Betway Challow Novices' Hurdle
|Grade 1, Newbury 15:00
£45,000 added, 4yo plus,
2m 4f 118y, Class 1
|Saturday 29th December 2018
1 Champ EvensF
Getaway Trump 10/1
7 ran Distances: 2½l, ¾l, ¾l
Time: 5m 10.00s (slow by 21.00s)
Champ presses Cheltenham Festival claims
The Betway Challow Novices’ Hurdle is Newbury’s only G1 Jump contest of the year and saw an impressive performance from Champ who made it four wins from as many starts over hurdles this season.
Champ (right) on his way to victory
Always travelling well, Champ took up the running narrowly approaching the last and stayed on strongly to score by two and a half lengths from Getaway Trump with Kateson third, a further three-quarters of a length adrift.
The six-year-old Champ is owned by J P McManus and boasts an outstanding pedigree, having been sired by leading Jump sire King’s Theatre and his dam being China Sky, a half-sister to triple Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Best Mate
. It was a third success in the race for J P McManus, following Captain Cutter
(2013, also trained by Nicky Henderson) and Wichita Lineman (2006).
He is named in honour of 20-time champion Jump jockey Sir A P McCoy, who used to ride for McManus and is still an adviser to the owner. McCoy’s young son, Archie, who calls Champ his favourite horse, accepted the trophy along with Barry Geraghty. Champ spent the summer with the McCoys.
Geraghty said: “It was a slow-run race and we sprinted down the straight. He has speed and he stays well. It was hard enough work to get on top, but he did pull away in the end. He was doing his best.
“He was still a little bit keen today. You don’t know until you come away from the second last whether you are good enough to win off of a slow pace, but thankfully, he answered the call.
“There is loads to like about Champ. He is a lovely horse – a big, good-looking fella who obviously jumps and stays well.
“Today was a tricky race to if you are trying to evaluate him. He has done what he had to do. In an ideal world, you would like a truer run race. The pecking order could be different, but I would like to think Champ would still be on top.
“I think it was smart race and that the form will work out. It is a nice Grade One to win.
“Nicky has some lovely horses. Mr Fisher and Angel’s Breath have caught my eye and are two really smart horses. On the other hand, J P has a lovely horse in Rathhill plus this horse, Champagne Platinum who won earlier today and Birchdale who won at Warwick. It is a good bunch of horses.
“Champagne Platinum is a lovely, big chasing type and while he will have to improve on what he has shown today, he has the raw ability and is going the right way.
“It is hard to compare the novices in Britain and Ireland. I would have to like what I have sat on here although I suppose a lot of them haven’t come through yet, such as those from Willie Mullins.”
Nicky Henderson declared: “I was nervous today. I was impressed with Champ. Whereas last time he took off with Aidan (Coleman) halfway down the back, he was trying to take off with Barry off a slow pace.
“I love the turn of foot he had at the end of the day, given the fact he pulled pretty hard.
“We were at pains not to let him do what he did the other day and try to let it happen a bit later – and Barry did a great job.
“A good pace is going to help him. It is funny because he is the most relaxed person you could have at home – you couldn’t find a more relaxed horse.
“You would have to say he should stick to this distance if he is getting it as well as he has the last two times. I can’t see him coming back in trip.
“We have got all these good novices, and he is in that mix as well. It is a fantastic position to be in. We’ve got to juggle them around, but he has now won a G1.
“He has got an amazing name – I would say J P was sitting on this name for a few years, and it was a question of which horse got the name.
“He has got a wonderful pedigree and is a lovely horse. He has got a name he has got to live up to, but we took a big step towards forward today. He will have another run (before the Cheltenham Festival), but where and when, I don’t know.
“I would have thought we would have a look at Cheltenham (at the end of January), because we have got time to do that.”
Challow Novices' Hurdle
£45,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m 4f 118y, Class 1
Going: Good to Soft
||Champ (IRE) Evsf
||B J Geraghty
|N J Henderson
||Getaway Trump (IRE) 10/1
|P F Nicholls
||Brewin'upastorm (IRE) 9/2
||Coolanly (IRE) 16/1
||P J Brennan
||Alsa Mix (FR) 12/1
||Nestor Park (FR) 28/1
||Nico de Boinville