Virgin Bet Scilly Isles Novices' Chase
Grade 1, Sandown 14.20
£80,000 guaranteed, 5yo plus,
2m 4f 10y, Class 1  
Saturday 4th February 2023

Horses 468x60 Jpg

1 Gerri Colombe 10/11F
2 Balco Coastal 5/1
3 Thunder Rock 11/2
5 ran Distances: 1¾l, 3¾l, 21l
Time: 5m 11.30s (slow by 9.30s)

Gordon Elliott’s Gerri Colombe arrived at the Esher track unbeaten, having won two bumpers, a pair of hurdles and two chases, the last of which came in the Grade One Guinness Faugheen Chase at Limerick over Christmas.

Sent off the 10-11 favourite under Jordan Gainford, the seven-year-old looked to be cruising behind Balco Coastal before taking it up down the back on the final circuit.

However, he got in tight at the last of the Railway fences and briefly lost momentum.

It handed the advantage to Nicky Henderson’s runner and jockey Nico de Boinville kicked for home.

At the Pond Fence, Gerri Colombe still had a bit to do and looked laboured, yet Gainford galvanised him and he responded to his rider’s urging and having gone upsides between the last two fences, a good leap at the last sealed the deal and he strode up the hill to score by a length and three-quarters.

Thunder Rock, who had been patiently ridden at the back of the field throughout much of the two-and-a-half-mile contest, made some late gains to finish third.


“We were delighted. We knew we’d be taking a risk going over two and half miles,” Elliott, who was at Leopardstown, told Racing TV.

“In fairness to the horse, he looked like he was beaten three out, but he stayed galloping really well. It was a good performance, we’re delighted with him.

“We were a bit worried that the ground was not as deep as it usually is, but Jordan went over and walked the track this morning. We knew it wasn’t as soft as ideal, but we knew we had to take our chances, being a Grade One.”

QuinnBet were impressed by the performance and cut Gerri Colombe to 4-1 favourite from 10-1 for the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Elliott added: “Before today I was thinking trying to qualify him for the National Hunt Chase. It looks like we are going to be tight for that now, but he looks made for the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase doesn’t he? So I would say that’s where we’ll go.”

Owner Brian Acheson said: “He made a little mistake at the last of the Railway fences and he just got a little bit tight, but then Jordan got him back. It is great when you have got a kid like Jordan on as you have huge confidence in the jockey. It is a Grade One and you don’t win them that easily. 

“I’d be looking at next season with him and if Gordon doesn’t want to go to Cheltenham I’ve no issue with that. Cheltenham is very hard on novice chasers. Next season he could be a Gold Cup horse

“This has taken the National Hunt Chase out of the equation and it is the Brown Advisory or nothing. He hasn’t run an awful lot as Gordon had it in his head he could be a Gold Cup horse, but we have to keep him sound.”


Virgin Bet Scilly Isles Novices' Chase
£80,000 guaranteed, 5yo plus, 2m 4f 10y, Class 1
5 ran
Going: Good to Soft, Good in places

1      Gerri Colombe 7 11-7 Gordon Elliott Jordan Gainford 10/11F
Balco Coastal 7 11-7 Nicky Henderson Nico de Boinville 5/1
Thunder Rock 7 11-7 Olly Murphy A P Heskin 11/2
21 Monmiral 6 11-7 Paul Nicholls Harry Cobden 100/30
Bowtogreatness 7 11-7 Ben Pauling Kielan Woods 33/1