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Chantry House collects Mildmay honours at Aintree

Chantry House took full advantage of the exit of Espoir De Romay to land victory in the Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree.

The Marsh Novices’ Chase winner from Cheltenham was two lengths down approaching the second-last when Kim Bailey’s long-time leader crumpled on landing.

That left the 11-8 favourite a long way clear of Shan Blue and he went on to provide Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville with a welcome winner having drawn a blank at the meeting up to then.

Espoir De Romay had set a fair gallop out in front, with David Bass getting some great leaps out of his mount.

He looked to be travelling the better of the two, with Bass still yet to really ask a serious question while De Boinville was hard at it, only for Espoir De Romay to come down.

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There were some big disappointments, with the Colin Tizzard pair of The Big Breakaway and Fiddlerontheroof never figuring and Sporting John pulling up.

Shan Blue travelled well before his stamina gave out before three out. He was beaten 32 lengths in second.

The winner was left unchanged at 20-1 by Paddy Power for next year’s Gold Cup, while Espoir De Romay was introduced at 33-1.

I felt I had David covered, but who knows?

De Boinville said: “I thought he travelled well enough early doors and then David Bass went up a gear and I just had to nudge and coax him along. I felt I had David covered, but who knows?

“I think this week has shown that doing Cheltenham and Aintree is quite hard, with only three weeks in between.

“The team at home have done a wonderful job getting Chantry House to run again and put up a performance like that.”

Nico de Boinville and Chantry House
Nico de Boinville and Chantry House (Tim Goode/PA)

Henderson said: “Nico was reasonably confident that he was creeping to the other horse, but I feel very sorry for Kim, as his horse had put up an exhibition and set a very strong gallop.

“The object of the exercise was to find out if he’s a three-mile horse – and they’ve gone a good enough gallop there to prove that is what he wants. It tells us where to go next year.

“I don’t know where we’ll start next season – we’ll talk to JP (McManus).”

He added: “I think you’ve got admire any horse that wins at Cheltenham and comes and wins here – they’ve got to be pretty good to do that.

“He’s a very solid horse with a great temperament and a lovely attitude to life.

“He might have been lucky twice, with Envoi Allen falling at Cheltenham and Kim’s horse today, but I hope he hasn’t used all his luck up as he’s got a bright future in front of him.”

Henderson expects trip to suit Chantry House

Nicky Henderson is confident the step up in trip can bring the best out of Chantry House the Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree.

The JP McManus-owned seven-year-old caused a minor upset when landing the two-and-a-half-mile Marsh Novices’ Chase at last month’s Cheltenham Festival, with red-hot favourite Envoi Allen making it no further than the fourth fence.

Chantry House steps up to three miles and a furlong in his bid to double his Grade One tally on Merseyside on Friday, with his trainer expecting to have a clearer idea of potential targets for next season afterwards.

Henderson said: “When they set off down the back straight at Cheltenham, Shan Blue suddenly injected a lot of pace into the race – and to be fair, it looked as if Chantry House was nearly out of his comfort zone for a while.

“They had gone very hard, and he soon got back into it and won really nicely, but it did look as if he was crying out for three miles.

“I think this is a good time to try it. We know he stays two-and-a-half really well – and if we try three now, at least we’ll know where to go next season.”

Colin Tizzard fires a formidable twin assault, with stablemates Fiddlerontheroof and The Big Breakaway renewing rivalry after finishing second and third behind Monkfish in Cheltenham’s Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.

Other contenders include Dan Skelton’s Shan Blue and Espoir De Romay from Kim Bailey’s yard.

Espoir De Romay on his way to victory at Leicester
Espoir De Romay on his way to victory at Leicester (David Davies/PA)

The latter faces a step up in class following an impressive handicap success at Leicester last month.

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Bailey said: “The handicapper has put him of 15lb for winning at Leicester, which I think is absolutely crazy.

“I hope the handicapper is right – because if he is, we’re only 4lb behind Chantry House.

“I don’t know whether we are or not, but we won’t know until we run.”

The first of four Grade Ones on day two of the Grand National meeting is the Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle, which stages the return of Henderson’s Dusart.

The six-year-old got the better of the high-class Soaring Glory on his hurdling debut at Newbury in November, but has not been seen in competitive action since.

“Dusart was very impressive at Newbury,” said Henderson.

“He then had a freak accident and has been missing since. I actually didn’t think we’d get him back at all this season.

“He’s a smart horse, I hope.”

His nine rivals include Peter Fahey’s County Hurdle winner Belfast Banter, the Alex Hales-trained Supreme Novices’ Hurdle third For Pleasure and Bailey’s Ajero – who has won his last four races.

Alex Hales has high hopes for For Pleasure
Alex Hales has high hopes for For Pleasure (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Hales said of For Pleasure: “We think Aintree should suit him – a big, flat, left-handed and slightly sharper track.

“We’ve been looking forward to this race all year, to be honest. He ran above expectations at Cheltenham, and we couldn’t be happier with him going into Aintree.”

Bailey is keeping his fingers crossed for a bold showing from Ajero, but is wary of the threat posed by the Henderson runner.

He said: “I have to say I was hugely impressed with Dusart at Newbury – I think he’ll take an awful lot of beating.

“I hope our horse will run well. He’s in good form.”

Bravemansgame will be a hot favourite for the Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle.

Third behind the hugely impressive Bob Olinger in the Ballymore at Cheltenham, the Challow Hurdle winner is stepped up to three miles for the first time since his success in an Irish point-to-point two years ago.

Nicholls told Betfair: “He won a point-to-point as a four-year-old over three miles and was staying on stoutly when successful in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury, so I don’t have any concerns about the step up in trip for him on this drying ground.

“It’s in the back of my mind that he had a very hard race at Cheltenham – but he seems fine at home, and the only way you find out is by running them. On all his form this season, he has a decent chance.”

Streets Of Doyen is an interesting contender
Streets Of Doyen is an interesting contender (David Davies/PA)

Two of the biggest threats to Bravemansgame hail from Ireland, as Emmet Mullins and Rachael Blackmore team up with Cape Gentleman and John McConnell saddles Albert Bartlett third Streets Of Doyen.

McConnell feels the drying ground at Aintree will be in Streets Of Doyen’s favour.

“We’re really looking forward to that,” said the County Meath trainer.

“He’s in great nick. The drying ground will suit him a lot, more so than in Cheltenham. The ground there was probably too sticky for him.

“It’s a competitive race, but I expect him to go well.”

Danny Mullins steps in to floor Stayers’ rivals

Flooring Porter provided Danny Mullins with an unexpected Cheltenham Festival victory on the third day of the showpiece meeting.

Contesting the feature race, the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle, Flooring Porter was the intended mount of Jonathan Moore but it was Mullins who got the leg-up when Moore felt an injury sustained in a previous fall would leave him unable to ride the horse to the best of his abilities.

Such a turn of events proved to be a stroke of luck for Mullins, who expertly steered the six-year-old to a three-and-a-quarter-length success at 12-1 for trainer Gavin Cromwell.

The Marsh Novices’ Chase provided another unexpected result as the odds-on favourite Envoi Allen fell at the fourth fence, sacrificing his flawless record and leaving an opportunity for Nicky Henderson’s Chantry House he was not to forego.

Elsewhere Rachael Blackmore’s dominance continued as she was victorious for Henry de Bromhead in both the Ryanair Chase and the Parnell Properties Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, aboard Allaho and Telmesomethinggirl respectively.

Mrs Milner was another popular winner as she took the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle for trainer Paul Nolan and resurgent jockey Bryan Cooper, while Mount Ida had to be seen to be believed in the Kim Muir.

Picture of the day

Jack Kennedy cuts a lone figure as he walks back up the course after falling from 4-9 favourite Envoi Allen in the Marsh Novices’ Chase
Jack Kennedy cuts a lone figure as he walks back up the course after falling from 4-9 favourite Envoi Allen in the Marsh Novices’ Chase (David Davies/PA)
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Quote of the day

“Everybody knows how hard it is to get a good horse. We came across this lad by accident, he was a very cheap store so it’s a bit of a fairytale really – it just goes to show dreams can still happen” – Gavin Cromwell after Flooring Porter’s success in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle.

Performance of the day

Allaho, ridden by Rachael Blackmore, on his way to winning the Ryanair Chase
Allaho, ridden by Rachael Blackmore, on his way to winning the Ryanair Chase (Tim Goode/PA)

Allaho was an emphatic winner of the Ryanair Chase for Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore, soaring to a 12-length victory after leading from the third fence to the line. Though his jump at the final fence was not completely fluent, the seven-year-old had been so bold and dominant from the tapes that only a tumble would have thrown a rope to the distant chasing pack.

Ride of the day

Jack Kennedy clears the last in front on Mount Ida
Jack Kennedy clears the last in front on Mount Ida (David Davies/Jockey Club)

Backers of Mount Ida – and there were plenty as she was sent off the 3-1 favourite in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup – would have been forgiven for throwing away their tickets after four fences. She was jumping markedly out to her right and was almost tailed off before Jack Kennedy produced one of the most memorable rides in Festival history. Having hit the maximum 999-1 in-running, Mount Ida sliced through the field before hitting the front on the bridle. Quite how much she will go up in the handicap is for another day.

Tweet of the day

Liverpool’s James Milner was following the action closely – he was always going to be backing Mrs Milner!

What’s next?

Al Boum Photo is poised to bid for a famous hat-trick
Al Boum Photo is poised to bid for a famous hat-trick (Tim Goode/PA)


Al Boum Photo will bid to emulate greats such as Best Mate and Arkle when he attempts to win a third successive Gold Cup on the final day of the Festival. His chief rivals are Henry de Bromhead’s A Plus Tard, piloted by the in-form Rachael Blackmore, and Nicky Henderson’s Champ. Elsewhere on the card the leading four-year-old hurdlers battle it out in the JCB Triumph Hurdle, with Zanahiyr and Tritonic heading the field, and Elimay is well-fancied for the Grade Two Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase.

Envoi Allen crashes out as Chantry House takes Marsh honours

Chantry House took the Marsh Novices’ Chase after Envoi Allen’s untimely and unexpected early exit in the opening race on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival.

All eyes had been on Envoi Allen and there was a real sense of anti-climax when the 4-9 favourite came down at the fourth fence, leaving his jockey Jack Kennedy disconsolate.

It was trainer Nicky Henderson who was the beneficiary, saddling the 9-1 winner Chantry House, ridden by Nico de Boinville, as well as the runner-up Fusil Raffles for good measure.

The latter was up front from the start along with Shan Blue, who was given the office by Harry Skelton to stretch the field a long way out.

That injection of pace caught the opposition off guard, but they still were able to reel in Dan Skelton’s charge after three out where the Henderson pair were in prime position.

Chantry House proved the stronger up the hill to prevail by three lengths from Fusil Raffles and give Henderson a 70th winner at the Festival.

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Asterion Forlonge was another two lengths back in third, with Chatham Street Lad fourth.

Henderson said: “He was very good. To be fair, when Dan’s horse quickened up down the back, it was a bit like last year. When he ran in the Supreme behind Shishkin he looked to need another half mile and it looked the same again.

“You’d have to think he’ll be going over three miles sooner rather than later.

“At Wetherby last time out he was good, but he needed surgery on his back after he ran here the time before. He did well to get back in time to run at Wetherby, in truth.

A long walk back for a devastated Jack Kennedy after the fall of Envoi Allen
A long walk back for a devastated Jack Kennedy after the fall of Envoi Allen (Tim Goode/PA)

“He’s a lovely horse and I’d hoped he would at least give Envoi Allen a bit of a race, but you’ve got to take it when you are given a chance like that.

“I don’t know why we wouldn’t go over three miles at Aintree or Punchestown, it just depends how quick he recovers.”

He added: “It’s a pity he (Envoi Allen) fell from a lot of points of view, but on the other hand it was nice to take the opportunity. He’s looked flawless all year so it was a surprise to see him do that.

“We looked in top gear for a lot of the race there, so it certainly looked like going further would help him.

“We’ve had a couple of disappointments this week, it’s nice to get JP (McManus, owner) on the board for the week, too.”

Henry de Bromhead, trainer of Envoi Allen, said: “Jack just said he was a little bit keen. He just launched at the fence, unfortunately, and that was it.

“I’ve had a look at him though and he looked fine, and Jack’s fine too, so that’s good.”

Henry de Bromhead walks down to console Jack Kennedy
Henry de Bromhead walks down to console Jack Kennedy (David Davies/Jockey Club)

Kennedy said: “He is fine, so that’s the main thing. He was very keen down over the first few fences and he was very brave over the first two.

“He went down and popped the third fence then and I thought he might be settling into it, but he went down and let fly at that one and fell. That’s hugely disappointing, but we live to fight another day.

“He was just doing too much with me in behind horses and he just came up out of my hands and landed on the top of the fence. He will learn from it, I suppose. He’s never made a mistake in his life so that was probably too good to be true.

“Something was going to happen at some point, so he will learn from it.”

Chantry House back in business at Wetherby

Chantry House put himself “back on track” for the big spring festivals with a return to winning form in Wetherby’s Bet At racingtv.com Novices’ Chase.

Jockey Nico de Boinville could reflect on a retrieval mission successfully completed as last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle third put behind him a 14-length defeat on his second chase start at Cheltenham in December.

Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old jumped economically and well to land the odds as 4-5 favourite, by three-and-a-quarter lengths from Coconut Splash.

Chantry House led early in the straight and stayed on well, earning a new quote of 10-1 from Paddy Power for next month’s Marsh Novices’ Chase back at Cheltenham.

De Boinville was not about to pinpoint that target, or any others, but pronounced himself very satisfied after winning with his only mount on the card.

“I was happy with that,” he said.

“He’s put Cheltenham behind him there. He jumped well, despite the ground. You couldn’t really be asking for too many big jumps, because he wouldn’t last home then.

“(But) his jumping was very measured, I think.

“I don’t know what the plan is – we’ll leave that to connections and the boss.”

Chantry House was conceding 6lb to an undoubtedly useful runner-up, and De Boinville added: “I thought that was probably the one, coming into this race, we were going to have to beat.

“That was good – back on track. That was the most important thing after Cheltenham the last day.

“He’s jumped and travelled well, which is what we were hoping for.

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“I think he’ll be better on better ground as well.”

Kerry Lee does have a specific Cheltenham race in mind for Ballybegg after the 10-11 favourite’s determined victory in the opening Every Race Live On Racing TV Novices’ Hurdle.

Following her 100th winner in Britain, the Herefordshire trainer was kind enough to suggest the correct soundbite, too.

“It’s Ballybegg for the Ballymore!” she said.

The six-year-old, who led almost throughout and then battled back strongly when headed to beat expensive recruit Papa Tango Charly by a head, remains a general 66-1 shot for his only Cheltenham entry.

But Lee said: “I think we’ll have to seriously consider it – as long as there’s some cut in the ground.

“I’ve been in the job long enough now to think ‘Well, when you have an opportunity you should take it’.

“You don’t get many horses you can consider running in a Grade One.

“When you do, and they’ve won like that, why not?”

Ballybegg and jockey Richard Patrick were following up their wide-margin win at Hereford last month.

Dual course winner Storm Control is set to return to Cheltenham next month
Dual course winner Storm Control is set to return to Cheltenham next month (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Lee added: “It was a very nice performance – I don’t know how good he is.

“But the runner-up is a very decent horse on his day, and he clearly ran a very solid race.”

Lee is readying two more stable stars for Cheltenham, in Storm Control and Happy Diva.

“It’ll be Storm Control (Kim Muir), Happy Diva (Mares’ Chase) and this chap,” she said.

“I’ve only got 20 to run – so that’s not bad, is it? We like a bit of quality.”

Storm Control also has a Grand National entry – but well down the order after the publication of the Aintree weights on Tuesday, Lee is realistic about his prospects of making the cut.

“He is in the National, but I’m not sure he’ll get in,” she said

“I had a quick count down and thought ‘aah’.

“We’ll concentrate on Cheltenham.”

Lee and Patrick were denied a double when Umbrigado beat their Destined To Shine by two and a half lengths in the feature Sixt Car Hire Handicap Chase.

David Pipe’s novice, having just his third race over fences, was adding to last month’s victory at Fontwell under Tom Scudamore – and is another who may have Festival aspirations.

Scudamore said of the 7-2 winner: “That was really good. We always thought he would make into a nice chaser, and he’s beginning to do that.

“He saw that out well in tough conditions – he’s very versatile.

“He’ll improve for more experience.

“I imagine he’ll have entries at Cheltenham, but we’ll see – whether it’s Grand Annual or the two-and-a-half (Paddy Power Plate). It’s a shame that the two-and-a-half-mile novice isn’t there any more – that would have been the race for him.”

Nightboattoclyro and Robbie Dunne (leading) won the racingtv.com Handicap Hurdle at Wetherby
Nightboattoclyro and Robbie Dunne (leading) won the racingtv.com Handicap Hurdle at Wetherby (Tim Goode/PA)

Robbie Dunne made his first ride on Nightboattoclyro a winning one as Sam Drinkwater’s improving seven-year-old completed his hat-trick, up in grade for the racingtv.com Handicap Hurdle.

The well-backed 3-1 favourite collared front-runner West To The Bridge to prevail by almost two lengths, and Drinkwater said: “He’ll probably have one more run, then he’ll be a chaser next season.

“He won’t get in to Cheltenham, but there’s bound to be something for him at Aintree.”

West To The Bridge’s trainer Dan Skelton was successful with 9-2 shot Embole in the BoscaSports Racings Digital Display Handicap Hurdle – after which Jonathan England was suspended for 11 days for excessive use of the whip on runner-up Billy Ray.

Chantry House delights Henderson with victory at first time of asking over fences

Chantry House made his debut over fences a triumphant one in the Ascot Racecourse Supports Safer Gambling Week Novices’ Chase at Ascot.

Last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle third looked a natural on his first chasing start, running out a convincing winner of the two-mile-three-furlong contest.

Settled in behind the early pace, the Nicky Henderson-trained six-year-old had his task made easier when chief market rival Pic D’Orhy took a fall at the third-last.

Left with just outsider of the trio Up The Straight to beat, the 4-9 favourite only needed to be shaken up over the final two fences before crossing the line 26 lengths clear of his sole rival.

Henderson said: “He was having a really good blow. Nico (de Boinville) said coming out of Swinley Bottom he was taking his first blow. It’s quite tiring ground out there. I was really pleased with his jumping. It was good and tidy, but you have to be a bit careful going down that hill with one first time out.

“Once he pulled him out and said ‘come on, go for it’ he was quite relaxed and warmed to it all the way up the hill.

“You need to be fairly sure of a horse to bring them here first time.”

Assessing future plans for Chantry House – who is quoted at 12-1 for the Marsh Novices’ Chase in March with Coral and Betfair – the Seven Barrows handler hinted a return to Ascot next month for the Grade Two Jacquart Noel Novices’ Chase could be on the agenda.

He said: “He learnt a lot today and could come back here at Christmas.

“He certainly is not going to go down in trip and that was about ideal for now. One day he is almost certainly going to get further.”

Danny Kirwan got his career back on track with a front-running success in the Lexicon Recruitment “National Hunt” Maiden Hurdle.

The Paul Nicholls-trained seven-year-old went two places better than on his comeback at Aintree to secure his first victory in over two years.

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Although favourite Time Flies By looked a serious threat late on, the 3-1 shot found plenty from the front to claim victory by three and a half lengths.

Nicholls – out of luck with Pic D’Orhy in the opener – said: “He has had plenty of problems and needed his first run at Aintree. I thought he came on a lot for that.

“It has been stop-start with him and it was nice he improved from that and he will improve again from today.

“He is a chaser in the making, but I guess we will stay over hurdles for the immediate future. He will make a lovely chaser one day. He will definitely have one more hurdle race I’d say, probably over a bit further.”

The Ditcheat handler has not ruled out pitching Danny Kirwan into Grade One company for the first time in next month’s Challow Hurdle at Newbury.

He added: “You wouldn’t be afraid to (run in a Challow Hurdle) on very testing ground, but we have two or three for that. Some of the younger ones wouldn’t want that and if the ground was heavy you wouldn’t rule something like that out.”

Metier was an impressive winner at Ascot
Metier was an impressive winner at Ascot (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Harry Fry will explore big-race options with Metier following his stylish victory in the Play The Coral ‘Racing Super Series’ Introductory Hurdle.

The former Flat racer had little trouble following up his debut victory over hurdles as he gave Fry his third success in the race.

Always looking in control out in front, the even-money favourite pulled smartly clear from the last before defeating Tile Tapper by five and a half lengths.

Fry said: “We didn’t necessarily want to make it, but he has got form on the Flat. When it was pretty apparent there was going to be no pace, there was no point sitting behind off that.

“He just showed signs of inexperience, which he is entitled to as that is only his second time over hurdles. He was just having a good look at his hurdles out in front.

“What really impressed me was turning in – when Sean (Bowen) went for him he went again and attacked the last two. He is highly exciting and there is lots to look forward to.”

Fry is weighing up two potential targets for Metier, who was introduced at 25-1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle by Coral and Betfair.

He added: “It is a nice dilemma to have where we go next. Do we come back here in a month for the Grade Two (Kennel Gate) or maybe go for a Tolworth. We will see, but it’s a nice position to be in.”

Espoir De Guye and Charlie Deutsch (left) clears the last at Ascot
Espoir De Guye and Charlie Deutsch (left) clears the last at Ascot (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Espoir De Guye put in a fine weight-carrying performance when returning to winning ways in the Coral Handicap Chase.

Last sighted failing to complete behind Imperial Aura at the Cheltenham Festival, the six-year-old – a winner at Ascot in December – was one of three still holding a chance on the approach to the final fence, which was dolled off due to damage sustained earlier in the race.

And the 5-2 favourite duly rallied in game fashion to get the better of Earlofthecotswolds by half a length.

Winning trainer Venetia Williams said: “He had a bit of bad luck at the Festival, as he got kicked at the start and it looked like it was going to be a false start and it wasn’t. It is great to bring him back to Ascot and pick up where he left off.

“I must admit I was a bit worried at the last. The fence was damaged and the chevrons were up, but for us in the grandstand all we could see was the white back of the chevron which blended in behind the white rail. For a few moments I was worried the race was void.

“I’ll speak to the owners now and see what our options are, then make a plan together.”

Buzz (yellow cap) was a popular winner
Buzz (yellow cap) was a popular winner (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Buzz provided the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity with a financial boost after completing doubles for Henderson and De Boinville with a facile victory in the Coral ‘Fail To Finish’ Free Bet Handicap Hurdle.

Henderson said: “Thurloe Thoroughbreds have several horses in training, but with Buzz and a pair of two-year-olds 25 per cent of all the prize-money they win will go to the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity which is a fantastic gesture.”

On the even-money winner, he added: “He loves that ground and he had run well at Ffos Las. With ours, it’s funny – they are taking a bit of a race to get ready and there is a horse having his second run and it makes a big difference.

“We could come back here for the big handicap before Christmas or look at something at Newbury. He looked good there, but the race was run to suit him.”

The stands may have been empty, but that could not the gloss off victory for Charlie Todd, who celebrated his first Ascot winner aboard the Ian Williams-trained Tide Times (3-1) in the Coral Supporting Prostate Cancer UK Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.

Todd said: “I can’t quite believe it really. It’s such a shame there is no crowd or no one in the stands, but hopefully we will get them back soon. Take nothing away though, it’s great to get a winner at Ascot.”