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Alan King anticipating Triumph ‘battle’ for Tritonic

Alan King is confident he has Tritonic in top form as he prepares for a “proper battle” against a clutch of fellow prospective stars in the JCB Triumph Hurdle.

Even before embarking on his so far unbeaten hurdles career, which includes a highly-impressive Grade Two win in Kempton’s Adonis on just his second start under three weeks ago, Tritonic took King to centre stage on the Flat as a Royal Ascot runner-up last summer.

The Barbury Castle trainer therefore has every right to consider him a leading light at the top level – but he has great respect for Friday’s opposition from either side of the Irish Sea.

Zanahiyr, like Tritonic unbeaten over jumps, has spent most of the winter as ante-post favourite.

He will represent Denise Foster, as he bids for a fourth successive victory – while his Irish compatriot Quilixios, transferred this month from Gordon Elliott to Henry de Bromhead’s stable, is already a four-time winner after his Grade One success in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival.

The home contingent has a second strong contender too, in David Pipe’s Adagio – who won both the Triumph Trial over course and distance in December and the rescheduled Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow a month later.

Tritonic was yet to race over hurdles at that point, but has since surged towards the top of the market, and King is delighted with his preparation.

“He’s absolutely A1,” he said.

“I don’t think the track (at Cheltenham) will be any different to him, but the opposition is a lot stronger.

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“I’ve got great respect for David Pipe’s horse and the Irish horses – so it’s going to be a proper battle.”

Tritonic’s eyecatching Flat rating of 99 is an obvious indication that he could go right to the top over jumps.

“I hope so,” added King.

“But if he can do the talking on Friday now, we’ll see what happens.”

Quilixios, who has won his races by an aggregate of more than 50 lengths, also boasts fine credentials for the Champion Hurdle-winning partnership of De Bromhead and jockey Rachael Blackmore.

Chris Richardson, managing director of owners Cheveley Park Stud, echoes King’s respect for the opposition – albeit in a select field of eight.

“It looks a very good race,” he said.

“The fields might be a little bit smaller at Cheltenham this year, but all the top horses are there.”

Quilixios was an impressive winner at the Dublin Racing Festival
Quilixios was an impressive winner at the Dublin Racing Festival (Niall Carson/PA)

Quilixios could yet be one of them, and Richardson added: “He’s done nothing wrong – he’s four from four.

“He was most impressive when well clear at Leopardstown last time.”

Adagio has done plenty to fuel Pipe’s dreams of victory in a race which launched his father Martin’s great training career when Baron Blakeney won it as an unconsidered 66-1 shot 40 years ago.

In his three wins from four starts over hurdles, he has proved all conditions come alike to him.

“The great thing about Adagio is that it doesn’t really matter what the ground is and he’s got Cheltenham form,” said Pipe, who reports Tom Scudamore’s mount back in rude health after being briefly laid low in mid-winter.

“He had a little colic after his last run and was a bit quiet in himself.

“(Normally) he’s a real character who loves his food and he was just off games for the week.

“He’s been in very good form since, and jumps and travels.

“It’s a red-hot Triumph Hurdle. Is he good enough? We’ll find out at Cheltenham.”

There are also two Willie Mullins’ hopefuls – Haut En Couleurs, a narrow winner on his only French start but unraced for current connections – and Tax For Max.

Completing the eight are Nigel Hawke’s Historic Heart – runner-up to Adagio in the Triumph Trial – and Sean Curran’s filly Talking About You, who is the most experienced hurdler in the field with four wins from her 10 starts.

Zanahiyr and Tritonic clash in Triumph Hurdle

Tritonic and Zanahiyr are among eight juveniles declared for the JCB Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham on Friday.

Zanahiyr is unbeaten in three starts over hurdles this season and edges favouritism for Denise Foster, who recently took over the training licence at Cullentra House from the suspended Gordon Elliott.

The Alan King-trained Tritonic, who was runner-up on the Flat at Royal Ascot last summer, is the clear pick of the home team after successive jumping wins at Ascot and Kempton.

Next in the betting is Quilixios, who is three from three since arriving in Ireland and impressed in Grade One company at last month’s Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown.

The Cheveley Park Stud-owned four-year-old will make his debut for Henry de Bromhead under Rachael Blackmore after being moved from Elliott’s yard earlier in the month.

David Pipe has high hopes for course-and-distance winner Adagio, while Willie Mullins runs Tax For Max and Haut En Couleurs, who was a narrow winner on his only previous start in France.

Historic Heart (Nigel Hawke) and Talking About You (Sean Curran) complete the octet.

A much larger field of 17 runners have been declared for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.

Barbados Buck’s runs in the Albert Bartlett
Barbados Buck’s runs in the Albert Bartlett (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Leading Irish hopes for the three-mile contest include the Mullins-trained Stattler and Foster’s pair of Fakiera and Torygraph.

Paul Nicholls is responsible for two of the big British-trained contenders in Barbados Buck’s and Threeunderthrufive.

Fergal O’Brien’s Alaphilippe and Adrimel from Tom Lacey’s yard are others to consider in a competitive heat.

Elimay is part of a strong Mullins team in the Mares' Chase
Elimay is part of a strong Mullins team in the Mares’ Chase (Brian Lawless/PA)

Petit Mouchoir heads a maximum field of 26 runners for the McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle, while likely favourite Billaway heads 18 declared for the St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup.

Mullins appears to hold the aces in the inaugural Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase, with market principals Elimay and Colreevy, as well as Salsaretta and Cabaret Queen, part of an 11-strong line-up.

Ireland’s champion trainer is also responsible for the likely favourite in the concluding Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle in the form of the JP McManus-owned Gentleman De Mee.

Zanahiyr and Tritonic in contention for Cheltenham Triumph

Zanahiyr and Tritonic head 12 confirmations for Friday’s JCB Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Zanahiyr has been impressive in Ireland this season winning all his three starts and tops the ante-post market, although Alan King’s Tritonic is hot on his heels.

A Royal Ascot runner-up in June, he has won both his outings over hurdles, most recently taking the Adonis at Kempton by 10 lengths.

Quilixios, who raced for Gordon Elliott but is now with Henry de Bromhead, is another unbeaten runner in the colours of Cheveley Park Stud.

Willie Mullins can chose from Haut En Couleurs – unraced since joining the champion trainer having won in France – Saint Sam, Tax For Max and Youmdor.

David Pipe’s Adagio, a Grade One winner already, and Jospeh O’Brien’s Busselton are others in the mix.

Ben Pauling’s The Cob has been supplemented for the Albert Bartlett on the strength of his victory in the River Don at Doncaster.

He is one of 18 possibles with Fakiera, Torygraph and Stattler heading the Irish challenge.

Paul Nicholls has Barbados Buck’s and Threeunderthrufive, Fergal O’Brien also has two likely runners in Alaphilippe and Ask A Honey Bee, while Tom Lacey’s Adrimel is still in.

There are 13 left in the inaugural Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase, with Mullins holding a strong hand through Elimay, Colreevy and Salsaretta.

Grand National runner-up Magic Of Light, previous Festival winner Shattered Love along and Jonjo O’Neill’s Annie Mc are also in contention.

There are 45 confirmations for the McCoy Contractors County Hurdle with Saldier at the head of the weights, while the likes of Cayd Boy, Edwardstone, Drop The Anchor and Third Time Lucki all left in.

A massive 70 horses have been left in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, with Nicky Henderson’s Monte Cristo and Janika at the head of the weights.

Last year’s hero It Came To Pass tops 19 in the St James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase.

Monday Musings: Tritonic to be the Spring King?

I was speaking to Micky Hammond a couple of weeks ago and he declared: “Winter has finished!”. I thought maybe he was rather precipitous as there were still great drifts of snow around much of the North of England and points further on, but he must have had divine inspiration from somewhere, writes Tony Stafford.

Often the Kempton Saturday meeting in late February has offered better ground than anywhere else for ages and as such provided a nice lead-in for Cheltenham Festival runners. February 27 2021 proved no exception.

Through this most depressing of winters, denied visits to the racecourse and resigned to watching horses slogging through the mud day after day on television, Kempton’s jumps track always provides the kindest of surfaces. No wonder Nicky Henderson opposed plans for its closure so vigorously.

On Saturday the three-mile handicap chase, which has had many identities, but was staged under the Close Brothers banner this year, was run in five minutes 51 seconds, one second FASTER than standard time.

Clondaw Castle was the meritorious winner. Trained by Tom George and ridden by Jonathan Burke, he led home a field of 17. Runner-up Erick Le Rouge, a 33-1 shot, had been successful on similarly fast ground at the corresponding meeting two years ago in a handicap hurdle while on that same card, Southfield Spirit, a faller when favourite for the Close Brothers, won the Grade 2 Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle for Paul Nicholls.

Micky must have been slightly irritated at the accuracy of his prediction as he chose the same weekend for the return to hurdling of stable star Cornerstone Lad in the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell yesterday. The ground had dried out appreciably there too and Cornerstone Lad, a proper mud-lark, was pulled up.

I always loved the late February meeting at Kempton which used to be a two-day affair on the Friday and Saturday. I know my memory plays tricks these days but I definitely remember one year (not sure which one) when at least half a dozen of the Kempton winners (and possibly a couple more) went on to success at the Cheltenham Festival.

The Adonis Hurdle will always be a favourite and its annual arrival unfailingly reminds me of the 2007 renewal which led to a 14-year connection with Raymond Tooth. Sadly Raymond’s association with racing has for now been curtailed but I will always be grateful to Punjabi and to Derek Hatter and Brod Munro-Wilson whose input that day hastened the union.

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Few winners of the race, which in 2007 and 2008 provided Nicky Henderson with the 2009 and 2010 (Binocular) Champion Hurdle winners, were more impressive than Saturday’s ten-length Adonis victor Tritonic, a fifth Adonis score for Alan King, equalling Henderson’s tally.

Tritonic, a 99-rated Flat racer, had been more workmanlike than spectacular in the Ascot mud five weeks earlier when a strong-finishing one-length victor from the Gary Moore-trained Casa Loupi. That horse, a far inferior performer on the level but still a tough campaigner, was again the main rival on Saturday.

Coming to the last flight it appeared that there would probably be only a slightly wider margin between them but once over the obstacle, Tritonic took off and sprinted away up the run-in in the manner of a Goshen in an easing-down ten-length exhibition.

Cheltenham has a habit of fooling us with its ground and many times I’ve been in a less than successful going prediction business, certainly not in the Hammond league anyway. At various Cheltenham preview nights I’ve suggested it will be impossible for it to be anything but soft and it often wasn’t. I don’t think it matters for Tritonic, who is down to 7-2 for the juvenile championship.

I feel I have to change my Triumph allegiance, with French Aseel showing no sign of a second run having transferred into the Willie Mullins team. Gordon Elliott still has a strong grip on the race with 2-1 shot Zanahiyr and third-best Quilixios (6-1) but he is making all the wrong headlines after the picture of him talking on the phone while sitting on a dead horse on his gallop started doing the rounds. Both the Irish authorities and the BHA are understandably on the Elliott case.

In these more sensitive times in terms of animal welfare it is little wonder that social media has been so much on this matter. I’ve been told that the belated release of the grotesque image many months after it was captured last summer is because of the ire of a scorned former paramour of the trainer! Whatever the truth of that, it’s a great story. As Mr Bolger instructed when I first contacted him back in the 1980’s: “No names!”

In those days in Ireland you never knew who was listening in. Nowadays there’s always someone taking a picture and it has an ever-ready target audience. No doubt in no time at all there will be a million “likes” of which 999,000 of them will be utter “dislikes”.

Anyway, I digress. Tritonic is a reminder of Alan King’s talent as a jumps trainer which to some extent has been slightly eroded in the public understanding because of his equal facility on the Flat. Considering he doesn’t have easy access to the top pedigrees but instead needs to develop his own talent, that success is even more meritorious.

Tritonic was a case in point. Bred by Kirsten Rausing, he was originally sold as a foal at Tatts December sale for 14,000gns to Tony O’Callaghan’s Tally Ho Stud. Eighteen months later at the lesser of the two Tatts Breeze-ups, with the benefit of the Tally Ho expertise, he realised almost a 300% increase at 55k.

He might not have seemed the obvious “breezer” in pedigree terms. He was by the German Derby winner – by 11 lengths! – Sea The Moon who won four of five career starts with his only defeat coming as a 2-1 on shot in his last run in the Grosser Preis von Baden. The four-year-old winner there, Ivanhowe, was later a multiple Group 1 winner in Australia.

King didn’t waste any time with his May purchase. Tritonic had his first start in July as an unconsidered 50-1 outsider for a Haydock 7f novice race and, bar taking a false step in the closing stages, could have been even nearer than fourth place, less than a length behind the winner.

He built on that with wins at Ffos Las in August and Newbury in September and was only a 6-1 chance when fifth to Max Vega in the Group 3 Zetland Stakes over 10 furlongs at Newmarket in October. Placed in four of his five attempts – including first time out at Royal Ascot – in good-class handicaps as a three-year-old, he had the benefit of experience without being over-raced. So when the trainer turned Tritonic to hurdling he already looked the finished article.

With two Triumph Hurdle winners, Penzance and Katchit - who as a five-year-old followed up in the Champion Hurdle - to his credit, King certainly knows what’s needed and, after welcoming his winner on Saturday, there was only one race on his mind.

Another of the Kempton winners that interests me is Cape Gentleman who travelled over from Ireland to win the Dovecote Hurdle in determined style after a tussle with the Dan Skelton-trained Calico, a decent horse in Germany before making an easy winning UK debut at Ludlow.

Cape Gentleman started out in the Nicolas Clement stable after being sourced as a yearling at Arqana’s Deauville sale by the trainer and his sales associate Tina Rau for €20k. After three runs and one win he was back at the company’s Saint-Cloud venue where Emmet Mullins bought him for €80k on behalf of owner Margaret O’Rourke.

It’s uncanny that Tritonic and Cape Gentleman had such similar increases in value between sales and are rated 1lb apart on the Flat: second time out for Mullins in the Irish Cesarewitch at The Curragh last September Cape Gentleman showed tremendous stamina and determination to win by a couple of lengths in a field of 20 after which his mark was increased from 85 to 100.

First time over hurdles he won well at Punchestown but then, in Grade 1 company over two and three-quarter miles at Leopardstown’s Dublin Festival three weeks ago, he was pulled up. That he could recover from those exertions and put in such a good performance within such a short time and back at two miles is testimony both to the horse’s constitution and his trainer’s skill.

Cape Gentleman has two Cheltenham engagements and is a 25-1 chance for both. With the run guarantee in many places, I reckon there will be worse each-way shots at considerably shorter odds on the day. Just two weeks to go.

I’d actually been asked to go to a friend’s house to do an on-the-day hosting of one of the days at the Festival for some of his pals who play for a Premier League team and love their racing. That was great at any rate until spoil-sport Mrs S pointed out that it was still illegal – and no doubt one of the lads would live stream the event, ensuring big fines all round. I had regretfully to decline.

- TS

Tritonic powers to impressive Adonis victory

Tritonic cemented his JCB Triumph Hurdle claims with a hugely impressive display in the Close Brothers Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton.

The four-year-old championship at the Festival had looked at the mercy of Gordon Elliott, who has an embarrassment of riches in the division with the first two in the betting in Zanahiyr and Quilixios, as well as the unbeaten Teahupoo, who won again at Fairyhouse on Saturday.

But Tritonic, more than useful on the Flat for Alan King and placed at Royal Ascot, has clearly taken to his new discipline very well.

A winner on his debut at Ascot when he only wore down Gary Moore’s Casa Loupi in the closing stages, the pair were first and second again – but this time Tritonic’s superiority was much greater.

Running to the last Tritonic was just a length in front, but by the time the 5-6 favourite crossed the line he had put 10 between them, with Adrian Heskin not being overly vigorous.

Betfair cut the winner to 5-1 from 8s for the Triumph – and King could hardly have been happier with the display.

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The Barbury Castle Stables trainer said: “We wanted to get a bit more experience into him for Cheltenham and he will have learned plenty down the inside (rail) today. Once or twice he goes to sleep, but as soon as Adrian gives him a squeeze, he is straight back on the bridle. I could not have been more pleased with him.

Tritonic comes well clear after the last
Tritonic comes well clear after the last (Alan Corwhurst/PA)

“We gave him a proper holiday at the end of last Flat season – he was gelded and had six weeks in the field. He was only just ready to start at Ascot and I just felt we had to try to get two runs into him if we were going to have a serious Triumph horse.

“We were going to come straight here and I thought ‘well, that’s not right’, he just needs a little bit more experience. We certainly felt he had improved since Ascot, fitness-wise, and he has built on that again today.

“He is much the best of my former Triumph Hurdle horses on Flat ratings. We have trained him differently. Katchit we started back in September, the rest had a lot more experience than Tritonic has coming into the Triumph.

“But I think the two runs over hurdles will be enough and he has experience in big handicaps on the Flat.”

He added: “He is the highest-class Flat horse I’ve ever sent jumping. He is a good mile-and-a-quarter Flat horse. He might appear to be a little bit slow, but that is because he goes to sleep on you in a race. He only just does what he is asked.

“He should be fine for Cheltenham and he has the gears to hold a position wherever you want to ride him.

“Everything impressed me. The way he came back on the bridle. He was a bit short of room once or twice and I love the way he went away from the last as well. He hit the line really well, which is always a good sign.

“From day one he has schooled lovely. I thought today his jumping was accurate and he’s good when he is in tight as well.

“I don’t think he will come on much fitness-wise, but he will just be a little bit sharper for this experience.

“I hope he’d have a very good chance at Cheltenham. He’d be the highest-rated Flat-wise and I certainly wouldn’t be one to swap him for anything. I’m very happy with my lad.”

Heskin is also looking forward to Cheltenham.

The rider said: “He is a very smart horse. I was a little bit caught for pace midways in the race, but once I switched him out when we turned in, he really came alive. He wasn’t in full flow down the straight – there is still a bit (more there) with him.

“His momentum carried him through. He was just coming alive at the second-last and he is very quick across a hurdle, no matter what stride he is on. That is big asset to him.

“The pace of the Triumph Hurdle will be ideal and that Cheltenham hill will really suit him.”

Tritonic aiming to enhance Triumph Hurdle claims at Kempton

Royal Ascot runner-up Tritonic bids to earn himself a ticket to the Cheltenham Festival with victory in the Close Brothers Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday.

The son of Sea The Moon was beaten just half a length by Highland Chief in the Golden Gates Handicap at the showpiece meeting in June, before going on to run at Listed and Group-race level.

Having been gelded during the autumn, Tritonic made a successful start to his jumping career at Ascot last month and will be a hot favourite to follow up in Grade Two company this weekend.

“We’ve been very happy with him and everything has gone well since Ascot. He’s worked away well and schooled well,” said King.

“He’ll learn plenty again on Saturday. This isn’t the be-all and end-all – it’s to hopefully get him spot-on for Cheltenham.

“It will be a sharp test for him.”

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The Barbury Castle handler has saddled four previous winners of the Adonis, with his 2005 scorer Penzance going on to strike Festival gold in the JCB Triumph Hurdle the following month.

At a general 8-1, Tritonic is the shortest-priced British-trained runner in the ante-post market for this year’s Triumph.

Alan King has high hopes for Tritonic
Alan King has high hopes for Tritonic (David Davies/PA)

King added: “I’ve trained him totally different to the others, to be honest, in that the others all started much earlier over hurdles.

“This horse had a proper holiday at the end of the last Flat season.

“He’s the best of them on his Flat mark by some way, but they all came into this race with a fair bit more experience than he’s got.”

Tritonic renews rivalry with the Gary Moore-trained Casa Loupi, who was only a length behind when runner-up at Ascot last month.

Moore said: “He gave a good account of himself on his first run over hurdles. I don’t think it will be quite so easy this time. I think he got an easy lead.

“He’s come out of it very well. Whether he’ll come on or not, I don’t know. He was pretty fit from the Flat, so I don’t think there’s a lot of improvement fitness wise.

“Whether a bit sharper track will suit him, we’ll see.”

Jane Williams saddles Honneur D’Ajonc, while dual winner Margaret’s Legacy is an interesting contender from France and Paso Doble makes his jumping bow for Paul Nicholls.

Paso Doble makes his debut for Paul Nicholls
Paso Doble makes his debut for Paul Nicholls (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He is a promising recruit from Ireland, where he won twice on the Flat for Jim Bolger as a three-year-old,” Nicholls told Betfair.

“I’ve given him a bit of time since he was gelded and he may well be one for the future.

“To find out for sure, we are are going down the route we took with Zarkandar in this race some years ago.

“If Paso Doble happens to win at Kempton, then he will head for the Triumph at Cheltenham. If he doesn’t, then we will keep him for next season.”

Winning start for Tritonic delights King

Alan King feels there is plenty more to come from JCB Triumph Hurdle contender Tritonic following his winning debut over hurdle, with Kempton next on the agenda.

A top-class Flat handicapper in the summer, the Sea The Moon gelding finished second at Royal Ascot in the inaugural Golden Gates Handicap and was also runn-up in the Listed Glasgow Stakes at Hamilton.

Sent off favourite at Ascot on Saturday, he was made to pull out all the stops by Gary Moore’s Casa Loupi with the pair 18 lengths clear.

Tritonic will now either run in the Close Brothers Adonis Juvenile Hurdle against his own age group on February 27, or take on his elders in the Sky Bet Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle on the same card at the Sunbury track.

“I was obviously very pleased with him, he was only just ready to start back on Saturday as he was gelded and had a proper break at the end of the Flat season,” said King, whose runner is a best-priced 14-1 for Cheltenham.

“I just felt if he was going to get to the Triumph then he needed two runs beforehand, so this is a good starting point and he’s come out of it fine.

“I would think we’ll go to Kempton next for either the Adonis or the Dovecote. We’ll put him in both and have a look.”

The Barbury Castle trainer added: “The front two finished a long way clear of another decent horse. I must admit jumping the last I did think we were booked for second – I was still thinking it was a satisfactory debut, but then he dug in and got there in the end.

“I’d like to think there’s a lot of improvement to come from him. There’ll have to be, but I do think there is.

“He’s been to the big handicaps on the Flat so that will stand him in good stead and he’ll be a lot sharper for the run.”

Tritonic advertises Triumph claims

Tritonic emerged as a leading light for the JCB Triumph Hurdle with a debut success over jumps that will have taught him a great deal and elevate dreams for his owners of landing the juvenile championship at Cheltenham in March.

Good enough on the Flat to finish second to Highland Chief at the Royal meeting in June, Tritonic started a warm order at 5-4 for the bet365 Juvenile Hurdle – but looked to have plenty to do as Casa Loupi set sail for home on the homeward turn.

Happily for his supporters, the favourite gradually ate into his rival’s four-length lead and reeled him in in the final 100 yards to score by a length under Adrian Heskin.

The jockey, who had schooled his mount twice at Alan King’s Banbury Castle base, said: “Alan likes them dropped in, so I rode him to come from off the pace. He was a bit keen early and I had to sit and suffer a little going up the hill where, I let him fill up and find his feet. I thought turning in I would pick them up.”

Betfair cut Tritonic to 16-1 from 20-1 for the Triumph, with Coral unchanged at 20-1.

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Heskin added that he could envisage Tritonic developing into a contender for the race, saying: “He has stamina and gears and his jumping is good, while Mr (Max) McNeill has a dream to win the Triumph. He was brave up the straight and got the better of a very tough rival.

“I would say it was a fair race.”

Tom Cannon made the best of what he described as a “dream come true” in picking up the spare ride via his agent Dave Roberts on Craigneiche, a clear-cut winner of the Matchbook Better Way To Bet Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle.

Owing to Nico de Boinville partnering Buveur D’Air at Haydock and Jerry McGrath’s absence through injury, Cannon stepped in for a first ride for Nicky Henderson and the combination pulled seven lengths clear of Arrivederci on the run-in.

Tom Cannon enjoyed a dream spare ride on Craigneiche
Tom Cannon enjoyed a dream spare ride on Craigneiche (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Craigneiche carried bottom weight of 10st 6lb and made Cannon’s morning run to make the weight worth every second as he powered home at 14-1.

The jockey enthused: “Dave Roberts texted me on Thursday morning to tell me about the ride and my mum was so thrilled she cut it out of the paper and put it in her scrapbook on the mantel piece. And I must admit I had to pinch myself .

“I could very easily have been at another meeting riding for Alan King or Chris Gordon, and thought I would be scrabbling around for a ride so it was a good feeling to get the news.

“I chatted with Nicky, who thought he was on an appropriate mark and said he’d been working well and that he gets on his toes, but although he felt fresh he settled.”

Betfair introduced the winner at 16-1 for the Coral Cup at Cheltenham.

Charlie Hammond enjoyed a winner to remember with Enqarde
Charlie Hammond enjoyed a winner to remember with Enqarde (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Charlie Hammond notched a first career success at Ascot when Enqarde (4-1) overcame a tendency to jump left to land the Matchbook Best Odds Handicap Chase.

The former French-based gelding, trained by Dr Richard Newland, responded to hands and heels riding to score by three and a half lengths and two from Cobolobo and Crossley Tender.

Hammond said: “He got into a lovely rhythm, but I had to keep him up to his work from the bottom of the hill. I think he might have got there too soon, but he jumped super and luckily kept going all the way to the line, showing a great attitude.”

Hammond explained that his season has turned a corner since November and added: “I made a steady start but have got going in the last couple of months, especially for outside stables.”