Bradstocks jump to glory with Step Back
Mark and Sara Bradstock, who won the 2015 Gold Cup with Coneygree, proved again that given the right material they can produce the goods when Step Back won the jump season finale Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown yesterday.
With Jamie Moore on board, the eight-year-old, a novice like Coneygree, jumped to the front at the sixth and was never headed thereafter.
Though a pack of horses were breathing down Step Back's neck at the Pond fence, they had used up their gas getting to him and the 7/1 shot stayed on strongly up the hill to beat Rock the Kasbah by 13 lengths - despite Bradstock's fears that it was too soft.
Sixty years after her father John Oaksey won the second running of what was then the Whitbread Gold Cup on Taxidermist, Sara Bradstock said: "We knew he was in great nick but we were concerned about the ground. He's had terrible problems with his muscle enzymes.
"He's a lovely horse who jumps and gallops and we'll aim him at the Grand National next year. We've got no horses [they have 20], but again and again we prove we can do it if we get the horses."
Coneygree, she said, will have one more go next season. "He has those long hind-legs like a grasshopper, but he loves it, so why wouldn't we have another go?" she said.
For Moore, it was scant consolation for what had happened half an hour earlier when his father Gary's Ar Mad fell in the Celebration Chase, breaking his shoulder as well as that of Moore's younger brother Josh.
"He was unexposed, fit and fresh," said Moore of Step Back. "And the Bradstocks have done it before with a novice in a big race. I just had to steer him. But I was very down in the dumps going out to ride. I'm very close to Josh. It's gutting. As soon as they hit the floor I knew both were in trouble. It's nice for me but it's not a great day."
In the event, the Celebration was won by Altior at 2/11, but it was not quite the expected lap of honour and his win by three-and-a-quarter lengths over 33/1 shot San Benedeto was the least impressive of his three wins this season.
Nicky Henderson, who saddled four winners on the day with Top Notch, Call Me Lord and Soul Emotion, put it down to the hard race in the Champion Chase. "It's been a difficult season for him," he explained. "The first thing Nico (de Boinville) said at Cheltenham was that he had a hard race. He can go and have a good summer holiday now."