Sunday 16 December 2018

Lalor scores poignant Cheltenham victory

Lalor transferred all his ability from hurdles to fences as he jumped with great accuracy to run out a seven-length winner. Stock photo: Getty Images
Lalor transferred all his ability from hurdles to fences as he jumped with great accuracy to run out a seven-length winner. Stock photo: Getty Images

Martin Kelly

Lalor was a heartening and hugely promising winner on his debut over fences in the Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial Novices' Chase at Cheltenham yesterday.

Kayley Woollacott's six-year-old stable star transferred all his ability from hurdles to fences as he jumped with great accuracy to run out a seven-length winner from Dynamite Dollars.

Champion jockey Richard Johnson allowed Lalor to bide his time in a select field of five, as favourite Claimantakinforgan and then Pingshou made much of the early running in the two-mile Grade Two contest. But Lalor took over three out and then stayed on emphatically.

The winning trainer took over from her husband, Richard, after he died in January and on the gelding's second subsequent run he won the Grade One Top Novices' Hurdle at Aintree.

"It was just amazing - it's the perfect start (over fences)," said Woollacott. "Richard (Johnson) said he was a little bit brave over the first, and he looked a little novicey over a couple, but he really took to it quick, and his jumping was slick."

Her late husband had overseen Lalor's early development and she added: "It was his favourite horse and he said he would be the best thing we ever get our hands on and it is great the owners still have him with me."

Sceau Royal, who missed last season's festivals with a hint of a suspensory ligament injury, won the Shloer Chase, beating old stager Simply Ned by two-and-a-quarter lengths.

Brian Ellison won the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle with the lightly-weighted Nietzsche, who, with 18-year-old 7lb claimer Danny McMenamin on board, only had 9st 7lb on his back.

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