Randox Health Handicap Chase
1m 7f 199y, Class 2
|Saturday 26th October 2019
1 Saint Calvados 5/2F
2 Vaniteux 20/1
11 ran Distances: 1l, 1½l, 12l
Time: 4m 19.90s (slow by 27.90s)
Harry Whittington recorded a first Cheltenham victory as Saint Calvados, who twice placed at G1 level over fences last season, capitalised on a return to handicap company. The top-weight collared long-time leader Knocknanuss jumping the final fence and rallied well up the run-in for Gavin Sheehan to prevail by a length over Vaniteux, who was receiving just over two stone from the winner.
Harry Whittington commented: "I am so thrilled for [owners] Andrew and Kate Brooks, who are on holiday with George for half-term. I know how much it means to them - they are great supporters of the game and great supporters of mine.
"We knew there was plenty of pace on and plenty of trailblazers. I had a little bit of a ding-dong with Gavin beforehand because I thought he said that he was going to drop him out but he was half winding me up. As it happened, it all worked out perfectly and he gave the horse a beautiful ride. He is a huge talent and it's great to have him on board.
"I have no idea where we will go with Saint Calvados. He obviously had a long break in the summer and had his wind done. We felt that we would take the first run in and then sit down and go through it. We will see how he comes out of the race before we start thinking ahead."
Gavin Sheehan said: "I jumped the first two fences lovely and, after that, his jumping got a little bit sticky on the ground. When I was long, I was almost having to try and lift him up over them.
"To be fair, he hacked in a few places and I thought we were going quick but we can't go any quicker. He loved the ground out there - he went down and winged the last but just stopped at the back of it and pricked his ears a little bit. As soon as the other horse came to me, he put his head down and fought all the way to the line.
"Harry and his team have got him here ready for the day and they have picked a brilliant race for him with lovely ground conditions. He was our stand-out horse and it is lovely for them to start off the season again with dreams."
Randox Health Handicap Chase
POS DIST HORSE AGE WEIGHT TRAINER JOCKEY
1 Saint Calvados 6 11-12 Harry Whittington Gavin Sheehan 5/2
£60,000.00 added, 4yo plus, 2m, Class 2
2 1 Vaniteux 10 10-0 Sophie Leech Sean Houlihan 20/1
3 1½ Knocknanuss 9 11-1 Gary Moore Jamie Moore 11/2
4 12 Doitforthevillage 10 10-10 Paul Henderson Paddy Brennan 10/1
5 1¼ Marracudja 8 10-8 Dan Skelton Harry Skelton 10/1
6 4 Northern Beau 6 10-0 Michael Scudamore Richie McLernon 40/1
7 25 Duke Of Navan 11 11-1 Nicky Richards Ryan Day 16/1
8 PU Master Work 6 10-5 Philip Hobbs Tom O'Brien 12/1
9 PU Brelan D'As 8 10-9 Paul Nicholls Barry Geraghty 5/1
10 PU Mcgroarty 8 11-9 Dr Richard Newland Sean Bowen 10/1
11 PU Gino Trail 12 11-6 Kerry Lee Richard Johnson 12/1