Orbys Legend provides Hobbs and O’Brien with Silver Trophy gold

Orbys Legend capped a hugely successful meeting for trainer Philip Hobbs with a promising victory in the Wasdell Group Silver Trophy at Chepstow.

Hobbs, who had provided the first and second in the Grade Two Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at the same track 24 hours earlier, was also completing a double – as was jockey Tom O’Brien – after Masters Legacy’s last-gasp success in the Geoffrey Broomhall Memorial Handicap Hurdle.

As well as augmenting Hobbs’ fine form at the start of the core jumps season, Orbys Legend provided a glimpse of what may well be to come from himself too.

On his fifth rules start, the five-year-old was posting his third victory – and although he had just a length to spare from the staying-on Didtheyleaveuoutto at the line, by then O’Brien was easing down with the race already well won.

Orbys Legend tracked the pace set by eventual third Amour De Nuit, before challenging in the straight and moving six lengths clear by the time he jumped last flight in the Grade Three feature.

O’Brien told Sky Sports Racing: “He’s an exciting prospect for the season ahead.

“He seemed OK on this ground, but it is good to know he has handled softer – and I’m sure that ground is coming.

“He’s lovely, uncomplicated, straightforward – I chatted to (former stable jockey) Dicky (Johnson) just before the race, and he said he stays.

“So when I was at the bottom of the straight and in a good position, I let him go – and he did stay.”

Tea Clipper signalled his potential too, with an encouraging success on his debut over fences in the Listed Dunraven Windows Novices’ Chase.

Tom Lacey’s imposing six-year-old was decisively on top in the end after a fine tussle with his fellow 11-4 joint-favourite Fidelio Vallis.

Harry Cobden had Paul Nicholls’ runner-up out in front from an early stage, jumping well and putting the emphasis on fluency too for his  four rivals.

But Tea Clipper jumped equally well for Stan Sheppard and was always close enough, even as Fidelio Vallis upped the ante into the straight.

Tea Clipper, successful in the Silver Trophy on this card 12 months ago and a Larkhill point-to-point winner on his sole start between the flags in 2019, was almost upsides at the last and took control on the run-in to seal the deal by three lengths.

Sheppard said: “He won a restricted point-to-point as a four-year-old – that was his first run over fences today, and he’s done it really well.

“He made one or two mistakes, and there’s probably a tiny bit of improvement left on that still I hope.

“He’s always schooled very well. He’s very straightforward, an absolute dream.

“It was an ideal race, only five runners, so we always had a bit of room.”

Magistrato was a convincing winner of the opening Champion Hats Juvenile Hurdle, kickstarting a double for Nicholls and Cobden on his stable debut.

Paul Nicholls claimed two winners at Chepstow on Saturday
Paul Nicholls claimed two winners at Chepstow on Saturday (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

In a race the multiple champion trainer won last year with Hell Red, the well-touted Magistrato put down an early marker for the Triumph Hurdle division – leading throughout under Cobden and easily seeing off the challenge of runner-up Rocky Man in the straight to win by 12 lengths as the 4-7 favourite.

Nicholls was very happy with what he had seen.

“I’m delighted with that,” he said.

“To start like that is good, (and) I’d say the first two are probably decent horses.

“They went a real good gallop, and he stayed on strongly. Mentally and physically, there’s a lot to look forward to with him.”

Allmankind ran well but had to settle for third
Allmankind ran well but had to settle for third (Mike Egerton/PA)

Allmankind was sent off a well-backed favourite to also make a winning start to the campaign, but Dan Skelton’s Grade One-winning chaser had to settle for a close third as Masters Legacy got up late in a blanket finish to deny him.

The 11-1 winner was well off the pace set by top weight Allmankind and Highway One O Two – and in the straight both Galice Macalo and then eventual runner-up Valentino Dancer put down big challenges.

But it was Masters Legacy, still only fourth over the last, who arrived late on the run-in to swamp them all and prevail by a head.

O’Brien said: “I don’t think Masters Legacy was right last season, and he only had two runs.

“He settled (here), he jumped. I wasn’t confident at the bottom of the straight, because I know he’s kind of one-paced … but they went a right good gallop up front, and it allowed me back into it.”

Chirico Vallis was a hugely-determined all-the-way winner of the Native River Handicap Chase, by a head from admirable runner-up Kitty’s Light.

Richie McLernon had Neil Mulholland’s charge in front from the outset, and they repelled all challengers up the straight.

It was a proper tussle after the last, though, with Kitty’s Light – who perhaps headed the winner briefly but was just headed on the line.

Paint The Dream provided trainer Fergal O’Brien and jockey Connor Brace with a near 10-length win in the John Ayres Memorial Handicap Chase – and 4-6 favourite Timeforatune stayed unbeaten to complete Nicholls’ and Cobden’s first and last-race double in the Nigel And Sharon Support Injured Jockeys Fund Open NH Flat Race.

Orbys Legend provides Sandown cheer

Sandown victory for Orbys Legend provided minor consolation on the day Richard Johnson and Philip Hobbs’ Cheltenham Festival lynchpin Thyme Hill was ruled out of the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle.

A minor but untimely injury means Thyme Hill will not renew his rivalry with Paisley Park next week.

Trainer Hobbs and jockey Johnson did have something to smile about, though, as Orbys Legend took the Paddy Power “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle for them in the colours of Highclere Thoroughbreds.

Taking advantage of a mistake from favourite and eventual third Lecale’s Article at the penultimate flight, the 9-4 winner stayed on in determined fashion to see off 20-1 shot Morfee by 12 lengths.

Reflecting on Thyme Hill’s Festival absence, Johnson said: “It’s one of those frustrating things that can happen the week before Cheltenham – he’s pulled a little muscle behind.

“Philip has taken the sensible decision to stop rather than try to get him there half ready. He’s a very exciting horse for the future, and Philip knows there’s no point going to the Festival unless you are spot on.”

Johnson hopes Sporting John may be his best chance of giving Hobbs a Festival winner this year, in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.

He said: “When he won the Grade One round here (the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase) he got better and better, and he could be very good. I’d be amazed if he didn’t stay three miles.”

Johnson likes Orbys Legend too, and added: “I rode him in a bumper at the start of the season. He showed a very good attitude today, and is a chasing prospect for next season.”

Gericault Roque put up a fine weight-carrying performance in the Paddy Power Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, kickstarting a double for trainer David Pipe and jockey Fergus Gillard – which was completed by Sexy Lot in the closing “From The Horse’s Mouth” Podcast Novices” Handicap Hurdle.

Gericault Roque, the 3-1 joint favourite, locked horns with Anightinlambourn up the final hill and pulled nine and a half lengths clear.

Gillard said: “I thought he was a lovely big horse coming into the race – although with the hood off, I just wondered if the step back in trip would be OK for him. He certainly feels like a true galloper.”

Grey Diamond put his superior jumping to good use in the Paddy’s Rewards Club Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase, sealing victory over Dostal Phil with measured leaps at each of the last three fences under Sam Twiston-Davies.

Grey Diamond and Sam Twiston-Davies leading on the way to victory in the Paddy’s Rewards Club Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase at Sandown
Grey Diamond and Sam Twiston-Davies leading on the way to victory in the Paddy’s Rewards Club Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase at Sandown (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The 3-1 chance scored by three and a half lengths for in-form trainer Sam Thomas.

The Paddy Power Handicap Chase proved a battle of the top weights, with Frero Banbou proving too strong for Go Long.

The six-year-old, ridden by Charlie Deutsch, was in control from the Pond fence as he carried on Venetia Williams’ fine run – winning by nine lengths.

Bard Of Brittany (100-30 favourite), trained by Sheena West and patiently ridden by Marc Goldstein, claimed a second success in the space of a week when surviving a minor mistake at the last to score comfortably from Adicci in the Paddy Power “4 Sleeps To Cheltenham” Handicap Hurdle.