St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase

THE biggest shock of the entire meeting was saved for the final day as 66/1 shot Premier Magic prevailed in what felt like a slow-motion finish to the St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase.

Billaway and Vaucelet, 1-2 in the race last year, dominated the market, but the 2022 winner crashed out roughly halfway through the contest and Vaucelet was safely held in seventh.

Premier Magic, owned by Julian Sherriff, did enough to score by a length and three quarters, delivering the biggest success in Welsh trainer-jockey Bradley Gibbs’ career.

Gibbs said: “The bigger trainers usually rule races like these so this is special. We’re genuine point-to-point people. A good friend of mine from Ireland, Jimmy Kelly, buys all my horses for me and sourced this one for us a few years ago for five grand. He thought this was a right horse who would take us places.”

Irish-trained horses filled three of the first five placings. Its On The Line stayed on resolutely from an unpromising position to claim second, Rocky’s Howya was a shade unlucky to be hampered by a loose horse and dropped to fourth after blazing a trail on the front end, while Chris’s Dream ran creditably in fifth.