Tuesday 19 March 2019

Mr Antolini survives enquiry to take Cup

Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies. Photo: Getty Images
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies. Photo: Getty Images

Graham Clark

Mr Antolini won a close verdict over Call Me Lord both in the race and in a stewards' inquiry for the Matchbook Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle at Sandown.

The former, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, was first past the post by a neck from the Nicky Henderson-trained top weight following a gripping duel.

But that was not the end of the drama as the stewards called an inquiry as the leading pair got very close in the last few yards. However, the result was allowed to stand.

Castafiore and Shanroe Saint cut out the running and many horses had chances as they turned for home with two hurdles to jump.

Call Me Lord, ridden by Daryl Jacob, made smooth progress on the far rail to make his bid, while Mr Antolini (20/1) was more towards the centre.

The pair had the race to themselves from the last as they pulled clear of the remainder, headed by 100/30 favourite Whatswrongwithyou.

Jamie Bargary drove Mr Antolini to the front and the protagonists came together in the closing stages, prompting an inquiry. "They were very weary horses on this ground," said Bargary, who picked up a three-day suspension for careless riding.

"I came over to Daryl for company as my horse was idling. He winged the last and the whole time after the last my horse is just idling. We got close and I just kept him going. I don't know if there was any contact. It felt like I left him enough room if he had the horse to go there.

"He's done it really well and he's travelled like the best horse. All I had to do was steer him round. It's hard going out there, but he's really dug deep for me."

"We are not in at Cheltenham with this one," added Twiston-Davies, "as he was too lowly rated to get in. We will look at another run, maybe Aintree or something like that."

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