Tag Archive for: Bridget Andrews

Protektorat sparks Gold Cup dreams at Aintree

Protektorat burst into the Cheltenham Gold Cup picture with a dominant display in the Unibet Many Clouds Chase, providing Bridget Andrews with the most notable victory of her career into the bargain.

With partner and stable jockey Harry Skelton in action at Sandown, Andrews came in for the mount on the Paddy Power Gold Cup runner-up.

For owner John Hales, who for so long has coveted the Gold Cup and has come close on several occasions with One Man and Neptune Collonges, he appears to have another viable contender for racing’s blue riband.

Beating a soon-to-be 12-year-old Native River perhaps still leaves him with plenty to find – despite the 25-length winning margin – against the top Irish horses such as A Plus Tard, Minella Indo and Al Boum Photo, but he could do no more than win as he liked.

With Imperial Aura pulled up on the first circuit and dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll calling it a day not long after, as well as The Two Amigos falling, Protektorat really only had Native River to beat from a long way out.

But having raced keenly early on, he at least had to prove he stayed three miles in the mud and while he did not come under pressure, he certainly was not stopping.

“I was maybe surprised at how far we won, but the testing conditions are catching lots of horses out,” said Andrews.

“We did go a sensible gallop but he has such a high cruising speed, all he does is keep going. I fought him for so long and in the end I couldn’t waste any more energy on him.

“I just tried to relax him and hope he kept going, that was the hardest part of the race.

“He’s got endless amounts of talent and I’m just so lucky to be riding him.

“We always knew he had that talent, but he’s been keen in the past and it was a case of trying to use it right – that was my only concern as he’s a big, strong horse and I’m not very big.

“He was going around at half-speed and we couldn’t go any slower so in the end I just let him jump to the front because once you let him down all he was going to do is gallop.”

John Hales may have another Gold Cup horse on his hands
John Hales may have another Gold Cup horse on his hands (Tim Goode/PA)

Hales, who owns the winner in a partnership with Sir Alex Ferguson, said: “We never had any doubts about Bridget and I wasn’t concerned at all about three miles given how he came up the hill in the Paddy Power. The Gold Cup is the dream again.”

The sponsors cut the winner to 16-1 from 50s for the Gold Cup.

Gordon Elliott, speaking at Navan, ruled out retirement for Tiger Roll.

“I doubt it would be his last race, definitely not,” he said.

“The ground went very soft over there so it probably wouldn’t have been ideal. We’ll see how we are.”

Silver signals bright future with polished display at Haydock

Fergal O’Brien believes the future is bright for Silver Hallmark following an impressive all-the-way victory in the Read Nicky Henderson’s Unibet Blog Novices’ Chase at Haydock.

A field of four runners went to post for the opener on Merseyside, with Henderson’s Allart the 10-11 favourite to double his Grade Two tally after a striking chasing debut at Ascot last month.

Silver Hallmark (2-1), narrowly beaten by Fiddlerontheroof on his first attempt over fences at Exeter in November, was sent straight to the lead on his first start since – and jumped well in the hands of Adam Wedge for much of the two-and-a-half-mile journey.

His task was undoubtedly made easier when Allart crashed out racing down the back straight – but O’Brien’s charge can still be expected to go on to bigger and better things, judged on the way he powered through the testing conditions to score by four and a half lengths.

O’Brien did not make the trip to the north west, but said: “I’m delighted with him – he’s been very well at home.

“He came back from Exeter with a little nick, which took a bit of time to come right, but he’s been in great form.

“Adam gave him a lovely ride. It was only his second run over fences and only the sixth run of his life, including his point-to-point. Haydock takes a bit of jumping, and I’m delighted with how it’s worked out.”

Silver Hallmark has not been entered for any of the novice chases at the Cheltenham Festival, with O’Brien instead eyeing a possible appearance at Aintree’s Grand National meeting.

He added: “We were in a quandary whether to stick over hurdles or go chasing with him, but Mr and Mrs Rucker (owners) said he was bought as a chaser – and I thought it was worth having a crack at a Grade Two today, and if he lost his novice status, so be it.

“I didn’t put him in any of the novice chases at Cheltenham, because I just felt he was lacking a bit of experience.

“Ground is important to him. I don’t think he wants it as bad as today, but soft ground would be important, so if it came up soft at Aintree then we’d definitely have a look at something like that.”

Faivoir lunged late to claim a last-gasp victory in the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle.

Dan Skelton’s six-year-old faced a significant step up in class for this Grade Two test – and looked booked for minor honours jumping the final flight, with Donald McCain’s Minella Drama seemingly in control.

However, Faivoir ate into his lead on the run-in and got up in the dying strides to prevail by a neck at 7-1.

Winning jockey Bridget Andrews was emotional after the race as she reflected on the recent death of stable favourite Mohaayed, who was fatally injured at Market Rasen last Saturday.

Andrews had previously partnered Mohaayed to win the 2018 County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Faivoir winning at Cheltenham earlier this season
Faivoir winning at Cheltenham earlier this season (David Davies/PA)

“Last week was tough – Mohaayed played a big part in my career,” she said.

“I’m delighted for this horse today, and delighted for his owners. He’s actually been brilliant for me, because I’m four from four on him now.

“I think that trip (two miles) is fine for him on this ground. He’s still quite green and has a bit of an awkward way of going. He lugged in behind a little bit – but once I pulled him out and got upsides, I was away then.

“I don’t know what Dan’s plans are going to be. We tried him in a handicap at Sandown, and he didn’t really like the hustle and bustle.”

Following an inquiry, the Haydock stewards handed a four-day suspension to Andrews for careless riding, having edged left on the bend entering the straight and failed to “leave sufficient racing room for the two runners on her inside”.

Andrews and Amoola team up for Ascot Gold

Bridget Andrews received plenty of praise after producing Amoola Gold with a well-timed late run to land the tote.co.uk Handicap Chase at Ascot.

The Dan Skelton-trained seven-year-old took another step forward when following up his comeback win at Wetherby 17 days ago with a last-gasp victory in the extended two-mile Listed event.

After being held up for much of the race, the 9-2 shot was delivered by Andrews at the final fence before getting the better of a late duel with favourite Ibleo by a short head.

Tom Messenger, assistant trainer, said: “It was a fantastic performance. Bridget gave him a fantastic ride to be fair on this ground. She took her time on him and there is only one winning post, but she got there just at the right time.

“He was always a horse we thought a bit of and he has started off well winning two handicap chases. Where we go from here, I’m not quite sure, but hopefully we can go for bigger and better prizes as the season goes on. We were a bit worried about the ground, but now he is stronger he has handled it well.

“He finishes off his races really well and his jumping keeps him in races early doors. As he does stay so well, a fast-run race plays into his hands.”

Sully D’Oc opened his account over fences with a clear-cut victory on his return to action in the Ascot Underwriting Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.

Having finished sixth in the two-mile-three-furlong prize 12 months ago, the Anthony Honeyball-trained second-season novice put his previous experience over fences to good use in running out a ready four-and-three-quarter-length winner from early pacesetter Editeur Du Gite.

Honeyball said of the 9-2 shot: “He was very gassy in the race last year and that was his first run over fences and he was being a bit bolshy taking them on. He then just ran out of petrol turning in.

“I thought he was brilliant today. He was a bit awkward in tight, but he has lots of scope if you need it. What was great today was when Richie (McLernon) needed him, he was on the bridle and when he didn’t, he was just lobbing around.”

“We hoped he would be able to win off his mark then go for a big pot. It was lovely to win and we can take him to some nice races now. We might look at going to Newbury in four weeks.”

Page Fuller celebrated her first winner at the track after College Oak claimed the opening division of the tote.co.uk Conditional Jockeys’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle by half a length.

Fuller said of the Jamie Snowden-trained 9-2 shot: “The one of Ian Williams (Sometimes Always) went off in front and I was able to get my horse into a nice jumping rhythm.

“At the second last I still wasn’t sure if I was going to peg him back, but coming into the last he was coming into top gear and over the last he just kept finding up the straight.

“It was my third winner after losing my claim. It is so nice to keep the momentum rolling.”

Niall Houlihan was another on target at the course for the first time thanks to Fifty Ball (11-4), who gained his first victory since joining Gary Moore when rallying close to the line to deny Straw Fan Jack by a head in division two of the conditionals’ heat.

Moore said: “He is still a baby and still learning, but he is quite experienced on the Flat in France. He has got to the front today and he has just wandered a little bit. The other horse is no mug that has come back at him. He has done well to win.”

Captain Morgs (7-4), who is named after England’s World Cup-winning cricket captain Eoin Morgan, provided Nicky Henderson with another success in the Fever Tree Novices’ Hurdle when mastering Annual Invictus by thre- quarters of length.

Henderson, who has saddled both Altior and My Tent Or Yours to victory in the race, said: “He is named after Eoin Morgan, who we have just had a video call with and who is in rather sunnier climes!

“It was a sprint of a bumper at Warwick and it was a mess of a race and Nico would tell you the same thing. I think he is nice. He jumped very well and got that done well.

“He is only a baby with a big future, I hope. He has got a long way to go in life, but he is going upwards. We wouldn’t have any big aspirations at the moment, but we will creep away quietly for the time being.”