StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle
|Grade 3 Handicap, Cheltenham 15:15
2m 110y, Class 1
|Sunday 16th November 2014|
1 Garde La Victoire 10/1
2 Vaniteux 7/2F
3 Clondaw Warrior 5/1
NR: Eagle Rock (IRE), Goodwood Mirage (IRE)
15 ran Distances: 1¼l, ¾l, 5l
TIME 4m 5.00s (slow by 14.00s)
Garde La Victoire held off Vaniteux to win the Greatwood Hurdle on a great day for Philip Hobbs
Garde La Victoire capped off a remarkable three days of The Open for trainer Philip Hobbs and jockey Richard Johnson after he ran out the length and a quarter winner of today's feature race at Cheltenham this afternoon.
His victory gave both trainer and jockey their sixth winner of the meeting, as well as a 48.5/1 double on the day following Dunraven Storm's earlier success in the Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial Novices' Chase.
Hobbs was in two minds over whether to run Garde La Victoire this afternoon because of the prevailing very soft ground and revealed after the race that they had decided to make the running as they knew there might not be enough pace in the race.
"It's been quite a good weekend!" said Hobbs.
"We almost didn't run in the race and I'd actually been on the phone to Newbury to see what the ground was like there as we were thinking of heading to the Gerry Feilden. The ground was just as soft there so we decided to take our chance here and obviously I'm glad we have.
"We looked at the race yesterday and concluded there might not be a great amount of pace so decided to have him handy. He's settling a bit better nowadays but, although he's won on good to soft, we were heading into the unknown on this sort of ground.
"Richard is cute enough to know when to kick on and when they dawdled at the start, he decided to go on.
"We'll stick to hurdles this season but I'm not sure he'll be good enough to become a Champion Hurdle horse."
Johnson was also pinching himself after riding his sixth winner of the meeting.
"It's not quite sunk in to be honest - it's been some weekend," said the jockey.
"It was never really the plan to make all but we did want to be handy as we knew there wasn't going to be much pace on up front.
"He's jumped well today but just missed out the last. Luckily, we had enough left to come up the hill as I'd been able to ride him conservatively. The ground isn't ideal for him but it's the same for the rest and he's handled it ok.
"It's been three amazing days and a great team effort from everyone at home."
Vaniteux, saddled by Nicky Henderson, finished second, beaten a length and a quarter, and the result perhaps summed up the current fortunes of their respective trainers.
Henderson has sent out six winners in the past fortnight; Hobbs six in the three days of The Open meeting alone. "Some of mine are not quite there yet," admitted Henderson, "and Philip's are absolutely on fire. But I was pleased with Vaniteux - he travelled well, jumped well and ran on."
Rider Barry Geraghty is looking forward to the rest of the season with the five-year-old, who carried top-weight of 11st 12lb today. "It was hard work for him out there in that ground," he said, "but he's got class and his class took him into the race. It was a satisfactory start and he's going to be fun."
Third place, just three-quarters of a length adrift, went to the 10st bottom-weight Clondaw Warrior, whose trainer Willie Mullins was on duty at Punchestown. Rider David Casey was pleased with his mount's effort, saying: "He made a small mistake two out, which put me on Richard's [Johnson, rider of the winner Garde La Victoire] heels a bit and set me back.
"But the winner and second just pulled out more, and I was happy with my run."
Harry Skelton, who partnered the fourth Blue Heron for his trainer brother Dan, said: "I was delighted. It was only his fourth start over hurdles and he has run an absolute screamer.
"He will make a lovely chaser and we have that in the back of our minds so we will look after him until next year."
Exitas finished sixth under Charlie Deutsch who said: "He ran very well. He did not quite travel into the race like he normally does. But jumped well, ran well and we would be happy with him."
StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle (Grade 3 Handicap)
4yo plus, 2m 110y, Class 0
Going: Soft, Heavy in places
|1st||Garde La Victoire (FR) 10/1
|11-9||P J Hobbs||5|
|2nd||1¼||Vaniteux (FR) 7/2f
B J Geraghty
|11-12||N J Henderson||5|
|3rd||¾||Clondaw Warrior (IRE) 5/1
D J Casey
|10-0||W P Mullins||7|
|4th||5||Blue Heron (IRE) 20/1
|5th||½||Pine Creek 16/1
N D Fehily
|11-1||J P Ferguson||6|
|6th||2¼||Exitas (IRE) (ex5) 11/2
Charlie Deutsch (5)
|10-10||P W Middleton||6|
Mikey Ennis (7)
|11-2||J P Ferguson||6|
|8th||s.h||Olofi (FR) 20/1
P J Brennan
|11-0||T R George||8|
|9th||3||Roman Flight (IRE) 40/1
|10th||1¼||Baltimore Rock (IRE) 17/2
|11th||nk||Katgary (FR) 16/1
|11-2||P F Nicholls||4|
|12th||2½||Regal Encore (IRE) 8/1
|10-9||A J Honeyball||6|
|13th||4½||Baradari (IRE) 12/1
|10-13||Miss V Williams||4|
|14th||12||Raven's Tower (USA) 66/1
|PU||Pearl Swan (FR) 16/1
|11-3||P F Nicholls||6|
|NR||Goodwood Mirage (IRE)
J M Maguire
|NR||Eagle Rock (IRE)
D C Costello
|10-6||T P Tate||6|