Tag Archive for: tom cannon

Edwardstone in cruise control at Kempton

Edwardstone ran out a most impressive winner of the Ladbrokes Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase at Kempton Park, cementing his position in the betting for the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham in March.

A Grade One winner last time out at Sandown, Alan King’s charge was dropping down in class for this contest at Grade Two level – and as a result was giving away 5lb to his three rivals.

Bryony Frost sent Solo into an early lead and with some fluent jumping tried to stretch the field out.

Edwardstone made a bit of a hash of the first fence, but was soon back on an even keel for Tom Cannon and adopting his usual stalking role at the rear.

As Solo began to weaken, Do Your Job hit the front seemingly full of running with Edwardstone in behind.

But as he had at Sandown, Edwardstone once again displayed a taking turn of foot and in a matter of strides the race was over.

He flew the last and the 8-15 favourite was ridden out to come home a 10-length winner.

A delighted King said: “This wasn’t really part of the plan, but he came out of Sandown really well and I started thinking ‘it’s two months until the Kingmaker at Warwick and if we have a setback or a freeze-up in early February and we haven’t run since early December, that might be a mistake’.

“I thought we’d come here and it would be a bit more practice for him. Now he can have his break and his (flu) vaccination and hopefully back for the Kingmaker.

“Bar the first fence I thought he jumped very well. He just ballooned it a little bit, but that can happen off the back of running at Sandown.

“He gets the trip very well. You’d have thought on his pedigree he should be running over two and a half or three miles, but for the moment we’ll stick to two.”

Coral cut the seven-year-old to 9-2 from 6-1 for the Arkle and make him their second-favourite behind the Willie Mullins-trained Ferny Hollow (6-4).

King added: “It’s exciting. It’s going back to the old days when we had Voy Por Ustedes and My Way De Solzen. We haven’t had one as good as this for a bit.

“The Arkle is his only target (at Cheltenham) – it will be the Arkle or nowhere. A break, the Kingmaker and then if that goes well, hopefully the Arkle.

“I’m just relived we’ve got today out of the way.”

Edwardstone is king in Henry VIII at Sandown

Edwardstone stormed home to record an emphatic victory in the Close Brothers Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown.

Starting at 3-1, the seven-year-old provided jockey Tom Cannon with a first success at the highest level with a 16-length win from 9-5 favourite Third Time Lucki.

The market leader jumped erratically at time in front, whereas Alan King’s runner was invariably fluent in his slipstream and broke away after the penultimate fence to stride on into a comfortable lead as the line approached.

Edwardstone is now broadly a 10-1 chance for the Sporting Life Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

A jubilant Cannon said: “The horse did all the talking for me really.

“He was a bit novicey at one or two (fences), but he’s only ever had one completed chase start so he was going to be.

“It was a good jump two out, I gave him a squeeze down to the last and he put it to bed well.

“I’m just delighted for the horse really, more than anything, he hasn’t had much luck in his career but he was lucky today. I was just a passenger really.”

King – winning the race for the third time – said: “He does settle a bit over fences, but we were lucky enough that they have gone a right gallop. He has a great cruising speed and we were thrilled.

“We couldn’t win a bumper. We bumped into some superstars along the way. Over hurdles he was just very progressive. We tried him over fences last year and I think he was unseated in January at Doncaster and I thought it was way too late to keep going, so we went back over hurdles.

Edwardstone on his way to victory
Edwardstone on his way to victory (Steven Paston/PA)

“His form at the back end last season was as good as ever – he was fifth in a County Hurdle and placed at Aintree. But he was always hopefully going to make a chaser.

“We got a nice confidence booster last time and I didn’t really want to come here. To be honest, if I could have found a two-miler with a penalty, I would have gone somewhere, but they were not around and I did want to stay at two (miles).

“Although he is bred to get a trip, to me, he doesn’t need any further than two miles.

“I could not find anything else – unless you wait for Kempton at Christmas and I didn’t want to wait that long.

“He has had three quick runs and it is a nice problem to have where he goes.”

He went on: “It is a while since we had a Grade One winner – Sceau Royal four years ago in this race.

“It doesn’t get any easier. I went to Cheltenham the other week and we had three runners. I didn’t really fancy any of them and I have never been so bored at a day’s racing.

Edwardstone with his connections
Edwardstone with his connections (Steven Paston/PA)

“It means you have to appreciate it when you have a good horse to run, because it means everything. You do get wound up beforehand, but when it comes off, it is a wonderful feeling.

“I hope and think he is an Arkle horse, so we will work back. He has had three fairly quick races. I will probably give him two races. The Kingmaker (at Warwick) would be the ideal one, but he may want somewhere in between. Whether we went to Kempton at Christmas, I don’t know.”

Reflecting further on his landmark triumph, Cannon said: “I have been a slow burner. It took me about four years to ride a winner under rules, so no surprise it has taken me another decade to ride a Grade One winner.

Tom Cannon after his first Grade One success
Tom Cannon after his first Grade One success (Steven Paston/PA)

“The game plan was to do it how it worked out. We went a good gallop. He settled nicely, settled well and was in top gear the whole way down the back just trying to hold him together. He got in close to one of the Railway fences and it was a case of being patient and hoping Harry (Skelton, on Third Time Lucki) would come back to me. I couldn’t really go forcing it and he came back to me sooner than I thought he would.

“It worked out perfectly and he did it easily in the end.”

He added: “It is brilliant – a dream come true. It is nice to cement it further. I won the Whitbread around here last year in somewhat fortuitous circumstances, but to do it properly like that is brilliant.”

Notachance takes Classic Chase honours

Notachance executed trainer Alan King’s plan to perfection when lifting the McCoy Contractors Civil Engineering Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick.

The Barbury Castle trainer decided to save the seven-year-old for this valuable contest after Notachance had won at Bangor 11 weeks ago.

It paid off with the youngest horse in the line-up landing the spoils.

Notachance had only had five previous races over fences – but that did not stop him being sent off one of the 7-2 joint-favourites.

Tom Cannon never had him too far off the pace set by Captain Chaos, before taking closer order down the back straight.

Notachance led two out, but was immediately challenged by Achille who put up a strong bid.

However, Notachance stuck to his task well to win by half a length from Achille. Le Breuil, who shared favouritism, stayed on strongly for third place, five and a half lengths away.

King said: “He is a progressive young horse and has really improved this season. We were delighted with him at Bangor and he seems to have come forward again.

“We probably got to the front a little bit too soon and he pricked his ears from the second-last, but he kept finding.

“We always thought he would suit this sort of race and going forward I would imagine we will target the Scottish National. He won’t go to Liverpool (Grand National), as I don’t like the race and neither do the owners.”

He added: “I was glad when the winning line came as it was a long way from the last, like I said. I’ve always thought he is a better horse on good ground and certainly last season he seemed a better horse on better ground.

“We will probably try to find something (before Scottish National), but we will have to go home and think about that. He is too young for Aintree, so he won’t be entered.

“I just think he has matured now and he is seeing his races out properly. He likes to be fresh and well so we won’t over-race him.”

On his season so far, King said: “It’s going terrific all round. We’ve not quite the numbers we used to have jumping-wise, but we can still produce the odd good one!”