- Horse Racing
Slick Silviniaco bags Charlie Hall Chase pot
Silviniaco Conti advertised his Gold Cup claims with a hugely impressive success in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.
Trainer Paul Nicholls has always held the gelding in high regard and he justified the faith with a blistering display in the hands of Ruby Walsh.
Planet Of Sound and Midnight Chase set a steady gallop, which allowed Walsh to settle his charge towards the rear of the field. Silviniaco Conti jumped economically and well and all the field were in with a chance leaving the back straight. That was where the only moment of alarm came for Silviniaco Conti supporters, as he was squeezed out between Wayward Prince and Time For Rupert. This shuffled the favourite to the back of the pack, but Walsh did not panic as he had plenty of horse left to play.
Wayward Prince struck on with four to jump, but he was tracked through by Silviniaco Conti. Walsh sat still going to the second last and it was only between the final two fences that he let out an inch of rein. The response was immediate and impressive, with Silviniaco Conti producing a fine leap before bounding away for an easy win.
The enigmatic Tidal Bay was on a going day as he grabbed the John Smith's West Yorkshire Hurdle under a supreme ride from Walsh. Tidal Bay was best in on official ratings and he rewarded those who kept the faith. He was nursed through the race by Walsh before engaging battle with Crack Away Jack up the Wetherby straight. Crack Away Jack held a two-length lead at the second last but Walsh engaged overdrive heading to the final flight and Tidal Bay was just about on level terms when a mistake from Crack Away Jack sealed his fate.
Barry Geraghty was seen at his brilliant best to lift Hadrian's Approach to victory in the Ascot Underwriting Beginners' Chase. Nicky Henderson's charge was not overly fluent at many of his fences and looked like dropping out following a blunder two from home, but Geraghty galvanised his mount and got a fine jump at the last. Hadrian's Approach was three lengths down after the last, but Geraghty got his mount to run on and the 7/4 favourite nabbed The Druids Nephew right on the line.
Henderson bagged the big pot on the Ascot card, as Roberto Goldback scored on his first start for the trainer in the United House Gold Cup Handicap Chase. It was an incident-packed race - with favourite Ace High pulling up after a series of mistakes and a host of other runners blundering away their chances. But Geraghty kept Roberto Goldback and he strode away up the straight to land the prize with ease.
The fine form of the Alan King yard continued with the game victory of Raya Star in the William Hill Priority Prices Handicap Hurdle. Wayne Hutchinson held his mount up off a ferocious gallop and it paid off as he produced his mount at the last and he held off the challenge of It's A Gimme.
Henderson got a winner on the board at Wetherby, as Une Artiste landed the OLBG.com Mares' Hurdle. The mare was not on her best behaviour when last seen, when refusing to race, but there were no troubles on this occasion and she stuck on well to deny last year's winner Alasi.
Just a couple of days after the retirement of his half brother Kauto Star, Kauto Stone took the step up to three miles in his stride with a game win in the Grade One Jnwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal. Kauto Stone was a winner on the card 12 months ago, over half a mile shorter, and he battled on well after travelling with elan to deny the front-running First Lieutenant to hand Paul Nicholls another win in the race.
Nicholls and jockey Daryl Jacob doubled up as Cristal Bonus took the Ladbrokes Chase. Nicholls was landing the race for the fifth time on the spin, with Cristal Bonus staying on well to master the favourite Bog Warrior who was a beaten horse when tumbling at the last.