Steel Plate And Sections Novices' Chase
2m 4f 110y,
|Friday 15th November 2013|
1 Taquin Du Seuil 3/1
2 Oscar Whisky 4/6F
3 The Romford Pele 9/2
4 ran Distances: nk, 3¾l, 12l
TIME 5m 28.84s (slow by 30.84s)
Taquin De Seuil got the better of Oscar Whisky in a sprint finish to the Steel Plate And Sections Novices' Chase at Cheltenham this afternoon but it was an unsatisfactory running of the race following a dawdling gallop which saw all four runners barely break out of a canter for the first circuit.
Barry Geraghty reluctantly let his mount stride on and Oscar Whisky led the field for the majority of the race but A P McCoy had his every move covered on the 3/1 shot, pouncing after the last to get the six-year-old's head in front where it mattered to record a neck victory.
"They've hacked round there and I'm not sure exactly what we've learned after that race," said trainer Jonjo O'Neill.
"Don't get me wrong, I'm delighted we've won the race but it wasn't a good race to gauge exactly what he's done so we'll have to have another go to see how good he really is. I was pleased with his jumping as he was very good when asked for one but he was a bit clever when he shortened into his fences which is also a good sign.
"He'll be trained with the Festival in mind rather than a specific race. Personally, I think he might prove best at two miles but he's won over two and a half so that's an option as well. We'll have another run and see exactly what we've got with him.
"His owners (Martin Broughton and Friends) have Dodging Bullets with Paul Nicholls in the two-mile novice chase on Sunday and they wanted to go there with that one so we came here instead. They got their way this time but I'm not so sure they will next time!
"We haven't learnt a lot but we got the money though. He jumped well and it's nice to see him handle the track, so those are two things."
Champion jockey AP McCoy was also keen to point out that Taquin de Seuil was giving Oscar Whisky weight as well as a neck beating.
"He was very idle when I got past Oscar Whisky," said McCoy. "A good horse like Oscar Whisky was always going to come back off that gallop and I actually thought that he would quicken a bit more than he did between the second last and the last, but he was probably ring-rusty and a little flat-footed. It's nice for this horse to win, giving 5lb.
"I would have actually liked to run Taquin De Seuil over two miles on Sunday but the owners have Dodging Bullets with Paul Nicholls - I think Paul has a bit more control over the owners than we have."
O'Neill was upbeat when questioned about John's Spirit, who is the 13/2 favourite with the sponsors for tomorrow's BetVictor Gold Cup.
"John's Spirit is in grand form and we couldn't be happier with him," said the trainer. "The only worry with him is the bigger field given his style of running. He might hit a bit of traffic in the late stages of the race but it's the same for all of them and we're hopeful."
Steel Plate And Sections Novices' Chase
£20,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m 4f 110y, Class 2
Going: Good (Good to Soft in places)
||Taquin Du Seuil
|A P McCoy
|3 - 1
N J Henderson
|B J Geraghty
|4 - 6
||The Romford Pele
Miss R Curtis
|9 - 2
3 3/4 lengths
||The Cockney Mackem
N A Twiston-Davies
|33 - 1
High-class hurdler Oscar Whisky made his debut over fences today, but the 4/6 chance was forced to make the running and was passed after the final fence by Taquin Du Seuil, trained by Jonjo O'Neill.
The winner was determinedly held up by A P McCoy to ensure Oscar Whisky had to do the donkey work, and, after the four-runner field had crawled over the first two fences, the pace quickened only slightly until aces were played in the final half mile.
Nicky Henderson, who trains the neck runner-up, described the contest as: "The biggest bollocks of a race ever run at Cheltenham," and added: "Jonjo should pay us half the money for acting as his pacemaker.
"Our horse has run fantastic, but the last thing we wanted to do round Cheltenham was to do it all on our own. At the first he slipped and the horse on his inner took him out - that was that and he was dying for a lead after that.
"He jumped beautifully, but he had to make the running, which was the one thing we avoided over hurdles. We wanted him to have a safe journey and go home in one piece, because we know there's a ton of improvement to come. The winner has had a run and we gave him a lead, but hopefully, in March [at the Cheltenham Festival] there will be a horse that can give us a lead."
Owner Dai Walters added: "That was a nonsense race. I can assure you that Oscar Whisky will have his day over fences."