Nicky Henderson lines up Cheltenham Festival for Rather Be after Fakenham victory
PUBLISHED: 18:00 16 February 2018 | UPDATED: 18:01 16 February 2018
Rather Be, for champion trainer Nicky Henderson, is set for the Cheltenham Festival after a facile but impressive victory in the Lycetts Chase at Fakenham.
Sent off 2/7 favourite in a five-runner contest, Rather Be, under Jeremiah McGrath, led from the start to win by 17 lengths.
“I didn’t want to go too steady. I wanted to teach him to jump at speed. He is talented. His next races will probably be at Cheltenham and Aintree so he will have to jump well. He’s still a big baby and lightly-raced, but the stable thinks a lot of him,” said McGrath.
The feature race was a triumph for brothers Tom and Michael Scudamore with 4/1 chance Twenty Eight Guns. Very promising last campaign, the mare seemed to have lost her way, but she returned to form to beat Princeton Royale in an exciting Tim Barclay Memorial Handicap Chase.
“It’s always nice to have a winner but when your brother is the trainer it’s even better,” said Tom, adding that Michael had driven him to the course from their Herefordshire base.
The opener went to Beyeh under Jack Sherwood for Mick Appleby. She came in for good support from 10/1 to 9/2 and was game in holding off Hollywood All Star and favourite Hurricane Rita.
“She went over further last time but this two-mile trip was more suitable. She was gutsy, stuck her neck out and deserved her win,” said Sherwood.
Trainer Olly Murphy made it lucky 13 at the course this season when 10/11 chance Whiskey In The Jar cruised home in the novices’ hurdle. The winner, ridden by Norfolk-based claimer Fergus Gregory, eased down in front to score by nine lengths.
Murphy completed a double when Calipso Collonges won the Lycetts novice hurdle under Johnson, the gelding following up his victory on Saturday at Uttoxeter by beating two rivals by 23 lengths, returned the 1/14 favourite.
Emma Yardley claimed her first winner under rules when 11/4 shot Foxcub won the William Bulwer Long Hunters’ Chase for trainer Ryan Potter. The complexion of the race changed when Pride Of Parish fell and brought down favourite Premier Portrait to decimate the five-runner field.
Johnson complete a double in the finale with his 146th win of the season when he got 5/6 favourite Melekov home for trainer Philip Hobbs, beating Arch My Boy by a head.