Doing Fine reaps Cheltenham reward

Veteran seals deserved success after void ‘victory’ at Sandown.

  • Wednesday 01 January
  • News
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Doing Fine gained compensation for the victory he was denied at Sandown last time – by demonstrating that stamina is his forte in the Markel Insurance Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.

The Neil Mulholland-trained 12-year-old was first past the post in last month’s London National, but the race was declared void because the seven finishing riders failed to heed the yellow stop flag that was being waved because of a stricken horse.

Although turning into the home straight in third, the 11-2 shot saw his stamina reserves kick in to defeat course winner Cogry by four and a half lengths.

Mulholland said: “I’ve heard the word justice about 10 times in the last two minutes – it’s a very popular word.

“It is great for the horse and the Neil Mulholland Racing Club – and particularly good for Philip Donovan, who is attached to the yard as a 7lb claimer.

“He is a good lad and he deserved that. He took it again today, which is great. This horse is 12, and he gets a good tune out of him.

“He is a horse that is in good form – he is in the right frame of mind and is jumping well and seems to be in a good place.

“I think he will be better on better ground. He finished fourth in the Scottish National before – and if he could scrape into that, there is a chance he could go back for that.”

Imperial Alcazar returned to winning ways when he was awarded the Listed Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, following a lengthy stewards’ inquiry.

Having initially finished second under Paddy Brennan behind Protektorat, the Fergal O’Brien-trained six-year-old was placed first as stewards ruled that interference shortly after the last hurdle had cost the 3-1 shot his chance of getting home in front.

O’Brien said: “I was delighted with the way the horse ran, and I’m not going to focus on the stewards’ inquiry. I love the way he jumped the last. He put his head down -he had to go around him and go and battle, but that is the way it is.

“We might try to get a Pertemps qualifier along the way, and go for that. We’ve a long way to go, though, and we will enjoy today.”

John Hales, part owner of the Dan Skelton-trained runner-up, indicated a plan to appeal against the result – describing the decision as the strangest he had ever seen.

Hales said: “Paddy never had to stop riding (on Imperial Alcazar). He never slowed down. He was never handicapped in any way as a result of what happened.

“Had he been, fair enough – but he wasn’t and galloped all the way from the last hurdle to the finish line. If that cross hadn’t have happened, the result would have been the same. We will probably appeal (against) that.

“That is the strangest one I’ve experienced since I’ve been in racing.”

Skandiburg lifted the spirits of owner Andrew Brooks when securing a tenacious success in the Paddy Power 69 Sleeps To Cheltenham Handicap Hurdle.

Saint Calvados was beaten a nose in the Grade Three chase in Brooks’ colours, but the Olly Murphy-trained Skandiburg ensured the owner did not go home empty handed.

Brooks said: “The lows are profound and the highs, you just take them when they are here as you don’t get them very often, so enjoy every moment.

“He went on and off the bridle the whole way round, but I knew he would stay up the hill so I’m absolutely delighted.”

The Pertemps Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival is next on the agenda for Skandiburg, who initiated a double for rider Gavin Sheehan, according to the winning trainer.

He added: “He never travelled from the word go and in fairness to Gavin, he kept nudging and urging along and never went for his stick – he was a good winner in the end.

“I will freshen him up now and I would say he won’t be far away with a clear run round. He is a horse that will thrive in a big-runner handicap.”

Warren Greatrex had nothing but praise for Sheehan after Audacity survived a stewards’ inquiry to win by a neck in the Listed National Hunt Flat Race.

Greatrex said of the 16-1 winner: “He has run a bit green the last twice and we thought it might be because of the horses around him, so we thought we would buck him out the gate and let him roll.

“I don’t care what anyone says, he (Sheehan) is the best rider in a bumper from the front. He is head and shoulders above everybody. From turning in, it was going to take a good one to pass him.”

Doing Fine reaps Cheltenham reward
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