1 Saint Are 33/1
2 Cantlow 28/1
3 Sparky May 4/1 Fav 19 ran
Saint Are sprang a 33/1 shock to give his delighted trainer Tim Vaughan his first major Festival winner in the John Smith’s Sefton Novices’ Hurdle. His victory was the second of the day for a Welsh-trained horse following the success of Always Waining in the John Smith’s Topham Chase.
Vaughan said: “We missed Cheltenham with him and this was right up his street. Of course you don’t come into a race like this thinking you’re going to win it but I knew I had him as good as I could ever have him. Thank God it’s paid off.
“Richard [Johnson] has done a fantastic job and the horse pricked his ears a bit coming up the straight so hopefully there’s a bit left in the tank.”
Vaughan indicated that the French-bred five-year-old will switch to the larger obstacles next season, saying: “He’s a big horse so I’d like to put him away now and go novice chasing in the autumn - that’s the plan.
“It’s an incredible day for Wales and I’m delighted for Peter [Bowen, trainer of Always Waining]. This is definitely the biggest winner of my career. We’ve hit the crossbar a few times - we had Beshabar and Destroyer Deployed both run second at Cheltenham - so it’s good to get one in.
“The owner has put great faith in me - he’s bought a couple of nice individuals - and I just couldn’t be happier.
“He is very slow at home but we have already schooled him over fences and he absolutely winged them. He looked as if he was going to be a proper horse in the making and the step up to three miles today has really suited him. He was idling up the run-in and I couldn’t wait for the line to arrive but he has plenty more to give.
Johnson added: “"He was running very well in a novices’ hurdle when he fell a couple of runs ago and it probably just took him his last run to get his confidence back. Tim has freshened him up since then and today was always the plan - it has worked really well.
"When we went to three flights out, I thought that Sparky May was coming - she’s very good but Cheltenham might have taken the edge of her and we have managed to out-battle her."
33 - 1
P R Webber
28 - 1
P R Rodford
4 - 1
2 1/4 lengths
Fists Of Fury
Andrew J McNamara
25 - 1
3 1/4 lengths
K C Bailey
J M Maguire
40 - 1
4 1/2 lengths
28 - 1
18 - 1
Back In Focus
J Howard Johnson
8 - 1
Mrs S J Smith
100 - 1
For Non Stop
12 - 1
CANTLOW COULD BE PUNCHESTOWN BOUND
SPARKY HAD TRAVEL PROBLEMS
Paul Webber, runner-up with Sarando in the John Smith’s Mildmay Novices’ Chase earlier in the afternoon, was again in the enclosure reserved for the second after Cantlow had flown up the run-in to catch Sparky May in the last 100 yards and chase home 50/1 winner Saint Are.
Webber said of the 28/1 runner-up: “Owner Ron Shaw spotted Cantlow in Ireland and recommended him to us, so we bought him at the Cheltenham Sales for 20,000gns.
“He is a half-brother to Darkness, so has a pedigree, and, being lightly-raced, we might now take him to Punchestown. He was due to run at Haydock the other day, but he suffered the equivalent of a nose-bleed in the paddock and had to be withdrawn. It was quite bizarre, but it was happily a one off.
“This place has been kind to us over the years, and the horses have run well today.”
Pat Rodford of third-placed and 4/1 favourite Sparky May, said: “She left home at 5.30am this morning and should have been here by 9.30am but we didn’t get here until 1.00pm.
“Our lorry broke down and she had to wait two hours on the motorway to be towed to the services and then my son had to come and pick her up.
“Whether that affected her or not, I couldn’t say. But it can’t have helped. She’s a class act and will have a summer’s rest now.
“Keiran (Burke) will be training her next season if everything goes to plan with his licence and I suspect she’ll go the same route as this season and see where it takes us but she’ll stick to hurdles, there doesn’t seem any point going over fences.”