SPORTING INDEX HANDICAP CHASE
1st (8) Native Jack 7-2 Jt
NATIVE JACK A FESTIVAL FIRST FOR ROTHWELL
This week has proved a week of firsts for Irish trainer Philip Rothwell. After the birth of his first child, daughter Kara, on Sunday morning, the 27-year-old enjoyed his first Festival success when Native Jack landed the Sporting Index Cross Country Handicap Case.
It looked as if the cross country specialist Spot Thedifference would win the race for the second year in succession, but a sustained duel after the last saw Native Jack prevail by two lengths, giving jockey Davy Russell his first Festival victory.
Rothwell commented: “This week has seen the birth of my first child and my Festival winner. Hopefully, there is more to come - Festival winners that is!
“The plan today was to drop him in behind and then come late, and that has come off perfectly, I’m also delighted with the way he has jumped.
“This race has always been the plan for him. He’s owned by a syndicate of four owners who each took a share when I telephoned them.
“He will now go for the La Touche Cup at Punchestown next month, where I hear there is a very nice bonus on offer (50,000 Euros). I had thought I might run him over the National fences in the Topham Trophy but I think we will now be going to Punchestown.
“John Cullen usually rides him and would have done today had he not been injured. He will probably be back on him at Punchestown. Davy has given him a superb ride today though - he and I go back a long way and were at college together.”
MORE QUOTES - SPORTING INDEX HANDICAP CHASE - NATIVE JACK
PHILIP ROTHWELL (TRAINER)
THE DIFFERENCE IS HE WAS ONLY SECOND
The Enda Bolger-trained Spot Thedifference, who won the inaugural Sporting Index Handicap Chase in 2005, ran a brave race when attempting to defend his title, but had to settle for runner-up spot.
He finished second to Native Jack, but kept his stablemate, Buailtes And Fadas, back in third. Another member of Bolger’s stable, Good Step, who started 7-2 joint-favourite with the winner, was sixth.
Bolger said: “Spot has run a wonderful race - I’m more than happy to take the winner on again in the La Touche Cup [at the Punchestown Festival] because we’ll meet on level terms there. We were trying to give him 18lb here.
“Buailtes And Fadas will go for that race as well. Nina [Carberry] said he just didn’t like the tacky ground. He travelled well and was close enough on the final turn, but didn’t find much.”
Bolger said he had no explanation for Good Step’s effort, but said there were no plans to retire 13-year-old Spot Thedifference. “We’ve not talked about that, but when he runs as well as that why should we? He obviously still enjoys the job.”
SPORTING INDEX HANDICAP CHASE
1 NATIVE JACK (IRE) (Mrs J Rothwell) Philip Rothwell IRE 12-10-08 Davy
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