Tag Archive for: Derek Fox

Ahoy Senor dominates high-class Mildmay field

Ahoy Senor made every yard of the running to record an emphatic success in the Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree.

Lucinda Russell’s seven-year-old had won a Grade One over hurdles at this meeting last season when a relatively unheard of 66-1 chance, and while he is never going to be sent off at those odds again, he was still only third choice in a high-class field of four at 4-1.

That was because he was lining up in arguably the hottest race of its type this season, with L’Homme Presse, who beat him in the Brown Advisory at Cheltenham, and Bravemansgame, who had his measure at Kempton over Christmas, heading the market.

Also in the field was Gordon Elliott’s Fury Road, a Grade One winner in his own right. So the race was eagerly anticipated.

Derek Fox set out to make all, and he was able to control the tempo as he liked, despite his mount repeatedly jumping out to his right.

Because of that Harry Cobden on 11-8 favourite Bravemansgame changed his position from being on his outside to go on the rail and it looked a shrewd move, especially when at the last fence down the back L’Homme Presse was hampered by the eventual winner.

But Bravemansgame quickly came under pressure and was first beaten, and not long after that it soon became apparent L’Homme Presse was not in the same form as at Cheltenham, leaving Fury Road as the big danger.

However, in a matter of strides Ahoy Senor had put the race to bed, bounding five lengths clear of Fury Road.

Russell said: “This time last year he was just amazing and this year he’s been learning about his jumping, but each time he’s raced he’s got better and better.

“At Cheltenham I thought he learnt what he was meant to be doing and he showed it today – he was just outstanding. Cheltenham did make a man of him.

“He’s just a fantastic novice and this is a great way to end his novice season.

“Derek rides him all the time at home. He knows the horses inside out and he is a fantastic horseman. His whole world is focussed on the horse and already has his campaign for next season mapped out!”

Betfair cut the winner from 20-1 to 8-1 for next year’s Gold Cup, and Russell added: “Hopefully we’ll end up with the Gold Cup, God willing. Now it’s a dream again.

Ahoy Senor was a majestic sight
Ahoy Senor was a majestic sight (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I love Aintree and always have done. When we drove in yesterday you can’t help but feel the spirits of everyone past – it’s magic.”

Peter Scudamore, Russell’s assistant and partner, said: “Superman is no good without kryptonite and this horse makes the odd mistake!

“Everyone said he didn’t jump very well at Cheltenham, I thought he made one mistake.

“You are dealing with an elite athlete and I just wanted him to prove it, that’s why I get emotional.

“He’s as good as I’ve come across. I don’t see him as a Carvill’s Hill. This horse jumps right, but I remember another good horse I rode called Young Hustler who’d go left on a right-handed track and right on a left-handed track. I think he finds himself room and he’s just getting it together.

“The only thing I do think he likes is better ground, which works for the big races.

“The Gold Cup trip won’t be against him. We are small fish amongst the big fish and to have a horse like this is an immense privilege.”

L’Homme Presse failed to reproduce his Cheltenham performance
L’Homme Presse failed to reproduce his Cheltenham performance (Steven Paston/PA)

L’Homme Presse was only third, with jockey Charlie Deutsch saying of Venetia Williams’ runner: “He wasn’t as sparky as he’d been at Cheltenham and when I looked across and saw how well Derek was going I knew we were in trouble early on.

“He wasn’t the same horse as at Cheltenham, but it was worth a try.”

Williams said: “It’s horses for courses. I’m not going to take anything away from the winner, who put up a blistering performance, but this was more of a speed test today than even L’Homme Presse’s two-and-a-half-mile races.

“I’m very happy with the way he’s run at the end of a busy season, and I’m delighted for Lucinda.”

Of Bravemansgame, Paul Nicholls said: “That was disappointing, he just didn’t run his race.

“If he’d been upsides two out and got beat yes I would have believed it, but that wasn’t his true form. I think we can put a line through it.”

Russell buoyed by Corach Rambler and Ahoy Senor efforts

Lucinda Russell is mulling over options for stable stars Ahoy Senor and Corach Rambler after their Cheltenham exploits, although she admitted both could be saved for next season.

Ahoy Senor chased home L’Homme Presse in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, while Corach Rambler tasted success with a storming late run under Derek Fox in the Ultima Handicap Chase.

The Alary handler, along with partner and assistant Peter Scudamore, are already looking ahead to next season with plenty of optimism.

Russell said: “Both are fantastic. They have both come home sound and happy. It is just a delight to cap off a super week. We are just really pleased with both of them.

“I don’t know if either will run this season. We are not sure.

“Corach might have an entry in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown, and we will look at Ahoy Senor to see how well he is and whether or not he goes to Aintree, or even Punchestown, but I don’t know. At this stage, we will probably save him for next season.”

Corach Rambler gave Russell her second festival winner 10 years after breaking her duck with Brindisi Breeze. He has now won three of his six starts over fences having bounced back in style after unseating Fox at Ascot on his penultimate run.

Eight-time champion jockey Scudamore, who rode 13 winners at Cheltenham, including two Champion Hurdles, does most of the work at home aboard the quirky eight-year-old, who invariably saves something for himself.

Russell added: “Corach is a horse, because of his style of running, who never wins by very far and I thought Derek gave him a great ride. He is a horse with plenty of ability.

“He is just a very exciting horse. He has been slightly in the shadow of Ahoy Senor, but actually it is nice for him that he has been quite happily working his way up the ranks while everyone is watching the other one.”

Russell feels that their star chasers have somewhat put the Scottish stable back on the map and have provided vindication of the hard work the yard puts in, spotting, securing and producing equine talent.

Star novice Ahoy Senor could be saved for next season
Star novice Ahoy Senor could be saved for next season (David Davies/PA)

“It has been brilliant,” she added. “It is always exciting when you target races with horses and to take two down there and to have a first and second at that level is fantastic. It just eggs us on to want us to do it again.

“We chose the horses ourselves, produced them ourselves and it is good to have that reassurance that what you are doing is correct and it gives you that confidence.

“We came back from a week down there and look around at the other horses we have got and I just can’t wait for next year!

“We will be buying again this spring and summer, but we have got nice ones for next season again too, hopefully.”

Corach Rambler swoops late for Ultima glory, Brazil floors Gaelic Warrior plunge

Corach Rambler came from the rear of the field to score an unlikely victory in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.

Derek Fox produced the Lucinda Russell-trained eight-year-old with a incredible late run to land the spoils in cosy fashion, going away.

Fox was patient on the 10-1 shot after being slowly way due to the standing start. Corach Rambler only had one horse, Belargus, behind him in the early stages of the three-mile-one-furlong stamina test.

He still had more horses in front than behind him at the top of the hill, but he made relentless progress on the downhill section of the course to challenge the two leaders, Gericault Roque and Oscar Elite, at the final fence.

Derek Fox (centre left) and connections of Corach Rambler celebrate at Cheltenham
Derek Fox (centre left) and connections of Corach Rambler celebrate at Cheltenham (Nigel French/PA)

That pair looked to have the race between them but Fox had other ideas and Corach Rambler came between them in the closing stages to win by two and a quarter lengths from Gericault Roque. Oscar Elite was a head away in third with Tea Clipper eight lengths back in fourth.

Russell said: “It means so much. Driving here I said to Scu (partner Peter Scudamore) ‘if we had loads of horses running at the Festival, it wouldn’t matter so much’, but we’re so invested in the two that are here.

“Scu does everything with this horse and it’s not just having a winner at Cheltenham, which means a lot, but it’s about the horse and the owners, a lot of whom haven’t had a horse before. It’s amazing.

“He worked quite well with Ahoy Senor the other day. Most horses couldn’t lay a finger on him, but this horse got quite close to him.

“I didn’t want him to go to Ascot last time, Scu did. He said afterwards he would have been first or second and would have gone up 5lb, so maybe it was a good thing that he unseated.

“He could be an Aintree horse next year, definitely.

“Because of the false starts we were at the back and I was stood with the owners and said to one of them ‘we’ll need a vintage Derek Fox ride’ and we got one.

“It’s funny, it suits the horse as he loves coming through horses. He’s a bit quirky but that was lovely, we knew he’d come up the hill as he’d won here before.

“I’ve said before, Scu rides him all the time and they suit each other as they are both quirky. I want them to do two canters and he’ll head off and canter on the grass. It’s great, well done Derek.”

Brazil edged out hot favourite Gaelic Warrior to give trainer Padraig Roche a first Festival winner in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.

French import Gaelic Warrior looked like justifying his short price of 13-8 favourite on his debut for Willie Mullins, but he was collared close home by the former Aidan O’Brien-trained Brazil.

Both horses were up with the pace from the outset with Gaelic Warrior making virtually all until Brazil (10-1) got the upper hand close home in the hands of Mark Walsh.

Brazil and Mark Walsh
Brazil and Mark Walsh (Nigel French/PA)

“It’s fantastic, we’re lucky to have a horse like him. It’s great,” said Roche, who took over the licence from his father, Christy.

“He’s a full-brother to Capri so we knew he’d definitely stay, Mark was brilliant on him so I’m just delighted. JP and Noreen (McManus) have been very good to me.

“It’s unbelievable, I’ve been coming here since I was young, when dad was training. It’s just unbelievable that it’s worked out.

“We just thought he was improving, it’s taken him a while with his jumping but he was improving.”

Of Gaelic Warrior, who was a huge ante-post plunge, Joe Chambers, racing manager to owner Rich Ricci said: “He jumped a bit right and put down at the third-last. Then he went right at the last. He’s going to jump fences fairly shortly.

“Look it was worth a punt and it gave everyone a kick. There’s plenty of time, he’s not even eight years old.”

Ahoy Senor makes all for impressive Newbury verdict

Ahoy Senor galloped his rivals into the ground with a dominating front-running display in the Ladbrokes John Francome Novices’ Chase at Newbury.

The Lucinda Russell-trained six-year-old unseated his rider on his chasing debut at Kelso four weeks ago and while he made the odd mistake here, he stuck to his task honourably to put his three rivals to the sword.

Mr Incredible, the 11-10 favourite for Irish trainer Henry de Bromhead, got with a length of Ahoy Senor in the home straight with four fences left, but that was as close as he got.

He was quickly brushed aside as the 5-2 shot bounded clear to score by 31 lengths in the hands of Derek Fox.

Ahoy Senor clears the Newbury water jump
Ahoy Senor clears the Newbury water jump (Steven Paston/PA)

Coral offer 6-1 from 20s about Ahoy Senor’s chance in next year’s Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase and his trainer is no doubt about the quality of her charge, who won a Grade One over hurdles at Aintree last term.

She said: “When you start talking about equality, your lady trainer unfortunately started crying there. I am not sure if male trainers do that.

“I started crying up the home straight. Coming back in, to actually think you have a horse like that – it is just amazing to be connected to a horse like this.

“We have won a Grand National and that was very special, but this is a young horse who is just starting off.

“I was watching him through the race and he is still a novice. That is his sixth race. He has no experience and he jumped around there with such ability. It is phenomenal to be involved with a horse like this.

“We knew he was a good horse at home – you just have to look at his stride and the way he gallops.

“It is nice for the owners, Karen and Bruce Wymer. They have made such an effort – they drove down from Aberdeen. They were meant to get a flight and that was cancelled. It was a good effort from them – we are made tough in Scotland.

“I could not have dreamed he would win by 31 lengths, but I’d hope that he’d win – but not like that.”

A trip to Kempton at Christmas could now be on the cards.

Russell added: “I don’t know what we’ll do, but it is probably easier to plan things with good horses.

“He was entitled to win on his handicap mark. The Kauto Star at Kempton is on the radar and that is right-handed so that will probably suit him. He is not the finished article yet and we have to get his jumping a little tighter, but he seemed to improve up the home straight.

“He is just an amazing horse – phenomenal!”

Ahoy Senor springs 66-1 surprise in Sefton Novices’ Hurdle

The Grand National-winning team of Lucinda Russell and Derek Fox teamed up at Aintree once more to win the Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle with Ahoy Senor at 66-1.

Having just his second start over hurdles, having won at Ayr last month, Ahoy Senor made every yard of the running.

As his challengers dropped away one by one in the straight there was only the favourite, Paul Nicholls’ Bravemansgame, who brought the strongest form to the table, able to get close before the final flight.

Ahoy Senor was not for stopping, though, and the lightly-raced six-year-old went away again on the run-in to score by seven lengths and his future looks very bright.

Fox, who won the 2017 National with the Russell-trained One For Arthur, said: “It’s unbelievable as he’s only had the one run over hurdles before.

“He works so well at home and everyone thinks a lot of him. I’m delighted.

“He’s a very talented horse. He does everything with so much ease and he’s a pleasure to ride – I’m very lucky to be on him.

“This is my first winner back here since the Grand National on One For Arthur (in 2017). It was brilliant.

“He’s a big horse and you wouldn’t to risk him on ground that was too fast. He does go on good ground. We just want it to be safe enough for him because he’s so big and you don’t want to risk injuring him. That’s why we took him out at Hexham.”

Russell said: “He’s just a super horse who gallops and jumps. I saw him win his point-to-point and he did the same thing there.

“It was only his second hurdle race today, but there was such confidence behind him at home. I just saw he was 66-1.

“I can’t believe we managed to get him beaten in a bumper, but jumping has taken him to another level and I can’t wait for him to go chasing.

Ahoy Senor looks to have a huge future
Ahoy Senor looks to have a huge future (David Davies/Jockey Club)

“We bought him for £50,000, which is a lot of money, but not for a winning a point-to-pointer.”

She added: “It’s great for Derek to ride another big winner and great for the whole yard at home.

“He’s half-owned by my dad, who is 93. He’s found it hard through lockdown, like many people have. The racing has really kept him going, so it’s nice for him to watch it today.

“He is physically a bigger horse than Brindisi Breeze. He has already schooled over fences and jumps well, so I would hope next year is going to be really exciting.”