Champ leads Paisley Park at Newbury
Champ leads Paisley Park at Newbury

Newbury Friday review: Champ beats Paisley Park in thriller


A review of the action from Friday's meeting at Newbury where Champ and Paisley Park served up a classic in the feature race.

Newbury epic as Champ edges out Paisley

Champ pipped Paisley Park in a battle royal in the Coral Long Distance Hurdle.

The two 10-year-olds produced a thrilling finish in the three-mile contest, with the strong-travelling, front-running Champ just getting the better of the popular former Stayers’ Hurdle winner, who powered home under Aidan Coleman, and was in front a stride or two after the line.

Jonjo O’Neill Jr just had enough in the tank to thwart the Emma Lavelle-trained gelding as the pair were split by a neck, with the width of the track separating them. Paisley Park did not jump with great fluency over the last two as he ate into Champ’s lead, while the Nicky Henderson-trained winner tying up towards the line.

However, Paisley Park just ran out of real estate, much to the relief of the winning trainer, who told Racing TV: “They’re good horses, but they are getting on a bit. Champ and Paisley Park have been around for quite some time, and they’ve been two genuine Grade One horses, so to come and fight out a race like that – I think anyone would enjoy it.

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“I thought we were beaten actually, but when we got the first replay we’d got it. Our old boy has won an RSA Chase over fences and everybody adores him. He’s got the most lovely character and he’s such a sweet horse. AP (McCoy) rode him in a gallop here 10 days ago and he thought he was in great form, but he does have his ailments as well – he’s a bit creaky, like all of us at that age.

“His back isn’t very good and that’s why we’ve stayed hurdling over the last couple of years, only because fences put that little bit of extra pressure on it. JP’s (McManus, owner) team at Martinstown do a wonderful job, so he comes back to me in very good order at the beginning of every season and then it’s up to me and you do have to mind him a little bit.

“You could see we were travelling and Paisley Park was off the bridle, but you can never write him off. You can never read Paisley Park – he might stand still at the start and still come and beat you!

“He’s a bizarre character, but he’s a phenomenal horse with a phenomenal team and I’m sure we’re going to meet again in three weeks’ time, so on it goes (in the Long Walk at Ascot).”

Champ on his way to victory at Newbury
Champ on his way to victory at Newbury

Coleman was left naturally disappointed to be beaten so narrowly. He said: “It was a massive run, and you have to be happy with him, (but) it’s annoying to get beat isn’t it?

“I thought I had him rolling and I wanted to keep away from Jonjo, only because he’d make the running and I thought if anything was going to get lonely in the straight, it would be something that been there the whole way. My horse knew he was there and I thought I’d have one go and we might get him, but it didn’t work out which is annoying.”

Despite having his colours lowered, Lavelle remained up-beat after Paisley Park’s brave effort.

She said: “It’s brilliant. He’s back and he’s the most extraordinary horse, he really is. I just kind of felt if we could have jumped one of the last two hurdles well it would have made the difference, but I take my hat off to Champ. They’re two special 10-year-olds running races like that – it is really what National Hunt racing is all about. I’m just very privileged, as are our whole team, to be able to train one of those horses. We’re so proud of him. He’s back for another season which is an unbelievable testament to him and to Barry (Fenton) riding him at home every day.

“It’s probably the best first run he’s had for a couple of years and we’ll take the same route. So long as he’s all right after this, it will be the Long Walk, then it would be nice if he could make the Cleeve his own again and then on to Cheltenham (for the Stayers’ Hurdle).”

Jet powers into Sky Bet Supreme picture

Jet Powered made a sparkling start to his career under Rules in the opening Coral Bet Bundles 'National Hunt' Maiden Hurdle at Newbury and is short as 6/1 for the Sky Bet Supreme off the back of it.

A 350,000 guineas purchase after winning his sole point in Ireland and carrying the colours of Joe and Marie Donnelly, the 8/13 favourite was always cantering under Nico De Boinville and jumped well throughout.

He was clear going to the last as the strong-travelling Ittack Blue (9/4) came off the bridle and sauntered to the line to score by 11 lengths in the race won by stablemate Jonbon last season.

"He's not a horse you'd do an awful lot with at home," trainer Nicky Henderson told Racing TV afterwards. "He's quite an active person and is a bit on it at times, but he's done everything we've asked him to do and jumps well.

"You have to be very pleased, it's a nice race to start off in, he's a chaser in making and will get a bit further so the future's in front of him."

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Henderson added: "We'll stay at two miles and tinker on quietly for now and see where we go from there. There's no rush. He has a long way to go before he's the finished article and we'll see how he comes out of it. I like the way he settled today and did everything right."

Paddy Power and Betfair cut Jet Powered to 6/1 for the Sky Bet Supreme with the sponsors a point longer at 7s. Their Head of Sports PR Michael Shinners said: "That was a very impressive start from an exciting recruit to the Henderson team. He's cemented his early position as the leading British contender for the Sky Bet Supreme."

Jet Powered on his way to victory at Newbury
Jet Powered on his way to victory at Newbury


Outsider Sebastopol shocks Stage Star

Sebastopol upset odds-on Stage Star to take the Grade Two Coral Racing Club Novices’ Chase.

The 146-rated eight-year-old put his chasing experience to good use against last season’s Grade One Challow Hurdle winner, who had won readily on his chasing debut at Warwick.

Stage Star, sent off the 2/7 favourite, made most of the running, at times jumping with aplomb, although he hung and markedly ran down his fences down the final straight.

However, the Tom Lacey-trained Sebastopol, who had been pulled up at Wincanton last time, travelled well and was always stalking the pace under Stan Sheppard. The pair were locked together at the last of the 16 fences in the two-and-a-half-mile contest, and Sheppard’s mount flew the last to quicken clear, as Stage Star veered left towards the far rail.

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The 22/1 chance went on to score by five lengths, with Wonderwall, making his chasing debut, a promising third, some three lengths further back.

Sheppard told Racing TV: “I got the perfect position. He is a horse who doesn’t want to be in front too long. Today, the plan was to follow Harry (Cobden) and when he started quickening leaving the back straight, I was able to stay behind him and roust my lad up a bit and getting him a good view of him until two out.

“I thought three out, I was going well three out. I know we had to give Stage Star weight, but we were actually 3lb higher on official ratings and I thought 22/1 was a bit on an insult. I don’t know what happened the last day. He was perhaps unsuited by the track and the ground was bit slippy and any excuse not to do it, he wouldn’t take much persuading.

“He has heaps of ability and finished second seven times in a row before he started winning, so when everything clicks and goes the right way he is a good horse."

Owned by Clive and Charmaine Boultebee Brooks, Sebastopol will lose his novice chasing status at the end of November, and the winning trainer added: “It was a nice opportunity for him.

“We’ll have to have another little think after today, but he is ground dependent and we were thinking we’d come here and give him a break with a view to campaigning him relatively aggressively in the spring.

“We’re dictated by the weather. These autumns are becoming longer and the springs are maybe becoming wetter. In the depths of winter he’ll definitely just be on tick-over and there are no plans in concrete at the moment.

“If the ground is nice at Cheltenham or Aintree he could go there and Clive would probably like to go to Galway if there’s a race there, something like that."


Fine win for Skelton's Frere D'Armes

Frere D'Armes jumps to victory at Newbury
Frere D'Armes jumps to victory at Newbury

Frere D’Armes made it two from two over fences for the Skelton team in the Coral Racing Club Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.

A 4/1 shot on the back of victory at Kempton earlier in the month, the five-year-old had to knuckle down from the final fence to see off the gallant Aucunrisque by two and a quarter lengths.

Frere D’Armes returned to the winner’s enclosure with what appeared a nasty cut, but his trainer is hopeful it is not too serious.

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Skelton said: “He has a fabulous attitude and jumping is obviously his game. He went round Kempton and was quite impressive. It was much better ground today, but that didn’t really worry us as he’s an accurate mover and wouldn’t be a really soft ground horse I don’t think.

“I’m not in a massive rush with him, to be honest. He’s a horse with an honest attitude and I don’t think we want to ask him too many big questions and find out what he can’t do.

“The cut will force us into giving him a bit of time and I don’t think that will be a bad thing – even if he didn’t run until February I wouldn’t be offended. We’ll see how the novices end up going, but he’s effective round Kempton and if he went the right way, a race like the Pendil Novices’ Chase would suit him."


Fay stays on strongly for Nicholls and Cobden

Stay Away Fay wins at Newbury
Stay Away Fay wins at Newbury

Stay Away Fay provided Paul Nicholls with a third successive victory in the Coral Get Closer To The Action Novices’ Hurdle.

Connections went to £305,000 to secure his services last December – and while he looked booked for minor honours halfway up the straight with Henderson’s Russian Ruler going great guns in front, the latter tired on the run-in and Stay Away Fay ultimately won comfortably by five lengths.

Heezer Geezer came through to beat a tired Russian Ruler to the runner-up spot.

“It was his first time on the track and he’s still a green horse. He’s got plenty to learn, but it was good to see him gallop on strongly like that,” said Nicholls.

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“Harry Cobden and Harry Skelton both felt like that was a deep race to ride in. They went a right good gallop and we outstayed them, but I think there’s a lot to come from him yet.”

Both Bravemansgame and Stage Star landed this race before returning to the track to claim Grade One honours in the Challow Hurdle the following month but Stay Away Fay may not follow suit, with Nicholls viewing that race as a more suitable target for his impressive Cheltenham winner Hermes Allen.

He added: “He’s very laid back at home. Him and Hermes Allen are identical as they don’t excite you and don’t show you a lot so you don’t know what you’ve got until you run, but some of the best horses I’ve trained were like that.

“I think Hermes Allen is that bit more experienced and he’s had a fortnight since he ran at Cheltenham. This lad had a hard race today and I wouldn’t necessarily want to run too quick. I haven’t totally ruled the Challow out, but it would be daft running them against each other.”


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