In the face of adversity and ongoing disputes, the Jamaica Football Federation has announced a 22-player squad for two crucial international friendly matches against Chile on February 23 and 27. However, the squad is notably missing key senior first-team players who continue to abstain due to unresolved issues with the football federation, primarily revolving around unpaid fees and related concerns.

The delegation set to represent Jamaica in these significant international friendly encounters includes a mix of talented players from various backgrounds and universities. Among them are standout athletes like Theana Burnett from Sacred Heart University, Serena Mensa from Fordham University, and Sydnie Street from Seneca College. The team boasts a diverse roster, showcasing players from institutions such as George Mason University, SCU Torreense, and SK Slavia Praha Zeny.

Despite the absence of the senior first-team players, the selected squad is ready to face the formidable Chilean opponents. The delegation, consisting of both local officials and SWNT (Senior Women's National Team) players, is scheduled to depart from Jamaica on Tuesday, February 20. The entire team will assemble in Chile a day later, brimming with determination and unity.

The list of players includes Nevillegail Able from the University of Maine at Fort Kent, Alika Keene from SK Slavia Praha Zeny, and Ricshya Walker from LaSalle University, among others. Each player brings their unique skills and experiences to the field, forming a cohesive unit ready to represent Jamaica on the international stage.

Leading the charge is the coaching and support staff, with Xavier Gilbert at the helm as the Head Coach, supported by Assistant Coach Jermaine Thomas, Team Manager Crystal Walters, and Team Doctor Ruchelle Brown. The staff also includes physiotherapist Ashley Stephens, masseur Devin Lawson, GK Coach Everdean Scarlet, equipment manager Omar Folkes, and trainer Leacroft Lettman. Heading the delegation is Paul Beckford, the Head of Delegation.

Full squad: Theana Burnett, Sacred Heart University; Serena Mensa, Fordham University; Sydnie Street, Seneca College; Zoe Vidaurre, George Mason University; Nevillegail Able, University of Maine at Fort Kent; Chinyelu Asher, SCU Torreense; Alika Keene, SK Slavia Praha Zeny; Ricshya Walker, LaSalle University; Marlo Sweatman, Viktoria Haladas; Christina Salmon, William Carey University; Davia Richards, Hill College; Mikayla Dayes, Rodez AF (France); Shaneil Buckley, XLCR; Melissa Johnson, Charlton Athletic Women FC; Aliyah Morgan, George Mason University; Jade Bailey, London City Lionessess; Destiny Powell, XLCR; Lachante Paul, Burnley FC; Isreala Groves, London City Lionesses; Naya Cardoza, Brown University; Njeri Butts, University Of Florida; Lexi Lloyd-Smith, Southampton FC Women's.

 

 

 

Chris Waller has paid tribute to Australian champion Verry Elleegant after the mare died due to foaling complications.

Waller handled the New Zealand-bred runner for the majority of her superstar career, saddling the daughter of Zed to win 11 Group One contests, including the 2020 Caulfield Cup and the 2021 Melbourne Cup.

Following that Flemington victory, Verry Elleegant was sent to race in Europe in the summer of 2022, joining Francis-Henri Graffard in France.

She had four starts for Graffard, with her best effort coming when third in the Prix Foy and she signed off with an unplaced effort on Champions Day at Ascot in October 2022.

The eight-year-old remained in Europe following her career swansong and was covered by Sea The Stars last year.

“It is incredibly sad that we pass on the news on behalf of the ownership group that Verry Elleegant has passed away due to complications giving birth to her foal,” Waller said in a statement on social media.

“The news is just filtering through to stable staff now and other close connections who are coming to terms with this tragic news. She was in fantastic hands on a farm who did all they could for her, and we would like to thank them for their efforts which we will be forever grateful for.

“We all saw the courage she had on the racetrack over many seasons, and she will never be forgotten by those close to her as well as the wider racing public who followed her career and loved her so much.”

The rhythmic beat of excitement echoes through the corridors of anticipation as the 2024 ISSA GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Championships, better known as "CHAMPS," approaches the island of Jamaica. In a groundbreaking move, the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and PUMA are set to turn this prestigious event into an Olympic fashion extravaganza, showcasing the bespoke apparel designs tailored exclusively for the Jamaican Olympic team at the upcoming Paris Olympic Games.

The announcement is met with palpable enthusiasm from JOA President, Christopher Samuda, who can't hide his delight, "The designs meet our approval, and their display will be an innovation bringing Olympism into the arena, reminding inspired youth that wearing the black, gold, and green is genetic, shaping character and tailoring personal aspirations, sewing seeds of success."

A sense of historical significance hangs in the air as the national stadium, once again, prepares to take center stage. JOA Secretary General/CEO, Ryan Foster, eloquently expresses the symbolic nature of the venue, "The national stadium will once more be a focal point for Olympism, a landmark from which sportsmen and women have been catapulted into being Olympic champions and global personalities, becoming an inspiration to generations of youth."

The JOA/PUMA partnership is lauded for its creative fusion of sports and fashion. President Samuda emphasizes the deeper meaning of national sportswear, stating, "This activation by PUMA underscores that national sportswear should be an experience and an honor that goes beyond what you wear to being how you wear it, contributing to a country’s sporting legacy – and that’s Olympism."

Fashion, as articulated by JOA Secretary General/CEO Foster, is not merely a reflection of the times but a profound expression of identity. "National apparel re-defines the past, defines the present, and shapes the future of a people." He highlights the distinction between ready-to-wear and custom-built, noting that the latter is driven by a 'fit to size' and bespoke value, characterizing the present and stylizing the future.

As the days count down, the buzz around the event intensifies. Jamaicans eagerly anticipate a taste of Paris, as Olympic sportswear is set to grace Independence Park. Inspired by the remarkable performances of Jamaican Olympians throughout history, the showcase promises to be a vivid celebration of the nation's sporting legacy.

PUMA's continuing commitment to the Jamaican Olympic movement is evident, with this display of Jamaican sport haute couture being hailed as "the dress rehearsal of greater things to come" by President Samuda. The stage is set for a truly groundbreaking moment at CHAMPS, where the collision of athleticism and high fashion will create an unforgettable spectacle, etching a lasting impression on the hearts of spectators and athletes alike.

 

Craig Kieswetter is excited for one last crack at the Cheltenham Festival with Echoes In Rain, who will head to Prestbury Park for her racecourse swansong next month bidding to bring the curtain down on her career with a fairytale success.

Former England cricket star Kieswetter is a key figure in his family’s Barnane Stud alongside brother Ross and stud manager Patrick Wynn-Jones, with Echoes In Rain proving to be the star performer of their jumps string over the years.

Trained by Willie Mullins, she has won nine of her 30 career starts across both codes, with her finest hours coming at the Punchestown Festival where she won Grade Ones both as a novice in 2021 and then two years later against her fellow mares.

However, she has found success at the Cheltenham Festival harder to come by and will be given one final chance to conquer the Cotswolds before moving on to be a part of Barnane’s broodmare band.

“She’s going to head to Cheltenham and it will probably be her final hurrah before we take her back to Barnane Stud to start her career as a broodmare,” said Kieswetter.

“She’s a real fighter and every time we ask a question of her, she goes for it. For a mare who tries her hardest every single time, she’s had to come up against the likes of Honeysuckle and State Man all the way through her career.

“We’ve had some fantastic fun with her. I was there when she got pipped on the line in the Irish Cesarewitch, Rachael (Blackmore) jumped off and was devastated, but she has given us some fantastic times.

“We are looking forward to one final outing with her and then she can start her new career.”

Last year Echoes In Rain had to settle for a minor role as regular adversary Honeysuckle bowed out in style in the Mares’ Hurdle and Kieswetter feels that race is the most likely for Echoes In Rain’s final appearance, rather than stepping up to face the might of Constitution Hill in the Champion Hurdle.

He continued: “We’ll have a discussion with Willie and his team and see which direction they want to go. I’m suspecting it will probably be the Mares’ Hurdle, but you never know.

“Willie won all the Grade Ones at Leopardstown and is operating at a ridiculous strike-rate and is the best, we are more than happy to just follow the advice of where he wants to go.”

Owner Kenny Alexander is set to unleash a two-pronged assault on the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle, with both Gala Marceau and Telmesomethinggirl attempting to add to Honeysuckle’s two famous victories in the Cheltenham Festival contest.

Trained by Willie Mullins, Gala Marceau has just stablemates Lossiemouth and Ashroe Diamond ahead of her in the ante-post betting for the Grade One event and was runner-up in the Triumph Hurdle at Prestbury Park 12 months ago.

She finished third when making her seasonal return at Doncaster recently, but tasted top level success over two and a half miles in Auteuil’s Prix Alain du Breil last May and connections feel a return to further can see her improve on her Town Moor reappearance.

“We were very happy with her and Danny (Mullins, jockey) said she took a bit of a blow after the last,” said Alexander’s racing manager Peter Molony.

“He thought he would definitely have been second and closer to the winner without that and he wasn’t overly hard on her to try to get second as the big day is in a few weeks time.

“The step up in trip is going to help her, she stayed the extra distance well last year in Auteuil and we really think that will play to her strengths.”

Telmesomethinggirl may be as big as 25-1 in the betting, but Molony has been encouraged by reports from trainer Henry de Bromhead since she finished second at Naas last month.

The nine-year-old is already a Cheltenham Festival winner having been part of De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore’s respective six-timers at the showpiece meeting in 2021, winning the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

She was also in the process of running a huge race the following year in the Mares’ Hurdle before being brought down two out and having spent a year struggling over the larger obstacles, is back at the discipline in which she is most proficient.

“We were over the moon with her performance at Naas. The first day she ran (at Leopardstown) she was still rather gross and I think as she has got older, Henry has found it harder to get her fit,” added Molony.

“Last year was a complete waste of a year and she just didn’t take to the fences, that is a year that can be scratched.

“Henry and his team are very happy with her and I think if she is back to her best, she is going to give all the other ladies something to think about. She’s a very high-class mare in her own right at her best.

“Rachael came in and said it was a case of how far, not if (when she ran in the race previously) and if she gets back to that level she could take a lot of beating – she is certainly a wonderful each-way price.”

Tullyhill could be bound for Cheltenham after making light work of the Madigan Group Irish EBF Sheila Bourke Novice Hurdle at Punchestown.

The six-year-old finished second in the Champion Bumper at the Festival last season, a result that followed a prior bumper success and a point to point win.

He was beaten by a significant margin on his hurdling debut in November but his jumping was much improved on his next start when he took a Naas maiden by seven lengths in January.

He started as the 6-5 favourite under Paul Townend at Listed level at Punchestown and made all the of the running, cruising to a nine-length victory having barely seen another rival.

Following the run, Tullyhill is as low as 5-1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle with Paddy Power, but Mullins will consult with owners Cheveley Park Stud before deciding on a Cheltenham bid.

He said: “He has a fair engine and we just needed to give him confidence jumping. David Casey was deputised with that job and has done a right job.

“He’s entitled to go anywhere after a performance like that.

“I thought he’d be an out-an-out stayer but he has plenty of speed, a great cruising speed, and now his jumping is starting to match his cruising speed.

“He’s in the Supreme and I’ll have a word with connections and see what they would like to do.”

Where It All Began got off the mark over fences in the QuinnBet Grand National Trial Handicap Chase at Punchestown.

Gordon Elliott’s eight-year-old had performed with credit in seven previous starts over fences but was yet to taste success in the discipline and was last seen winning in a maiden hurdle in January 2022.

Under Jack Kennedy, he stepped up to a staying trip of three miles and three furlongs for the first time at Punchestown and started as a 10-1 chance in a field of 15.

The gelding always looked comfortable but it was on the turn for home that the race became a test of stamina and it looked as though favourite We’llhavewan had the upper hand.

However, Where It All Began started to pick off his rivals, clearly relishing the extra distance as galloped home to take the Listed contest by an easy 16 lengths.

“He jumped great and never missed a beat the whole way,” Kennedy said.

“It probably looked turning in that I was going to finish third but stamina really kicked in when we straightened up. I’m delighted with him.

“He’s not reliant on heavy ground, just a test of stamina is what he wants.

“He’d been running well and threatened to do something like that.

As a result of the performance Paddy Power and Betfair slashed his price for the Grand National from 200-1 to 50-1, with weights for the Aintree contest revealed on Tuesday.

Mister Policeman looked to get his career back on track with victory in the Concept Colours Rated Novice Chase at Punchestown.

The Willie Mullins-trained chestnut was purchased by Rich Ricci after hurdles success in France as a four-year-old and got off the mark for new connections at the first time of asking.

His first Irish run was in a two-mile Cork hurdle last April, a race he won comfortably before graduating to fences at the start of this term.

His first attempt at Fairyhouse in November was a success and the gelding then headed to Naas in January and started as the favourite in a two-mile novice.

He was comprehensively beaten on that occasion as Quilixios came home in front with Sa Fureur behind him and Mister Policeman over eight lengths away from the winner in third.

At Punchestown the five-year-old looked to make amends for a sticky round of jumping last time and under Paul Townend he was much improved, travelling well as the 1-2 favourite in a field of five.

Rounding the final bend he was galloping along comfortably and was able to produce a neat jump at the last to pull away to a six-length victory.

Mullins said of the success: “He’s still learning to jump and he’ll probably be better going out in trip at some stage, but this race fitted nicely into his schedule. It will leave him nicely set up for the spring.

“I’d imagine he’ll stay at home and there are plenty of good races to be won. He could go for a novice handicap.”

Rachael Blackmore coaxed home Senior Chief to take the QuinnBet Beginners Chase over two miles and seven furlongs.

The 2-9 favourite had placed in two runs over fences so far and seemed to require a little persuasion throughout the race but scraped home to prevail by three-quarters of a length.

“Rachael said once she turned in she knew it was OK but I’m not so sure,” winning trainer Henry De Bromhead said.

“He’s done little wrong in fairness to him, and the handicapper might reassess him from a mark of 142.

“He looked laboured and Rachael said it’s tough old ground. We’ll look for a handicap now and see where we go from there.

“I’m delighted for the lads (Lucky In Life Syndicate) who are great supporters and a lot of them work at Regeneron in Limerick.”

Stuart Crawford will be keeping a close eye on the bet365 Morebattle Hurdle, as connections plot their next move with Leopardstown scorer Brucio.

Owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, the six-year-old has begun to get her act together over obstacles and following a successful Catterick raid in January, secured Listed honours with an impressive display in the Paddy Mullins Mares Handicap Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Brucio was subsequently handed an entry for the Ryanair Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, but with Crawford unsure if she will make the trip to Prestbury Park, it is of note that she also holds a ticket for Kelso’s feature handicap on March 2.

“It was a nice surprise winning at Fairyhouse, we certainly weren’t going there bullish we had a good chance, but she was at the right end of the handicap and she was open to plenty of improvement,” said Crawford.

“Hopefully she will keep on progressing, but I don’t know if we will head to Cheltenham with her. I’ll have to sit down and have that discussion and the beauty is there are plenty of options for her and first things first, we would try to pick something where she has the chance to pick up some good prize-money or get her head in front again.”

Irish raiders have enjoyed success in the Morebattle since its reincarnation as a handicap in 2021, with The Shunter winning in the Borders before going on to strike at the Cheltenham Festival.

Crawford himself went close to landing a blow in the race the following year with Saint D’oroux and he admits it could be the ideal place to enhance Brucio’s CV while others have their sights on the Cotswolds.

“There will be plenty of focus obviously on Cheltenham (in the next few weeks), but I will have no problem at all collecting a bit of prize-money at Kelso, that would suit me all right,” he said.

“I think we will definitely be keeping an eye on Kelso and it will probably be a more valuable race than what she would be going in at Cheltenham.

“How well is she going to be treated by the handicapper? That is hard to say and she will take a hefty rise for what she did at Leopardstown. But hopefully she can still be competitive in a big handicap like that.”

He went on: “She made a very promising debut at Punchestown last spring in the mares’ bumper there and showed a bit of ability, but afterwards she probably underwhelmed a little bit and underperformed in her next two starts in bumpers.

“Ultimately she has just probably been more suited to going jumping and even though she has taken a run or two to find her feet, there is hopefully plenty of progress still to come with her.”

Doddiethegreat will step back up in trip for a shot at the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival having delighted his team when flying home for fourth in Newbury’s Betfair Hurdle.

Named after former Scotland rugby star Doddie Weir – who died of motor neurone disease in 2022 – prize-money from the eight-year-old’s on-track exploits is donated by his great friend, owner Kenny Alexander, to the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation set up in Weir’s name to aid research into MND.

The foundation reaped the rewards of that generous gesture at the beginning of the gelding’s career and although injury threatened to curtail Doddiethegreat’s progress, keeping him sidelined for over two years, he has continued tracking an upwards curve since his racecourse return earlier this season.

Trainer Nicky Henderson may have saddled the winner of Saturday’s Betfair Hurdle, Iberico Lord, but the Seven Barrows handler was just as thrilled with Doddiethegreat who kept on strongly to claim fourth.

Connections now feel the time is right to move up to two miles and five furlongs at the Cheltenham Festival – a distance Doddiethegreat won over on his hurdles bow in 2021.

“We were delighted with his run and Nicky and everyone thinks ideally he needs another half a mile,” said Alexander’s racing manager Peter Molony.

“Given the circumstances, we were really happy with the run and we were perhaps unlucky not to be third and pick up even more money for the cause.

“I think we’ve got the Coral Cup in mind for him and that’s the plan at the moment.

“He’s a lovely horse and of course we have to be a bit careful after his injury, but we’ve been delighted with him and touch wood, the leg seems to be holding up well. Hopefully we can get plenty more runs into him and win plenty more prize-money for the foundation.”

Excelsior produced a late rally to secure an eighth-consecutive hold on the girls’ title, while Kingston College, also successfully defended the boys’ crown at the 11th edition of the two-day Anthrick Corporate Area Championships, on Saturday.

The Mountain View Avenue-based Excelsior entered the backend of the championship two points behind Wolmer’s Girls on the final day of action, but registered victories in the Sprint Medley and 4X400m relays to turn the tables on the Heroes Circle rivals at Jamaica College’s Ashenheim Stadium.

Excelsior tallied 360 points to Wolmer’s Girls’ 356 points, with Immaculate (298 points), The Queen’s School (200 points) and St Andrew High (163 points), completing the top five.

On the boys’ side, Kingston College, who copped their 10th hold on the crown, were always a cut above the competition at 452 points, 80.5 points ahead Calabar (371.5 points). Jamaica College (316.5 points), Excelsior (195 points) and STGC (146 points), made up the top five.

Both Excelsior and Kingston College pocketed $150,000 for their efforts.

After an exciting first day in which they swept three of the four 100m races, Wolmer’s Girls, who have won the Corporate Area title three times, continued to apply pressure on Excelsior to the point where it came down to the relays to decide things.

The shift in momentum came when Excelsior anchored won the Sprint Medley Relay in 4:26.01, ahead St Hugh’s (4:32.78) and Wolmer’s (4:34.55).

Calabar won the boys’ event in 3:32.23, followed by Jamaica College (3:32.78) and Kingston College (3:33.26).

Excelsior, anchored by Diandra Kelly, later copped the 4X400m relay open in 3:44.73, leaving Wolmer’s Girls (3:45.91) in their wake, with The Queen’s School (4:00.80), in third.

Kelly in her final year, expressed delight with her performance.

“It feels really good because this is our eighth time winning and so it feels great to know that I am leaving with another championship title. This is very good for us because now we know we are in the top five heading into the (ISSA Boys’ and Girls’) Champs and so we just have to go out there and give it our best when that time comes,” she said after catching her breath.

Meanwhile, Marcinho Rose, anchored Kingston College to victory in the boys’ 4X400m where they clocked 3:08.82, the fastest time by a high school team this year. Excelsior (3:11.86) and Calabar (3:12.32), were the runners-up.

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) presidential candidate Raymond Anderson has expressed concern about the recent developments surrounding the Jamaica Women's Premier League (JWPL).

This, as three days post-launch, the league has encountered notable setbacks, including the cancellation of its opening ceremony, the withdrawal of two participating teams, and widespread confusion regarding the match fixtures and venues.

Anderson in a release through his Real Solid Action (RSA) team on Saturday, argued that the initial presentation of the JWPL lacks a coherent vision for the growth of women's football, as details on the league's strategic plans, as well as the announced sponsor, Sherwin Williams, were both absent from the launch. Furthermore, he said there was no information on the support to be extended to the participating clubs or efforts to promote the games and foster interest in women's football.

The inconsistency in messages regarding the inclusion of a knockout competition, Anderson believes further contributed to the perception that the launch was merely a superficial attempt to garner positive public relations.

"This approach mirrors the ongoing issues faced by the Senior Reggae Girlz, underscoring a pattern of inadequate management and planning by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF). In light of these challenges, the RSA urges the General Secretary to promptly address these critical issues. Immediate action is necessary to rectify these flaws, which threaten to demoralize players and undermine the clubs' stability," Anderson's statement read.

"I firmly believe in the potential and significance of women's football in Jamaica and pledge to ensure the establishment of a well-structured, Tier 1 women's league, complete with substantial sponsor support, under his leadership. This commitment is a cornerstone of the manifesto (launched December 2023), reflecting our dedication to elevating the standard and visibility of women's football in Jamaica," it added.

Anderson, who is challenging incumbent Michael Ricketts, pledged that the JFF under his leadership would commit to revolutionizing women's football in Jamaica through a multifaceted approach. He also promised to prioritize and invest the necessary resources and effort into the development of the local women's football league, ensuring it reflects the high standards set by the national team's accomplishments on the global stage.

"Our manifesto emphasizes the importance of grassroots development, aiming to significantly increase girls' exposure to football from an early age, thereby laying a solid foundation for the future. Recognizing the critical role of competitive play in development, the initiative includes the establishment of a properly organised Professional Football of Jamaica Women’s League and support for annual competitions across various age groups and technical levels. This framework is designed to enhance skill development, experience, and national representation opportunities.

"The achievement of a women's squad qualifying for the World Cup twice would presumably serve as a significant incentive for investing in the local women's league. However, this expectation appears to have been unmet," the statement ended.

Leeward Islands Hurricanes captain Rahkeem Cornwall spun a web around Guyana Harpy Eagles batsmen, as he snared 6-61 to lead his team to a handsome 273-run win over the defending champions in their West Indies Championship fixture at Warner Park on Saturday.

Along with Cornwall’s bowling masterclass, the Hurricanes victory was large in part to Mikyle Louis, who achieved the rare feat of scoring a century in both innings to put the game beyond the reach of the Harpy Eagles batsmen, who struggled throughout.

Louis, a St Kitts and Nevis native, scored 113 and 130 which propelled the Hurricanes to 352 and 295 respectively, after which Cornwall combined with Daniel Doram and Jeremiah Louis, to restrict Harpy Eagles to 188 and 186.

The burly Cornwall ended with match figures of 7-89, after taking 1-28 in the first innings, while Doram, who had 4-40 in the first innings, took 2-48 in the second to end with match figures of 6-88. Jeremiah Louis had match figures of 4-80, after taking 3-42 and 1-38 across both innings.

Scores: Leeward Islands Hurricanes 352 & 295; Guyana Harpy Eagles 188 & 186

Set a daunting 460 to win, Harpy Eagles resumed the final day from an overnight score of 67-1, with Raymond Perez and Tagenarine Chanderpaul seeking to push on in their 55-run second wicket stand. However, Chanderpaul only added seven to his overnight score of 40, while Perez added only three runs to his 20.

Though Kevlon Anderson (26), Kevin Sinclair (23) and Kemol Savory (24), offered little resistance, they found Cornwall and Doram too hot to handle.

Veerasammy Permaul tried to counterattack with a 29-ball 30, including two sixes, but he eventually went caught behind off Jeremiah Louis, before Cornwall and Doram wrapped things up with the wickets of Anthony Adams and Neiland Cadogan, both without scoring.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup dream is still alive for Andy Edwards, despite L’Homme Presse having to settle for second behind an on-song Pic D’Orhy in the Betfair Ascot Chase.

Edwards, who co-owns the horse with Peter and Patricia Pink, described taking on the likes of Pic D’Orhy and Ahoy Senor in the Ascot Grade One as a privilege prior to the race and although his pride and joy may have tasted defeat in this particular battle, he was taking plenty of positives from the outing in Berkshire.

Connections missed out on their chance to compete in the blue riband last season when injury struck Venetia Williams’ stable star.

However, despite being eased in the Gold Cup betting following his Ascot reverse, L’Homme Presse’s sights are firmly locked on a return to Prestbury Park and a course that has been the scene of some of the nine-year-old’s best performances.

“He’s got the same chance that he had yesterday as he has now, he’s the horse that he is,” said Edwards.

“It was a bit short for him that race, the ground has dried out, but no excuses, the winner has won well and we’re very happy.

“He’s ran through the line and was doing his best work at the end. The extra five furlongs (in the Gold Cup) is his ideal trip and it was always going to be tough when there was no rain last night.”

L’Homme Presse had made a scintillating return from injury at Lingfield last month, but found himself behind the eight ball from an early stage as Pic D’Orhy took full advantage of a home fixture at a track he knows well, bouncing out and making all.

It was a race ultimately contested on drying good to soft ground and despite a momentary consideration about pulling stumps and heading straight to the Cheltenham Festival, connections took the sporting option to compete and complete their Gold Cup prep as planned.

Edwards added: “We did half-think about pulling him out, but he needed the run before the Gold Cup, so we have to be happy. He needed the run to sharpen him up and things today were in Pic D’Orhy’s favour.

“If there were any nerves it was that something could go wrong today. That was great though, he has run through the line and if it was good to soft, soft in places it could have been a different result.”

Edwards has never hesitated in saying last year’s injury setback, which saw L’Homme Presse off the track for 391 days, has taught him to appreciate every opportunity to compete on the big stage and despite heading home with only a silver medal around his neck, there was an unmovable smile from his face.

“It’s a privilege to be in a Grade One and that’s what it is all about and we will enjoy the moment. We’re happy, Ahoy Senor’s team are happy and now we can go to Cheltenham smiling.

“We got away with it at Lingfield, we didn’t today, but at the end of the day we have come second in a Grade One at Ascot and I’m happy.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.