• Horse Racing

Opening Batsman lets fly late on

ESPN staff
February 23, 2013
Ruby Walsh rides Irish Saint in his first win of the day at Kempton Park © Getty Images

Opening Batsman surged up the inside for trainer Harry Fry to deny his former boss's prospect Rolling Aces and win the Racing Plus Chase by two lengths at Kempton Park.

Fry spent four years working for Paul Nicholls and was quick to thank him for what he learned in his employment.

His seven-year-old emerged from a field of seven as they turned for home in the three-mile race but it was Nicholls' horse who looked like taking victory with one fence to go.

Jockey Noel Fehily, aboard Opening Batsman, did not give up the chase however and urged his novice on to victory.

Fry expressed his delight at the win and admitted that he had some thinking to do ahead of Cheltenham.

"Jumping has been the making of him and he hasn't put a foot wrong so far," he said. "He was coming into the race as a novice but he had point-to-point form and that wasn't a worry for me.

"He's got four entries at Cheltenham and we'll have a look when the weights come out but it's all about today for now.

"I wouldn't be here for having spent four fantastic years learning from a fantastic team at Paul Nicholls' and I'll always be grateful."

Nicholls had had two winners going into the 3.50 Racing Plus Chase as Ruby Walsh rode Irish Saint to victory in the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle and Grandioso to a one-length win in the Pendil Novices' Chase.

Irish Saint was the overwhelming favourite but looked in a bit of trouble as they turned for home. Stablemates Vasco Du Ronceray and Courtesy Call were well placed to launch a charge for the winners' post after a slow beginning and middle to the race. But Nicholls' gelding responded as expected to win by half a length from Vasco Du Ronceray, ridden by Barry Geraghty.

Geraghty was also second to Walsh on Grandioso, when he was riding Molotof, but he came through to win in the 3.15 Dovecote Novices' Hurdle on the Nicky Henderson-trained Forgotten Voice.

Brick Red was second ahead of Lac Fontana but both were five lengths adrift of the eight-year-old winner.

"He's gradually getting the hang of learning to settle now," Henderson said. "He's come to jumping a bit late but he's a lovely, classy horse who would jump a fence if you wanted to - but I don't as the owner won't let me."

Midnight Sail won the Handicap Chase over two miles, four furlongs and 110 yards from Lexicon Lad and Milarrow.

The Robert Thornton-ridden ten-year-old came home one and three-quarter lengths clear of his nearest rival.

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