Bradley Gibbs took centre stage once again at Cheltenham on Friday during HQ's season swansong for the Hunters' evening fixture. Premier Magic, successful in the St James' Place Cheltenham Foxhunter, returned to the scene of his greatest triumph for an assured 17l victory over Rebel Dawn Rising in the Ienos Grenadier Final.
The race turned into a match from 4 out with David Kemp's Rebel Dawn Rising, whose win in a Garthorpe qualifier for this £10,000 Final has been interspersed with BD and UR figures. In truth, Premier Magic always had the upper hand and had the race won before the last.
For good measure, Gibbs added to his score in the opening John Wyke aka Mr Guinness Memorial Hunters Chase over 2m with Fier Jaguen, last seen leading the field in the Aintree Foxhunter, where he unseated Gibbs at the seventh. Fier Jaguen came here with a mighty reputation on the back of wins at Chaddesley, Revesby Park and Ston Easton, but his jumping left much to be desired over these stiffer obstacles. Although blessed with a turn of foot, he looks something of a tricky ride.
David Kemp didn't head back to the east of England empty-handed however, as Law of Gold went one better than his second in this race 12 months previously to win the four miler. This attritional race always attracts a large field, but it needs to. Of the 12 starts, just 4 finished. Law of Gold is a model of consistency, with three victories from his last 7 runs, the other four efforts being runner-up. He sensibly avoided the Foxhunter here a month ago, and that decision was vindicated. He looks a likely candidate for the Stratford Foxhunter in 3 weeks' time.
Another with sound claims to Stratford is Quintin's Man, who stayed on resolutely to pass several others and win the Lycetts Insurance Brokers Intermediate Chase under Darren Andrews for John Heard. The John Corbett Cup, the season's highest accoldae for novices, is a potential target.
Champion Point-to-Point trainer Tom Ellis has carried all befor him this season, reaching a personal career best. Winning at Cheltenham however still means plenty, and Fairly Famous put him and rider Gina Andrews in the winner's enclosure with a ready 15l winner over locally-trained Marcle Ridge in the 3m2f Kdta Hunters Chase.
The shortest distance of the night occurred in the Barrie Wells Trust Box4kids Mares Hunters Chase, a relatively recent addition to this programme. There were three in a line approaching the second last. Tom Broughton on Miss Seagreen was first to go for his stick, and looked to have the worst of the tussle, but the 10 year old mare stuck to her task after the last to get uo in the final 75 yards to beat Sine Nomine and Singapore Saga in the best finish of the evening. Sine Nomine, brought down from Catterick by Fiona Needham, could be fairly adjudged to be an unlucky loser; there'll be other races for the game grey mare. The winner was trained by Lucy Smith, a welcome reversal of Marcle Ridge's defeat.
The evening concluded with another close contest in the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars open race over 2m4f. Paloma Blue looked to have the race in safe keeping two out, but had to rebuff a persistent late challenge from Fix It All, under J J Murphy-Knight, winner of two hunters' races at Ludlow. Josh Newman had somethig left in the tank, however, and ran on again to win by 3/4l with last year's winner Solomon Grey back in third.
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