Crooks going straight at Cheltenham

Trainer Philip Hobbs was delighted with the performance of Crooks Peak after the 4/1 shot produced a professional performance to land the Listed High Sheriff of Gloucestershire’s Bumper by a length and a half at Cheltenham this afternoon.

The four-year-old came into this race on the back of a debut victory at Newton Abbot last month but his trainer was concerned that ground might be too soft for him this afternoon.

“The ground was a concern,” said Hobbs.

“We didn’t know if he’d handle it and, because he’s a very good-moving horse, we thought it’d be an issue. He coped with it very well indeed though. He was actually too keen to begin with, which is understandable as he’s only had the one run in his life. He was professional in front though. My first reaction is that we’ll stay in bumpers now.

“I was in two minds after he’d won at Newton Abbot whether to send him over hurdles but, if we keep to bumpers this year, he’ll probably be a stronger horse next year.”

4.00pm High Sheriff of Gloucestershire’s Standard Open NHF Race (Listed Race)

1 CROOKS PEAK (Andy Tilley) Philip Hobbs 4-11-00 Richard Johnson 4/1
2 Air Navigator (Lady Cobham & Doone Hulse) Tom George 6-11-00 Adrian Heskin 4/1
3 Woulduadamandeveit (Keith Harris & Tom Gardner) Susan Gardner 4-11-00 Lucy Gardner 25/1

3/1 Fav Vocarium (7th)

Distances: 1½, 1½

Tote Win: £5.00 Places:£2.00, £2.10, £5.50 Exacta:£22.80

PEAK CLIMBS HIGHEST FOR JOHNSON

Richard Johnson was delighted with the performance of 4/1 shot Crooks Peak who plundered the final race of the 2017 November Meeting, the High Sheriff Of Gloucestershire’s Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.

The four-year-old son of Arcadio kept on resolutely in the closing stages to master the Tom George-trained Air Navigator (4/1) to score by a length and a half.

Champion Jump jockey Johnson said: “We were a little bit concerned about the ground as we just weren’t sure whether he would like the going as it was decent ground when he won at Newton Abbot and he is quite a light-framed horse, but he coped with the conditions well.

“He handled the ground well and he showed a good attitude in the closing stages. He is enthusiastic but did relax down the back-straight.

“Crooks Peak is only a young horse but he did it well.

“You never get a poor bumper at this meeting and I think sticking to bumpers this season before going novice hurdling next year is the sensible route.”

HESKIN STEERS NAVIGATOR INTO SECOND

Air Navigator filled second place in the closing race of The November Meeting, the High Sheriff of Gloucestershire’s Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.

The six-year-old son of Yeats won on his only other appearance on a racecourse, at Exeter in February, and finished a length and a half behind winner Crooks Peak today at odds of 4/1.

Trainer Tom George said: “He’s a beautiful horse. He has taken a long time to mature, and he was bred by [owner] Lady Cobham who has always said, ‘Don’t run him if you’re not happy with him’ and has given him loads of time to mature. But he’s a real one for the future.”

He was ridden by Adrian Heskin, who said: “Lovely horse. Tom has done very well to win a bumper with him and he’ll go on now over hurdles, hopefully.”

Third was 25/1 chance Woulduadamandeveit, trained by Susan Gardner and ridden by Lucy Gardner.

To view a replay of the race, please click here –
http://www.thejockeyclub.co.uk/video/20171119/2730251/16368071

Melrose Boy plan pans out for Fry

Trainer Harry Fry returned home to Dorset from Cheltenham yesterday “with our tails between our legs,” but he bounced out in winning form on day three of the November meeting.

Victory for 11/4 favourite Melrose Boy in the Velcourt Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle was Fry’s third consecutive success in the race, and a fourth for this stable conditional jockey Kieron Edgar, who rode both his boss’s 2016 winner, and two for David Pipe (2014 & 2013).

The success was some consolation for Fry, who yesterday saddled Kylemore Lough, the 4/1 favourite for the day’s big race, the BetVictor Gold Cup, and suffered a bitter disappointment when the horse pulled up. He had been prominent until dragging his hind legs through the water, and dropped back through the field a few fences later.

Of Melrose Boy, who is owned by Paul and Clare Rooney, Fry said: “We did a bad job last season by not winning a race with him, but once he had a [handicap] mark we thought about this. The EBF Final at Newbury in March was a thought, but he got some pus in a foot and then the ground went against him. He takes plenty of work, he’s a big horse, and we decided this was the right race to start off.

“It’s been a good race for us so we are delighted. Kieron gave him a lovely ride and Clare and Paul Rooney have been very patient with the horse. As with our two previous winners of the race, he’s breaking his maiden tag, so now we have all the options open to us in a novice’s season.

“Kieron walked the course and felt the outside was the place to be and he’s a good rider who knows the place. This is his second season with us.”

Of Kylemore Lough, Fry said: “He’s fine. We went home with tails between our legs last night, but we learned plenty about him and so did Noel [Fehily]. The problem was learning about him on the big stage, but we got it wrong. Noel can’t wait to go again and to ride him more patiently.

“His jumping was so quick and slick that he jumped himself to the front after three, and Noel said he thought the horse switched himself off and he couldn’t switch him back on. The mistake at the water didn’t help and then the race had gone from him. He pulled up in case there was something wrong, but the horse came back not knowing he had been in a race.

“It’s back to the drawing board and the horse was fine. Obviously, Kerry [Lee, the horse’s former trainer] did a very good job with him, and the pressure is on us to match that and even more so now. It will be a rethink and away we go again.”

KING KIERON DOES IT AGAIN

Kieron Edgar was all smiles after landing the Velcourt Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle on board Melrose Boy at Cheltenham this afternoon.

The conditional jockey has made this race his own over the past few years and was celebrating his fourth success in five years, following victories on Behind Time in 2016 (also for Melrose Boy’s trainer Harry Fry), Unique de Cotte in 2014 and Home Run in 2013 (both for trainer David Pipe).

It was also Fry’s third victory in the race in as many years, following Behind Time’s success last year and Unowhatimeanharry’s win in 2015.

The pair were always travelling sweetly on the rain-softened ground and had plenty in hand as they justified 11/4 favouritism by six lengths.

Edgar was delighted to chalk up another win in the race again.

“It’s great to get another winner at Cheltenham,” said the jockey.

“I was going through his form last night and it was all there for everyone to see. He’s a stronger horse than he was last year and we were hoping he’d improve again. In fairness, he has and, as you’ve seen there, he’s won really well.

“I walked the course before I came and most of the field wanted to go wide. I thought I’d go that way and it paid off. To be fair, it was all very straightforward apart from the last, which was down to me getting excited.

“I gave him a squeeze but he knew better and got me out of jail. He’s a nice horse.”

1.15pm Velcourt Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

1 MELROSE BOY (Paul & Clare Rooney) Harry Fry 5-11-07 Kieron Edgar (3) 11/4 Fav
2 Charlie’s Charm (Pique Syndicate Partnership) Gavin Cromwell IRE 5-10-09 Jack Sherwood 33/1
3 Sheer Poetry (Richard Weeks) Richard Woollacott 6-10-06 Robert Hawker (3) 40/1
4 Lip Service (Malcolm Denmark) Fergal O’Brien 8-11-06 Richard Patrick 10/1

Distances: 6, 2¾, 6

Tote Win: £3.80 Places: £1.40; £6.50; £11.00; £2.70 Exacta: £112.90

CHARM TAKES THE OPPORTUNITY

Charlie’s Charm was a six-length second behind winner Melrose Boy in the opening race of The November Meeting Sunday, the Velcourt Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, at odds of 33/1.

The Golan five-year-old is trained in Ireland by Gavin Cromwell, who said: “That was great – we just bumped into a better handicapped one. The syndicate [Pique Syndicate Partnership] who own him are over here for the weekend, so it was a great opportunity and I thought the horse had a good each-way chance. We’ll find a handicap somewhere at home for him next.”

Jockey Jack Sherwood said: “He ran really well and just bumped into one who was better handicapped.”

Third place went to another long-priced runner, the 40/1 shot Sheer Poetry, representing trainer Richard Woollacott and jockey Robert Hawker. The Yeats mare finished a further two and three-quarter lengths behind Charlie’s Charm.

Woollacott said: “She’s lovely – a great, fun mare and we are over the moon. We weren’t sure she would handle the soft ground, but she did and the jockey gave her a lovely ride.”

JOCKEYS ON GROUND

The jockeys who rode in the first race on day three of The November Meeting 2017, the Velcourt Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, gave their opinions on the ground.

Kieron Edgar, riding the six-length winner Melrose Boy described the ground as: “Very sticky, it’s tough work out there.”

Jack Sherwood, rider of the second-placed Charlie’s Charm, said: “It’s very hard work.”

Richard Patrick, rider of fourth-placed Lip Service, remarked: “Soft.”

Ciaran Gethings, jockey of Buckle Street (5th), said: “It’s very desperate ground out there. It will be heavy by the end of the day.”

Mikey Hamill, jockey of Maguire’s Glen (7th), commented: “It’s very tacky and dead out there.”

Charlie Deutsch, partner of Gran Maestro (10th), remarked: “It’s soft ground and very tough work out there.”

Harry Stock, rider of Cottersrock (12th), said: “It’s very soft, tiring ground out there.”

Fergus Gregory, riding Tynecastle Park (P/U), remarked: “It’s soft and very sticky.”

Jamie Bargary, partnering Another Frontier (P/U), commented: “It’s dead/tacky ground.”

Charlie Hammond, jockey of Tempuran (P/U), said: “It’s soft to heavy.”

Max Kendrick, partner of Oski (P/U), commented: “It’s very tacky and holding ground.”

To view a replay of the race, please click here –
http://www.thejockeyclub.co.uk/video/20171119/2730259/16370101

Arkle main target for North Hill Harvey

North Hill Harvey, who won the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle on this day last year, laid down his challenge for the Racing Post Arkle Trophy at The Festival in March by winning the two-mile Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial Novices’ Chase by 18 lengths from the evens favourite, River Wylde.

The six-year-old British-bred son of Kayf Tara is trained by Dan Skelton and ridden by Harry Skelton. He was sent off at odds of 6/4.

Skelton said: “He was great here at the track in October [he won a novices’ chase at The Showcase Meeting last month] and I did think, jumping the last that day, that Sceau Royal had us beaten. He showed a great attitude up the hill to win that fight. He’s jumped great today and Harry’s given him a lovely ride – very sensible – and I think it helped us having Ozzie The Oscar [eventual third] there.

“Obviously all roads will lead to the Arkle. I don’t quite know what route to take; he looked a fresh horse jumping the last, but it was a long way up that hill. I won’t be rushing back and running him in two weeks. I’ll work backwards from the Arkle.”

When it was pointed out that last year North Hill Harvey went straight from the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle to the Randox Health County Hurdle at The Festival, Skelton replied: “Big mistake – we won’t be doing that again. He loves to run – he grows a hand and has an opinion at the racecourse. At home, he’s a team member, he does his graft, goes back in, eats his food, he’s never a complainer in that respect, but at the same time he would never stand out.

“I remember ringing Richard [Kelvin-Hughes, part-owner] when we first got him after winning and English point-to-point, and saying that that might be where his future lies. He did nothing, and it wasn’t until I jumped him that first year that I thought, ‘Oh, hang on’. He’s got better and better through his hurdling career, now chasing – he’s just got stronger and better. I hope he’s a contender come March.

“I just want to see how he comes out of this. I’ve got the owners’ other horse, Born Survivor, who might be a contender for the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase [at Sandown in December] and it might be that we have to prioritise one or the other on that day, but afterwards we will give him some runs. He thrives on it. I’d love it to rain heavily on the Sunday and Monday before The Festival!”

DAD KNOWS BEST

North Hill Harvey may well be the best two-mile novice chaser in Britain at this present time, but he was schooling over jumps at Dan Skelton’s yard this morning.

Practice makes perfect, and he jumped impressively when winning this afternoon’s Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham. Given that the six-year-old jumped well enough to win his first and only point-to-point – a three-mile race at Chaddesley Corbett in Worcestershire in 2015 – and he has not fallen in 10 starts for Skelton, why did the trainer feel some schooling – with the attendant risks – was necessary on the morning of today’s assignment?

It should be borne in mind that Skelton is the eldest son of legendary showjumper Nick Skelton, a multiple champion and Olympic Gold Medal winner.

Skelton said: “We schooled him yesterday, and he jumped well apart from one that he banked. Fearing his confidence might be a little low we thought we would double check and school him again this morning.

“It was definitely the right thing to do, but all our first-timers are jumped on the morning of a race. If they are going to Sedgefield there might not be time before they set off, but if they are going within reasonable distance then we give them a jump.

“This horse jumped two hurdles and two fences this morning. One of my very first good novice chasers was Value At Risk, who we ran at Newbury and he fell. Dad said, ‘Right, that’s it, all the novices are schooling on the morning of their run.

“I’m not arguing with him when it comes to jumping!”

Bookmakers shortened North Hill Harvey for the Racing Post Arkle Trophy Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March. Betway offer 12/1, he is now 14/1 with Coral and Labrokes and 16/1 with Paddy Power.

HARVEY RELISHES CHELTENHAM HILL

The Dan Skelton-trained North Hill Harvey (6/4) registered an impressive success in the G2 Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial Novices’ Chase.

Winner of the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at last year’s November Meeting, the six-year-old son of Kayf Tara jumped well throughout the two-mile event and quickened clear readily under Harry Skelton to score by 18 lengths.

Nicky Henderson’s River Wylde (Evs favourite) was second, with a length and a quarter back to Philip Hobbs’ Ozzie The Oscar (5/1) in third.

North Hill Harvey subsequently earned a quote of 14/1 with Ladbrokes and 16/1 with Paddy Power for the G1 Racing Post Arkle at The Festival in March.

Winning jockey Skelton said: “North Hill Harvey gave me a little bit of a fright yesterday on the schooling ground as we always school our novices the day before to get their eye in and he overstretched at one.

“It was a little novicey mistake, but it’s a good job I have gold medal-winning dad, as he said ‘you get him out there this morning and give him a pop over a few hurdles’ to get his eye in.

“North Hill Harvey was magic today. He is a little bit brave and was going to run well in the Supreme here behind Altior but made a hell of a mistake at the second last.

“He is a proper track horse who doesn’t show much at home but he is a very good horse and I felt he jumped really well today.

“He comes alive on the track and it’s nice to have him. I’ve ridden some nice horses over the years and he is up there.

“We had an unbelievable summer and it is nice to have a proper horse to go to war with.

“He looks a bit special, so let’s wrap him up in cotton wool and get him ready for March.”

1.50pm Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial Noivices’ Chase (Grade 2)
1 NORTH HILL HARVEY (Mrs G Widdowson & Lizzie Kelvin-Hughes) 6-11-05 Harry Skelton 6/4
2 River Wylde (Grech & Parkin) Nicky Henderson 6-11-02 Nico De Boinville Evens Fav
3 Ozzie The Oscar (Bradley Partnership) Philip Hobbs 6-11-02 Richard Johnson 5/1

Distances: 18, 1¼
Tote Win: £2.30 Exacta: £3.10

RIVER NOT FLOWING FOR NICO

Jockey Nico De Boinville felt the even money favourite River Wylde didn’t handle the rain-soften ground after the six-year-old was beaten by 18 lengths into second in the Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham this afternoon.

The Nicky Henderson-trained gelding was never really travelling for his jockey during the race and looked like he was going to be tailed off before staying on again up the Cheltenham hill to collar third-placed Ozzie the Oscar for second place.

“That was a hard race,” said the jockey.

“He didn’t really handle the ground at all. We’ve just picked up the pieces of the battle ahead of us and that was that.

“We were beaten by a good horse though.”

Ozzie The Oscar (5/1) had tried to make every post a winning one under jockey Richard Johnson but the six-year-old tired badly on the run-in, eventually being beaten a length-and-a-quarter by River Wylde.

“He’s run well,” said Johnson.

“The winner is a good horse – we’ve no excuses.”

To view a replay of the race, please click here –
http://www.thejockeyclub.co.uk/video/20171119/2730265/16370141

Fox hunting Tingle Creek next

Fox Norton, the 4/5 favourite, took the G2 two-mile Shloer Chase for the second year in a row, beating Cloudy Dream by eight lengths.

The Lando seven-year-old, who runs in the colours of the late Ann and Alan Potts, won two Grade One chases last season [at Aintree and Punchestown] for trainer Colin Tizzard. He was ridden for the first time today by Bryan Cooper.

Tizzard said: “I suppose we were half-expecting that, weren’t we, on his last two runs last season and this race last year. We didn’t know about the ground, and it clearly is no concern whatsoever. I don’t think ground is going to be an issue, whatever we run on.

“For me he is a bigger, heavier horse this year. There’s no need to change from two miles – although if you ask me tomorrow morning that might change. It was a lovely performance. We have done plenty of work with him – the last thing in the world we want to do is bring these brilliant horses to the races not fit. We make sure that’s not the reason why they are beat, but I’m sure he will improve on that. The way he crosses a fence, the way he stays on, he’s a two-miler, isn’t he?”

Asked whether he was concerned about a cut on Fox Norton’s hind leg, Tizzard replied: “If you remember he had a cut on his front leg after this race last year and that kept him off for four months. That was a worry. This is just a nick – absolutely nothing.

“He will head for the Tingle Creek. It was always Alan Potts’ wish that we kept this horse away from [Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup winner] Sizing John. Sizing John still has a chance of winning the £1million [The Jockey Club Chase Triple Crown bonus for winning the Betfair Chase at Haydock, the 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton and the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup at The Festival], so that still stands. If he gets beat [at Haydock] and we win the Tingle Creek – he [Fox Norton] is entered in the King George, just in case.

“I’m chuffed for Bryan Cooper. He’s been under pressure, no two ways about it. Alan decided he was going to ride all the horses in England and I went along with it, but if I’d had my choice, it might not have been. But he’s come out yesterday on Finian’s Oscar and given him a lovely ride. He was brilliant on this one [Fox Norton] today – no one could have ridden him any better, and I hope we can fill him up with confidence, because he is a good jockey and we can put it out of our minds – there’s no reason why he can’t ride everything.”

FOX BEATS SHLOER HORSES

Jockey Bryan Cooper was pleased with the performance of Fox Norton, who produced a commanding performance when running out the eight-length winner of the Shloer Chase for the second year running at Cheltenham this afternoon.

The Colin Tizzard-trained gelding was sent off the 4/5 market leader for the two-mile contest and favourite backers never had a moment’s doubt as the seven-year-old skipped from fence to fence, taking up the running as the field turned for home before powering up the hill to record a handsome victory.

Cooper, who was appointed the retained rider for the late Alan Potts’ (owner, who died a week ago today) horses in the UK last month, was delighted with the performance after the race.

“It is a great thrill to be riding horses like this,” said Cooper.

“I have never really ridden a proper two miler before and when they jump and travel like that, it is some experience. He is a fair one.

“We went a nice gallop. I was a little bit worried about the ground but, even though he had never ran on it before, Colin said he will handle it grand.

“I love riding on these big days at the big festivals and it is great to get the opportunity.

“He’s got a King George entry but, when he’s winning like this over two miles, there’s no need to change anything. We’ll see how it goes though. He’s in his own league at this trip at the moment so why change things?

“It was very sad what happened to Alan. I didn’t know him that well and I only really got to know him a bit about three or four weeks ago. It’s a big loss to the game and he loved his big days and big winners.

“I am sure Alan is looking down on us now and hopefully we can keep them winning for him.”

BIG DREAMS FOR CLOUDY

Trainer Malcolm Jefferson is thinking of a Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup challenge with Cloudy Dream, who finished second in today’s Shloer Chase.

Sent off at 9/4, the grey proved no match for the 4/5 favourite Fox Norton, who won by eight lengths. The winner is a tip-top horse over today’s trip of two miles, and was narrowly touched off in last season’s Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase in which he was runner-up to Special Tiara. Today the last-named horse was in opposition again, and after making much of the running stayed on well to take third, inches behind Cloudy Dream.

A good run by Cloudy Dream was more than ample consolation for the Jefferson family following an entry mix-up involving the horse at the start of last week. He was meant to be put into yesterday’s feature, the BetVictor Gold Cup, but was placed into the earlier longer chase backed by the same sponsor. When the mistake was realised he went into the Shloer Chase.

Jefferson said: “As things have turned out I’m happy he wasn’t able to run yesterday. It wouldn’t have suited him carrying 11st 12lb in a hot race like that on such testing ground. I’m really pleased with the way he’s run. His owner [Trevor Hemmings] would like us to think about aiming him for the [Timico] Cheltenham Gold Cup – he [Hemmings] has won the Ryanair Chase.”

Henry De Bromhead, the trainer of Special Tiara, said: “I’m delighted with that run. He would have hated that ground, and so to run that well on his first start of the season was very good. We’ll think about the Tingle Creek Chase or a race at Kempton for him next.”

HUGHES STILL DREAMING WITH CLOUDY

Brian Hughes paid tribute to the Malcolm Jefferson-trained Cloudy Dream (9/4) who finished a creditable second to the impressive eight-length winner Fox Norton (4/5 favourite) in the G2 Shloer Chase at Cheltenham.

The seven-year-old son of Cloudings kept on gamely in the home straight but was no match for Colin Tizzard’s charge who delivered a commanding performance in the two-mile event.

Hughes said: “He’s run a blinder. He hated that ground and it’s a shame it’s like that – the ground is horrendous. He has just got some heart to get back into it. The winner is a good horse though.”

Noel Fehily, aboard third-placed Special Tiara, commented: “You have to be happy with him after that – I thought he ran a fantastic race. We knew he hates the ground but he jumped brilliant and I couldn’t be happier with him.”

Wayne Hutchinson, rider of the fourth Simply Ned, remarked: “He has run well, he just got a bit tired up the run-in but it’s a pleasing run.”

Tom Scudamore, partnering Vaniteux (5th) added: “I had a good ride off him but he wasn’t up to the class of the others.”

2.35pm Shloer Chase (Grade 2)
1 FOX NORTON (Ann & Alan Potts Limited) Colin Tizzard 7-11-06 Bryan Cooper 4/5 Fav
2 Cloudy Dream (Trevor Hemmings) Malcolm Jefferson 7-11-03 Brian Hughes 9/4
3 Special Tiara (Sally Rowley-Williams) Henry De Bromhead IRE 10-11-06 Noel Fehily 8/1

Distances: 8, nk
Tote Win: £1.60 Places:£1.20; £1.30 Exacta:£2.80

To view a replay of the race, please click here –
http://www.thejockeyclub.co.uk/video/20171119/2730241/16370178

King marbles at ‘Great performance’ by Elgin

Trainer Alan King was delighted with the performance of Elgin, who ran out the neck winner of the feature £100,000 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham this afternoon.

The 10/1 shot travelled comfortably on the rain-softened ground for jockey Wayne Hutchinson and was one of a number of horses still in with a shout as the field turned for home.

However, the five-year-old, who was bred by owner Elite Racing Club and carried 10st 8lb, responded well to his rider’s urgings to repel the challenge of runner-up Misterton, with previous winner Old Guard a further four and a half lengths back in third.

King was delighted with Elgin after the race.

“That was a great performance,” said King

“My other horse (William H Bonney, who finished fifth) ran a mighty race and I thought he probably travelled the better of the two. He’s probably got a bit tired in this ground on his first run back.

“I’ve been placed in this race a lot of times but never won it before. He’s a proper horse – he’s race fit. He won well at Ascot last time out and I thought this race might come a bit quick for him – it was only 15 days ago – but he came out it very well. My only real concern was the ground to be honest – it was the unknown. He seemed to handle it well though – we’ve probably gone two and a half miles today going wide looking for the better ground. Wayne’s given the outside to no-one.

“I was going to give him a run on the Flat this summer but, as he’d been on the go for a while, I thought I better give him a break. He really benefitted from that.

“We’ll see how he comes out of it but we might go to Ascot (for the Ascot Handicap Hurdle – previously the Ladbroke Hurdle) just before Christmas. He’s progressive and a tough horse. I’m delighted to train a big winner for the Elite Racing Club – they’re a proper organisation and bred this horse.

“Elgin had issues with his knees as a young horse – he started out with James Fanshawe but never ran for him.

“My horses have actually been running well but we’ve just been hitting the bar of late. We’ve won some big races already this season though with the likes of Smad Place (winner of the Old Roan Chase at Aintree) and this fellow and I’m happy with them.

“There’s nothing like a winner here though.”

WAYNE WORKS HIS MAGIC FOR ELITE RACING ON ELGIN

Jockey Wayne Hutchinson would not be denied his line when ensuring Elgin raced on the ground deemed best for the horse to land Sunday’s feature race at Cheltenham’s November Meeting.

Riding for trainer Alan King, and in the colours of the horse’s owner/breeders, Elite Racing, Hutchinson won the £100,000 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, steering a wide course on the five-year-old. A 10/1 chance, Elgin beat Misterton (10/1) by a neck, with former winner Old Guard (8/1) four and a half lengths back in third. Gallant top-weight The New One ran another superb race to finish fourth.

Hutchinson said: “He needed his first run at Chepstow and the improvement was there to go and win at Ascot two weeks ago. The boss said ‘let’s go and roll the dice again’ and it’s paid off. He was in good form at home and he [King] has produced him again on the day.

“I had a torrid run round there on the outside and there was a bit of arguing for it, but he’s a big honest horse and I was just able to hold it. He’s an honest horse and kept taking me there. It was a good performance but he was a good novice last year.

“I’d like to hope there’s more to come, he has a great engine and plenty of other attributes. He coped with the ground, but has won on good, so he’s versatile. I was long at the last and he kept sticking his neck out on the run to the line.

“All plaudits go to the team at home. We are just here on the day to steer them round.”

MISTERTON RUNS CAREER-BEST IN SECOND

10/1 chance Misterton finished second by a neck to Elgin in the £100,000 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle for trainer Harry Fry and jockey Tom Scudamore.

Fry said: “It doesn’t get much closer. He’s run a career-best and I’m delighted with him. He’s been beaten a neck from a pound out of the handicap. Brilliant run. The horse has given his all – he’s jumped, he’s travelled, he’s done everything right.”

Third, four and a half lengths behind Misterton, was the Paul Nicholls-trained, Bryony Frost-ridden Old Guard.

Nicholls said: ” I’m delighted with him – it was a very good run. He kept battling on in the home straight and it looked like it was hard work out there on the ground. He showed that he could handle the ground, and he may have wanted slightly better conditions, but I’m thrilled with him. He got slightly outpaced going down the hill but he then stayed on again.

“I think we’ll look to step him up in trip now and the Lanzarote Hurdle and potentially the Coral Cup are races that could suit him.”

And The New One, Nigel Twiston-Davies’ popular nine-year-old, finished fourth under Richard Johnson.

Twiston-Davies said: “It was a very good run, giving lots of weight away. It’s hard work in that ground. But I’m delighted we ran him – we were worried about running him, but he’s done really well and beat all the ones he wasn’t meant to beat! There was just some that were too well-handicapped.”

GUARD A FINE THIRD FOR FROST

The Paul Nicholls-trained Old Guard (8/1) finished a fine third in the £100,000 G3 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle under 5lb conditional Bryony Frost.

The six-year-old son of Notnowcato stayed on gamely up the punishing Cheltenham hill to fill the placings as Alan King’s 10/1 shot Elgin held off Harry Fry’s Misterton (10/1) by a neck to land the extended two-mile event, with a further four and a half-lengths back to Nicholls’ charge in third.

Frost, who landed the mallardjewellers.com Novices’ Chase aboard Black Corton yesterday, said: “It was a brilliant run. Now he is getting an older and more mature horse, he wants a bit of a trip I think these days.

“The ground was maybe a bit too soft for him but he didn’t really cry out on that ground.

“He just struggled to go with them at the top of the hill when they turned on the speed a little bit and I just wasn’t able to go with.

“I lost two lengths on the field and I wasn’t able to latch on to them quite as much I would’ve wanted to and then he stayed up all the way up the hill.

“You will see this horse improve again as he goes up in trip. It’s not been a bad weekend for me, that’s for sure.”

Richard Johnson steered top-weight The New One (7/1) to fourth place and Britain’s champion Jump jockey was pleased with the nine-year-old son of King’s Theatre’s performance, commenting: “He has run a great race. He is a star and I am sure he will be back here for the International Hurdle in a few weeks time.”

3.00pm £100,000 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m ½f

1 ELGIN ALAN KING 10ST 8LB WAYNE HUTCHINSON 10/1
2 Misterton Harry Fry 10st 0lb Tom Scudamore 10/1
3 Old Guard Paul Nicholls 10st 7lb Bryony Frost (5) 8/1
4 The New One (IRE) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 12lb Richard Johnson 7/1
5 William H Bonney Alan King 9st 9lb Mitchell Bastyan (5) 12/1
6 Nietzsche (Hood) Brian Ellison 9st 9lb James Bowen (5) 12/1
7 Jenkins (IRE) Nicky Henderson 10st 0lb David Bass 5/1
8 Project Bluebook (FR) John Quinn 10st 6lb Brian Hughes 40/1
9 Tigris River (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Joseph Patrick O’Brien, Ireland 10st 13lb Barry Geraghty 14/1
10 Chesterfield (IRE) Seamus Mullins 10st 4lb Daniel Sansom (7) 25/1
11 Mohaayed (Tongue Strap) Dan Skelton 10st 0lb Harry Skelton 9/1
12 Ivanovich Gorbatov (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Joseph Patrick O’Brien, Ireland 11st 0lb Aidan Coleman 20/1
FELL 2 OUT London Prize (Sheepskin C/P) Ian Williams 10st 2lb (5lb ex) Tom O’Brien 9/2 Fav

Non-Runners: Flying Tiger (Going), Amour De Nuit (Going), Top Othe Ra (Travel)

Distances: nk, 4½, 1, 1, 8, ½, ½, 6, 2½, 30, 3¾

Tote Win:£12.10 Places:£3.60, £3.30, £2.90 Exacta:£157.70

To view a replay of the race, please click here –
http://www.thejockeyclub.co.uk/video/20171119/2730245/16370256

Cobden pleased with ‘sensitive’ Slate house

Slate House is becoming another elite member of trainer Colin Tizzard’s strong crop of current horses, as he proved when landing the G2 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle.

If Tizzard is feeling the pressure of his enviable position, he did not show it during an interview with Oli Bell of ITV Racing, pausing to take a phone call and quipping live on air: “I’ll do an Aidan O’Brien now.”

Yet five-year-old Slate House, a former Irish point-to-point winner who joined Tizzard after being bought for £260,000 at a Tattersalls Ireland Cheltenham Sale during The Festival in March, is now a prospect for victory in the G1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle next March.

Tizzard, who today saddled a 6.3/1 double initiated by Fox Norton in the Shloer Chase, said of the 5/2 winner: “He’s not a world beater yet – we’ve got to keep the lid on it a little longer, but he’s a lovely, young horse and he’s done nothing wrong. He could be a two-miler, he could be a three-miler, we just don’t know. What we do know now is he’s not ground dependent.

“Today he looked like he stayed on, so a fast-run two miles might suit him. He did pull a bit, so I might stick him in a three-miler to see if he will relax. We’d like to think he could be good, but he’s a gorgeous looking horse and we’ll have to mind him. He’s got a long way to go, but he’s got size, he’s a beautiful creature, and he’s won his last three races.

“The one thing going into today’s race that was a concern is that he’s by [the stallion] Presenting, so we wondered if he would handle the going, but he was good on it so we don’t have to raise that issue again.”

Despite winning a three-mile Irish point-to-point, Tizzard says that is no guarantee that Slate House will relish that trip at this higher level. He said: “We used to train a pointer called Qualitair Memory, and he won 14 point-to-points, but he could not win under Rules until we dropped him back to two miles. Just because he won points that only proved he was a classier horse than his rivals, not that he stayed three miles. It’s all about pace. If this horse has pace we don’t need to go up in trip, but we might in time.”

SLATE GIVES IN-FORM COBDEN ANOTHER BIG WIN

Slate House won the Grade Two Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle by making most of the running under Harry Cobden.

The Presenting five-year-old, who is trained by Colin Tizzard, won by three-quarters of a length from Summerville Boy at odds of 5/2.

Cobden said: “It was a messy race. They took two hurdles out in the straight [because of low sun] before we started, and we sort of crawled towards the stands the first time, and there was no gallop on. I thought, ‘This lad’s a three-mile point-to-pointer’, so rather than wrestle him I let him bowl on and do it himself, which wasn’t really what I had had in my head, but he bowled away lovely, winged the last and we turned in and there were flags and whistles as we bypassed the [dolled off] hurdles.

“For a horse only having his second run on a proper racetrack, it was a little bit for him to think about it, and he idled a bit in front. He’s quite a sensitive horse and it wasn’t ideal when I was trying to get him going forward. But when one came to him he picked up nicely. He’s a nice horse.

“I’d say he’s a very smart horse. I don’t know how far he’s going to go, but he’s won a Grade Two and I’d say he’s won it comfortably. He’ll probably end up wanting three miles and fences one day, but he’s a lovely prospect.”

HESKIN LOOKS TO THE FUTURE WITH SUMMERVILLE

Jockey Adrian Heskin was happy with the performance of Summerville Boy, who finished the three-quarter length runner-up behind Slate House for local trainer Tom George in the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham this afternoon.

The 16/1 shot travelled well through the soft ground and moved into second place as the field turned for home with no hurdles left to jump, after the two hurdles in the home straight had been taken out before the race due to low sun.

The five-year-old battled well up the hill and couldn’t quite get to the winner but his jockey was perfectly happy with the way the race panned out.

“It was a nice run,” said Heskin.

“The most important thing today was to get him to settle and he’s done that nicely.

“We’ll be able to do more work with him from now on. He was a bumper winner on soft so today’s going was fine for him.”

GETALONG WILL ONLY GET BETTER

Noel Fehily was pleased with the performance of the Nicky Richards-trained Better Getalong (7/1), who finished third to Colin Tizzard’s Slate House (5/2) in the G2 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle.

The two hurdles in the home straight were omitted due to the low sun, but the six-year-old son of Gold Well kept on nicely as Slate House held off Summerville Boy (16/1) by three-quarters of a length, with a further three and three-quarter lengths back to Richards’ charge in third.

“He ran very well. The hurdles’ issue was the same for everyone, but I thought he ran a good race.

“He is still a fairly immature horse, but I thought this was a good level of form for his first run at Cheltenham.

“He won well on his first start of the season at Ayr and that was another good run here today.”

3.30pm Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)
1 SLATE HOUSE (Eric Jones, Geoff Nicholas, John Romans) Colin Tizzard 5-11-00 Harry Cobden 5/2
2 Summerville Boy (Roger Brookhouse) Tom George 5-11-00 Adrian Heskin 16/1
3 Better Getalong (David Wesley Yates) Nicky Richards 6-11-00 Noel Fehily 7/1

10/11 Fav Dame De Compagnie
Distances: ¾, 3¾
Tote Win: £3.20 Places:£1.60, £4.40 Exacta:£23.00

To view a replay of the race, please click here –
http://www.thejockeyclub.co.uk/video/20171119/2730248/16370325

“She could be very special” Harry Cobden on Posh Trish

The Paul Nicholls-trained Posh Trish (9/4 favourite) plundered Listed honours in the concluding race on day two, BetVictor Gold Cup Day, of the November Meeting with an impressive three and a quarter-length success in The Experience The Theatre At The Festival Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.

Always travelling under Harry Cobden, the Irish-bred filly stayed on powerfully in the closing stages to register a commanding victory over Grageelagh Girl (11/4) in second.

The four-year-old daughter of Stowaway cost £135,000 after winning a point-to-point at Lemonfield and Ditcheat handler Nicholls was delighted that the Highclere Thoroughbred-owned filly, owned by the Posh Trish syndicate, many of whose members were present] had maintained her unbeaten record under rules.

Nicholls, who registered a 15.25/1 double on the day, following Black Corton’s success in the mallardjewellers.com Novices’ Chase said: “She’s a very nice filly. She just needed her first run at Aintree [awarded race in stewards’ room] and we knew she would improve on that as she was a little bit green but she loved the soft ground here.

“Aintree was a little bit too quick for her but I was keen to get a run into her coming into today and she has improved for that run.

“I’m not sure whether to find another mares bumper or to go hurdling. We will have to make a plan, but she has schooled wonderfully.”

4.00pm Experience The Theatre at The Festival Mares’ Standard Open NHF Race (Listed)
1 POSH TRISH (Highclere Thoroughbred Racing – Posh Trish) Paul Nicholls 4-11-00 Harry Cobden 9/4 Fav
2 Grageelagh Girl (The Yes No Wait Sorries) Fergal O’Brien 6-11-00 Paddy Brennan 11/4
3 Pineapple Rush (Bradley Partnership) Philip Hobbs 4-11-00 Richard Johnson 11/2

Distances: 3¼, 2
Tote Win: £2.80 Places: £1.20, £1.50, £2 Exacta: £9.20

HARRY LOVES A BIT OF POSH

Jockey Harry Cobden was enthusiastic about the future for Posh Trish after the four-year-old mare produced a commanding performance when winning the Experience The Theatre At The Festival Mares’ Bumper at Cheltenham this afternoon.

The 9/4 favourite had won a point-to-point in Ireland in March of this year before being bought by Highclere for £135,000. She finished second by a nose in an Aintree bumper last month behind Grageelagh Girl (runner-up today) but was awarded the race in the Stewards’ room.

However, she turned the tables on that mare in no uncertain terms this afternoon, travelling well under Cobden and bounding away up the hill to record a three-and-a-quarter length success.

Cobden was bullish about the filly’s future after the race.

“She certainly didn’t need the help of the Stewards this time!” said the jockey.

“I’d say she’s the best bumper mare I’ve ever ridden. She’s a big, 16.3hh mare and she’s got so much power in her. She looks like a gelding – she’s that big and scopey.

“She could be very special. She’s got such a big stride and I can’t wait to see her over hurdles and fences in the future. I’ve actually schooled her over Mr Nicholls’ (Paul – trainer) loop at home and she jumps well. Hopefully she’s one for the future.

“I’m very excited by her – she’s definitely one to look out for.”

To view a replay of the race, please click here –
http://www.thejockeyclub.co.uk/video/20171118/2730011/16368311