Bryony Frost again took centre stage on Sunday with yet another successful front-running ride in a showpiece event, this time on 14-1 shot Secret Investor in the Grade 2 Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury.
Frost got her partner into a lovely rhythm at the head of affairs and was still travelling well enough as the field stacked in behind them entering the home straight. Stablemate Clan Des Obeaux was the first to commit under Harry Cobden and briefly looked a likely winner, but while he tended to jump to his right over the final fences, Secret Investor turned in a succession of fluent leaps that helped him maintain the advantage and hold off his challenger to win by a head. It was a one-two for Paul Nicholls, and appropriately achieved in a race that commemorates one of the Ditcheat greats.
For Clan De Obeaux, his performance marked a welcome return to form following a lacklustre effort in the King George. Kalashnikov also ran well on his first attempt at three miles over fences, finishing four-and-three-quarters of a length away in third. However, Lostintranslation again disappointed, dropping out tamely to finish fifth.
“That was a battle, wasn’t it?” Frost told ITV Racing. “The last wasn’t there and I got all in a muddle going down to the ditch and my God he helped me out but I had the best time.”
Now a seven-time winner, Secret Investor continued the great weekend run of British-breds following the Saturday successes of Dashel Drasher, Remastered and Third Wind. A son of Overbury Stud stalwart Kayf Tara, who was retired from stud duty last summer, Secret Investor was bred by Brian and Gwen Griffiths out of the Listed-winning hurdler Silver Charmer, by Charmer.
Popular Sceau Royale back on song
Sceau Royale bounced back to form over fences to justify favouritism in the Grade 2 Betfair Game Spirit Chase.
Second in last year’s race to Altior, Alan King’s charge was last seen when falling in the Desert Orchid Chase during Kempton’s Christmas meeting. He made no mistake this time, always travelling and jumping well in the hands of Daryl Jacob before challenging the front-runner Champ at the head of the straight and racing clear for a two-length success.
Champ, last year’s RSA Chase winner, appeared to benefit from an aggressive ride from Nico de Boinville to run second on his first start for 347 days following wind surgery. It was ten lengths back to the third, Greaneteen.
For owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, it was a poignant success following the loss of their popular stalwart L’Ami Serge at Ascot on Saturday.
“I’m so pleased for Anthony [Bromley, racing manager] and Simon and Isaac as they’ve had a tough couple of days,” King told ITV Racing.
“He’s been a marvellous horse for all of us, bouncing back from that fall at Kempton. He’s been in good form – he’s been pretty savage at home this week – and he enjoyed the ground, this is the best we’ve raced on for most of this winter so full credit to Newbury.”
Sceau Royale, who mixes it successfully between hurdles and fences, holds entries in the Unibet Champion Hurdle and Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase but King is keeping his options open.
“I’m just going to enjoy today,” he said. “It’ll be ground dependant. If it’s soft we’ll wait for Aintree or Sandown – it’s a nice problem to have.”
Bred in France by Guy Vimont, the popular Sceau Royale is a son of the highly successful French-based sire Doctor Dino and out of the winning Sandside, by Marchand De Sable.
O’Neill toasts ‘special’ success
Progressive hurdler Soaring Glory could be set for a crack at next month’s Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle following his impressive success for Jonjo O’Neill in the Betfair Hurdle.
Held up in mid-division by Jonjo O’Neill junior as For Pleasure set a strong pace, Soaring Glory made smooth headway to move into contention two out and quickened clear when asked for a clear cut victory at 17-2.
Fifty Ball, representing the same connections as Saturday’s Kingwell Hurdle winner Goshen, was another three lengths away in second, a length-and-a-half ahead of Edwardstone in third.
Betfair reacted by cutting Soaring Glory into 10-1 for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
“It’s my biggest win for Dad – it makes it all the more special,” Jonjo O’Neill junior told ITV Racing. “His owners Pat and Anne Hickey have let Dad train the horse how he wants to be trained, they’ve been very patient.
“Today has been his goal since he made his novice hurdle debut back in October. It’s rare everything comes off with a plan like that and luckily it did today.”
Six-year-old Soaring Glory is from the second crop of the late Coolmore sire Fame And Glory and was bred in Ireland by A V Bloodstock out of Hapeney, a daughter of Saddler’s Hall who is also the dam of Grade 3-winning novice chaser Three Stars.