Sandown: Tolworth triumph for L’ami Serge
L’ami Serge continued his unbeaten run for Nicky Henderson, providing the trainer with a fifth win in the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown. Ridden by Barry Geraghty, achieving his fourth win in the race, L’ami Serge took his tally to three from three since arriving at the Seven Barrows Stable from France with yet another impressive performance.
The now 5yo had failed to register in his native land but made a fantastic start to life in Britain with a Listed win at Newbury and followed it up with another convincing victory in a Grade 2 at Ascot last month. With only a disappointing three rivals top take him on, Henderson’s charge was sent off a warm 4/9 favourite for the 2 mile contest and despite a few jumping errors, never gave his supporters much to worry about.
The Dan Skelton trained Shelford had tried to steal a march on the field from the start but his two main rivals, L’ami Serge and the Harry Fry trained Jolly’s Cracked It never let him out of their sights. Shelford still lead as the field turned into the home straight but his rivals came cruising to the front two from home.
Jolly’s Cracked looked a big danger but Geraghty quickly put the race to bed on L’ami Serge kicking clear before being eased down after the last to a 14 length victory. Shelford took a tired fall at the last but horse and jockey were up quickly.
“I don’t like getting over-enthusiastic, but there was nothing not to like about that,” winning trainer Henderson said afterwards. “I know there were only four runners, which nobody likes, but I thought there were three serious ones in the race.
“We’ll go straight to Cheltenham for the Sky Bet Supreme. It’s only a fortnight since he won at Ascot and I just think he’d had eight runs over hurdles in France last year and they’ve educated him for us!
“Here was the obvious opportunity. He looks a very good novice to me, perhaps [he’s] not quite at the very top of the novices over two miles, but we’ll have to see what else comes along!”
Earlier on the card the impressive Aurore D’Estruval took the second Listed success of her career in the Mares Hurdle for John Quin and A.P McCoy. A Listed winner at Wetherby two starts ago, Quinn’s charge took a big step forward when following home Irving in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle last time. That was the pick of form on offer today and the daughter of Nickname made no mistake in recording a battling 2 length win from Dark Spirit with Mischievous Milly back in third.
McCoy said of the winner: “I think she’d be happier on a bit of decent ground. Hopefully she’ll get it at Cheltenham.
“She’s a classy type of mare and a good traveller, who ran well in the Fighting Fifth last time out.
“She stuck at it well. It’s not that she didn’t handle the ground and it’s not that she didn’t get the trip. I just think she’s a very good traveller who might be better suited by better ground. She’s a professional.”
McCoy was also on board the impressive looking Arabian Revolution in the opening Juvenile Hurdle. The Dalakhani gelding had ran up to a decent mark on the level but could have a big future over hurdles having routed the field on his hurdling debut here for John Ferguson.
Having pulled the arms out of the champ most of the way round, McCoy eventually said go on the run in and the race was over in an instance as the striking grey drew clear in a canter to land the spoils by 8 lengths.
McCoy completed a hat-trick on the card with Mr Mole in the 2 mile handicap chase. The Paul Nicholls trained 7yo was bringing up a treble of his own after wins at Newton Abbot and Exeter.
Kevin Walsh 3/1/15
Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
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