JLT Novices' Chase
Grade 1, £150,000 added,
2m 3f 198y, Class 1
|Thursday 15th March 2018|
OCTOBER 25 Ben Pauling couldn't be happier with Willoughby Court as he gets set to embark on a novice chasing career next month.
The six-year-old was a thrilling winner of last season's Neptune Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, just getting the better of the highly thought of Harry Fry runner Neon Wolf in a duel up the famous hill.
Second in a maiden hurdle at Market Rasen in November last year on his debut over hurdles, his Cotswolds success completed a perfect season thereafter for Willoughby Court as he won all three further starts.
Pauling is excited to go over fences this season and reports that Willoughby Court has come back from his summer recess in better shape than he had expected.
"Season by season he's getting easier and easier to train and he's being less hard on himself, physically, by being not being as nervous and almost doing too much," said the trainer.
"He's never summered better. He's done brilliantly as he's not the sort of horse that has summered well before. He looks great and we're now well into our preparations for his first run of the season."
A two-and-a-half-mile novice chase at Huntingdon on 5th November has been earmarked as Willoughby Court's entry point over fences. Pauling is keen to make the most of the speed his charge possesses and he wants to stay at that intermediate trip as he looks towards the spring festivals.
"The speed that he has over his fences, at the moment three miles I think he might be doing too much so we'll keep him at two-and-a-half in the meantime and see where we are mid-season," he added.
"I honestly think the JLT [would be his preferred Cheltenham Festival target] at the moment.
"He won a Neptune on good ground and it wasn't a slow-run race. In time he'll be a three miler and we can dream about what he might be in a year's time, but I'm a firm believer in that you don't go further than you need to before you have to."
Willoughby Court is 16/1 to win the JLT Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March. Meanwhile, Alan King's Yanworth, successful on his first chase outing at Exeter on Tuesday, is quoted at 8/1 for the festival two-and-a-half-miler.
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JLT Novices' Chase
(Registered as The Golden Miller Novices' Chase)
Grade 1, £150,000 added, 5yo plus, 2m 3f 198y, Class 1
Going: Good, Good to Soft in places
|Pos||D||Horse SP||Jockey Weight||Trainer||Age|
|1st||Yorkhill (IRE) 6/4f||R Walsh
|W P Mullins||7|
|2nd||1||Top Notch (FR) 7/2||D A Jacob
|N J Henderson||6|
|3rd||3||Disko (FR) 4/1||B J Cooper
|4th||6||Politologue (FR) 10/1||Sam Twiston-Davies
|P F Nicholls||6|
|5th||9||Kilcrea Vale (IRE) 22/1||J McGrath
|N J Henderson||7|
|6th||19||Flying Angel (IRE) 9/1||N D Fehily
|N A Twiston-Davies||6|
|Also Ran: Baily Cloud (IRE) , Balko Des Flos (FR)|
WALSH REACHES FESTIVAL SUMMIT WITH YORKHILL
Ruby Walsh gained his first winner of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival and his 53rd success at the meeting, courtesy of the Willie Mullins-trained 6/4 favourite Yorkhill's impressive victory.
Held up at the back of the field early on in the two miles and four furlong contest by Walsh, the seven-year-old son of Presenting jumped and travelled superbly throughout and scythed through the field entering the home straight to challenge for the lead.
Leading the remainder approaching the final fence, Andrea & Graham Wylie's idled out in front up the punishing Cheltenham hill, but stayed on resolutely for Walsh's urgings to record a length success, fending off the sustained challenge of Nicky Henderson's Top Notch (7/2). Long time leader Disko (4/1), trained by Noel Meade, was a further three lengths behind in third.
In what has been a frustrating week for the formidable partnership of Walsh and Mullins, which included the shock defeat of 2/9 favourite Douvan in yesterday's Grade One Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, the Irish jockey was visibly delighted to get on the scoresheet.
Walsh said: "I could have done with holding onto him a little longer as he doesn't do a lot in front. He went to the second last and absolutely pinged it and it was then I knew I was in front too soon because he stumbled through the last.
"As soon as Top Notch came back at him though, he went again. He is a very good horse."
Walsh spoke with adulation about Mullins' charge, commenting: "There has been a lot of toing and froing about whether we stay hurdling or go chasing but, to me, Yorkhill has Gold Cup written all over him and always had.
"People criticise his jumping but he has a huge kink in him. People never realised the job Paul Nicholls did with Denman because he was the same. He had a kink too and they are two chestnut Presentings. The best ones always do.
"Yorkhill has a massive engine. [David] Casey is always raving about him. It was brilliant."
Reflecting on the disappointment from earlier this week, Walsh added: "Everything can't go your way all the time. That is sport. You have to keep looking forward."
Winning owner Graham Wylie was registering his 12th success at The Festival and said: "Today he jumped magnificently. He was as straight as a die, didn't jump left and was well settled at the back. He was nearly brought down at the back - he is as clever as Einstein, that horse.
"Coming to the last, if he jumped, I knew that he was going to win. Top Notch ran a great race though and pushed him right to the end. I know my fellow tends to go a bit slow when he gets to the lead but thank goodness he did it.
"I am proud that the horse did himself justice because he has been crabbed for his jumping and I think today showed that he can jump and has got a big engine. I am pleased for Ruby and Willie because they have had a miserable two days and now we have got one on the board for them."
DID PLUMPTON PUT MOCKERS ON TOP NOTCH?
Did Plumpton racecourse send down a curse that prevented Top Notch winning today?
Top Notch and Yorkhill were more or less in line with third-placed Disko at the second-last, when Jacob's mount put in a slower jump than his rivals and his chance of winning became much harder. He rallied past Disko on the run-in, but could not reel in the winner.
Henderson said: "He was brilliant all the way, but he just lacks that bit of scope. He just did his own thing [at the second-last], but hasn't got the scope of those big horses to be able to go and really stand off. He's not the size of [RSA Chase winner] Might Bite, but he's got a better head than Might Bite.
"He dug in on the run-in, but now he's been second in a Triumph Hurdle and second in this race, but still you can only admire him. I didn't really see what happened at the second-last, but one moment I thought he would land in front and the next he was behind. It was expensive, but how expensive we'll never know.
"Plumpton will be grateful - that's just saved them £60,000. Perhaps the chairman of Plumpton organised that little error!
"He'll run again this season - Aintree will suit him and he'll go there."
Bryan Cooper, who rode Disko, said: "He ran really well and I was very happy with him. His jumping was good, and he's still a big, raw horse so he should get further in time."
Previous results - JLT NOVICES’ CHASE
2016-BLACK HERCULES 7-11-04 Owner-Andrea & Graham Wylie; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-4/1 Co- Fav
2ND-Bristol De Mai 5-11-04 Owner-Simon Munir & Isaac Souede; Trainer-Nigel Twiston-Davies; Jockey-Daryl Jacob; SP-4/1 Co-Fav
3RD-L’Ami Serge 6-11-04 Owner-Simon Munir & Isaac Souede; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Nico de Boinville; SP-8/1
9 ran, Time-4m 55.20s Dist-3, 1 4/1 Co-Fav Garde La Victoire (Fell)
2015-VAUTOUR 6-11-04 Owner-Susannah Ricci; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-6/4 Fav
2ND-Apache Stronghold 7-11-04 Owner-Patricia Hunt; Trainer-Noel Meade IRE; Jockey-Paul Carberry; SP-7/1
3RD-Valseur Lido 6-11-04 Owner-Gigginstown House Stud; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Bryan Cooper; SP-9/2
8 ran, Time-4m 46.30s Dist-15, sh
2014-TAQUIN DU SEUIL 7-11-04 Owner-Martin Broughton & Friends 1; Trainer-Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-A P McCoy; SP-7/1
2ND-Uxizandre 6-11-04 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Alan King; Jockey-Robert Thornton; SP-33/1
3RD-Double Ross 8-11-04 Owner-Options O Syndicate; Trainer-Nigel Twiston-Davies; Jockey-Sam Twiston-Davies; SP-11/1
12 ran, Time-4m 56.72s Dist-¾, 1¼ 7/2 Fav Felix Younger (4th)
2013-WINNER-BENEFFICIENT 7-11-04 Owner-Adrian Shiels & Niall Reilly; Trainer-Tony Martin IRE; Jockey-Bryan Cooper; SP-20/1
2ND-Dynaste 7-11-04 Owner-John White; Trainer-David Pipe; Jockey-Tom Scudamore; SP-11/8 Fav
3RD-Changing Times 7-11-04 Owner-C J Haughey; Trainer-Nigel Twiston-Davies; Jockey-Sam Twiston-Davies; SP-100/1
13 ran, Time-5m 4.80s Dist-3¼, 1
2012-WINNER-SIR DES CHAMPS 6-11-04 Owner-Gigginstown House Stud; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Davy Russell; SP-3/1
2ND-Champion Court 7-11-04 Owner-Martin Boothwright; Trainer-Martin Keighley; Jockey-Alain Cawley; SP-8/1
3RD-For Non Stop 7-11-04 Owner-Chris Giles & Jared Sullivan; Trainer-Nick Williams; Jockey-Noel Fehily; SP-8/1
10 ran, Time-4m 52.80s Dist-4½, 9
2011-WINNER-NOBLE PRINCE 7-11-04 Owner-Des Sharkey; Trainer-Paul Nolan IRE; Jockey-A P McCoy; SP-4/1
2ND-Wishfull Thinking 8-11-04 Owner-Diana Whateley; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-7/2 Fav
3RD-Loosen My Load 7-11-04 Owner-Alan & Ann Potts Partnership; Trainer-Henry De Bromhead IRE; Jockey-Andrew Lynch; SP-15/2
11 ran, Time-4m 49.82s Dist-4, 5