Tag Archive for: Iceo

Iceo seeking to book Triumph Hurdle ticket

Paul Nicholls is hopeful he will again see something special from the exciting Iceo when he takes on seven rivals in the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Iceo is one of a trio of unbeaten horses in the Grade Two contest and the hat-trick-seeking son of Coastal Path now bids to book his place in the Triumph Hurdle over the same course and distance on March 18.

He had won over hurdles in France before arriving at the Ditcheat yard and followed up with an impressive 17-length British debut success at Kempton last month.

“He was highly impressive carrying a penalty on his debut for us on soft ground at Kempton where despite being keen early on he galloped all the way to the line and recorded a fast time,” Nicholls told his Betfair blog.

“The ground will be much quicker on Saturday and he has to do it again on a completely different track. Iceo is in great shape, schooled well in midweek and is obviously smart. This race race should tell us whether he goes for the Triumph Hurdle.”

In what looks a strong renewal, Iceo takes on the Nick Williams-trained Interne De Sivola, whose easy course and distance win in early December has been subsequently franked by the runner-up.

“He is a nice horse and progressive, but it is a strong juvenile race,” said Williams.

“You have to be hopeful after a third and a win over course and distance.

“It is a possibility if he runs well that we will go to the Triumph Hurdle, but we will talk about that with the owner. All roads don’t necessarily lead to Cheltenham and there is no particular plan – we will see what happens on Saturday.

“We would have liked softer ground, so it will be interesting.”

Gordon Elliott adds Irish interest with Pied Piper. A 90-rated Flat handicapper for John and Thady Gosden, he scorched to a 20-length success in a Punchestown maiden hurdle on New Year’s Eve.

Winning connections with Pied Piper after his hurdling debut
Winning connections with Pied Piper after his hurdling debut (Alan Magee)

Elliott said: “He is in good form. It was a good performance at Punchestown on heavy ground on his hurdling debut after a bit of a break.

“He has travelled over fine and we’d be hopeful of a good run.”

The other unbeaten juvenile in the field is Silver Shade, who produced an eyecatching debut for Milton Harris when winning at Kempton on his belated hurdling bow, his first run since June.

Harris feels this will is something of an acid test for the former Mark Johnston inmate, but admitted: “I like him. The race he won, on the face of it, you’d be a little bit worried about the proximity about the Richard Hannon horse (Cuban Cigar) but he wasn’t a bad Flat horse.

Silver Shade made a winning hurdling debut for Milton Harris
Silver Shade made a winning hurdling debut for Milton Harris (Steven Paston/PA)

“I wish I was a month further back, as I would have gone somewhere minor to give him a bit more experience and then gone into this race.

“But the reality is we need to know where we are, because if we have to go the Boodles route, we will have to have another run.

“It was his first go over hurdles at Kempton to be fair, and he jumped really well at home on Wednesday.

“I don’t think he jumped that badly first time. He made a mess of the first and a mess of one down the back, but they will go a faster pace which I think will help him. He is a definite contender and I be surprised if Silver Shade is out of the first three.”

Gary Moore is represented by Moulins Clermont, a 13-length winner at Sandown three weeks ago after a disappointing showing on his British debut at Fontwell.

Moulins Clermont on his way to winning at Sandown
Moulins Clermont on his way to winning at Sandown (Steven Paston/PA)

“I was very pleased with him last time, obviously, after putting a bad run behind him,” said Moore.

“It is a massive jump up in class though and any rain would be appreciated.

“It is going to be a tough race for him, but we will give him a go and see where we are at.”

The Alan King-trained Forever William, Nigel Hawke’s Boulette and Jane Williams’ Moka De Vassy complete the line-up.

Iceo pleases Nicholls – but not certain to head for Triumph

Iceo made an impressive British debut for Paul Nicholls in the Ladbrokes We Play Together Introductory Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton.

A winner on his only previous start in France during the summer, the son of Coastal Path was the 9-4 favourite to follow up in the hands of Bryony Frost.

Iceo raced keenly from the start, but had plenty left to give from the home turn and ultimately left his rivals trailing in his wake. Rewired was 17 lengths behind in second.

Nicholls said: “I wasn’t sure what to expect, to be honest. Although he’d won, and I was very taken by the way he’d won in France, he had been very keen at home and we’d just been trying to get him to relax and get him fit and jumping well, so what he did out there today was going to show us really.

“We thought we’d get a lead in front for longer than we did. The other horse (Illico Des Places) lit him up early on, but once he got by him he dropped the bridle and obviously won very nicely.”

Betfair cut the winner to 16-1 from 50-1 for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, but Nicholls warned: “For a horse like him the Triumph Hurdle is not necessarily the be all and end all.

Bryony Frost after winning on Iceo
Bryony Frost after winning on Iceo (Steven Paston/PA)

“He’s a National Hunt horse of the future. If the Triumph Hurdle came up testing ground then you might look at it, but there’ll be nice races for him along the way and ultimately he’s a chaser of the future.

“We’re not too worried about Triumph Hurdles at the moment, unless he proves differently.”

Emmpressive Lady (3-1 joint-favourite) went one better than last year in the Play Ladbrokes 5-A-Side On Football Mares’ Handicap Hurdle.

Runner-up to the smart Molly Ollys Wishes 12 months ago, Sue Gardner’s charge made no mistake under Sean Houlihan – passing the post with five and a half lengths in hand over Tequila Blaze.

“We came here with a lot of confidence,” said Gardner.

“She’d had one run this season and was jumping out of her skin at home. We knew she’d improved a bit and the horse that beat her last year was a good horse. She only had to find a bit of form to win.

“She’s an out-and-out stayer with a massive heart and loves this ground – she’ll keep going when others can’t.

“The owner wants to get a bit of black type because he’d like to breed from her.”

Five Star Getaway got back on the winning trail in the Play Ladbrokes 1-2-Free On Football Handicap Chase.

Five Star Getaway (right) in action at Kempton
Five Star Getaway (right) in action at Kempton (Steven Paston/PA)

The 12-1 shot was one of three runners for trainer Christian Williams along with the fourth-placed Kitty’s Light and the eighth home Cap Du Nord.

Five Star Getaway won three times last season – and while he was well beaten on his return to action at Chepstow in October, Nick Scholfield’s mount raised his game to claim this £50,000 contest by a length from Fortescue.

Williams said: “The other two have had little setbacks and we’ve had a nice run with this horse, so we’d have been in trouble if he didn’t run well today.

“We knew he’d improve from his run at Chepstow. The owners (Carl Hinchy And Mark Scott) are from Liverpool and I suspect they’d love to have a crack at the Grand National.

“He could come back here in six weeks’ time for what was the Racing Post Chase.”