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Honeyball looking to headgear to reignite Jepeck spark

Anthony Honeyball hopes the addition of cheekpieces and a tongue tie can help Jepeck bounce back to form and secure back-to-back victories in the Unibet Veterans’ Handicap Chase at Sandown.

The 12-year-old will bid to open his account for the season by repeating his success of 12 months ago in the three-mile final of the veterans’ series.

After pulling up over course and distance in November on his return to action, Jepeck suffered the same result on his most recent outing in last month’s Welsh National Trial at Chepstow.

Honeyball said: “He seems in good form at home – we’ve had this race in mind since he qualified at Carlisle at the end of last season and we have gone through similar paces to end up in the final.

“Last season he was coming into the race off some pretty good efforts over hurdles and his confidence was sky high.

“His two runs this season have been nothing to get excited about, but hopefully the addition of cheekpieces and a tongue tie can spark him up.

“He is back down to the same mark as last year’s race, but I think it is a tougher race this year. There are no signs at home to suggest why he won’t run well.”

Crosspark has not won since landing the 2019 Eider Chase at Newcastle and has finished second in his three starts so far this season.

Caroline Bailey, trainer, said: “Crosspark is fit and well and he goes there in good form from his last run at the track.

“He has gone up 6lb since the start of the season as he is running so well, but you can’t ignore that (the rise) is frustrating when they aren’t winning.

“The handicapper thinks he is still improving from 10 to 11, but whether he has too much weight, only time will tell.

“He won’t particularly like it if it becomes sticky, but it was pretty horrible last time and he ran well and we know he stays well.”

Potters Legend will be out to gain a second success this season having made a winning return at Warwick (Adam Davy/PA)
Potters Legend will be out to gain a second success this season having made a winning return at Warwick (Adam Davy/PA)

Lucy Wadham expects recent Cheltenham runner-up Potters Legend to have no problems handling the testing conditions.

She said: “I thought we were going to get there at Cheltenham, but both he and third probably helped the winner pick up. However, he ran on well to the line.

“This race has been in the back of our mind, but he would have probably run at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, so it’s plan B.

“He is probably as good now as he has ever been as he has just matured as a chaser. He is a very strong horse, so he pretty much handles any ground.”

Sametegal and Sam Twiston-Davies (right) gets up to win the 2016 Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury (Jonathan Brady/PA Images)
Sametegal and Sam Twiston-Davies (right) gets up to win the 2016 Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury (Jonathan Brady/PA Images)

Paul Nicholls believes a day out hunting has sharpened up Sametegal, who will be seeking a first success since the 2016 Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury.

“This veterans’ race has been the target for Sametegal ever since he finished sixth in the Grand Sefton Chase over the National fences at Aintree,” said Nicholls in his Betfair column.

“He is so consistent he doesn’t get much help from the handicapper and he ran as well as ever when a close third behind Step Back at Sandown over three miles early in November.

“Sametegal loved his day out with the Blackmore and Sparkford Hunt the other day. I expect him to run his usual honest race, though he does find it hard to win.”

Sir Ivan has run well in both starts over two and a half miles this season, however trainer Harry Fry expects the 11-year-old to be equally effective stepped back up in trip.

Fry said: “He’s been running consistently well this season, which has always been his downfall really because he never moves much in the handicap.

“He ran his best race over fences in a long time the last day at Leicester.

“Obviously this is a step back up in trip, but he’s got form over the distance and takes his chance.”

Bryony Frost warms up for Frodon date with Fakenham winner

Bryony Frost will be hoping her victory aboard Martello Sky at Fakenham is a sign of things to come when teaming up with Frodon in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.

The 25-year-old, who will be seeking a second Grade One on the 2019 Ryanair Chase hero at Kempton on Saturday, made her only ride of the day a winning one in the Vote Hollie Doyle Sports Personality 2020 Mares’ Maiden Hurdle.

Picking up well for pressure, the Lucy Wadham-trained four-year-old met the last on a good stride before defeating Allavina by three and a quarter lengths to make it three wins from as many visits to the Norfolk track.

Frost said after her success aboard the 11-8 favourite: “I couldn’t quite hold my position, but the ground is better down the inside and we had to sit and suffer for a minute. The last, she saw it, measured it and pinged it carefully and she went away very well.

“She is very clever and is nimble and balanced for a young mare. She also has a great turn of foot.

“It is brilliant to get another winner on the board and her owners are all local. I’m sure they will pop a bottle of champagne for her.”

Although Frodon is a general 20-1 chance to strike gold in the King George, Frost reports the Paul Nicholls-trained eight-year-old to be in good order ahead of his return to Grade One company.

She said: “Frodon is squealing and in good health at home. The ground was very tacky between the fences at Aintree (last time out) and I know some people say I’m making excuses, but it’s a race that didn’t happen for us.

“We will push it under the carpet and he has come out of it great. So we will take our chances.”

Archie Watson is better known for his exploits on the Flat, but Juge Et Parti enhanced his healthy strike-rate at the course when bouncing back to form to land the British Racing School Handicap Hurdle by five lengths.

The Lambourn handler said of the 14-1 shot: “I’ve actually got a very good strike-rate here. Bazarov, Premier D’troice and this lad have won here.

“He has been through a lot this horse. He had a fractured tooth which then ended up developing a big sinus infection. He has come out of it well and it his first run since.

“He obviously had an almighty headache which we have relieved and he has come up and won it well. Brodie (Hampson) has given him a great ride.”

Niall Houlihan equalled his best-ever seasonal total of seven winners aboard the Gary Moore-trained Gorham’s Cave (9-2), who claimed the Fakenham Skips Supporting EACH and RBL Handicap Hurdle by nine and a half lengths.

Houlihan, deputising for Josh Moore, said: “It was probably too commanding (how far he won). I didn’t realise how far clear I was until I got to the last hurdle.

“He really enjoyed it around there today. His hurdling improved throughout the trip. He is a very athletic horse and has taken to it well.”

Useful Flat stayer Diocletian (100-30) gave Classic-winning handler Andrew Balding his first winner at the track when prevailing by 10 lengths in the Christmas Holidays Maiden Hurdle.

Winning jockey Page Fuller said: “That is definitely the most mature he has been over hurdles. He settled well and you could ride a race on him today.

“He had four nice horses in front of him at Newbury last time and I’d like to think off the back of that run he can go on to bigger and better things.”