MARIE’S Rock (153) completed a double for Nicky Henderson in the Grade 1 Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle with a spritely finish off an even, rather than fast, gallop
Marie’s Rock set her opponents a stiff task at the finish as she covered the ground from the fourth last hurdle in 1m 30.0secs, which was quicker than both Constitution Hill and Honeysuckle. Nicky Henderson’s mare is blessed with a sharp turn of foot and should not be opposed lightly against her own sex on good ground.
As the closing sectionals were good, I would suggest the race as a point of reference for the Grade 1 events for mares at Fairyhouse and Punchestown with Mrs Milner (150) and Echoes In Rain (146) both catching the eye after being caught in the backwash of Indefatigable falling.
Mrs Milner has been lightly campaigned this season and this has to rate a career best despite winning at the Festival last year. Bryan Cooper angled his mount off the rail approaching the third last and she looked full of running.
Unfortunately for the Flemensfirth mare, the manoeuvre saw her meet with severe interference before she gathered stride again to finish powerfully.
Echoes In Rain was given a considerate ride once her chance had been compromised and would also warrant consideration as she came to hand at this time last year with victories at both Irish festivals.
The Boodles Handicap was slowly run and was not a race where it paid to be far away from the pace.
Brazil stays on
Brazil (111+) eventually outstayed the heavily-supported Gaelic Warrior (111+), who may well have prevailed if more proficient at his hurdles.
The closers from the rear of the field were Swinging London (103) and Iberique Du Seuil (103) and are worthy of consideration in a lesser grade.
Edwardstone (150+) produced another polished display of jumping to provide Tom Cannon with his first Cheltenham Festival winner despite not having to run anywhere near his best time figure over fences.
Although the pace looked strong over the first few fences, Cannon described the gallop as even down the back straight which probably contributed to the overall time figure not being that strong.
As has been the case all season, Alan King’s gelding went about his task in a professional manner and his margin of victory underestimates his superiority.
Gabynako (146+) is the only other runner to take from the race as he can be ridden more aggressively over two miles when his jumping, which was suspect at times, can be more of an asset.
THE performance of the day over fences came in the Ultima Chase with Corach Rambler (153) making light of some tardy early jumping to come from last but one to deny Gericault Roque (150) the victory his bold, front-running display deserved.
Lucinda Russell’s gelding was sloppy at the last fence with a circuit to run and looked a forlorn hope, but with Derek Fox humouring the eight-year-old into contention he covered the final circuit just 1.3secs slower than Edwardstone. The most prolific sectional of his victory run was from the third last fence which the Scottish raider covered 0.6secs faster than the Arkle winner.
Already a winner at Aintree earlier in the season, the son of Jeremy would be well suited by the three-mile handicap chase on Grand National day which is often won by a strong stayer.
The National Hunt Chase was run at a respectable pace and produced a reasonable time-figure.
Stattler (143+) was best suited by the run of the race as his superior speed at the finish proved decisive while Run Wild Fred (135+) retains his enthusiasm but needs a much stiffer test of stamina. Perhaps a trip to Aintree may elicit further improvement.