Coral Challow Novices' Hurdle
Grade 1, Newbury 15:00
£60,000 guaranteed, 4yo plus,
2m 4f 118y, Class 1  
Saturday 30th December 2023

1 Captain Teague 2/1F
2 Lookaway 11/2
3 The Jukebox Man 20/1
9 ran Distances: 1½l, nk, hd
Time: 5m 23.04s (slow by 31.04s)

Captain Teague secured a hard-fought victory at Newbury, further solidifying Paul Nicholls' dominance in the race. The horse, previously the third-place finisher in the Champion Bumper, had won the Grade Two Persian War on his hurdling debut but had to settle for second in the subsequent race at Cheltenham. As the 2-1 favorite before the final Grade One race of the year, Captain Teague delivered a determined performance.

During the race, Captain Teague's chief rival, Willmount, faded away, and jockey Harry Cobden remained composed in the saddle. Heading up the Newbury straight, Cobden skillfully guided Captain Teague, who displayed resilience despite greenness. Approaching the last hurdle, Cobden carefully timed his request for maximum effort. Captain Teague responded eagerly, putting in a strong effort and crossing the finish line one and a half lengths ahead of Lookaway in second place, with The Jukebox Man finishing third.

This victory marked Paul Nicholls' fourth consecutive success in the Challow Hurdle and his record-extending sixth win overall in the two-and-a-half-mile event. Captain Teague joined the esteemed company of Denman, Bravemansgame, and Stage Star as a Ditcheat star to claim this valuable Grade One prize.

“He travelled well and jumped brilliantly today and he’s learning all the time,” Nicholls told ITV Racing.

“He just idled in front and I said to Harry if you are going well stride on a bit and try and put the race to bed, but he wishes he had hung on a little longer because he just doesn’t do anything in front.

“He’s basically just learning all the time and he’s a lovely horse and I’m thrilled.

“He will keep on improving and he’s a laid-back horse. We’ve done a lot of work on his jumping and he jumped better today – he didn’t jump that great at Cheltenham. It just comes too easy for him and he’s almost too laid-back. There he’s travelled well, hit the front and thinks he has done enough.

“The best you will see of him is when he jumps a fence next season and he will ultimately get three miles one day, he’s a proper horse.”

On future plans, Nicholls answered: “I will discuss it with Johnny (De La Hay, owner) and I do think soft ground is very important to him.

“If you are talking about Cheltenham and things like that and it was goodish ground you would want to be going three miles (in the Albert Bartlett) and you wouldn’t be afraid of going three miles. If it was testing ground, this sort of trip is ideal, but soft ground is important.

“If you go where Bravemansgame, Stage Star and Hermes Allen are, then he is in that sort of mix and they all ended up being decent chasers and that is where he will be one day.”

Challow Novices' Hurdle
£60,000 guaranteed, 4yo plus, 2m 4f 118y, Class 1
9 ran
Going: Soft

1    Captain Teague 5 11-7 Paul Nicholls Harry Cobden 2/1F
Lookaway 6 11-7 Neil King Jack Quinlan 11/2
nk The Jukebox Man 5 11-7 Ben Pauling Kielan Woods 20/1
hd Johnnywho 6 11-7 Jonjo O'Neill Jonjo O'Neill Jr 13/2
Masaccio 6 11-7 Alan King Tom Cannon 8/1
PU Willmount 5 11-7 2 Nicky Henderson Names Bowen9 /4
PU Farnoge 5 11-7 Paul Nicholls Bryony Frost 20/1

PU Bullets Hill 5 11-7 Ella Pickard Gavin Sheehan 250/1
PU Brave Jen 5 11-0 Nicky Henderson David Bass 150/1