2nd (3) Barbers Shop 12-1
3rd (17) Possol 25-1
4th (10) Fleet Street 66-1
Also: 13-2 Fav Mr Strachan
The 2006 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Kicking King may be an absentee at The Festival this year but his owner Conor Clarkson, trainer Tom Taaffe and jockey Barry Geraghty gained some compensation when Finger Onthe Pulse held on by a neck to take the Jewson Novices’ Handicap Chase. The Queen’s horse Barbers Shop was second.
“I said after we won the Gold Cup that it would be great to come back here and win some of the lesser races,” said Taaffe. “Cheltenham is the know all and be all to me, it’s the mecca and has been for since I was a kid. To win by a neck here is as good as a mile elsewhere.“
”We were gutted about Kicking King but Finger is a bloody good horse in his own right and he’s shown it today, We always felt that there was a big race in him and he jumped like a buck. Barry gave him a spectacular ride and he’s brave and he’s stayed on.
“He generally takes a keen hold but Barry restrained him and we were grateful that there was such an early pace on and he jumped spectacularly well. We’ve always felt that he doesn’t have gears, that he stays and Barry’s got him to the front three fences out and he’s stayed on bravely. Barbers Shop ran exceedingly well and I was getting a bit nervous but I’m sure the Queen will have another day.
“I’d never bring horses here unless they had a realistic chance and this was the plan since January with Finger Onthe Pulse, when he was second at Leopardstown to Glencove Marina - who Willie Mullins told me might be the best he has trained. We decided to lock him up at home after that and fortunately it has worked out. It was actually a tough call whether we went for this or the Royal & SunAlliance Chase but just decided this race might be easier and Punchestown is the obvious place to go with him now.”
Taaffe also had news on Kicking King. “He might run at Navan on March 29 if he sparkles at home beforehand, he just didn’t spark in his gallop before Cheltenham which was why we didn’t come here,” said Taaffe.
Geraghty added: “He’s won on soft ground and I knew that he would stay. It was a super run though. He was brilliant everywhere, foot-perfect. He took off outside the wings at the third last and the second last. I knew that he was going to keep going so I was happy enough. It’s great to have a winner and his jumping really made it today. It’s unfortunate that Kicking King isn’t here but he’s still there at home.”
NOT QUITE BY ROYAL APPOINTMENT
It would have been The Festival story to end all Festival stories: the Queen’s first-ever runner at The Festival recording a fabulous victory. No wonder that Mick Fitzgerald looked frustrated at the end of the Jewson Novices’ Handicap Chase for Barbers Shop, owned by The Queen, had finished just a neck behind the winner Finger Onthe Pulse. “He was staying on,and staying on and staying on,” said Fitzgerald.
The moment that could have cost the six-year-old the race was at the last fence. As the trainer Nicky Henderson explained: “He did nothing wrong, he jumped really well all the way round, but as he landed after the last fence, just for a stride, he didn’t get going,” he said.
There were no complaints, though, from Sir Michael Oswald, who manages the Queen’s National Hunt horses. “I don’t know what Mick was worried about, he’s ridden a smashing race, we’re absolutely delighted,” he said.
The Queen’s second runner at the Festival, Gold Award, goes in the final race today, the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.
Henry Daly, trainer of third-placed Possol, said: “He’s run a smashing race. He wants better ground than that and will be out again when we get it. It’s frustrating, but that’s what the handicapper does for you. He’s only five and he’ll be a three-mile handicapper for next year.
JEWSON NOVICES HANDICAP CHASE FACTS & FIGURES
1. The Jewson Novices’ Handicap Chase was one of the new races introduced to the four-day Festival in 2005.
2. King Harald took the inaugural running, surviving a final fence blunder with his jockey Mattie Batchelor riding without irons on the run-in.
3. Reveillez, the well-backed 9/2 favourite, took the 2006 renewal for owner J P McManus, trainer James Fanshawe and jockey Tony McCoy.
4. Last year, L’Antartique stayed on well to score under jockey Graham Lee. The Ferdy Murphy-trained gelding returned to Cheltenham to win the Grade Three Paddy Power Gold Cup at The Open in November.
JEWSON NOVICES’ HANDICAP CHASE PAST RESULTS
2007-WINNER-L’ANTARTIQUE 7-10-11 Owner-Mary Durkan; Trainer-Ferdy Murphy; Jockey-Graham Lee; SP-20/1
2006-WINNER-REVEILLEZ 7-10-11 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-James Fanshawe;
Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-9/2 Fav
HARALD 7-10-04 Owner-Piers Pottinger & PBJ
Partnership; Trainer-Mark Bradstock; Jockey-Mattie Batchelor; SP-9/1
JEWSON NOVICES’ HANDICAP CHASE
ROLL OF HONOUR
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