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Song repels Silver challenge to take International honours

Song For Someone continued his progression when just holding off Silver Streak in the Unibet International Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Trained by Tom Symonds, the five-year-old was dropping back in trip having won the Coral Hurdle last time out, but he had to dig deep on the run to the line.

Several hurdles were omitted due to low sun and there were plenty in with chances turning into the straight, but it was the chestnut under Aidan Coleman who continued on his winning streak.

Silver Streak, who was carried out by a loose horse in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle two weeks ago, finished with a wet sail under Adam Wedge, but he went down by just a nose to the 6-1 chance.

Goshen, the 6-4 favourite, had been keen throughout and got to the front coming down the hill, but faded out of contention quickly to be last.

Symonds said: “The lack of hurdles caused a real problem. He got out of rhythm early on and Aidan said he was very brave today.

“He did very well with no hurdles in the straight – as you saw at Ascot, when you are firing him at hurdles, that is when he is making ground, not on the flat.

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“I’m delighted. For a horse to win three Grade Twos on the trot is a really big effort and he is only a five-year-old. He is just a fantastic horse to have.

“I’m thrilled for (owners) Sir Peter and Lady Gibbings, particularly Sir Peter, who is not well and has not been well for a long time. I can tell you the replays of the Kingwell Hurdle (in February) have definitely kept him going through lockdown, as he is in his own lockdown really at home.”

Symonds believes easy ground is key to Song For Someone’s potential Cheltenham or Aintree challenge.

He added: “It would need to be very soft for him to figure in one of those (Champion Hurdle or Aintree Hurdle).

“I’m not downing him, but I just wonder if he has the tactical speed in a Champion Hurdle. I was surprised he won a Kingwell in the nicest sense. We will live on today.

“We will see how we go, but I wonder if, on maybe softer ground, and even if it was better ground, two and a half at Aintree would suit him as we have seen with that race in general it suits horses that rock and roll.

“He is just a fabulous horse and I’m glad we didn’t go chasing.”

Coleman added: “I was in top gear most of the way, believe it or not. He has a fantastic attitude. He kept finding.

“Going around the last hurdle, he picked up again and he would have been an unlucky loser as he was just in front that little bit too long.

“I’m not sure if the old track in the Champion Hurdle would suit him, I’m not just saying because of Epatante or anything like that.

“He is maybe more of an Aintree horse. He has won three Grade Twos in his last three runs and he is ready to go up in company. He is a very admirable horse. A word for Tom Symonds as well, as he has done extremely well with him.”

Silver Streak’s trainer Evan Williams felt the omission of hurdles had detracted from the race.

He said: “We’ve got to do something about these obstacles coming out as it doesn’t enhance the spectacle. I’m not saying it’s cost us, what I’m saying is it has cost the sport. My horse got beat fair and square – that is racing.

“The ground is no excuse. He is better on faster ground, but the winner has won well. I never moan about getting beat. Our horse has run a great race and the winner has run a better race.

“We won’t go to Haydock as the ground won’t suit him. If the ground is OK, two weeks today we will be at Kempton to watch Nicky’s (Henderson) mare (Epatante) swoop by us going to the last and we will admire her backside and try to get a bit of prize money (in the Christmas Hurdle).

“He is a horse of a life time for Mr Fell (owner) and us and I’m very proud of him.”

Sceau Royal ‘in good order’ but no decision yet on International run

Alan King plans to make a late call on whether to let Sceau Royal line up for Saturday’s Unibet International Hurdle.

Better known as a high-class two-miler over fences, the eight-year-old has successfully reverted to the smaller obstacles this season with victories in the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las and the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton.

He had to make do with the runner-up spot behind last season’s Champion Hurdle heroine Epatante in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle on his latest appearance – and King was undecided on Tuesday as to whether to let his charge turn out a fortnight later at Cheltenham.

“I’m going to wait and see what the weather does and he’s also got to do a little bit of work in the morning, so we’ll see how that goes,” said the Barbury Castle handler.

“It’s obviously not long since the Fighting Fifth. He seems in good order, but I won’t make a decision until Thursday.”

Race sponsors Unibet make Sceau Royal a 9-2 shot for the Grade Two contest, with Gary Moore’s Goshen heading the market at 9-4.

Moore sets sights set on International mission for Goshen

Gary Moore is “desperate” to run Goshen in Saturday’s Unibet International Hurdle at Cheltenham.

It will mean a return to the scene of his unseating of Jamie Moore at the Cheltenham Festival in March, when the Triumph Hurdle was all but won.

Goshen had been in the frame to run in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton in early November and then the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle, but missed both engagements and Moore accepts time is now getting on.

Moore said: “We’re really looking to it, he’s been very good the last few weeks.

“He had a little school this morning, in the indoor school, and he was very quick and accurate and I couldn’t be happier.

“People were quite rude about his jumping before Cheltenham, but I was convinced it would be fine and it was – apart from what happened at the last and that was just a freak accident. Otherwise he was spot on at everything.

“We’ll see if our grass is good enough to work on in the morning and if it is he’ll do his last piece of work. He’ll be scoped afterwards and all being well he’ll head to Cheltenham.”

Goshen's back leg catches his front leg in the Triumph Hurdle, giving Jamie Moore no chance
Goshen’s back leg catches his front leg in the Triumph Hurdle, giving Jamie Moore no chance (Simon Cooper/PA)

Goshen has been back on the Flat since he last ran over hurdles and having won his previous three outings in that sphere he was a short-priced favourite at both Haydock and Goodwood but was beaten both times.

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“I just felt the Wincanton (Elite) race was coming a bit too quick after Goodwood, where he harder a harder race than I would have liked him to have done,” said Moore, speaking on a call hosted by Great British Racing on Monday.

“After that he just wasn’t quite himself. The week of the Newcastle race his work wasn’t A1 and his scope wasn’t perfect.

“It’s been very frustrating, for the owners especially, but I don’t want to run a horse who isn’t 110 per cent right in top-class races.

“I’m desperate to get to Cheltenham, the only way he wouldn’t run is if he’s not well or there is firm in the going description.”

Moore has tasted Cheltenham Festival glory in the Champion Chase with Sire De Grugy, but admits Goshen is already the best hurdler he has trained.

“He’s the best hurdler I’ve had, obviously Sire De Grugy was a very good horse but he wouldn’t have been as good over hurdles as this lad, he was always going to be a chaser,” said Moore.

“With this lad I’d be in no rush to go over fences unless he wasn’t good enough to hold his own in a Champion Hurdle and other big races.”

Jamie Moore was devastated after the mishap in the Triumph Hurdle
Jamie Moore was devastated after the mishap in the Triumph Hurdle (Simon Cooper/PA)

Goshen’s mishap in the Triumph will be the abiding memory of the Festival for many, but the trainer himself has long moved on.

“We won’t be thinking of what he did in the Triumph. I’m quite old now, but I’ve never seen any horse do what he did before in all the time I’ve been racing,” said Moore.

“Dan Skelton was the only person I’ve spoken to since who said he’d seen it happen. It was just a freak thing.

“We’ve messed about with his shoes, but I can’t believe it would happen again. We just make sure there’s no overhang on the shoes as his back foot caught his front foot. We just make sure there’s nothing to get hooked on.

“It’s been spoken about too much, it’s boring me now. It was just a freak accident and I’ve completely put it out of my mind.”

Goshen is ridden by Moore’s son, Jamie, not long back from a serious injury and who was among the winners at Sandown on Friday and Saturday.

“Jamie has got his eye back in again which is good as it was worrying me that he would have to ride Goshen in a big race before he was back at his best, but he’s got his confidence back now,” said Moore.

“It was the second time he’d broken his back, and he broke it in four places. I wasn’t sure if he would come back. He’s had his first fall since coming back and he was fine afterwards so that’s a relief.

“As long as he runs, they’ll have him to beat. If he can’t win on Saturday he shouldn’t be going for the Champion Hurdle.”

Ch’tibello leads eventual winner Call Me Lord over the last at Cheltenham 12 months ago
Ch’tibello leads eventual winner Call Me Lord over the last at Cheltenham 12 months ago (David Davies/PA)

Goshen is one of 10 entries for the Grade Two feature this weekend, with Elite winner and Fighting Fifth Hurdle runner-up Sceau Royal in contention for Alan King.

Call Me Lord took top honours last season for Nicky Henderson and could clash once more with runner-up Ballyandy (Nigel Twiston-Davies) third-placed Ch’Tibello (Dan Skelton). Henderson is also represented by the smart mare Verdana Blue.

Evan Williams will be hoping for better luck with Silver Streak, who was carried out at the second hurdle at Newcastle, while the Tom Symonds-trained Song For Someone will be bidding to follow up his Coral Hurdle success from Ascot.

Stormy Ireland (Paul Nicholls) and Summerville Boy (Tom George) complete the list of possibles.