1st (17) Old Benny 9-1
Trainer Alan King, successful in Tuesday’s Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle with Katchit, started Thursday in fine form when Old Benny was the decisive seven-length winner of the four-mile Peter O’Sullevan National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup.
The winner, racing in the famous colours of Trevor Hemmings, stayed on resolutely to get the better of Over The Creek.
Alan King said: “It’s easy to say, but Charlie Huxley has given him a wonderful ride.
“Charlie has so much natural ability and is very relaxed - he almost had me worried he was so relaxed today.
“He is a very talented young lad from a good racing family.
“Old Benny can jump a bit too deliberate, but he was very good today. All he does is stay.
“The blinkers have helped him.
“We will now look at the Scottish Grand National for him.”
Charlie Huxley, who hails from Shropshire, added: “It was my grandfather Roy Edwards who really got me into racing.
“He rode the 1967 Champion Hurdle winner Saucy Kit and has been a real inspiration. This is for him because he's not very well.
"Its unbelievable! A dream! It's surreal really. I'd like to say thanks to the governor (Alan King) for giving me the opportunity because I never thought I would be doing this a couple of years ago.
“It's just super. You work hard and its unbelievable that it’s paid off for me.”
OVER THE CREEK JUST LOSES OUT
The David Pipe-trained Over The Creek failed by seven lengths to catch Old Benny in the marathon Peter O’Sullevan Chase Challenge Cup and - although cut to 33/1 from 40/1 with William Hill for the John Smith’s Grand National - is not certain to head to Aintree.
“He jumped, he travelled and he ran a great race but maybe was
just done for a bit of toe at the finish,” said Pipe. “This
race was tailor made for him, he relishes these long distances. He is
in the Grand National but I’m not sure where he’ll go - he’ll
be entered in all the long-distance races. He jumps and stays well.
Back On line delighted trainer Venetia Williams when finishing third. “She’s such a game mare and run a smashing race. Will (Biddick) gave her a great ride, he went on the inside for the first circuit but then had to switch to the outside because he was not getting much room.
“I think this race has got better since the conditions changed and this was the strongest renewal they have ever had and she finished third behind two terrific horses.
“I’d like to go for the mares’ chase final at Newbury but you always worry about the ground at that time of year, the trip is a bit shorter and the handicapper is likely to give her top weight. I would like to see some conditions races for mares.”
Graham Regan, the owner of fourth placed Niche Market, had expected his horse to run well. "We fancied him rotten. He was only half a length behind Old Benny at Lingfield, and we’ve been backing him for weeks," he said.
Though Regan lost his bets, with only three places paying, it was of no consequence to the euphoric owner. "I’ve got just two horses with Bob [Buckler], we are genuine small owners and look where we are," he said. "This is only our second-ever runner at The Festival. The first was She’s Our Daisy in the Supreme Novices last year and she’’s still out there in the country. If you see her, let us know," he joked.
Peter O’Sullevan National Hunt Chase - Analysis
The Peter O’Sullevan National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup, named to honour racing’s most famous commentator’s 90th birthday, has attracted 56 entries, which includes 18 from Ireland. The race is for amateur riders and is run over four miles on Wednesday, March 12.
Among David Pipe’s four entries is Over The Creek, who has taken well to the larger obstacles this season, winning two of his six starts and posting a placing of fourth or better in the rest. The Pond House handler’s team is completed by the useful My Immortal, Nobody Tells Me and Nacadour.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has entered both dual novice chase winner Ornais and lightly-raced Leading Attraction.
Alan King is set to be represented by Old Benny, who has been placed on all three starts over fences this season. "He was second at Newbury the other day to Ornais and it is the logical place for him as he stays very well,” said King.
Jonjo O’Neill, winner of four of the last six renewals of this race, most recently with Butler’s Cabin 12 months ago, has entered five for the £75,000 contest. His team includes promising chaser Nor’Nor’East, formerly Irish-based pair of Olay Olay and Firth Of Forth, along with The King Of Angels and Pass It On.
The Irish contingent includes Sean Aherne’s Beantown, who has only raced twice since finishing a close second to Hot Weld in the 2006 renewal of this race. Since making his comeback fourth on New Year’s Eve, he scored an easy victory in Navan on January 26, when he had Parrot Cay, the seven-length runner-up, and Gilligans Hall behind.
Henry de Bromhead has entered Sizing Africa, while other leading Irish challengers include Noel Meade’s Whataboutya, Dessie Hughes’ former Festival winner Oulart and Jessica Harrington’s Badgerlaw.
Other notable entries from Britain include Victor Dartnall’s Here’s Johnny, Ferdy Murphy’s Top Cloud and Philip Hobbs’ Minella Tipperary.
Venetia Williams has entered both Back On Line and Ma Yahab and Nigel Twiston-Davies has both Beat The Boys and Rimsky among the 56 entries. Nicky Henderson has entered Menchikov, who was a winner on his first outing of the season on February 6 on his chasing debut.
PETER O’SULLEVAN NATIONAL HUNT CHASE FACTS & FIGURES
1. The National Hunt Chase has been run more times than any other race
at The Festival, and is in its 138th year in 2008. Until the 1930s, only
the Grand National was more important than the National Hunt Chase in
the jump calendar. The race had been run at a number of venues until
it became a part of the new two-day National Hunt Festival at Cheltenham
in 1911. It had also been run at Cheltenham in 1904 and 1905.
2. The four-mile National Hunt Chase is the longest race run at The
Festival. The race has been reduced in distance by a furlong this year
and reverts back to the old course.
3. The race is usually one of the best supported at The Festival, with
very competitive fields each year. The largest post-war field size is
37 (1948) and the smallest 13 (1993). There is now a safety limit of
4. Flimsy Truth, a 33/1 chance, set a record post-war time of 8 mins
11.09 secs in 1998 but that was beaten by Relaxation in 2000, who scored
in 8 mins 0.60s.
5. Flimsy Truth is not the longest priced post-war winner - that honour
goes to Topsham Bay, successful in 1990, and 2005 winner Another Rum,
who were both returned at 40/1. Castledermot, 6/4 favourite in 1949,
is the shortest-priced victor.
6. The contest is run in honour of Sir Peter O’Sullevan. The former
BBC commentator and “Voice Of Racing” celebrates his 90th
birthday on March 3. It was at his request that “Sir” was
not included in the race title.
7. The race has proved a good guide to future success in recent seasons.
Last year’s winner Butler’s Cabin subsequently won the Irish
Grand National while 2006 victor Hot Weld landed a memorable double in
2007 by collecting the Scottish National and the Betfred Gold Cup in
the space of a week. 2007 John Smith’s Grand National victor Silver
Birch finished fourth in 2004.
PETER O’SULLEVAN NATIONAL HUNT CHASE CHALLENGE CUP PAST RESULTS
CABIN 7-12-00 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-Mr
Alan Berry; SP-33/1
WELD 7-11-11 Owner-S Hubbard Rodwell; Trainer-Ferdy
Murphy; Jockey-Mr Richard Harding; SP-33/1
RUM 7-11-07 Owner-Ronald Lilley;
Trainer-Ian Duncan IRE; Jockey-Mr Mark O’Hare; SP-40/1
2004-WINNER-NATIVE EMPEROR 8-11-11 Owner-J C, J
R & S R Hitchins;
Trainer-Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-Mr Robert Widger; SP-5/1 Jt Fav
2003-WINNER-SUDDEN SHOCK 8-11-07 Owner-Darren Mercer;
Trainer-Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-Mr Denis Cullen; SP-25/1
2002-WINNER-RITH DUBH 10-11-11 Owner-J P McManus;
Jockey-Mr J T McNamara; SP-10/1
2000-WINNER-RELAXATION 8-12-00 Owner-Sir Philip Payne-Gallwey and Mrs
Vicky Wiggin; Trainer-Henry Daly; Jockey-Mr Mark Bradburne; SP-8/1
1999-WINNER-DEEJAYDEE 7-12-00 Owner- Mrs M Devine; Trainer-Michael Hourigan
IRE; Jockey-Mr Tony Martin; SP-13/2
1998-WINNER-WANDERING LIGHT 9-12-7 Owner- Anne Duchess of Westminster;
Trainer-Tim Forster; Jockey-Mr Rupert Wakley; SP-10/1
1997-WINNER-FLIMSY TRUTH 11-12-07 Owner-Martin Weston; Trainer-Martin
Weston; Jockey-Mr Mike Harris; SP-33/1
1996-WINNER-LOVING AROUND 8-11-13 Owner-Lord Tavistock;
Trainer-Edward O’Grady IRE; Jockey-Mr Philip Fenton; SP-10/1
1995-WINNER-FRONT LINE 8-12-07 Owner-J P McManus;
Jockey-Mr John Berry; SP-7/1
1994-WINNER-CHRISTMAS GORSE 8-12-04 Owner-David Stoddart; Trainer-Nick
Gaselee; Jockey-Mr Marcus Armytage; SP-14/1
NATIONAL HUNT CHASE CHALLENGE CUP (AMATEUR RIDERS) ROLL OF HONOUR
Year Winner Age/Wt Jockey Trainer Owner SP Ran
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