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Teahupoo prevails as Youmdor crashes out at Fairyhouse

Teahupoo came out on top in a dramatic ITM Virtual Stallion Trial Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

The Willie Mullins-trained Youmdor looked a big threat when he loomed alongside Teahupoo (4-1) at the final flight, only for the 4-9 favourite to come down.

That left Gordon Elliott’s runner to win as he liked by 15 lengths in the hands of Robbie Power and make a winning debut for the County Meath handler. Teahupoo had won his only start for French trainer Gabriel Leenders at Auteuil in October.

Druid’s Altar was second with Autumn Evening half a length away in third.

“He’s a nice horse. Obviously we had a lot of luck on our side there with Willie’s horse going at the last,” said Elliott.

“I said to Robert ‘you were definitely beat’, but he said ‘I’m not so sure because my horse galloped from the last to the line’.

“He said he could see about three strides away from the last that (Paul) Townend’s horse was just starting to be squeezed along. I thought Willie’s horse would have won and we had luck on our side.

“He’s probably more of a stayer next year than a two-miler. I loved the way he put his head out and galloped from the last to the line.”

Teahuphoo was cut to 14-1 from 25-1 for the JCB Triumph Hurdle with Betfair, who left Youmdor unchanged at 14s.

Roseys Hollow (10-11 favourite) showed a neat turn of foot between the last two flights to run out a ready winner in division one of the Follow Fairyhouse ‘Racing From Home’ Mares’ Maiden Hurdle.

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The Jonathan Sweeney-trained seven-year-old quickened nicely for Mark Walsh to open up a crucial advantage and the JP McManus-owned mare galloped on strongly to score by four lengths from main market rival Global Equity.

It was a poignant first winner of the year in Ireland for McManus, who suffered the tragic loss of his daughter-in-law Emma on December 30 at the age of 40.

“It was very good and it’s great to get it,” said Sweeney.

“It’s great for JP and his family in tragic times. I pass on my deepest sympathies to them. 

“She jumped well, travelled, did everything well and Mark was happy.

“We’ll get over today and I’ll have a chat with Frank (Berry). He’ll talk to JP and see what the plan is. She’s a nice mare.”

La Chanteuse (10-1) caused a minor upset in division two when flooring the 8-11 favourite Manitopark Aa.

JJ Slevin pushed the Stuart Crawford-trained seven-year-old into the lead before the second-last flight and went on to score by six lengths. Norwigi was 16 lengths back in third place.

“We’ve always thought plenty of her. On her first run back at Down Royal, Ben (Crawford) rode her and he was disappointed with her,” said Crawford.

“She probably really needed it as she blew up halfway around. She came here today and obviously has come on a good bit from it.

“JJ gave her a good ride and it’s great to get it, they are hard to win.”

He added: “We were disappointed not to get a bit of black type with her in her bumpers. We didn’t sell her, and she’s owned by my mother, so there is a bit of extra pressure on.

“She’s entitled to take her chance in a better race. We could go across the water for a novice, but at this point in time we’d probably be trying for a bit of black type.”

Aramax gave Elliott a double after the victory of Teahupoo when scoring in the McManus silks in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase.

The 14-1 chance defeated the 8-11 favourite Port Stanley by two and a half lengths in the hands of Keith Donoghue.

“He won the Fred Winter (at Cheltenham) last year. Keith said he got an awful lot of confidence from the last day and he was a different horse. He was happy,” said Elliott.

“It’s great to get him back winning with him being a Cheltenham winner the year before.”

Gerri Colombe (8-13 favourite) gave Elliott a treble with an easy success in the Racing Again January 30th (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race.

A point-to-point winner for Colin Bowe, the £240,000 purchase looked an exciting prospect when scorching home by 24 lengths under Jamie Codd.

“He’s a nice horse. He’s probably going to be a big chaser more than anything, a big staying horse down the road. We like him,” said Elliott.

“I don’t think you’ll see a whole lot more of him this season, he might have one more run. Obviously I’ll have to talk to Brian (Acheson), but these horses are all bought for the future. He’s one for down the road.”

When asked if he could be a Cheltenham horse, he added:- “If I put my hand on my heart I’d probably say it just mightn’t be the right thing to do, but obviously I’ll have to speak to the owner.”

Gerri Colombe was introduced at 14-1 for the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham with Betfair.

Magic Of Light cruises to Listed hat-trick at Newbury

Magic Of Light opened her account for the season in impressive fashion as she completed a hat-trick of wins in Newbury’s Pertemps Network Mares’ Chase.

Last year’s Grand National runner-up barely had to get out of second gear to continue her dominance of the extended two-mile-seven-furlong Listed race, justifying odds of 1-2 in the three-runner field.

The Jessica Harrington-trained nine-year-old put in a bold round of jumping from the front under Robbie Power before cruising home eight lengths clear of Sensulano, who blundered her chance away with a costly mistake at the second last.

Power said: “It’s hat-trick complete. It’s fantastic.

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“She feels as she good as when she won it for the first time, if not better. She travelled super and jumped super. She didn’t put a foot wrong the whole way round.

“I gave her a breather after the last one out of the back straight and I just rolled on to the cross fence.

“She just loves jumping. She pricks her ears, and you know she is watching what she is doing because she is concentrating on her fences. She is a joy to ride.”

Magic Of Light (second right) is expected to return to Aintree this season
Magic Of Light (second right) is expected to return to Aintree this season (Nigel French/PA)

The Gold Cup-winning jockey reported the nature of the race suited Magic Of Better much better than 12 months ago – when she appeared briefly to have a real fight on her hands against Field Exhibition, who was a length down when departing at the final fence.

He added: “It suited me a bit better today, because last year I had no company over the first couple of fences and she was very idle in front.

“Today I had a bit of company over the first couple of fences, and it just got her racing. That made my job a lot easier than 12 months ago.”

Magic Of Light, who was cut to 25-1 for this season’s Grand National by Paddy Power, will tread a familiar path back to Aintree – with her jockey confirming next month’s Grade Two Warfield Mares’ Hurdle at Ascot, which she has also won for the past two years, will be the aim.

He added: “At the end of the day the Grand National is the main target at Aintree in April.

“It is a nice plan for her we have used the last couple of years. She will come back at the end of January for the three-mile hurdle at Ascot.

“That’s the plan we have used, and it has worked so far, so if it ain’t broke don’t fix. It’s ideal if we can get her to Aintree with loads of confidence under her belt.”

Magic Of Light seeks Newbury hat-trick

Grand National runner-up Magic Of Light will bid for a third successive victory in the Pertemps Network Mares’ Chase at Newbury.

Jessica Harrington’s charge claimed Wednesday’s Listed prize and a Grade Two over hurdles at Ascot a couple of seasons ago, before going on to find only Tiger Roll too strong in the world’s most famous steeplechase at Aintree.

The nine-year-old completed the same Newbury-Ascot double last term, to set up another National bid, but the Aintree spectacular was ultimately cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Magic Of Light finished a well-beaten fourth on her return to action in a hurdle race at Punchestown last month, but will be a warm order to get back on the winning trail at Newbury under Robbie Power.

Harrington said: “She’s going for the hat-trick and has travelled over great. I just don’t want too much rain – that’s my only worry.

“The ground was heavy for her comeback run at Punchestown, and she was running over a distance much too short for her, but it was grand.

“The Grand National is the plan again, all being well.”

Magic Of Light faces just two rivals, in the Noel Williams-trained Sensulano and Carrolls Milan from Fergal O’Brien’s yard.

Sensulano was actually runner-up to Magic Of Light at Ascot in January, but has a mountain to climb on official ratings in their latest clash – with Carrolls Milan even more up against it.

Power and Lacey combine for Doncaster doubles

Trainer Tom Lacey teamed up with Robbie Power for a double with L’Incorrigible and Vado Forte at Doncaster.

Power had an instant reward for a rare visit to Town Moor when taking the opening bet365 Novices’ Hurdle on L’Incorrigible, who had been on the sidelines since winning a Warwick bumper in November 2018.

The five-year-old shrugged off his long absence to make a successful hurdles’ debut in encouraging fashion.

Always prominent, L’Incorrigible (100-30) was four and three-quarter lengths too good for Percy’s Word. Jack Sharp was a promising third three-quarters of a length away.

Lacey said: “He’s just a good horse. Any idiot can train a good horse. We’re just fortunate to have him.

“Obviously he’s had his problems. He had a stress fracture, then he had a tiny fracture of his pelvis. He’s been off a long time and his owners have been so patient, so it’s a grateful reward.

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“We’ll give him a chance after such a long time off. He needs a chance to get over that and we’ll bring him along slowly. He’s got his life ahead of him now.”

Vado Forte (4-1 joint-favourite) bounced back from a below-par effort on unsuitable ground to get off the mark over fences at the ninth attempt in the Each Way Extra At bet365 Handicap Chase.

The seven-year-old collared Solar Impulse at the final obstacle and went on to win by two and three-quarter lengths.

“Robbie Dunne said at Chepstow the ground was holding and all his best runs have been on soft ground when he can get through it,” said Lacey.

“We thought Doncaster’s ground would be right up his street and it’s all come together.

“The horse deserved to win a race. He’s been so consistent without winning and it’s taken the handicapper a long time to drop him because of that.”

Rocky’s Treasure (17-2) landed his first success since the December Novices’ Chase on this card two years ago with a game display in the bet365 Handicap Chase.

The Kim Bailey-trained nine-year-old had led most of the way and briefly looked beaten when headed, but he rallied for David Bass to defeat Give Me A Copper by half a length.

Bass said: “He’s quite a funny horse and he can be in and out. Last year he had two bad experiences on almost unraceable ground and it took us a while to get him back to where he is now.

“I felt at Newbury he travelled well for a long way and was coming back to himself. He felt great today and was loving it in front.

“He’s got loads of ability and has some very good form.”

The Paul Nicholls-trained Wild Max (5-2) benefited from the fall of leader Mick Maestro at the third-last flight to land the bet365 Handicap Hurdle.

The five-year-old kept up the gallop to strike by nine and a half lengths from Twin Star to give 7lb-claiming amateur Angus Cheleda his ninth career win.

Cheleda said: “He’s travelled brilliantly. He was a bit keen if anything. He jumped really well.

“The faller didn’t help me. He was left in the lead a bit too soon, but he stuck it out well in the end.”

A second 7lb claiming amateur on the scoresheet was Joshua Newman, who guided Tipalong Tyler (15-2) home for trainer Kayley Woollacott in the bet365 Mares’ Handicap Hurdle.

Power expecting Zoff to peak in Summit date

Robbie Power expects Glorious Zoff to bounce back from a surprising defeat last time out and put up a better show in the bet365 Summit Hurdle at Doncaster.

The three-year-old, trained in Ireland by Gordon Elliott, was turned over at 4-11 at Sedgefield when beaten a length and a quarter by Le Magnifique.

Power believes that was not a true reflection of the horse’s ability as Glorious Zoff had created a good impression when winning by 12 lengths at Sligo on his hurdling debut.

“Glorious Zoff was a good winner of his maiden hurdle in Sligo and got beat at short odds in Sedgefield the last day, but things didn’t quite work out for him,” said Power.

“This is a step up in class, but he should be very competitive.”

Monmiral won first time out for trainer Paul Nicholls after leaving Francois Nicolle’s stable in France.

The Saint Des Saints gelding justified favouritism in good style at Exeter last month, having also won on his debut over the smaller obstacles at Auteuil in March.

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“I was delighted with his winning debut for us at Exeter, where his jumping was sound and he finished full of running,” the Ditcheat handler told Betfair.

“I hadn’t been hard on him at home and half expected him to maybe need the race a bit because in the back of my mind the Exeter race was going to be a prep for this weekend, either at Doncaster or Cheltenham.

“We think Monmiral is smart and he has definitely improved for the experience.”

Making up the five runners are Oliver Greenall’s Gold Desert, third at Sedgefield behind Glorious Zoff but a winner since at Catterick, plus Heather Main’s Flat maiden Cloud Thunder and Mistersister, a hurdles scorer in France before moving to Charlie Mann’s stable.

Power is also looking forward to continuing his association with Ofalltheginjoints in the bet365 December Novices’ Chase.

The Irish jockey steered the Colin Tizzard-trained six-year-old to victory at Exeter a month ago on his second run over fences.

“He won nicely in Exeter the last day. This is a step up in class obviously to Grade Two company from a handicap, but he seems in good form,” said Power.

“He’s the highest-rated horse in the race, so hopefully he’ll have a good chance.”

Trainer Nick Mitchell is hopeful of a decent display from Milanford.

The six-year-old outran his odds of 66-1 when only beaten a length and three-quarters in second place behind L’Air Du Vent at Exeter three weeks ago.

That was his first run under rules after several point-to-point runs for Thomas Malone.

“He ran to a really good level last time,” said Dorset-based Mitchell.

“The trip and the ground will suit.

“I don’t think it’s beyond him. He’s got plenty of experience through his point to pointing days.”

House Island, trained by Paul Webber, will be a strong fancy after opening his account over fences at Ludlow.

Fergal O’Brien’s Hurricane Harvey made a successful chasing debut at Uttoxeter in October, but was second of three behind Ga Law at Wincanton on his only subsequent start.

The Mighty Don was the other horse declared, but he ran at Cheltenham on Friday and was second to Happygolucky.

‘Fantastic servant’ Supasundae heads for retirement

Robbie Power hailed Supasundae a “fantastic servant” after the triple Grade One winner was retired from racing.

Having claimed Cheltenham Festival glory in the 2017 Coral Cup, the son of Galileo went on to make his mark at the highest level for trainer Jessica Harrington, with victories in the Irish Champion Hurdle, the Punchestown Champion Hurdle and the Aintree Hurdle.

But with the 10-year-old looking a shadow of his former self in three starts so far this season – most recently finishing last of six runners in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse – Harrington has now called time on his racing career.

“He’s been a fantastic servant,” said Power, who guided Supasundae to five of his eight victories.

“He won three Grade Ones and a Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival. He was also second in a Stayers’ Hurdle a couple of years ago.

“He was just a tough, honest horse who always gave his running. I think he ran in 10 Grade One races consecutively at one stage and was never out of the first three.

“He beat Faugheen in an Irish Champion Hurdle and beat Buveur D’Air in an Aintree Hurdle. Probably beating Faugheen in the Irish Champion Hurdle was his best performance, but I got a great buzz out him winning the Aintree Hurdle as well.”

Supasundae won British bumpers for Tim Fitzgerald and Andrew Balding, before being bought privately by the late Alan Potts ahead of finishing sixth in the 2015 Champion Bumper at Cheltenham for Henry de Bromhead.

He was moved to Harrington’s yard the following year and signs off having either won or been placed on 19 of his 31 career outings – earning almost £770,000 in the process.

Stylish win for Striking A Pose

Striking A Pose is expected to go on to bigger and better things after initiating a Wincanton double for Colin Tizzard and Robbie Power.

Bought for £95,000 after impressing on his sole start in the point-to-point field, Striking A Pose had finished third on his first two starts over hurdles at Newton Abbot and Ascot in October.

Despite carrying the welter burden of 12 stone in the Racing TV Profits Returned To Racing ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle, the four-year-old cruised clear of his rivals – passing the post eight and half lengths clear of Hugos Other Horse to win at 10-1.

“Striking A Pose is a lovely horse who just needed the experience on his first couple of runs,” said Joe Tizzard, assistant to his father.

“I think the step up in trip suited him, and he’s done it nicely today.

“Hopefully there’s more to come from him.”

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Tizzard and Power were soon on the mark again, with Darlac also proving much too good for his rivals in the Weatherbys Racing Bank Silver Buck Handicap Chase.

Darlac jumps the final fence clear of his rivals
Darlac jumps the final fence clear of his rivals (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The 7-2 chance fell on a couple of occasions last season, and again came to grief on his first start of the current campaign at Newton Abbot in September.

However, after filling the runner-up spot twice since, the Lucarno gelding went one better in some style – with an impressive round of jumping helping him seal a seven-and-a-half-length verdict over Forgot To Ask.

Tizzard added: “We ran Darlac in a beginners chase last time, because he’s had three falls over fences. That last run helped him regain his confidence – and today he bore the fruit of that, because he jumped super and won it like he could.

“He’s a horse with a bit of ability, as he proved in novice hurdles a couple of years ago.”

Global Harmony (3-1) opened her account for brothers Dan and Harry Skelton in the Watch Racing TV In Stunning HD Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

The daughter of Flemensfirth was not winning out of turn, having been placed in four of her previous six starts.

Dan Skelton said: “She’s been running well in defeat, and I actually had a little hold-up with her after her first run of the season at Perth in September.

“Her last run at Warwick was another good run after what was almost a bit of a lay-off, so I thought she’d go very well today.

“She was the highest-rated horse in the race, and I thought off her mark she’d take a bit of beating anyway – I didn’t think we had to improve a great deal to win.”

Charlie Case steering Kilbrew Boy (green) to victory
Charlie Case steering Kilbrew Boy (green) to victory (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Kilbrew Boy justified 6-5 favouritism in the Visit racingtv.com Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase for the father-and-son combination of Ben and Charlie Case.

Victor Dartnall’s River Bray landed the Use The racingtv.com Tracker Handicap Hurdle under Tom Scudamore, before conditional jockey Bryan Carver steered Robert Walford’s Ede’iffs Elton (11-2 favourite) home in front in the Weatherbys Racing Bank Foreign Exchange Handicap Chase.

The concluding junior bumper went to Nigel Twiston-Davies’ 4-6 favourite I Like To Move It, ridden by Jordan Nailor.

Following up his debut win at Aintree last month, the three-year-old easily conceded weight all round and was more than eight lengths too good for market rival Mondora in second.

The Shunter swoops for Greatwood glory

The Shunter flew up the Cheltenham hill to run out an impressive winner of the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle.

Racing from the bottom of the handicap, he relished the testing conditions as he quickened past top weight Ballyandy after the last.

Ridden confidently by Robbie Power, partnering his fourth winner of the Open meeting, it was a notable success for trainer Emmett Mullins.

As ever there were plenty in with a chance approaching the last, but Ballyandy still held sway despite his welter burden, and he did well to hold off the favourite Tegerek for second. Hunters Call was fourth.

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The Shunter (13-2) only had a maiden hurdle win to his name over the smaller obstacles previously, but did triumph over fences at Punchestown in September.

Power said: “I’d say it’s the lightest I’ve done for 10 years. Emmet fancied him and the rain came. He is more of a two-and-a-half miler, but the rain came and it brought his stamina into it today.

“I got badly outpaced down the hill and I couldn’t go with them – I had to sit and suffer. He winged the second last and I knew when I gave him a squeeze at the back of the second last, I had a big chance.

“I needed a good jump at the last, but he has delivered for me. Once I met the rising ground, he galloped all the way up the hill. Having a light weight on that sort of ground makes a huge difference as well.”

Power admitted he had a tough few days to make the minimum weight.

He added: “I’ve not eaten a whole pile. I’ve eaten a bit of chicken, but very little since Friday morning. I had breakfast Friday morning and a few bits of chicken and All-Bran for breakfast in the mornings, that’s all.

“I’ve not had dinner the last two nights. I don’t like sweating as I’d rather starve than sweat. I did a small sweat this morning. I’m well hydrated as I’ve been drinking plenty of fluids.

“The eating doesn’t bother me as it’s something I’ve grown up with. I’ve probably smoked more in the last couple of days than I ever have before.

“Emmet has done a fantastic job with him. He was impressive over hurdles at Downpatrick and very impressive in a beginners’ chase at Punchestown. Emmet thought coming here off 10st, it was a good chance for him and when the heavens opened, it really played to his strengths.”

The Shunter (right) and Ballyandy battled all the way home
The Shunter (right) and Ballyandy battled all the way home (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Sam Twiston-Davies, rider of runner-up Ballyandy said:  “Ballyandy is a fantastic servant for the yard and he ran really well.”

Kevin Brogan, rider of the third-placed Tegerek, said: “Tegerek ran well. He was being a bit of a boyo before the race which didn’t really help.

“I thought turning in he was going very well, but it’s very hard work in that ground out there – we’re very happy with him.

Eldorado Allen takes full advantage of Gumball exit

Eldorado Allen capitalised on Gumball’s dramatic exit at the second-last fence to win the From The Horse’s Mouth Podcast Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham.

Gumball had led from the start in the hands of Richard Johnson – and was still in control when taking a crashing fall.

That left Eldorado Allen, trained by Colin Tizzard, with a clear advantage which he maintained all the way to the line to give Robbie Power a double after his earlier success aboard Duffle Coat.

Quel Destin just held the challenge of Le Patriote to claim second place, 19 lengths behind the winner.

The big disappointment of the race was the hot favourite Fusil Raffles, who was never jumping and eventually pulled up.

Tizzard said: “He was a very good hurdler. His jumping, even when he got in close, he didn’t lose anything. As all jockeys would say, he hadn’t really gone for him (when Gumball fell), but that is what all jockeys say. I thought he had a bit to do.

“He is the best two-miler we’ve had on hurdle form going over fences. He has taken to his fences well. We shall campaign with Cheltenham in mind, that’s for sure. He will want a race in a month’s time as we can wait until the spring.

“He has just jumped nice – he was good at Newton Abbot and better here today. We schooled him on Wednesday, just to do it for the sake of it as we thought we are coming to Cheltenham so we better remind him and he jumped everything in front of him fine.

“I would have thought so (Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown), if that is the next one. If Joe said it is that is the one we will go for.”

Eldorado Allen was quoted at 25-1 for the Sporting Life Arkle Trophy with Coral and 20-1 with Betfair and Paddy Power.

Duffle Coat delivers for Elliott and Power at Cheltenham

Duffle Coat extended his unbeaten record with a tenacious last-to-first success in the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The three-year-old made it four wins from as many starts to give trainer Gordon Elliott and jockey Robbie Power their first success in Grade Two prize.

Having been outpaced early on in the two-mile contest, the 2-1 second-favourite showed stamina is a strong suit as he forged clear from the last before staying on strongly up the run-in to defeat recent Warwick scorer Adagio by five lengths.

Power said: “I had no choice (but to sit at the back) as we had gone too quick and I was flat to the boards the whole way. To be fair to my lad he is really tenacious and a little terrier.

“From the top of the hill I gave him a little squeeze and he picked up underneath me. I wasn’t overly concerned as I thought we had gone quick on genuine soft ground.

“His stamina is his forte. Gordon says he doesn’t show a lot at home and that he is all about stamina and those strongly-run races suit him. “I’d imagine when his juvenile days are over he will be going up in trip.

Duffle Coat was cut to 12-1 favourite for the Triumph Hurdle in March by Coral, while Betfair went 16-1 for the same race.

Power added: “At this time of year it is hard to get a handle on the juvenile form, as you don’t know what is what.

“I’d imagine there will be more classier ones that come out than him as the season progresses, but there won’t be any more with more guts than he has. Ground doesn’t matter to him as he has won on good and soft.

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“It is up to Gordon what he does between now and March, but he will have him good and fresh for then.”

On The Blind Side made a successful return to the smaller obstacles to land the Paddy Power Games Handicap Hurdle, after running over fences and in a jumpers’ bumper.

Nicky Henderson’s eight-year-old took the lead before the second-last flight and kept on stoutly, despite being strongly challenged.

Ridden by Nico de Boinville, On The Blind Side (7-1) held Mrs Milner by a neck with last year’s winner Golan Fortune a length and three-quarters away in third.

On The Blind Side (red) and Nico de Boinville clear the last
On The Blind Side (red) and Nico de Boinville clear the last (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Henderson said: “He has been a great servant. He has been the most lovely horse all along, but he just got high in the weights. He just does love to have plenty of space. That’s where it is difficult over fences in those big fields. He doesn’t like getting crowded too much.

“He is a good chaser, but he just might be a tad better over hurdles. He really stuck on well and he was very brave. He loved it. Everything else I have run has got completely stuck in the mud, so we needed one to go in.

“It would definitely make you think that way (to stay over hurdles). We might have to look at one of those (graded staying races) as he is bound to go up a bit, but he has only won by a neck and he was giving the other horse weight.

“I’m thrilled for Alan (Spence, owner), that is a good tonic for him as he has had an operation. He is coming out this afternoon, but all is well and hopeful that will make him feel even better.”

De Boinville said: “He loved it back over hurdles, despite the ground. He loves having his own bit of space, it’s always quite hard in those big field chases to find a little bubble, but there today he’s really enjoyed it and he loves the hurdle game.

“He really knuckled down and found all the way to the line, he had to as well.”

Asked about his thoughts on riding Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Shishkin again this season, he added: “I’m looking forward to it. We’ve got lots of nice horses to come out, some already have, so here’s to a good season ahead.”

Elle Est Belle and Ishkhara Lady dead-heated after a thrilling finish in the gloom to the Karndean Designflooring Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.

After a lengthy deliberation, the judge could not separate the pair, neither of whom had given an inch up the punishing hill in the rain under dark skies.

The gambled-on Ucanaver set out to make all, but weakened out of contention as the race hotted up.

Ishkhara Lady and Elle Est Belle could not be separated
Ishkhara Lady and Elle Est Belle could not be separated (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Harry Fry’s Ishkhara Lady, ridden by Sean Bowen, looked to hold a narrow lead, but Harry Skelton forced Elle Est Belle, trained by his brother, Dan, to share the spoils on the line.

Dan Skelton said: “Elle Est Belle is a nice filly.

“She won well at Aintree on her debut and it is nice to win this race in a dead-heat.

“Harry’s horse also looks nice.”

Fry said: “We have always liked Ishkhara Lady and it’s lovely to dead-heat with Dan’s horse who also looks nice.

“We are pleased with what she did today and she is a horse to look forward to.”

New Power base pays off with big chance on Duffle Coat

Robbie Power is counting his blessings after getting the mount on Duffle Coat for Gordon Elliott in the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday.

The Gold Cup-winning jockey is reaping the benefit of deciding to base himself in Britain, because of Covid-19 travel restrictions, and is rewarded with the plum ride on the unbeaten Irish raider.

Duffle Coat has won all his three starts over hurdles, with the first two coming closer to home at Punchestown and Gowran, before completing the hat-trick in emphatic fashion at Wetherby last month.

“It’s working in my favour that currently if one of the lads based in Ireland comes over to ride they have to isolate for 14 days, so it’s one of the advantages of being based here,” said Power.

“Duffle Coat was a good winner at Wetherby. But I’ve a lot of respect for Paul Nicholls’ Hell Red – he was very impressive at Chepstow.

“It’s a step up in class, but hopefully he’s up to it.”

French import Hell Red is sure to have his supporters, but Nicholls would prefer to see some rain.

“The slower the ground the better for Hell Red, who won readily on his debut for us at Chepstow a month ago,” he said.

“His jumping was slick that day, and the good thing is that he doesn’t get a penalty for that success. While this is obviously tougher, I do rate Hell Red – who seems to be improving – so I am hopeful of a big run.”

David Pipe’s Adagio also began his career across the Channel.

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He was a clear winner of a dramatic race at Warwick this month for David Pipe, who is hoping he will be able to handle the quick turnaround.

“Adagio was good at Warwick,” said Pipe.

“Obviously this race comes up quickly. Tom (Scudamore) schooled him again the other day, and he jumped fine.

“While he’s in good form, we’ll let him take his chance again.”

Robbie Power
Robbie Power (David Davies/PA)

Power has another good ride in his role as stable jockey to Colin Tizzard on Eldorado Allen in the From The Horse’s Mouth Podcast Novices’ Chase.

The six-year-old was a promising sort over hurdles, and made a winning debut over fences at Newton Abbot five weeks ago.

Assistant trainer Joe Tizzard said: “We’ve had this race in mind for him since he won at Newton Abbot. It is quite good timing wise to go there and then the Henry VIII at Sandown.

“He travelled really well at Newton Abbot – and barring his mistake at the last, he jumped like a stag.

“He could be a very exciting novice chaser this season, which we hoped he would be, and he appears to have strengthened up again.”

Fusil Raffles has won both his starts over fences
Fusil Raffles has won both his starts over fences (David Davies/PA)

A strong line-up includes the classy Fusil Raffles, who has won both his starts over fences for Nicky Henderson – including at this track last month.

The Nicholls stable is represented by fencing debutant Quel Destin, a prolific winner over hurdles and fresh from a recent run on the Flat.

“He won nicely on the Flat at Bath a month ago, which was an ideal warm-up for his chasing debut in this,” Nicholls told Betfair.

“We know Quel Destin likes Cheltenham, and his schooling over fences has been good at home in recent weeks.

“Although he has won eight times at the minimum trip, I always think in the back of my mind that he really wants two and a half miles – as long as he jumps well then two miles should be fine.

“He’s tough, reliable and the top rated of these over hurdles, so I’m quite upbeat about his chances.”

Dr Richard Newland is hoping Le Patriote can cope with the step up in grade.

The eight-year-old got off the mark over fences at Market Rasen four weeks ago, on his first start since the Champion Hurdle in March.

Le Patriote is stepping up in grade over fences
Le Patriote is stepping up in grade over fences (Simon Cooper/PA)

“He’s trained well and he’s in good form,” said the Worcester trainer.

“We were thrilled with his win at Market Rasen, and he deserves his tilt in this company.

“It looks a competitive little race. Every one looks to have a bit of a chance on paper, and we’re probably one of the outsiders.

“We’ve got it all to prove – but we go there in good form, so I’m hoping for a big show.

“If he’s quite not up to it he’ll have had a bit of experience of the course, and then we can maybe go back for the handicap at the Festival, something like that.

“We’ll see how he copes with those fences and how he manages them and if he is up to this grade or is he a notch below?”

Philip Hobbs’ Gumball and Henry de Bromhead’s Irish challenger Zarkareva complete a fascinating line-up.

Easysland and Tiger Roll face off again at Cheltenham

All eyes at Cheltenham on Friday will be on the eagerly-awaited rematch between Easysland and Tiger Roll in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase.

Gordon Elliott’s dual Grand National hero Tiger Roll was denied the chance of joining Red Rum as a three-time winner of the Aintree spectacular by the coronavirus pandemic, but has an equally excellent record over the cross-country course at Prestbury Park.

However, he had no answer to emerging star Easysland in March when they raced off level weights – and on this occasion the French raider carries 4lb less.

Robbie Power has come in for the ride on Tiger Roll – with Keith Donoghue, who would have been on board, staying in Ireland rather than sitting out 14 days in isolation on his return.

“It’s great to get the call-up for him, but it’s very unfortunate for Keith Donoghue that the restrictions in place over in Ireland meant he would have had to isolate for 14 days if he came,” said Gold Cup-winning rider Power, now based in Britain.

“Keith’s having a really good run at the moment, so he couldn’t justify losing 14 days. It’s a great spare for me to pick up, though, and I’m really looking forward to it.

“His main objective will be Cheltenham in March and Aintree in April, but this is a path he’s taken before – so if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. He’ll probably have another run over hurdles somewhere after this before the Festival.

“Obviously he faces a very tough task having to give 4lb to Easysland, who beat him at level weights back in March, but I know Gordon is very happy with him.

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“I’ll be having a good chat with Keith and I’ll be doing whatever he tells me to.”

Tiger Roll does at least have the advantage of having a recent run on the Flat, while Easysland has not been out since his victory at the big meeting in the spring.

He is trained by former champion jockey David Cottin for owner JP McManus, and the Grand National is his ultimate aim this season.

“After Cheltenham he went and had a break in Ireland – and when we got him back from Ireland, David was thrilled with him, because he felt he had really filled out,” said Cottin’s partner and assistant, Amanda Zetterholm.

“He hadn’t grown, because he’s never going to be a big horse, but he’s really strengthened up.

“He’s working to a good level, but this is not going to be his main objective, obviously – so we’re looking to build towards the Cheltenham Festival in March and then hopefully the Grand National.

“We don’t know yet if he’s going to go for the Grand Cross at Pau, there’s no decision yet – it depends how it will fit in as preparation for the Grand National.

“It obviously is up to the owner what they want to do this year, but so far the plan is the Cross Country at Cheltenham and the National.”

Also involved is Christian Williams’ Potters Corner, last season’s Welsh National winner who also has the distinction of winning the Virtual Grand National – which was held in absence of the real thing in April.

Potters Corner, trained in Wales, was a very popular winner of the Welsh National
Potters Corner, trained in Wales, was a very popular winner of the Welsh National (David Davies/PA)

Williams said: “Potters Corner is in great form.

“He schooled well over the cross-country fences at the track a couple of weeks ago.

“We are targeting the race as we are just trying to give him a different avenue. He’ll be 11 come January, and there are only a certain amount of Nationals you can run in before they take their toll.

“Introducing the cross-country route with him this season will hopefully give us a bit more longevity. This could help get another season or two out of him, and I am optimistic he will enjoy it.

“Instead of having to constantly run in Nationals, the cross-country route might mean he can also go to places like France and run in races like that.

“He is being thrown straight into the lions’ den, with both Easysland and Tiger Roll in opposition, but everything we have asked of him he has duly obliged.

“The Aintree Grand National remains the main aim, and we are looking forward to getting his season started.”

Fiddler bids to step up against Sporting John

Robbie Power expects Fiddlerontheroof to strip fitter than for his seasonal debut when he takes on Sporting John in what looks sure to be an informative Racing TV HD On Sky 426 Beginners’ Chase at Exeter.

Fiddlerontheroof was a Grade One winner last season in the Tolworth Hurdle, but Colin Tizzard wasted no time in sending him over fences after he disappointed at the Cheltenham Festival.

He jumped well in the main when beaten by If The Cap Fits on his chasing debut at Ffos Las – but like many from the yard in the early stages of the campaign, Power feels sure he will be a different proposition this time around.

“You like to think he’d have come forward a good bit for his first run,” said the jockey.

“Touch wood, he jumped very well at Ffos Las and ran with plenty of promise, but our horses have been coming forward for a run this season.

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“It’s early in the season, and most have been needing a run. But there were plenty of positives at Ffos Las, so I’m looking forward to getting back on him.

“Good to soft ground is fine for him, but any rain that falls between now and the race will be in his favour.

“This is when the season really gets going – it’s a big weekend this weekend, so hopefully we can kick on from here.”

Philip Hobbs’ Sporting John created a huge impression in winning his first three over timber last season, before finishing seventh in the Ballymore at Cheltenham behind Envoi Allen.

Hobbs has always viewed him as a chaser, though, and he did have a minor excuse for his Cheltenham display.

Richard Johnson replaces the now-retired Barry Geraghty in the saddle on Wednesday.

Sporting John was impressive at Ascot last season
Sporting John was impressive at Ascot last season (Bradley Collyer/PA)

“His work has been going very well, and he has schooled well, so we are very happy with him,” said Hobbs.

“Colin Tizzard’s horse is obviously very good as well, but we will see how we get on.

“He had a fantastic campaign until Cheltenham, then he disappointed. He was slightly lame on a hind leg straight after the race, although it was okay in a few hours. Quite what that was we don’t know, but he has been fine since.

“We’ve always liked him from day one – he won easily at Exeter and he continued to do so until Cheltenham. Even before he got to the racecourse, he was a good-looking horse that worked and schooled well.

“Chasing should definitely be his job, so that was very much the plan to go that route. I think he has plenty of speed for shorter trips, but he could go further, and it is all flexible at the moment.

“He has had plenty of experience around there – and a good, galloping track suits him well. We were happy with his work, so an away day wasn’t necessary.”

Robbie Power hoping for swift return following Aintree spill

Robbie Power hopes to return to action in midweek after hurting his knee in a fall at Aintree on Sunday.

The Gold Cup-winning rider was stood down for the rest of the meeting after taking a tumble from Vision Des Flos at the second fence in the Every Race Live On Racing TV Veterans’ Handicap Chase.

He walked gingerly into the weighing room after being brought back to the stands by ambulance.

“I’m fine. I’ve just got a bit of soft-tissue damage in my knee, but it feels all right,” said Power.

“I’ve got plenty of movement in it, just plenty of bruising. Hopefully, it will be fine in a couple of days or so.

“I’ll see what I’m like in the morning, but hopefully it’s not too bad and I’ll be back in midweek.”

Robbie Power registers first win since British switch

Robbie Power partnered his first winner since relocating to Britain as Eldorado Allen made a successful fencing debut in the Follow @WillHillRacing On Twitter Novices’ Chase at Newton Abbot.

The Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning jockey has made frequent trips across the Irish Sea in recent seasons, enabling him to ride for both Jessica Harrington at home and Colin Tizzard in Britain.

However, with Covid-19 protocols making such an arrangement impossible, Power has moved to Britain for the foreseeable future, leaving behind his wife Hannah and young daughter Emma.

Having his 11th ride since the switch, Power steered the Tizzard-trained Eldorado Allen to a two-length success over Stormy Ireland.

He told Sky Sports Racing: “(Life) is a bit better now – I’ve had a winner, so that’s great.

“It was a decision I was forced into, a decision I didn’t want to make. All through the summer I was chatting with my wife and saying this might happen, but we never thought it would.

“It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but it’s done now and we’re here.

“I think my family will stay (in Ireland) – I’m only here for six or seven months of the year and (will) go home for the summer. We’ve got to look on the positive side of things and hopefully Covid, not just for my sake but for the world, will pass over and we can get back to some sort of normality.

“It is what it is at the moment and we just keep going.”