Sanctuaire Sparkles for Ruby
1 Sanctuaire 4/1 Fav
The Paul Nicholls-trained Santuaire will surely be the easiest winner of a handicap at this year’s Festival. The Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle was claimed with absolute ease by the French-bred four-year-old in only his second race in Britain.
Starting 4/1 favourite, he won by nine lengths, to give Nicholls his first winner of the week and his 26th overall. The most significant statistic, though, was for jockey Ruby Walsh, whose Cheltenham total of winning rides is now 26, surpassing Pat Taaffe’s tally of 25.
Of the stunning performance by Sanctuaire, Nicholls said:
“The first time I ran him, he won at Taunton in the mud and won nicely, but none of us knew how good he was, I mean it was a Taunton novice hurdle. We were guessing and he hadn’t shown enough really.
“When we bought him from France, I had a whole lot of problems with him. He wouldn’t go on the gallop, wouldn’t do anything, and Dan, my assistant [Skelton], went on him and then all of a sudden the penny dropped.
“But there’s still plenty of improvement in him mentally. He’s got a huge engine, but it’s up to him now to believe in himself.
“I had no idea [of his ability]. Ruby was very keen on him at Taunton and it took him half a mile to pull him up after the race. I was pleased he won there and he wouldn’t have come here otherwise. He’s never done any fast work, so you wouldn’t know what you’ve got really.
“He won’t go into a handicap again now, I should think he’ll go to the juvenile at Aintree, or Punchestown perhaps. Whatever he does, he’s going to make some chaser. He’s could be anything,” he said.
“Never look back in this game, always look forward,” he added, referring to the earlier disappointment of Master Minded in the Champion Chase, in which the hot favourite was only fourth.
RUBY WALSH SETS NEW FESTIVAL RECORD
Ruby Walsh set a record for winners by a jockey at the Cheltenham Festival when Sanctuaire, winner of the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, took him to a mark of 26 successes.
Walsh, 30, the son of former amateur rider and now trainer and television pundit Ted Walsh, acknowledged former record holder Pat Taaffe, but said he may not hold the position for long given the presence of Tony McCoy (22 wins) and Barry Geraghty (18).
Walsh said: “It’s a nice record to break, but I don’t know I’ll hold onto it for long given that AP is only four behind. It’s not something I set out to do because it’s not something you think will happen, but it’s a nice one to have.
“Pat Taaffe was born in the same parish as me - he lived on one side of the motorway and we lived on the other. I remember going racing with my grandfather and picking up Pat’s horses to take to the races.
“Anyone in racing would talk about Arkle and that meant they talked about Pat Taaffe. He also won four Grand Nationals. He was very lucky to ride for Tom Dreaper and I’ve been very lucky to ride for Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls - that’s what wins records for you; big teams.
“His record has stood for so long and it’s nice to do it, but as I said I doubt I’ll hold it as long because AP is only four behind and Barry isn’t far behind that.”
Walsh had endured a torrid day before Sanctuaire’s victory, with two falls in earlier races and Master Minded running poorly in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. On a brighter note his sister, Katie, won the National Hunt Chase.
Walsh, who rides hot favourite Big Buck’s in tomorrow’s feature event, the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, said of Master Minded: “Your first instincts are usually right, and I was beaten so far out that something has to be wrong with the horse. All his best form is on slower ground and that’s the first time he’s faced genuine good ground and didn’t handle it. But animals are not machines - you cannot switch them on and off. That’s racing, you get up you keep going.”
PIPE HAPPY WITH NOTUS DE LA TOUR
Trainer David Pipe was very satisfied with the performance of Notus De La Tour, the nine-length runner-up behind easy winner Sanctuaire in the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.
Pipe said of the 13/2 chance: “He has run a blinder and finished closest to the winner from the horses that had more weight. The winner was a very well handicapped horse.
“There are no plans as to where he goes next - we will take him home and see how he is before making any plans.”
Earlier in the afternoon the veteran Well Chief finished last of the seven finishers in the Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase for the trainer.
Pipe continued: “Well Chief couldn’t go the pace today and Timmy Murphy just let him come home in his own time. There are no plans for him at the moment - we will have a chat with everyone after The Festival is over.”
FRED WINTER JUVENILE NOVICES’ HANDICAP HURDLE PAST RESULTS
2007-WINNER-GASPARA 4-10-11 Owner-Martin Pipe; Trainer-David Pipe; Jockey-Andrew Glassonbury;
SP-9/2 Joint Fav
2006-WINNER-SHAMAYOUN 4-11-03 Owner-Ronald Brimacombe; Trainer-Charles
Egerton; Jockey-Paddy Brennan; SP-40/1
2005-WINNER-DABIROUN 4-11-04 Owner-Donal O’Gorman;
Trainer-Paul Nolan IRE; Jockey-Miss Nina Carberry; SP-20/1
FRED WINTER JUVENILE NOVICES’ HANDICAP HURDLE ROLL
Year Winner Age/Wt Jockey Trainer Owner SP Ran
2009 Silk Affair
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