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James Bowen does it again as Jenkins collects big Ascot prize

Sat 20 Jan 2018

Leading conditional James Bowen enjoyed a big-race success for the third Saturday in a row when steering Jenkins home in the Ascot Spring Garden Show Holloway's Handicap Hurdle.

After taking the Welsh National on Raz De Maree and the Lanzarote Hurdle on William Henry, Bowen notched up win number 40 to enable him to lose his 5lb claim.

Bowen always had Jenkins (5-1) close to the pace set by Caid Du Lin and Night Of Sin before setting sail for home from four out.

Nicky Henderson's runner kept up the gallop to score by two and a quarter lengths from Air Horse One. The winner's stablemate Burbank was two lengths further away in third.

Henderson said: "They (blinkers) were the catalyst last time. They had him tanking a bit today over that trip.

"I thought he was doing too much the whole way and I thought he will have to be a very good horse to keep this up. They were racing from miles out.

"The pleasing horse I got out of the race was Burbank, as he has got his spark back again at last.

"I don't know what we do now. He is due to go up 11lb with a penalty. There was something missing as we know what ability he has got.

"We are riding him rather differently, but there was no pace at Kempton so that is why we made the running. It is brave to ask him to come back.

"I hate coming back seven days later as you never know what it has done to them, but Dave Fehily who rides him said all week he felt great. James had a sit on him yesterday and there we go."

Of Bowen, Henderson said: "That is the end of his 5lb claim but he gets three days grace but I've got no runners Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, so that is the end of that game. It was good while it lasted."

Drumcliff made it two from two over fences with a decisive victory in the Thames Material Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase.

The Harry Fry-trained seven-year-old backed up his last-time-out success at Wincanton after carrying rider Aine O'Connor to the front in the two-mile-three-furlong event with considerable ease before clearing right away to cross the line 12 lengths ahead of runner-up Russborough.

Fry said of the 11-4 winner: "He is making up for all the mishaps over hurdles. I've never known a rider so apologetic after winning a race - the winning margin might have had something to do with it. She gave him a lovely ride and he has taken her there.

"The trip was perfect today. The ground was possibly a question mark, but you can't fault him today.

"It was a case of the others disappointing rather than us improving as far as the handicapper is concerned."

Fry and Noel Fehily both made it doubles for the day as Acting Lass landed the bet365 Handicap Chase.

Sent off the 7-4 favourite, Acting Lass was clear coming to the third-last but he pecked on landing, allowing Kilcrea Vale to set out in pursuit on the turn for home.

The favourite's lead was cut to just a handful of lengths coming down to the final obstacle, but Acting Lass found plenty on the run to the line to win by two and a quarter lengths.

Fry said: "This was never the plan. At the entry stage I rang the owners up and said that he had come out the race in good order and it didn't have many entries.

"It was more valuable than most class one races and the more I looked at it and how he was at home, we had to take our chance.

"It didn't look like happening for three-quarters of a circuit. Noel's plan was to take it up at the last, but hitting the front at the last down the back straight is a bit different."

Fehily also took the mares' hurdle on the impressive La Bague Au Roi.

Nayati maintained his unbeaten record for Alan King when running out a fortunate winner of the Horse Comes First Juvenile Hurdle.

Looking booked for third at best, the 8-11 favourite took full advantage of a last-flight fall for likely winner Et Moi Alors, who brought down long-time leader Harmonise in the process, before getting up on the line to beat Oistrakh Le Noir by a neck.

Ollie Wardle, assistant trainer, said: "He was a very fortunate winner and he might have run well to finish third if the other two stood up. In all fairness, he knuckled down to get to the line. He will be a better horse when he runs on better ground.

"He made the mistake mid-race and that stopped him in his tracks. He is not a speed horse and is more of a galloping type. We will have to step him up now into deeper water to see what we really have."

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