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Umbrigado lifts Greatwood gold and enters Cheltenham reckoning

Umbrigado’s dramatic triumph for David Pipe and David Noonan in the Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury left owners John White and Anne Underhill dreaming of realising their long-held ambition of a winner at the Cheltenham Festival.

Their steadily-progressing seven-year-old travelled strongly throughout the two-and-a-half-mile contest, and under a confident ride by Noonan prevailed after jumping the final fence three lengths down and with three horses still in front of him.

The 13-2 chance fiddled that obstacle but it did not impair his momentum, and when The Big Bite veered left towards the water jump Umbrigado took advantage of being wider than his foes, his strong finish launching him to a length and length and a quarter success over Killer Clown and the wayward last-fence leader.

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Umbrigado holds entries in two races at the Festival and was cut from 14-1 into 10-1 for the Paddy Power Plate with the sponsors.

However, Pipe is mindful that the Festival is sooner than ideal, and said: “We entered him in the Grand Annual and the old Mildmay of Flete at Cheltenham but weren’t sure, and today’s race was a good payday in its own right.

“Coming into today I wasn’t certain about the ground, but David gave him a great ride. He’s a strong traveller, but doesn’t always find as much as you think he will in a finish. What we had today was a bit of luck with the leader hanging, and we were in the right place to cash in.

“Regarding Cheltenham we will go by the owners and see what they want to do. They would love to have a runner with a good chance, but whether it’s the two-and-a-half-miler on Thursday or the Grand Annual on Wednesday it could come a bit quick.”

Noonan deserved this big-race success and his mount will now be brim-full of confidence following three wins since going chasing.

He said: “I planned to settle him halfway back and give him a bit of room. He’d idled a bit when taking the lead at Wetherby, but today he battled well on ground that was the best he’d run on.

“Even at the last I was confident I wasn’t out of it, and he powered to the line. He hasn’t had an overly-hard race, and he’s adaptable in the way he can be ridden.”

Pipe has faith in Adagio

David Pipe is confident his JCB Triumph Hurdle contender Adagio has ticks in all the right boxes.

A winner of three of his four outings to date, Adagio already has a Grade One win next to his name – having won the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow.

That form was let down at the weekend when the runner-up, Gary Moore’s Nassalam, was well beaten at Haydock – but Pipe nevertheless thinks Adagio remains on the upgrade.

Pipe said: “Adagio has made a lot of improvement, although it was a bit worrying to see the second horse get beaten at Haydock the other day.

“I would say that my horse has a lot of ticks next to his name, because he’s already won at Cheltenham and is a very good jumper.

“Let’s see who is the best juvenile – we will only find that out on the day.”

Umbrigado was a winner at Wetherby last week
Umbrigado was a winner at Wetherby last week (PA)

One who may skip Cheltenham is Umbrigado, a winner at Fontwell and Wetherby recently.

“Umbrigado won very nicely at Wetherby – but whether he goes to the Festival or not is uncertain,” said Pipe.

“The owners have had winners there, but they are not hell bent on it, and it’s not out of the question that we will keep things more low-key with him.”