Two familiar faces made a welcome return to the winner’s enclosure at Sandown after Le Reve provided Lance Bombardier Jody Sole with a third success in the Grand Military Gold Cup.
Having claimed the race in 2011 and 2013, former King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery member Sole completed his hat-trick when steering the Lucy Wadham-trained 11-year-old to his fourth victory at the track with an eased-down 13-length success in the three-mile prize.
Sole said: “It has been a few years since I’ve won it, but I’ve been there or thereabouts.
“Watching his previous run, when he won the Surrey National (at Lingfield), which was over three-miles-five on heavy ground, going down the back straight I just tried to out-gallop them a little bit.”
As for Wadham, her tears of joy from Lingfield were replaced with a beaming smile after her stable stalwart gained his second success since returning from a fractured neck sustained in a fall at Cheltenham in November 2016.
She said of the 7-2 winner: “It has been a long road getting him back. We knew this season his work at home had been good, but he hadn’t shown it on track. We just needed to get his confidence back jumping.
“Pat (Betts, owner) said he would like to run him in the Grand Military, but I said I don’t want to go back to Sandown until his jumping is better, then Lingfield happened.
“He is a stable favourite, as we have had him since he was three. He has been an amazing horse.”
Captain Guy Disney now boasts a full complement of victories in military races at the Esher course, settling a personal score with Shanroe Tic Tec when taking the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Memorial Amateur Riders’ Handicap Hurdle by a head.
Disney said of the 10-1 winner: “That horse has decked me more than anything in my life. I’ve fallen off him twice in point-to-points. He is the quirkiest thing I’ve ever ridden in my life.
“I said to Ben (Pauling, trainer) what do you think as he had shown ability and for some reason it has just worked out. It is probably the most satisfying winner I’ve had in a while.”
Victory for the seven-year-old, which was his first under rules, was equally as satisfying for Pauling.
He said: “Guy has been a great buddy of mine for about 25 years. He is a fabulous man and an inspiration to a lot of people. I’m just chuffed to pieces I’ve managed to train one for him to win on.”
Owner Thomas Barr may not have to travel too far to watch Precious Cargo (1-2) run next time following his eight-length success in the Spectra Group “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle.
Trainer Nicky Henderson said: “He will be nice over a fence next season. He is like a big bruiser and is only learning at the moment. He is just a chaser messing around in hurdles for the time being.
“We might go to Ayr now. Instead of Thomas coming down from Scotland to England we might take the horse up to Scotland.
“He wants a truly-run two miles, because he is strong not slow.”