William Hill Towton Novices’ Chase
Grade 2 Handicap, Wetherby 14:30
£45,000 guaranteed,
5yo plus,
3m 45y, Class 1   
Saturday 5th February 2022

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1 Ahoy Senor 8/11F
2 Noble Yeats 22/1
3 Ashtown Lad 10/1
4 ran Distances: 5½l, 1½l, 17l
Time: 6m 19.70s (slow by 15.70s)

Lucinda Russell’s stable star Ahoy Senor regains the winning thread with a comfortable victory.

A Grade 1-winning novice hurdler last season, he had to settle for second behind Bravemansgame in the Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day but he returned to winning ways in style at Wetherby, always looking in command at the head of affairs.

The 8/11 favourite scored by five and a half lengths under Derek Fox and was chased home by Irish raider Noble Yeats, who ran on well without ever threatening the impressive winner.

Lucinda Russell's stable star was cut to a top price of 7/1 (from 8/1) for the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, but is as short as 9/2 in places. He also holds an entry in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, for which he is a top price of 33/1.

This was Ahoy Senor's second Grade 2 success of the campaign having also landed the John Francome Novices' Chase by 31 lengths at Newbury in November.

Trainers Quotes

“It’s brilliant, I’m glad we went to Kempton,” Russell said to Racing TV.

“I know we got beaten, but I saw a few things there about his jumping that I think we’ve managed to sort out.

“He was just getting sucked to the bottom of his fences a bit – rather than taking that long stride and being bold enough he was just chipping in and getting a bit tight.

“We did some stuff in the school, it’s so Pony Club but it does work. I think that helped him and Derek was full of confidence today. He’s a fantastic jockey and I’m just delighted that he’s riding him.

“I think a return to a galloping track like this has really suited him, but he’s just a lovely horse and to be creating something like this is just fantastic.

“He just has that ability to surge into the fences, I think he jumped the ditches really well, they’re just backing him off a bit and he needs these bigger fences to back him off.”

The Cheltenham Festival is next on the agenda for the seven-year-old, but Russell is yet to decide on a specific target as both novice and open company avenues are available to him.

“He’ll just go straight there, I don’t know if he’ll go for the Brown Advisory or he’ll go for the Gold Cup,” she said.

“I would suspect, if the trainer has her way, he’ll go for the Brown Advisory, but I’ll go speak to the owners, speak to my assistant, Scu (Peter Scudamore), and speak to Derek too and see what he thinks.

“He is a novice and he’s still learning, what you saw at Kempton is that he’s not the finished product. I’d like to think that this time next year we’ll have a really exciting horse – we do already.”

William Hill Towton Novices' Chase (Grade 2)
£45,000 guaranteed, 5yo plus, 3m 45y, Class 1
4 ran
Going: Good

1     Ahoy Senor 7 11-5 Lucinda Russell Derek Fox 8/11F
Noble Yeats 7 11-0 Emmet Mullins Alain Cawley 22/1
Ashtown Lad 8 11-0 Dan Skelton Harry Skelton 10/1
17 Saint Palais 5 10-8 Richard J Bandey Harry Bannister 7/4