• Racing/
  • Thornton Scores On Montbazon

Betfair. Don't Settle For Less Novices' Hurdle 2m 110y

  • (4yo+, 2m 110y, Class 4, 9 runners)
  • Winner £3,249 2nd £954 3rd £477 4th £238
  • Going: Good to Soft, Soft in places
  • Surface: Turf
Weighed In:
  • Winning time: 3m 55.40s
  • Off time: 13:50:39
  • Last Updated: February 17 2012, 14:34 GMT

Montbazon (9/4) provided Robert Thornton with a return winner in a classy renewal of the Betfair Don't Settle For Less Novices' Hurdle at Newbury on Friday.

Montbazon and Robert Thornton score at Newbury
Montbazon and Robert Thornton score at Newbury

The Alan King-trained five-year-old showed plenty of progress from his Plumpton victory last month to beat Vulcanite with seven lengths in hand.

But the result might have been very different had Colour Squadron not fallen at the second last when still going well under Richard Johnson.

Vulcanite set the pace for the first mile-and-a-half before being challenged by the eventual winner and the Hobbs novice, who threw away victory in the Tolworth Hurdle last time out.

But once Colour Squadron had departed Thornton, who only returned from a long injury absence earlier this week, was always in command.

He pulled clear on the run from the last hurdle to score impressively and put himself in the frame for a run at the Cheltenham Festival next month.

Thornton said: "I'm delighted to be back. "I think he's definitely a Cheltenham contender.

"He is a good horse, but in the past we've ridden him like a very good horse and just crept our way through.

"Today Alan said, 'None of this posing, be within a length (of the leader) at the third-last, be upsides at the second-last, and press on'.

"He just needs to be set alight these days, which is fine."

King said: "I said to Choc (Thornton), 'I don't care how well you are going, at the second-last I want you to press the horse'.

"This was to see how good he is and whether he's Cheltenham material - I think he is after that.

"He needed a bit of time. He learned at Plumpton when he won, and he has learned again."

Paddy Power now make Montbazon 7-1 second favourite, behind Simonsig, for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.