Neptune Collonges Makes Argento Splash
1 Neptune Collonges 11/2
The Paul Nicholls-trained Neptune Collonges bounced back to his best by making every yard of the running in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham under Tony McCoy.
The grey was third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup back in 2008 and fourth a year later, but had been disappointing since returning from a spell on the sidelines.
Ridden positively by the champion jockey, the 11-2 chance was allowed an easy lead and jumped exuberantly throughout, running on strongly to hold the enigmatic Tidal Bay's late flourish by a length and a quarter.
McCoy said: "He didn't run as badly as the form suggested last time and Paul just told me to go a nice gallop on him as we know he stays well.
"We thought there were a few doubts about Punchestowns and Tidal Bay so the plan was to get them at it. He's an older horse who knows his way around and he's just a pleasure to ride."
Nicholls added: "I'm thrilled for the horse. It's been a long road back but he was unlucky in the Hennessy Gold Cup when we thought he would run well and he missed the break last time, but it didn't do him any harm and he had a good run round.
"It's good to see him come back and win a nice race. I told AP to make every post a winning one. He's got an entry for the National and an entry for the Gold Cup, but we'll see how he is and have a chat about the future."
Tidal Bay's trainer Howard Johnson said: "They didn't go fast enough for him and we might as well go for the Gold Cup, as where else do you go?"
Nicky Henderson, trainer of the well-beaten favourite Punchestowns, added: "Barry (Geraghty) was very pleased with his jumping. He's taken a blow and he does take a massive amount of work to get ready.
"We wanted to come here to get a run into him and we'll press on. I'd love to get another run into him, but where do you go? I'm not sure you'd want to go for the Aon Chase at Newbury in a fortnight."
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