Sprinter Sacre, the best steeplechaser in training, proved his brilliance once more in the John Smith’s Melling Chase on the second day of the Grand National meeting.
The Nicky Henderson-trained Queen Mother Champion Chase winner stepped up to two and a half miles for the first time and faced classy rivals in Ryanair Chase hero Cue Card and Irish sensation Flemenstar.
Neither the distance nor the opposition fazed Sprinter Sacre in any way. He won comfortably by 41/2 lengths from Cue Card, with Flemenstar a further 19 lengths back, without jockey Barry Geraghty having to do more than let out a few inches of rein.
“He did what we thought he’d do,” said Geraghty. “We’ve come to expect great performances from him and he gave us one.
“He was brilliant. I could have done with them going a little bit quicker – he travelled a bit too well – because I had to take him back a few times and couldn’t really let him use his jumping.
“He’s very manageable and is never one to do anything stupid and tear off with you. He is a real gentleman.”
Scudamore is dynamic on Dynaste
Ride of the day accolades went to Tom Scudamore, who produced Dynaste perfectly to win the John Smith’s Mildmay Novices’ Chase without wasting an ounce of the grey’s energy. Trained by David Pipe, Dynaste quickened clear after a terrific leap at the final fence to beat Third Intention (Joe Tizzard) by six lengths.
“We’ll be dreaming about all the big races next season,” said Pipe.
Double for McCoy
AP McCoy rode a double in JP McManus’ green-and-gold colours, taking The Rose Appeal Supports Alder Hey Top Novices’ Hurdle with odds-on favourite My Tent Or Yours. The Nicky Henderson-trained six-year-old jumped stickily but easily outclassed his three rivals.
He followed up later on Cheltenham Festival winner At Fishers Cross, trained in Pembrokeshire by Rebecca Curtis, in the John Smith’s Sefton Novices’ Hurdle. The smart Oscar gelding will be a force to reckon with in the top three-mile hurdle races next season.
Geraghty and Henderson take the Topham
Nicky Henderson found himself in the winner’s enclosure once more when 14-1 Triolo D’Alene won the John Smith’s Topham Chase over the Grand National fences. The French-bred beat Walkon and Wayne Hutchinson by three-quarters of a length, with the Irish-trained Last Time D’Albain back in third.
“I know we trainers always say getting a horse to the races is a team thing, and so it is every time,” said Henderson. “But with this horse it has all been a humungous effort by everyone at home. He’s not been easy all season, he’s had respiratory problems. But the last week has been a particular nightmare.
“Everything had been going sweetly until he pulled a shoe off last week and stood on it. So he had a sore foot and since then he’s spent his time with his foot in poultices, in ice, in salt, in foot spas, the lot. Everyone worked their socks off with him and it’s a massive thank you to everyone at home.”
Sadly, Little Josh broke a shoulder when falling with Sam Twiston-Davies in the Topham and had to be put down.
And Henderson completed the quartet of victories with Minella Forfitness in the John Smith’s Daily Mirror Punters Club Handicap Hurdle.