Grandturgeon rolls back the years to keep Cheltenham dream alive

Thu 25 Jan 2018

Philip Rowley will be performing his best rain dance in order to fulfil dreams of running Grandturgeon at the Cheltenham Festival following his victory in the Willoughby De Broke Open Hunters' Chase at Warwick.

Despite being in the veteran stage of his career, the 11-year-old made his debut under Rules a winning one when cruising home by six lengths under Alex Edwards in the three-mile event.

Following the race the winner, who has claimed 10 of his 18 point-to-point starts, was introduced at 33-1 for the St James's Place Foxhunter Chase with Paddy Power.

The Bridgnorth handler said of the 11-10 victor: "He is a lovely horse, but everything today was right for him with the weight he was carrying and the ground.

"If everything goes to plan, we will aim for the Walrus at Haydock. The ground and track would suit his way of galloping.

"If he was to get qualified then we would consider the Foxhunter if the ground was soft enough."

A trip to Prestbury Park in March could be under consideration for the Gary Moore-trained Mister Chow (3-1) after he went one better than at Sandown with a three-and a-quarter-length success in the Premier Thoroughbred Racing Juvenile Hurdle.

Winning rider Joshua Moore said; "He ran a good race at Sandown. He was just a bit green and he got let down by his jump at two out. He made a bad mistake at two out today, but he soon come away.

"It would be no surprise if he gets another run that he could probably be a Fred Winter horse. He is a very honest and brave little horse."

Noel Williams ended his 71-day wait for a winner when Sensulano (15-8) gained a first success with a three-length win in the British Stallion Studs EBF Mares' "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle.

He said: "I needed that. It's not that they've not been running well, but it is a while since I've had a winner."

He added: "She deserved that. I thought again she was going to throw it away by running over to the stands rail. She has beaten a 135-rated horse and is fulfilling the promise I hoped she had."

The Artful Cobbler (11-4) initiated a double for trainer Henry Daly after making all to take the Whitson Bloodstock Olly Murphy Racing Handicap Chase by two lengths.

Daly said: "He jumped horribly at Ludlow, but he jumped really nicely today. He clouted the second at Ludlow and probably clouted a joint.

"He is not very fast, but he stays and loves soft/heavy ground. He won't go for anything too grand, but something along those lines (a National-type race). He is a tough little thing."

Stoney Mountain (11-4) completed Daly's brace when claiming the concluding bumper by a length under champion jockey Richard Johnson.

Ride of the day

Despite King Uther making a mistake at the last, Tom Cannon did not let the pressure of hot favourite Crucial Role sitting behind get to him as he steered the Chris Gordon-trained eight-year-old to his first victory of the season.

Quote of the day

After 71 days without a winner Noel Williams, was planning to celebrate with a drink or two.

He said: "I'm going to have a beer now. I think I deserve one after that!"

Performance of the day

The Artful Cobbler is unlikely to be contesting any big prizes but the seven-year-old is starting to get his act together and could well prove a money-spinner over marathon trips on soft ground.

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