We’ll see how he goes this weekend and that’ll give us a better idea.”
Apple Away won four of her seven starts over hurdles for William Hill ambassador Russell last season, including a Grade One victory in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree in the spring.
The six-year-old is set to embark on a novice chasing campaign this season and with connections having decided against a trip to Cheltenham, she could instead head to turn out next week.
Russell added: “She’s in good form and she might go to Wetherby.
“She’s been schooling really well, but it a combination of things led to us deciding against going to Cheltenham this weekend and we felt we’d try to find something a little bit quieter.”
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Cheveley Park Stud director Richard Thompson is cautiously optimistic A Plus Tard will show his true colours in the Alder Hey Aintree Bowl on Thursday.
Henry de Bromhead’s charge looked set to become the dominant force in the division following an imperious 15-length victory in last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, but little has gone right since.
The nine-year-old returned unsatisfactory blood test results following a disappointing defence of the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November, while a late setback denied him the opportunity to bounce back in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.
Connections ultimately decided to head straight back to Cheltenham, where after travelling well for a long way, he was badly hampered by the fall of Ahoy Senor and the brought-down Sounds Russian, which ultimately led to him being pulled up by Rachael Blackmore.
Having failed to complete a race since his Gold Cup romp 13 months ago, A Plus Tard clearly has questions to answer ahead of his first appearance at Aintree, but hopes are high in the Cheveley Park camp that he can get his career back on track.
Thompson said: “It’s been a difficult season for him, as we all know.
“He was travelling well in the Gold Cup until he got hampered. Would he have troubled the first two, who knows, but he was travelling well.
“I think we’re just hoping that he can travel like that again and show the class that he’s got. We want to see a good, positive showing and signs that he is back to himself.
“I’m not going to say he’s going to win it because it’s a very a hot race, but it’s great to be involved and we look forward to taking our chance.
“He’s won four Grade Ones for us and is a double winner at Cheltenham. He’s won a Gold Cup and a Betfair Chase in imperious fashion – he’s been a great horse for us whatever happens.”
The Lucinda Russell-trained Ahoy Senor won the Cotswold Chase over course and distance before his Gold Cup fall and he returns to a track he knows well.
Winner of the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at massive odds of 66-1 in 2021 before landing the Mildmay Novices’ Chase by five lengths last term, Russell believes Ahoy Senor is primed for another bold showing.
“He’s in great form, I’m looking forward to the good ground with him,” Russell said.
“This looks a tough race, tougher even than the Gold Cup I think, but he’s in good form and we travel with hope.
“It’s been quite handy to have that extra time between the two meetings, he’s been thriving.
“He always seems to go well at this time of year, he’s quite a spring-time horse.”
Nico de Boinville will reunite with Shishkin after the duo finished second to Envoi Allen in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.
Nicky Henderson’s charge was the evens favourite for the event and eventually came home two and three-quarter lengths behind the winner.
“I think we were a bit deflated after Cheltenham, although he did stay on really well up the hill,” de Boinville told Sky Sports Racing.
“We’ve tried to work a few things out and he seems to be in really good order at home – he’s been working well and schooling well.
“He was just never happy from the word go (at Cheltenham). He was never really happy and never really jumping and made hard work of it.
“I don’t think you can really question his temperament given the way he seemed to battle on up the hill and everything has been right since then.
“I’m staying nice and positive and when he’s on-song, he’ll be very hard to beat.
“All the ability is there, it’s just a case of bringing it all together.”
Gordon Elliott’s Gold cup third Conflated takes his chance while Jamie Snowden’s Ga Law, who did not meet the criteria for a planned Grand National bid, completes a field of five after Bravemansgame was withdrawn from the race by the British Horseracing Authority.
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Brian Hughes will partner Ahoy Senor in Thursday’s Alder Hey Aintree Bowl with Derek Fox still recuperating from injury.
Fox has ridden the gelding in all of his starts under rules but a fall from Rowdy Rustler at Wetherby on April 6 has aggravated an existing shoulder problem.
The ride on Corach Rambler in the Randox Grand National takes priority for Fox, who has therefore opted not to ride Ahoy Senor in order to give himself the best shot at recovery before Saturday.
Speaking to the Nick Luck Daily Podcast, Lucinda Russell, trainer of both horses, said: “Derek had a fall at Wetherby, he’s got a problem with his shoulder and that seems to have flared up again.
“He’s just a little bit sore. Corach Rambler in the National, off the weight that he’s got, that’s the aim for the whole year. I think he’s going to have to look after himself and just get himself right for that race.
“It does unfortunately mean he won’t be able to ride Ahoy Senor in the Bowl, but we’ve got a very able substitute in Brian Hughes who has actually been in today and schooled him, everything went really well.
“It’s a bit of a shame for Derek but I think he’s doing the right thing and we’ve got to be sensible about it and as I say, Corach Rambler off 10st 5lb in the National has to be his aim.”
Russell and her assistant and partner Peter Scudamore have supported Fox in the decision and the trainer remains positive about his ability to take the Corach Rambler ride – though Hughes has also schooled that horse and could step in should Fox not be fit to partake.
“We’re very close here as a team, we’ve been talking about it the whole way through and it’s a decision that Derek has made that we’ve helped with,” she said.
“Scu and myself have discussed it, we had a long conversation yesterday about it and I think it’s really hard for him. It’s killing him not to ride Ahoy Senor but it’s the right thing to do. It’s a wise decision and I’m right behind him all the way, I support him totally in that decision.”
She went on: “It has to be said that Brian also schooled Corach over the National fences this morning. That would be a contingency plan but I’m pretty sure in my own mind, I’d say 98.99 per cent sure, that Derek will be riding him on Saturday and that he’ll be fit to do that.”
Hughes will available to ride Corach Rambler if needed as he will not be required aboard Minella Trump for Donald McCain, for whom he is stable jockey.
Theo Gillard is instead booked to ride the horse, a decision made irrespective of Hughes’ status as understudy to Fox on Saturday.
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Ahoy Senor will head to the Bowl at Aintree should he get over his Cheltenham Gold Cup fall.
The Lucinda Russell-trained eight-year-old was among the top British novice chasers last season, and signed off with a clear-cut win in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree, where he defeated the likes of Grade One winner L’Homme Presse and subsequent King George VI Chase hero Bravemansgame.
Though having found life tougher this term, he bounced back after a disappointing King George run to land the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham.
Friday’s return to Prestbury Park was going well as he was full of running when leading the Gold Cup field to five fences from home under Derek Fox, where he got in too close and had a heavy fall.
However, Russell’s assistant and partner, eight-time champion jockey Peter Scudamore, said he is none the worse for the tumble.
“He’s a bit sorry for himself. He’s sound and everything. He is that type of horse. I think he feels almost embarrassed he fell, but he’s well and a couple of days and he’ll be over it. There are no physical issues,” said Scudamore.
“He ran really well. He will probably go to Aintree, God willing. He has got four weeks, so if he can recover from that, he’ll run.
“We’d always felt we’d go to Aintree with him after this. He’s got a week of quiet and a probably a fortnight working, then another quiet week before his race.
“The extra week between the two meetings this year will certainly be a help.”
The defeat was a bitter blow following the high of Corach Rambler taking the Ultima Handicap Chase for a second consecutive year for the yard.
Though the nine-year-old had a hard race in defeating Fastorslow by a neck and scoring for the fourth time in nine attempts over fences, he is still on course for the Randox Grand National on April 15, for which he is as short as 6-1 favourite.
Speaking from Carlisle on Sunday, Scudamore added: “Corach has lost a bit of weight, but I haven’t ridden him yet.
“I spoke to him last night and he’s very pleased with himself. It’s still the Grand National all being well.”
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Peter Scudamore expects Ahoy Senor to be competitive in next Friday’s Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup as the finishing touches are put on his preparation.
The classy eight-year-old was a Grade One winner at Aintree as a novice chaser last season, yet three modest runs this term saw his odds drift to 50-1 for the Festival highlight.
However, Ahoy Senor showed significant improvement with a gutsy display in winning the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January and was catapulted right back into the reckoning for chasing’s blue riband.
“We are trying to keep our feet on the ground with him after he won at Cheltenham,” said Scudamore, trainer Lucinda Russell’s partner and assistant.
“I keep using this cricket terminology – he’d fit straight into Ben Stokes’ XI wouldn’t he? He won’t have made 10 at lunch time, he’ll make 120 after lunch or be back in the pavilion. He wears his heart on his sleeve.
“If he gets it right and gets his jumping right, he’ll be very competitive.”
The length-and-a-half victory over Sounds Russian, with Grand National winner Noble Yeats staying on in third, was a satisfying one for the Arlary House yard, which is situated between Perth and Edinburgh.
Ahoy Senor’s previous efforts this season included three defeats, when sent off favourite in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby in October and when returning to Aintree for the Many Clouds.
After his fifth of nine to Bravemansgame in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, the eight-time champion jump jockey could have been forgiven for second-guessing himself over the horse’s ability.
Yet Scudamore insists he is still learning on the job and has every faith he can run a big race in the Gold Cup, for which he is as short as 12-1.
With L’Homme Presse injured, last year’s winner A Plus Tard suffering an interrupted preparation and both Bravemansgame and Galopin Des Champs unproven over three and a quarter miles, it has the makings of an open-looking renewal.
Ahoy Senor, whose nickname is Hank, should not be overlooked according to Scudamore, who added: “I really do think the British chasers are good at the moment.
“Unfortunately for L’Homme Presse’s people he won’t run. I think he’s as good as any of them and I think Bravemansgame, L’Homme Presse and Ahoy are all pretty good.
“Perhaps Bravemansgame is the best of the lot, but on his day, three-mile-two around Cheltenham might play to Hank’s strengths.
“It is never easy to go into this company straight out of a novice season.
“At the beginning the of the season, a lot of people suggested we should have slipped into the Stayers’ Hurdle with him.
“But I feel with these horses, if you don’t jump fences early, they never get to jump fences. I think he is still learning his trade a little bit.
“I don’t think we are without a chance, but we are trying to keep our feet on the ground a little bit.”
Ahoy Senor is at least proven at Cheltenham, having chased home L’Homme Presse in last year’s Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase in very soft ground and when scoring in the Cotswold.
Scudamore hopes he will keep returning to the Prestbury Park track, even if he does not strike Gold this time round.
“I like to think he’s got a couple of years ahead of him,” he added.
“We were laughing, saying we hope that Ahoy and I and Lucinda and the owners stay around long enough to have six or seven goes at it. We are very proud of him and hopeful.”
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Peter Scudamore admits he was “vastly impressed” by Galopin Des Champs’ success at Leopardstown on Saturday, yet says the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup is not a formality for Willie Mullins’ star chaser.
The Audrey Turley-owned seven-year-old won his fifth chase in six starts, powering to an eight-length victory over Stattler in the three-mile Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup and cemented his place at the top of the betting for the English equivalent on March 17.
Eight-time champion jockey Scudamore, assistant and partner to Lucinda Russell who trains Gold Cup contender Ahoy Senor, feels it will be a competitive renewal this year and far from a Mullins benefit.
“I’d be very pleased if he was mine,” Scudamore said of Galopin Des Champs. “He has done it very well. But you can’t be afraid of one horse.
“When you look at the whole thing (Cheltenham), you can’t see any absolute certainties.
“You can be wrong, but the major races look like they are races at the moment. It is a race, the Gold Cup – it is not going to be a gallop round at the moment.”
Galopin Des Champs is now as short as 5-4 to win the extended three-and-a-quarter-mile event, a trip he has yet to tackle.
Winner of the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at the Festival in 2021, he fell when favourite for the Turners’ Novices’ Chase on his return to Prestbury Park last March.
He has subsequently captured three consecutive Grade One chases in Ireland and has looked better with experience.
Of his latest win, Scudamore added: “He settled and travelled well, so I was vastly impressed.”
However, Scudamore insists the British challenge for the Gold Cup should not be overlooked.
“The one I think who is rather forgotten is Bravemansgame, because his form looks as good as anything,” said Scudamore of the Paul Nicholls-trained King George VI Chase winner.
“I think it is a good Gold Cup. When you are stood outside sometimes, you can look at the race and say it looks bad, but when you are involved with them, you realise they are good.”
Ahoy Senor, who was fifth to Bravemansgame at Kempton on Boxing Day before bouncing back to defeat Sounds Russian in the Grade Two Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham, is a best-priced 12-1 shot for the Gold Cup and will head straight there.
Scudamore added: “Ahoy is fine. He came out of his race really well. He hasn’t really started working too much, he’s just been hacking about at the moment and we’ll build up again from there. I feel we go with hope.”
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Ahoy Senor put himself in the Cheltenham Gold Cup picture when securing an emotional success for Lucinda Russell in the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase.
Runner-up in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase on his only previous visit to Prestbury Park, the eight-year-old had struggled this season in open company and was winning for the first time since taking the Mildmay Novices’ Chase four starts ago.
Derek Fox was content to track Bryony Frost and Frodon on the first circuit and although Sounds Russian shot clear during the second lap of the New Course, a juddering error from Ruth Jefferson’s charge four from home gave the pack chance to close the gap and most crucially Ahoy Senor the opportunity to ensure an all-northern finish to this Grade Two contest.
Neck and neck jumping the last, the duo were soon embroiled in a terrific tussle up the Cheltenham hill with Ahoy Senor prevailing by one and a half lengths and Grand National hero Noble Yeats a further length back in third.
Betfair went 10-1 from 50s for the blue riband in March, while Coral offer slightly bigger odds of 12-1.
Russell said: “I’m really pleased. It is just the excitement of having a horse of that quality again. He’s always been good, but he just had to learn about it and today I think he just came of age.
“In my mind, I thought he was going to take a lead and when he came into the paddock, Derek said I’m just going to go forward, and I thought ‘great’, and actually he was right, because it let him get his freshness out of him and then let Frodon give him a lead.
“He is just fantastic with the horse and they both trust each other and the confidence that he has got has been fantastic. I’m delighted and it is nice to see our monster back.
“I’m just pleased with him as I thought his jumping was OK and when he came round that bottom corner and accelerated, I did get a bit excited.
“I really hope he’ll go to the Gold Cup. Whatever happens, he will definitely get an entry.”
The Kinross-based trainer lost her father Peter this week and spoke poignantly in the winner’s enclosure at how much Ahoy Senor had meant to him.
“It is very emotional. My dad was a fantastic person and he was so proud. He’d been ill for a year, I remember being in tears at Newbury when he (Ahoy Senor) won the John Francome Novices’ Chase,” she said.
“It was good in a way, because I spent a year saying thank you to dad and I appreciated him.
“As he went on in his life, racing meant more to him. He’d talk to me about about which races we were going to and he’d phone me before the race and after the races and I will miss that intensely.
“This horse, he was interested in and loved and really wanted him to do well.
“Dad ran down a bit. We had two winners at Kelso and he was a little bit frailer at that point and he only went to hospital for 24 hours.
“To everyone, just say thank you to your dad, just tell them how much they mean to you, because I had the chance to do that. Say thank you. It was dad that set me up, dad that has given me that desire, that determination. He’d be very proud today and I’m really going to miss not phoning him on the way home.”
Peter Scudamore, Russell’s partner and assistant, said: “I’ve said he is the best horse we have ever trained then you begin to doubt yourself, but things eventually come right in the end and that is what sport is about.
“Using a cricket analogy when he gets it right he is like Ian Botham, when he gets it wrong he can be back in the pavilion out for 10.
“He is clearly a horse with a lot of ability, but you just need a lot of luck. He is good enough to contest a Gold Cup – whether it is this year or not, I don’t know.
“His death (that of Russell’s father) is bigger than a horse race. I remember riding a horse called Gambling Prince whose owner died and I went and won on it. I do think they do sometimes smile down and that there is a God up there that helps.”
Ruth Jefferson was pleased by the efforts of her brave runner-up, but is still to decide if the Gold Cup is the right destination for her consistent eight-year-old.
“We’re still between a rock and a hard place – we’re no further forward,” said Jefferson.
“It was a really good performance, but I think there is more strength in depth with the Irish horses.
“I know Minella Indo and A Plus Tard are potentially getting older and I know last year’s race was also a bit of a sprint finish. But Galopin Des Champs has to come out at Leopardstown next weekend, so we will see what he does and then when we have more facts we can make a better decision.
“On the whole I’m very happy. He travelled and jumped and Sean (Quinlan) gave him a fabulous ride. When they slowed it down he did the right thing, we just got beat by the better horse on the day.
“He deserves to win a big prize, I don’t think it will be a Gold Cup, but he can try.”
Meanwhile one horse who will line-up on March 17 is Noble Yeats, who will take in the blue riband en route to a defence of his National crown.
“You can’t be unhappy with that run,” said owner Robert Waley-Cohen. “The horses at level weights finished behind and the horses behind were conceding weight, and he finished very strongly.
“He has won over two miles two, two miles seven, three mile one and four mile two, so what his trip is we don’t know, but probably further is better.
“That was important today, as he gets experience on the New Course, which is the same track as the Gold Cup.
“The plan is the Gold Cup and then the Grand National – and I don’t envy the handicapper his dilemma.
“He never looks very flashy. He just keeps jumping away. He came up that hill well.”
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/270761788-scaled.jpg12802560Geegeez Newshttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/geegeez_banner_new_170x78.pngGeegeez News2023-01-28 14:54:122023-01-28 16:05:11Ahoy Senor back to his best for emotional Cotswold Chase success
Ahoy Senor has been given the chance to get some more Cheltenham experience as one of 11 entries for the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase at Prestbury Park on Saturday.
Lucinda Russell’s stable star was second in his sole appearance at the track when chasing home L’Homme Presse at last year’s Festival but went on to reverse that form when scooping Grade One honours at Aintree the following month.
He was last seen fading into fifth in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day and although the eight-year-old is joined on the list of possibles by stablemate Corach Rambler, the Kinross-based handler has reported Ahoy Senor will be her main dart at the Grade Two contest – with the Gold Cup in March still the dream.
“Ahoy Senor is in great form,” said Russell. “This is the first choice for him with second choice being the Denman Chase at Newbury. If the ground was very soft or testing we would probably wait for Newbury.
“I was really pleased with his run at Kempton and he seems to be growing up – I was very happy with him.
“We’ve been held up – the snow and ice has been quite horrible for us. So last week they had a bit of a quiet week, however we will get quite a bit of work into him this week and see how he gets on.”
She went on: “I will speak to the owners and see what they are thinking, but I think they would like to give him a bit more experience around Cheltenham which I think is a fair statement.
“The Gold Cup is still the dream and I’m really looking forward to seeing him run again. I think he’s on the up again now and we’ve always thought he was a really good horse.”
Gold Cup second favourite and Grand National hero Noble Yeats could line-up for Emmet Mullins, while Protektorat is the shortest priced British-trained candidate for the blue ribband and this has always been the plan for Dan Skelton’s Betfair Chase winner.
Nicky Henderson has won this twice in the last three years and could rely on Dusart – although the eight-year-old also has the option of Doncaster’s Sky Bet Chase, while Frodon won this contest in 2019 and could line-up having missed out on an intended target at Taunton.
Cape Gentleman is an interesting raider from Ireland while Cool Cody (Evan Williams), Sounds Russian (Ruth Jefferson), Sam Brown (Anthony Honeyball) and Happygolucky (Kim Bailey) complete the list of entries.
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/270070519.jpg9421884Geegeez Newshttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/geegeez_banner_new_170x78.pngGeegeez News2023-01-23 13:58:262023-01-23 14:00:11Ahoy Senor team keen on Cotswold Chase run
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