Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)
LET down by his jumping – particularly at the ditches – when runner-up in the Brown Advisory at Cheltenham, Ahoy Senor (Lucinda Russell/Derek Fox) turned the tables on L’Homme Presse due to a round of jumping which was not without blemish, but much improved. With both L’Homme Presse and Bravemansgame running below form, it was Fort Leney winner Fury Road (Noel Meade/Jack Kennedy) who was left to chase home the 4/1 winner, at a margin of five lengths.
Ahoy Senor led throughout and, although he found the turns tight enough for him, he showed that he had learned from Cheltenham, jumping well when seeing a stride, and quicker through the air when getting in close, with a tendency to adjust to the right not affecting his momentum.
Fury Road travelled well held up, and he was full of running at the penultimate fence, but the winner was fully warmed up and full of confidence at that stage, and produced two of his best jumps to put the matter beyond doubt.
Bravemansgame surprisingly failed to gain ground at his fences here, and weakened before the question of his stamina for a testing three miles was answered. He’s better than he showed here, but is more precocious than the winner, and appeals less as a likely Cheltenham Gold Cup winner next year.
L’Homme Presse simply never looked as happy as he did at Cheltenham. He may not have enjoyed the ground, with Venetia Williams warning that he might be withdrawn on genuinely good ground, and it remains to be seen whether this was one race too many, or merely that he needs softer ground and/or a stiffer track.
Winning trainer Lucinda Russell said: “At Cheltenham he actually learnt what he was supposed to be doing, and he just showed it today. This is a fantastic way to end his novice season. When he goes left-handed he jumps slightly right, and when he went right-handed he jumped slightly left, so it’s just his way of sorting things out for himself. He’s got so much power, you see the way he jumped the last fence.
“Derek knows him inside out and rides him all the time at home. He’s already planned out this horse’s season - you can guess, but it will end up with the Gold Cup.”