By Graham Clark
Page Fuller screamed for joy after celebrating the biggest win of her career aboard Anythingforlove in the Jane Seymour Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown Park.
Having come unstuck in her hat-trick bid upped to Grade Two company in the Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle Haydock Park last month, the Jamie Snowden-trained six year old bounced back to form at the same level.
Victory on her first try over two and a half miles could now prompt an appearance at The Festival™ supporting WellChild at Cheltenham next month.
Despite being faced with a host of challengers on the approach to the last Anythingforlove, an 18/1 chance who is a half-sister to 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John, battled on in tenacious fashion to hold off the hat-trick seeking Sandymount Rose by two and three quarter lengths.
Fuller, who rode out her claim back in October, said: “It meant a lot. It was my first winner at this level. She is a lovely mare and it’s great for a syndicate like Foxtrot Racing to have a horse like her.
“She is a half-sister to Sizing John so we knew she would stay all day and we knew she had every chance here. I was delighted when Gavin (Sheehan) had to go to Fontwell. He asked me at home schooling this morning ‘I bet you are glad Fontwell is on’, and I was like ‘yeah you’re right I am!’, so everything has worked in our favour. She is a lovely mare.
“It was really hard work and I just had to assume today that we were going to stay. I’ve hit the front coming in to two out and I knew I’d hit the front a bit sooner than I had liked, but at the same time in all her races she has won she has looked like she will get swallowed up, two, three furlongs from home but and then just kept motoring, and she heard the other horses coming and just kept picking up all the way to the line.”
Although Anythingforlove had to prove her stamina for the trip, winning handler Snowden was confident that the extra distance would not be an issue for the progressive mare.
He said: “She won a couple of bumpers last season and won twice this season but the step up in trip was going to suit.
“She found two miles in the Rossington Main too sharp for her and we rode her to get some black type that day and we probably rode her wrong over the trip.
“We came here to nick a bit of third and it is always nice to come away with the win. She is hardy, gusty, but she is not very quick but she has got a huge amount of stamina.”
Anythingforlove holds entries in both the Grade One Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle and Grade Two Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival, but the Lambourn trainer will let the dust settle before firming up future plans.
He added: “She certainly won’t be in the two mile novice but Cheltenham is a completely different kettle of fish. We will enjoy today and work out where we go after this. This was always the plan and we will enjoy it and see where we go from there.”
Nick Gifford’s dream of winning the race run here in April in memory of his late father Josh came a step closer with the 5-1 success of Belargus, under Niall Houlihan.
The six-year-old’s resounding nine-length triumph over Grey Diamond in the Elmbridge Handicap Chase has teed him up for what Gifford sees as “limitless options”.
Some of those will be at Cheltenham, or possibly Aintree, but the Sussex trainer hopes owner JP McManus may consider the Josh Gifford Memorial Handicap Chase in April back at Sandown.
“I’ve always loved this horse,” said Gifford.
“He got done for toe at Warwick, and this is the first time he’s got his jumping together. I could see him going up in trip, and he’ll definitely get two and a half miles on good ground.
“He’s going to be under consideration with a whole lot of others (owned by McManus) for the Grand Annual and Brown Advisory Plate – while the Topham is a lovely race for him (as well).
“But the one I’d love to win is the Josh Gifford Memorial – which I came close to winning with Christopher Wren (for McManus seven years ago).
“Realistically we are a tiny cog in the wheel, but romantically I would dearly love to bring him back here.”
Emma Lavelle believes she has an exciting prospect for fences next season in Red Rookie, who cashed in on the final-flight mistake of market rival Pipesmoker to land the Telegraph Hill ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle.
The 5-2 winner eventually prevailed by almost two lengths under Tom Bellamy, from outsider Mister Watson, with favourite Pipesmoker having to settle for third.
Lavelle said: “We love this horse and have felt that since he won two bumpers – but when I took the rug off him at Lingfield (in October) I could see he was fat.
“He came there two out only to weaken through lack of fitness, and then he was poorly.
“After that it took a long time to get him back, but he certainly is now. I was delighted at the way he jumped and travelled on that ground, and can’t wait to go chasing with him next season.”
Lavelle and Bellamy completed a quick double when 5-2 favourite Eclair Surf won the following Littleworth Handicap Chase by three lengths.
David Pipe’s team is in form – and following Umbrigado’s triumph at Wetherby the previous day, Eamon An Cnoic made no mistake in the opening Greenwich Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.
The 100-30 chance came home 20 lengths clear of Will Sting under Fergus Gillard, who said: “My horse travelled really well. He got tired but at the same time won nicely.”
Dan and Harry Skelton combined to land the Kingston Handicap Chase with 11-4 shot No Getaway – who stretched nine-and-a-half lengths clear of Doitforthevillage, with favourite Mister Murchan back in third.Fancy winning a 50" television, a 12-month Racing TV subscription, a Reclining Armchair plus much more? Click here to enter our Ultimate Cheltenham At Home competition!
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