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Rajdhani Express Wins Rewards4Racing Novices' Handicap Chase
1 Rajdhani Express 16/1
2 Ackertac 66/1
3 Ohio Gold 16/1
4 Shangani 6/1
20 ran Distances: nk, 9l, 1¾l
TIME 5m 16.00s (slow by 18.00s)
Rajdhani Express put a poor run at Cheltenham on his previous outing behind him to take the first-day finale, the Rewards4Racing Novices’ Chase, by a hard-fought neck under amateur rider Sam Waley-Cohen at 16/1.
The six-year-old’s victory was the second of the afternoon for trainer Nicky Henderson, after Simonsig – just over a 25/1 double.
“He had looked a decent horse when he won at Kempton in December,” said Henderson, “But when he ran here in January the ground was almost unraceable.
“He couldn’t gallop through it, he couldn’t jump out of it, he couldn’t do anything. But today was a totally different ball game and he was able to show what he could do.
“I think that shows the ground isn’t as bad as people feared out there. They have done a brilliant job with it.
“There was a little nervous moment when Sam (Waley-Cohen) went for a bareback session at the top of the hill but other than it was very good.”
Rajdhani Express was a first home-bred Cheltenham Festival winner for owner Robert Waley-Cohen, father of Sam. The gelding is a Presenting half-brother to Shatabdi, a Grade Two hurdles winner, out of the French-bred Cadoudal mare Violet Express.
Rewards4Racing Novices' Handicap Chase (Listed)
£60,000 added, 5yo plus, 2m 4f 110y, Class 1
Going: Soft (Good to Soft in places; Cross Country: Soft)
N J Henderson
|Mr S Waley-Cohen
|16 - 1
N A Twiston-Davies
|66 - 1
C L Tizzard
|16 - 1
Miss V Williams
|6 - 1
1 3/4 length
P J Hobbs
|A P McCoy
|9 - 2
|The Druids Nephew
|5 - 1
|R P McLernon
|14 - 1
1 1/2 length
C E Longsdon
|16 - 1
T R George
|P J Brennan
|14 - 1
2 1/2 lengths
Miss J S Davis
|T J Murphy
|66 - 1
|25 - 1
|40 - 1
TWISTON-DAVIES RUES ACKERTAC LUCK IN RUNNING
Rajdhani Express may have won the final race on the opening day of the Festival at Cheltenham – the Rewards4Racing Novices’ Handicap Steeple Chase – but he had to dig deep to repel the challenge of 66/1 shot Ackertac. Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies was left wondering what might have been for the runner-up who was beaten a neck after he suffered some misfortune during the race.
“He’s run his heart out but it could have been a different story,” said Twiston-Davies.
“He was hampered by the winner early on and that’s probably cost him the race. It’s a bit of a shame but these things happen.
“The blinkers have worked really well though and that’s been the key to his run this afternoon. We’ll definitely keep them on in future.”
The winner and runner-up pulled nine lengths clear of the third-placed Ohio Gold and his trainer Colin Tizzard is delighted with the way in which his horses are running ahead of Cue Card’s tilt at the Ryanair Chase on Thursday.
“He’s a solid horse and is still improving by the looks of it,” said Tizzard.
“He’s actually still a maiden so we might look at preserving his novice status for another season though I’d be surprised if he didn’t win a race sooner rather than later.
“It’s nice to see the horses running so well but you’ve got to take one day at a time in this game – though we’re very much looking forward to Thursday.”
REWARDS4RACING NOVICES’ HANDICAP CHASE
2012-WINNER-HUNT BALL 7-12-00 Owner-Anthony Knott; Trainer-Keiran Burke; Jockey-Nick Scholfield; SP-13/2 Fav
2ND-White Star Line 8-11-07 Owner-Patsy Byrne; Trainer-Dessie Hughes IRE; Jockey-Bryan Cooper; SP-14/1
3RD-Owen Glendower 7-11-09 Owner-The Ten From Seven; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Andrew Tinkler; SP-33/1
4TH-Battle Group 7-11-10 Owner-Jolly Boys Outing; Trainer-David Pipe; Jockey-Tom Scudamore; SP-33/1
20 ran, Time-5m 5.90s, Dist-8, 2, 1
2011-WINNER-DIVERS 7-11-04 Owner-The DPRP Divers Partnership; Trainer-Ferdy Murphy; Jockey-Graham Lee; SP-7/1
2ND-Quantitativeeasing 6-11-11 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-7/1
3RD-Tullamore Dew 9-11-11 Owner-Give Every Man His Due; Trainer-Nick Gifford; Jockey-Liam Treadwell; SP-13/2
4TH-Vino Griego 6-11-05 Owner-C E Stedman; Trainer-Gary Moore; Jockey-Jamie Moore; SP-20/1
20 ran, Time 5m 7.50s, Dist 2¾, 2, 1¼ 3/1 Fav Definity (5th)
2010-WINNER-COPPER BLEU 8-11-01 Owner-Alan Peterson; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-12/1
2ND-Othermix 6-11-00 Owner-Power Panels Electrical Systems Ltd; Trainer-Tom George; Jockey-Paddy Brennan; SP-50/1
3RD-The Midnight Club 6-11-01 Owner-C C R Racing Syndicate; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Paul Townend; SP-16/1
4TH-China Rock 7-11-03 Owner-Michael O’Flynn; Trainer-Mouse Morris IRE; Jockey-Niall Madden; SP-9/1 20 ran, Time-5m 12.50s, Dist-3½ , ½, 3¾ 6/1 Fav Rivaliste (7th)
2009-WINNER-CHAPOTURGEON 5-10-11 Owner-David Johnson; Trainer-Paul Nicholls; Jockey-Timmy Murphy; SP-8/1
2ND-Isn’t That Lucky 6-10-07 Owner-Valda Burke; Trainer-Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-Richard McGrath; SP-11/1
3RD-Crescent Island 6-11-02 Owner-Sarah Bays Jill Scott Sarah MacEchern; Trainer-Nigel Twiston-Davies; Jockey-Paddy Brennan; SP-25/1
4TH-Northern Alliance 8-11-04 Owner-Irish Rover Syndicate; Trainer-Tony Martin IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP8/1 20 ran, Time-5m 16.44s, Dist-9, 2¼, 6 15/2 Fav Kia Kaha (10th)
2008-WINNER-FINGER ONTHE PULSE 7-10-12 Owner-Conor Clarkson; Trainer-Tom Taaffe IRE; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-9/1
2ND-Barbers Shop 6-10-13 Owner-The Queen; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Mick Fitzgerald; SP-12/1
3RD-Possol 5-10-06 Owner-Neville Statham; Trainer-Henry Daly; Jockey-Mark Bradburne; SP-25/1
4TH-Fleet Street 9-10-12 Owner-Henry Ponsonby; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Andrew Tinkler; SP-66/1 20 ran, Time-5m 10.2s, Dist-nk, 1½, nse
2007-WINNER-L’ANTARTIQUE 7-10-11 Owner-Mary Durkan; Trainer-Ferdy Murphy; Jockey-Graham Lee; SP-20/1
2ND-Bob Hall 6-10-09 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Jonjo O’Neill;
Jockey-Noel Fehily; SP-10/1
3RD-Wee Robbie 7-10-13 Owner-P H Betts (Holdings) Ltd; Trainer-Nick Gifford;
Jockey-Leighton Aspell; SP-20/1
4TH-Rasharrow 8-10-10 Owner-Ashleybank Investments Limited; Trainer-Len
Lungo; Jockey-Keith Mercer; SP-14/1
19 ran, Time-5m 10.70s, Dist-2, 2½, 4 7/2 Fav New Little Bric
2006-WINNER-REVEILLEZ 7-10-11 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-James Fanshawe;
Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-9/2 Fav
2ND-Copsale Lad 9-11-00 Owner-Swallow Partnership; Trainer-Nicky Henderson;
Jockey-Mick Fitzgerald; SP-8/1
3RD-Tumbling Dice 7-11-01 Owner-Mrs John Donegan; Trainer-Tom Taaffe
IRE; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-14/1
4TH-Direct Flight 8-10-04 Owner-Top Flight; Trainer-Noel Chance; Jockey-Paul
18 ran, Time-5m 05.00s, Dist-1.25, 9, shd
HARALD 7-10-04 Owner-Piers Pottinger & PBJ
Partnership; Trainer-Mark Bradstock; Jockey-Mattie Batchelor; SP-9/1
2ND-Lacdoudal 6-11-10 Owner-Carol Skan; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard
3RD-See You Sometime 10-11-03 Owner-J A G Meaden; Trainer-Seamus Mullins;
Jockey-Andrew Thornton; SP-12/1
4TH-Sir Oj 8-10-11 Owner-Brian Keenan; Trainer-Noel Meade IRE; Jockey-Paul
19 ran, Time-5m 12.20s, Dist-12, 8, 2 8/1 Fav Captain Corelli (PU)
REWARDS4RACING NOVICES’ HANDICAP CHASE ROLL OF HONOUR
(First run in 2005)
Year Winner Age/Wt Jockey Trainer Owner SP Ran
2012 Hunt Ball 7-12-00 Nick Scholfield Keiran Burke Anthony Knott 13/2F 20
2011 Divers 7-11-04 Graham Lee Ferdy Murphy The DPRP Divers Partnership 10/1 2010 Copper Bleu 8-11-01 Richard Johnson Philip Hobbs Alan Peterson 12/1 20
2009 Chapoturgeon 5-10-11 Timmy Murphy Paul Nicholls David Johnson 8/1 20
2008 Finger Onthe Pulse 7-10-12 Barry Geraghty Tom Taaffe IRE Conor Clarkson 9/1 20
2007 L’Antartique 7-10-11 Graham Lee Ferdy Murphy Mary Durkan 20/1
2006 Reveillez 7-10-11 Tony McCoy James Fanshawe J P McManus 9/2F 18
2005 King Harald 7-10-04 Mattie Batchelor Mark Bradstock Piers Pottinger & P
B-J Partnership 9/1 19
The Pulteney Land Investments Novices’ Handicap Chase was one of the new races introduced to the fourday Festival in 2005. Jewson backed the race from 2005 to 2010, before the builders’ merchant switched their support to the new Grade Two two-and-a-half mile novices’ chase in 2011 when this race was run as the Centenary Novices’ Handicap Chase. Pulteney Land Investments took over the sponsorship of the race in 2012.
The race was initially run as an open handicap for novices before being restricted to horses with a rating of 145 or less in 2011. From 2012, the race is for novice chasers rated 0-140.
A maximum field of 20 has contested the five most recent renewals of the Pulteney Land Investments Novices’ Handicap Chase. The smallest field of 18 lined up in 2006.
Hunt Ball defied 12st in 2012, despite the fact that the maximum weight allowed is officially 11st 12lb. He was allowed to take his chance as he was rated 127 when entries closed in February. He recorded a 10-length victory in a Kempton handicap chase before the weights were announced, which earned him a rating of 142, meaning that he shouldered 12st, 2lb above the top-weight of 11st 12lb. At the other end of the scale, King Harald carried 10st 4lb to victory in 2005.
MOST SUCCESSFUL TRAINER
Ferdy Murphy is the only trainer to saddle more than one winner - L’Antartique (2007) and Divers (2011)
MOST SUCCESSFUL JOCKEY
Graham Lee, now a successful Flat jockey, partnered both L’Antartique (2007) and Divers (2011) to glory, making him the only jockey to win the race twice.
S Finger Onthe Pulse is the only Irish-trained winner to prevail, having scored for Tom Taaffe in 2008.
Favourite Reveillez won at odds of 9/2 in 2006 - the shortest-priced winner in the history of the race. Hunt Ball (2012) is the only other favourite to oblige and the seven-year-old’s owner Anthony Knott reportedly won £500,000 fropm bets. L’Antartique is the longest-priced winner, obliging at 20/1 in 2007.
DID YOU KNOW?
Mattie Batchelor took the inaugural running on King Harald as the pair survived a final fence blunder that left the jockey without any irons on the run-in. His performance in the saddled was recognised at the Lesters Awards as he received the prize for Jump Ride of the Year.
Defeat in the Pulteney Land Investments Novices’ Handicap Chase is no barrier to future success. Big Buck’s finished seventh behind Finger Onthe Pulse in 2008 before going on to post a record 18 consecutive wins over hurdles, headed by four victories in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
The 2002 Stan James Champion Hurdle victor Hors La Loi finished sixth in the Pulteney Land Investments Novices’ Handicap Chase in 2006.