Befred Mildmay Novices' Chase
|Grade 1, Aintree 14:50
3m 1f, Class 1
|Friday 10th April 2015|
1 Saphir Du Rheu 13/8F
2 Carraig Mor 12/1
3 Irish Saint 6/1
9 ran Distances: 15l, hd, 23l
TIME 6m 18.90s (slow by 11.90s)
Saphir Du Rheu runs out a clear winner of the Mildmay Novices' Chase
Saphir Du Rheu now quoted at 16/1 for the 2016 Gold Cup
Trainer Paul Nicholls is looking forward to next season with Saphir Du Rheu after the six-year-old put in a sparkling performance to win the Grade One Chase.
"I've always thought of him as a Gold Cup horse. His two runs over hurdles did him the world of good but he's a chaser not a hurdler. I wanted to end the season here over fences so we can progress next year," said Nicholls. "For a six-year-old to do that there in a Grade One having had two falls, is ideal. After yesterday I thought we might not have a Gold Cup horse for next season but we do now.
"Silviniaco Conti won't be entered in the Gold Cup next season whereas this fellow's ultimate aim will be Cheltenham. I don't know what we'll do in between, he'd be suited by a track like Leopardstown.
"I took him to Wincanton last week and schooled him and I think that was crucial, he's really come together in the last 10 days. He's potentially very nice. He's got the size and scope to be a very good jumper. He's only six and there's so much improvement in him physically.
"Sam (Twiston-Davies) has done a lot of work on him and so has Nick (Scholfield), who won on him at Exeter. You would never be afraid to let Nick ride him if Sam couldn't. "
Befred Mildmay Novices' Chase (Grade 1)
£90,000 added, 5yo plus, 3m 1f, Class 1
Going: Good, Good to Soft in places
|Pos||Dist||Horse SP||Jockey Weight||Trainer||Age|
|1st||Saphir Du Rheu (FR) 13/8f||Sam Twiston-Davies
|P F Nicholls||6|
|2nd||15||Carraig Mor (IRE) 12/1||N D Fehily
|3rd||hd||Irish Saint (FR) 6/1||Nick Scholfield
|P F Nicholls||6|
|4th||23||Wakanda (IRE) 40/1||S Quinlan
|Mrs S J Smith||6|
|5th||11||Carole's Destrier 4/1||A P McCoy
|N P Mulholland||7|
|6th||28||Ainsi Fideles (FR) 9/1||T Scudamore
|PU||Close Touch 14/1||D Bass
|N J Henderson||7|
|F||Irish Cavalier (IRE) 8/1||P Townend
|Miss R Curtis||6|
|F||Rawnaq (IRE) 20/1||A E Lynch
|Matthew J Smith||8|
Jockey Sam Twiston-Davies was happy with the performance of Saphir Du Rheu after the 13/8 favourite ran out the impressive 15 length winner.
The six-year-old was returning to the larger obstacles today, having finished second behind Cole Harden in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last time out, and produced a fine round of jumping to run his rivals ragged.
"I was generally happy with him there," said Twiston-Davies.
"The most important thing was to get him into a nice rhythm. We went a bit wide but sometimes he needs his own space at times to see what he's doing. Because he was able to see, he was able to get into that nice rhythm and jump well. He's got loads of scope but needs a little bit of help when he gets in tight. You can't pull on him as he goes numb in your hands.
"You've just got to have confidence to let him do it. He's very, very good horse and Paul (Nicholls - trainer) has made no secret of that fact. He is always going to be a better chaser than he was a hurdler - just look at the size of him.
"You can nick half a length here and there with him but the trouble was just getting him to jump correctly. I managed to stay on his back today! He made one mistake. I spoke to Ruby (Walsh) before we went out and we talked about how we went about it - the horse a bit numb and, if you tug off him, he tends to fight you but, if you just throw the reins at him, he actually uses his brain. It may be small but he does have one.
"We had a lot of communication problems in the past but I think we are learning about each other slowly. It was a hell of a feel around there - it was good fun and I asked him to stretch from the ditch and, going down to the last I said: 'we are going a bit fast now, can we slow down?'. He was excellent and it's great to be on the board again.
Owner Andy Stewart was hoping Saphir De Rheu can make up into a Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup horse next season.
"He obviously fluffed his lines a couple of times over fences and wasn't good enough to win the World Hurdle but we are very delighted with today," said Stewart.
"To have a Gold Cup contender is marvellous and beyond our dreams but let's just get him to Cheltenham next year."
Sponsors Betfred have Saphir Du Rheu into 20/1 (from 40/1) for next year's Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.
KING HOPES THERE'S MOR TO COME FROM CARRAIG
Carraig Mor put a smile on the face of trainer Alan King when running a fine race to take second.
The seven-year-old had no answer to the winner, Saphir Du Rheu, but the last-named was runner-up in last month's Ladbrokes World Hurdle, and King was pleased that his horse stayed on grittily and held off third-placed Irish Saint. The distances were 15 lengths and a head.
Wiltshire-based King said: "That was a big step forward, although the winner looks exceptional. I'm delighted, because at the second-last I thought we might walk home, but he kept plugging away and he might improve for another summer [at grass] because he's a big, tall horse.
"In an ideal world he might be better going right-handed, but it's not an issue and he has won round Newbury [which is left-handed]. He has a tendency to go a little bit right, and if you were trying to tick every box you would go right-handed."
The Punchestown Festival would provide Carraig Mor with a clockwise track, and King said: "He has an entry at Punchestown, but we'll see how he comes out of this. My gut feeling is that he has done enough, but the owners would love Punchestown so we will wait and see."