Tom George served notice his Slad team is going to be a force to be reckoned with through the spring in Britain and France when posting an cross-Channel double clinched by Espoir De Teillee in the BetVictor Handicap Chase at Newbury.
Having earlier in the afternoon connected with Crealion in a conditions chase at the provincial course of Angers, George was on hand at Newbury to welcome back Espoir De Teillee and Tom Scudamore after the combination resisted the strong challenge of Kalooki by a head.
Scudamore had donned the popular Roger Brookhouse silks successfully two days previously to deliver on Rock On Rocco for George at Ludlow.
Of his 9-2 winner, George said: “Roger Brookhouse has been very patient with this horse, who had a lot of problems at some stage of his career.
“Our horses were slow to come ready in the autumn and then the bad weather kept holding them back, but they are in very good form now, and we’re looking forward to Aintree, while I’m always busy looking through the programme book for opportunities in France.”
The Brookhouse-owned Black Op ran well for a long way in the Gold Cup and the trainer reflected: “He was bang there coming down the hill, but then his stamina ran out. He will go for a race that is yet to be decided at Aintree. He won a Grade One over hurdles at the course.
“Come On Teddy pleased me with his run at Cheltenham (third in the Pertemps Final) and he’s in the team, but the one I’m most looking forward to is Clondaw Castle in the (Betway) Bowl. He’s been in the best form I’ve seen him since his win at Kempton.”
Bourbon Beauty put the icing on the cake of what has been a memorable season for the Old Stoics Racing Club by gamely making all the running in the featured EBF BetVictor ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Mares’ Hurdle Final.
The 14-1 outsider responded to her rider’s every call as Harry Bannister took the initiative from flag-fall on the daughter of Great Pretender.
The combination faced mounting threats from Marada and Rose of Arcadia in the straight, but fought them off to beat the former by a length and a quarter.
Trainer Alex Hales will now look to run Bourbon Beauty in a mares’ race at the Cheltenham April fixture.
“We came here thinking today was the plan and she’s taken a major step forward”, said Bannister. “She’d hit the crossbar more times than she’d won, but is so straightforward and travelled so well, I knew they would find it hard to get to her.
“I could see out of the corner of my eye they were having a crack at her and didn’t realise I had lost the reins.”
The Hales yard houses other good performers like For Pleasure, Millers Bank and Huntsman Son, and Bannister added: “Alex and I were at Stowe together, hence the name of the syndicate and happily it’s been a very successful operation.”
Paul Nicholls will not wait long before switching Good Ball to fences, reasoning that a similar programme to Hitman could await the 2-1 winner of the BetVictor Novices’ Handicap Hurdle next season.
Nicholls said: “I suspect he will go chasing next season, there’s no reason to wait and he’s a lovely horse for the future who is quite exciting, a little bit like Hitman, although I wouldn’t want to go on fast ground with him.”
Harry Cobden agreed and said: “He’s a wonderful jumper who travels and stays well.”
Richard Patrick notched a first winner at the course when rewarded for his patient handling of Tinkers Hill Tommy in the BetVictor Conditional Jockeys’ Veterans’ Handicap Chase.
Mindful that his 9-2 mount, trained by Rebecca Curtis, needed to work his way into the race, Patrick refused to try to reel in clear leader Valadom until between the final two fences.
However, once taking the lead Tinkers Hill Tommy stretched five lengths clear of the top weight, with First Figaro back in third.
The race was marred by a fall from Dubai Angel that sadly proved fatal.
Patrick said: “He stuck to it really well, digging deep, and all credit to Rebecca. I rode him in his first point-to-point and he’s a little hero.”
Curtis, who will swerve a trip to Aintree with the winner, said: “He’s done well to win today, and if it hadn’t happened we would have eased him back in grade. Richard gave him a brilliant ride, mindful not to get at him too quick and use him up. He needs every inch of three miles.”
Lord Baddesley is a horse we could be hearing a lot about when he goes over fences next season. The Chris Gordon-trained gelding mastered Osprey Call at the penultimate flight and stayed on strongly under Tom Cannon.
Gordon said of his 6-1 winner: “He fell at Cheltenham, but is getting back on track. On a galloping course and granted good ground he’s in his element. He got a bit hot on the way here and is a big buzzy creature and a lovely chaser for the future.
“He’s jumped well at home, but could have one more run over hurdles.”