• Racing/
  • Saphir Is Champion At Ffos Las

Burns Pet Nutrition Welsh Champion Hurdle (Limited Handicap) 2m 4f

  • (4yo+, 2m 4f, Class 2, 6 runners)
  • Winner £31,280 2nd £9,240 3rd £4,620 4th £2,310 5th £1,155 6th £580
  • Going: Heavy
  • Surface: Turf
Weighed In:
  • Winning time: 5m 35.50s
  • Off time: 14:05:25
  • Last Updated: February 1 2014, 15:24 GMT

Saphir Du Rheu denied Whisper a home win in the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las as held on by a fast-diminishing head.

Paul Nicholls: Trainer of Saphir Du Rheu
Paul Nicholls: Trainer of Saphir Du Rheu

The result might well have been different had the runner-up, the 6/4 favourite and owned by racecourse chairman Dai Walters, met the final flight on the same stride as the winner.

However, not for the first time in the race, a messy jump saw him lose ground, handing Saphir Du Rheu a clear advantage. Whisper rallied on the run-in but was not quite able to reel the Harry Derham-ridden winner back in.

Saphir Du Rheu could now head for next month's Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, where he would join a field including stablemate Big Buck's, also owned by Andy Stewart, although trainer Paul Nicholls sounded a note of caution.

He said: "I'm not really (desperate) to get him to Cheltenham, he's only five and he's going to be a fantastic chaser in time.

"I just said to Andy on the phone that we must look after him because he could be as good a chaser as Andy has owned in time so we are going to look after him and make a plan.

"He's won three good handicaps now and I think Harry gave him a fantastic ride. He rang me up earlier to say there's going to be no pace and could he make the running, and I said if you think that's right then do it."

Of Whisper, trainer Nicky Henderson said: "It was a good race, and Paul's horse has done well since Kempton. I think they are two decent horses and it's a pity because Dai and all of Ffos Las have done very, very well to race today [after the wet weather].

"They got through it all right and the two good horses came right away."

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