Virgin Bet Scilly Isles Novices' Chase
Grade 1, Sandown 14.35
£100,000 guaranteed, 5yo plus,
2m 4f 10y, Class 1  
Saturday 3rd February 2024

Horses 468x60 Jpg

1 Nickle Back 10/1
2 Djelo 13/2
3 Colonel Harry 7/1
5 ran Distances: 7l, 22l, 6½l
Time: 5m 11.00s (slow by 9.00s)

Nickle Back secured a notable first Grade 1 triumph for trainer Sarah Humphreys and jockey James Best.

The Esher venue was anticipated to be well-suited for the eight-year-old, who led from start to finish.

Opening up a substantial 15-length advantage early on the far side, Nickle Back maintained a significant portion of that lead approaching the Railway Fences.

Negotiating the final fence of the trio with precision, he emerged from the turn into the straight, leaving rivals struggling. Hermes Allen, the odds-on favourite who had previously defeated Nickle Back at Newbury in December, was in pursuit but suffered a tragically fatal fall at the second last.

This mishap left Djelo in second place, narrowing the gap, but he remained seven lengths behind as acknowledged the Sandown crowd with a salute.


“I just cannot believe it,” Best told ITV Racing. “As a small child growing up, you watch these races on the television on a Saturday and you dream of becoming a jockey and winning races like this.

“A massive thank you to Sarah and all the team, I’m just gobsmacked, as I was when winning on him in his first chase at Warwick.

“For them to put their faith in me on this wonderful horse, it means so much and I just can’t believe it.

“He was a bit brave early on and that kind of twisted my arm second time down the back – for goodness sake, just go with him!

“He loves galloping and he loves jumping, so just get a breather when I could.

“Congratulations to Sarah, as she has done a wonderful job with this horse, who is quite fragile and not easy to train.”

Trainers Quotes

Co-owner Ged Mason paid tribute to Hermes Allen, who he shared with Sir Alex Ferguson, John Hales and John Diver.

Mason posted on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Blessed to have had Hermes. Gone too soon.

“To all the team at Ditcheat, who gave so much care and love to our fella, massive thank you on behalf of all our owners – gutted is (an) understatement.”


Virgin Bet Scilly Isles Novices' Chase
£100,000 guaranteed, 5yo plus, 2m 4f 10y, Class 1
5 ran
Going: Good, Good to Soft places

1    Nickle Back 8 11-7 Sarah Humphrey James Best 10/1
7 Djelo 6 11-7 Venetia Williams Charlie Deutsch 13/2
3 22 Colonel Harry 7 11-7 Jamie Snowden Gavin Sheehan 7/1
Le Patron 6 11-7 Gary Moore David Noonan 13/2
FELL Hermes Allen 7 11-7 Paul Nicholls Harry Cobden 8/13F