Captain takes no prisoners in march on Cheltenham
IT'S next stop Cheltenham for Captain Cee Bee, which bounced back impressively from his last-fence fall at Leopardstown on Saturday when claiming the Opera Hat Novice Chase at Naas in impressive fashion.
Paddy Power cut Eddie Harty's charge to 3/1 favourite from 4/1 for the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy.
There was one anxious moment as the 4/11 hotshot made a slight mistake at the last before Mark Walsh got him on an even keel to waltz away on the run-in. The nine-year-old, owned by JP McManus, tracked pace-setting Fosters Cross until going on before the second last and winning by 13 lengths.
"That was good. In military terms, that was the minefield that had to be crossed before the war," Harty said. "He jumped well, he missed the last again but that doesn't worry me as he jumped well up until then.
"I can't see Tony McCoy wanting to get off him, so he'll be in the plate at Cheltenham. If it was good ground at Cheltenham I'd be thrilled because I think he handles that (heavy) and he just gets away with it."
There was a notable Irish success at Musselburgh yesterday when Gordon Elliott's Carlito Brigante recorded a bloodless victory in the Scottish Triumph Hurdle.
Winner of a Grade Two at Leopardstown on St Stephen's Day, the evens favourite made his move two out for Jason Maguire and after kicking on at the last, the result was never in doubt. He pulled six lengths clear of Ultimate and is now 10/1 from 12s for the JCB Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham.
"He will definitely go to Cheltenham, which will suit him a lot better as Musselburgh is a bit tight for him. He is a very good horse," said Elliott.
Irish eyes were also smiling at Doncaster on Saturday when Jessica Harrington's Zarinava finished strongly to land the Grade Two Mares' Hurdle in the hands of Paul Moloney. The 7/1 chance was the lesser fancied of two runners for Harrington, who also saddled the favourite Give It Time.
Moloney settled his grey mare towards the rear for much of the contest but began to creep into the race as the field straightened up for home. Nicky Henderson's My Petra led the field to the third last but Zarinava was still going well enough and, once the gap came, she quickened up well to score by a length and a half.
"She came back after an injury at Leopardstown over Christmas over two and a half miles and Denis O'Regan thought she didn't quite get the trip," Harrington said. "She came over here last week but had to go back home as the meeting was abandoned and then she's come back today. I was thrilled with her.
"She's been placed in Listed and Graded races. I don't know what we'll do with her now, but maybe she could go for the mares' race at Cheltenham or a handicap."