Monday 19 February 2018

Consistent Somersby earns his reward at last

Neil Morrice

Somersby finally gained the big victory his consistent efforts deserved when wearing down Finian's Rainbow in the 25th Anniversary of the Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot yesterday.

Narrowly denied in the race 12 months ago, Henrietta Knight's stable star again looked booked for the runner-up spot when Finian's Rainbow jumped clear at the last.

However, the first-time cheek pieces appeared to work their magic for Somersby (9/2) as Dominic Elsworth's mount found plenty to win by a length and a quarter. The novice Al Ferof was a creditable third, with Tom Cooper's raider Forpadydeplasterer in fourth.

"He's been a bit of a bridesmaid, but he's done it nicely," said Elsworth. "I always knew he was going to stay on towards the end."

Gauvain and Forpadydeplasterer provided the pace but Gauvain took a crashing fall at the last fence in the back straight. Al Ferof found things happening a little bit too quickly, and was the first of the big guns under pressure.

Barry Geraghty looked confident entering the straight and had yet to ask Finian's Rainbow a serious question. But Somersby showed a tenacity perhaps not previously witnessed to provide Knight with a route back into the big time -- and Elsworth with his first Grade One success. Al Ferof did his Arkle claims no harm, while Wishfull Thinking never figured.

At Haydock, According To Pete advertised his Grand National claims with victory in the Peter Marsh Chase. Following up his success in the Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby, Malcolm Jefferson's 11-year-old continues to be in the form of his life.

The other honours at the venue belonged to trainer Donald McCain, who reached 100 winners for the season with a 35/1 four-timer.

And Celestial Halo (6/5 favourite) came out on top in a thrilling race with Desert Cry for the StanJames.com Champion Hurdle Trial.

At home, Mikael D'Haguenet's win at odds of 2/9 in the Limestone Lad Hurdle headlined a treble for Willie Mullins at Naas.

The eight-year-old gelding sauntered into the lead after two out, and Paul Townend hardly had to move a muscle on the run-in as his mount cruised home seven lengths clear of Rick (8/1) to see his World Hurdle odds cut.

Mullins also saddled Marasonnien (4/7) and Midnight Game (7/4) to victory.

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