Willie Mullins’ Saint Sam will represent the Closutton stable in the Red Mills Chase on Saturday at a track close to the heart of his late mother, Maureen.

Maureen Mullins died earlier this week aged 94, leaving behind her a remarkable racing legacy as the matriarch of the sport’s most successful family.

She was formerly a director of Gowran Park racecourse and a long-standing shareholder as well as a regular presence in support of her late husband, Paddy, and then her children and grandchildren as their careers developed.

There will have been many happy memories shared between the family on Red Mills Chase day, an event her Willie Mullins has won no less than seven times.

This time he is represented by Saint Sam, one of five runners in the Grade Two contest run over two and a half miles.

Owned by Edward Ware, Saint Sam is no stranger to the winner’s enclosure, winning four of his eight starts over fences.

His chief rival is Gordon Elliott’s Riviere D’etel, last seen finishing runner-up to Allegorie De Vassy in the Listed Opera Hat Chase at Naas seven days ago.

“Riviere D’etel is going right-handed, which she certainly enjoys,” said Elliott.

“I would say this trip is probably more her thing than last weekend (two miles), too. She has come out of the race very well and we are very happy with her.”

Elliott also runs Embittered, with Sam Ewing taking the ride on him as Jack Kennedy partners Riviere D’etel.

“Embittered struggled a bit in high-class handicaps the last twice, but he won nicely in Navan before Christmas,” Elliott said.

“It was a quality effort. He’s got a bit to do on ratings, but the trip is right and he’s in good shape and hopefully he gives a good account of himself.”

Elliott will have become very used to seeing Maureen Mullins at racecourses across Ireland and paid tribute to her ahead of the Gowran meeting.

He said: “Red Mills Day would have been traditionally a big day in the calendar in Gowran and it’s always a great day.

“This year it will have an altogether different feel to it following the passing of Mrs Mullins, who was such an amazing woman and an iconic figure.”

Gareth Connolly, CEO Connolly’s Red Mills, added: “This year’s renewal will be an emotional one as we remember Maureen Mullins, former director and current shareholder at Gowran Park, who passed away this week.

“Mrs Mullins was one of the most familiar faces at Gowran Park and racecourses all over the country and her legacy will continue to be felt for generations to come.

“We at Connolly’s Red Mills and the team at Gowran Park extend our heartfelt sympathies to Mrs Mullins’ family and friends and remember her at this time.”

Rubaud returns to the scene of one of his finest hours in pursuit of further riches in the Jennings Bet Kingwell Hurdle on Saturday.

Paul Nicholls’ six-year-old has won six of his 11 starts over the smaller obstacles and struck at Wincanton in the Elite Hurdle earlier in the season, his fourth win in a row.

Since then he has faced the mammoth task of taking on Constitution Hill at Kempton in the Christmas Hurdle and also had the misfortune of bumping into an imperious Lossiemouth at Cheltenham in the Unibet Hurdle.

He now returns to what appears slightly easier company and despite the champion trainer having some concerns about conditions, he heads to the Somerset venue as the highest rated in the field.

“He’s been a very consistent horse, but the ground would be a slight worry to me,” said Nicholls.

“He did run very well as a novice on soft ground at Kempton on Boxing Day, but most of his form has been on good ground.

“He’s a bit stronger now, but he enjoys right-handed and an easy two miles. Our intention is to go here and then one more run later down the line, nothing fancy, then he will be going chasing. That’s when you will see the best of him.”

Rubaud had Lorna Fowler’s Colonel Mustard three lengths adrift when they finished first and second in last season’s Scottish Champion Hurdle and the duo are set to lock horns yet again as chasing ambitions are finally put to one side for the Irish raider.

“I think his time over fences is not going to bear the fruits we hoped, but we had a go at chasing because his mark is high enough over hurdles,” said Fowler.

“We decided after Newbury to revert back to hurdles and have always had the Kingwell as sort of a plan from then.

“I’m very happy with the horse and hopefully he will travel OK – he usually does. He does have a massive weight turn around with Rubaud from when they met at Ayr, Rubaud is undoubtedly an improving horse and Mustard will certainly have to bring his A game to be able to beat him.”

Colonel Mustard is no stranger to trips to the UK having placed at the Cheltenham Festival in 2022 and also going close at Ascot and Kelso – as well as Ayr – in the past.

Fowler would have preferred better conditions for this latest raid across the Irish Sea, but with over £41,000 on offer to the winner, she feels it is a risk well worth taking.

She went on: “The ground is not really what I want, but then I’m not sure it’s what any of them want and Wincanton have put on some very good prize-money. I have UK-based owners and we’re all keen to have a go and we think it’s a good opportunity and worth a shot.

“Colonel Mustard hasn’t run for a while and is back over hurdles, but he did have a schooling race at Thurles a few weeks ago and hopefully he is in the zone to run his best race.”

Nigel Twiston-Davies won this with the ill-fated I Like To Move It last year and attempts to go back-to-back with Guard Your Dreams, while Gary Moore also has fond memories of the race and returns dual-winner Goshen to Wincanton sporting first-time blinkers.

The field of five is rounded off by Kerry Lee’s Nemean Lion who the handler says is in “great form” as he prepares to drop back in trip after a brave second in Kempton’s Lanzarote Hurdle.

Aidan O’Brien has confirmed his multiple Group One winner Luxembourg an intended runner in the $2million Howden Neom Turf Cup in Saudi Arabia next weekend.

The son of Camelot has struck gold three times at the highest level, with a Group One juvenile win at Doncaster followed by success in the 2022 Irish Champion Stakes and last season’s Tattersalls Gold Cup.

The five-year-old had the option of having a first start on dirt in the Saudi Cup itself in Riyadh, but is instead set to stick to the Group Two turf feature on the undercard.

O’Brien said: “It’s his first run back after a little break and we just felt it (Saudi Cup) was going to be too tough a race to pitch him into for his first time on dirt.

“The competition is very strong, and he’s never run on the surface before, so we thought it was a bit too much to ask of him. The Neom Turf Cup will suit him better.”

Luxembourg was last seen going down by a short head to Romantic Warrior in the Hong Kong Cup in December and his trainer has been pleased with how he has recovered from those exertions.

“We’ve been very happy with him since Hong Kong. It was the first time he’d been on a long trip abroad and he ran a great race and took the travel very well,” O’Brien added.

“We were very pleased with the run and he’s been in good form since. Hopefully, he runs well in the Neom Turf Cup and maybe that opens up the option of Dubai.

“He could be a horse that travels a lot over the coming year. He’s got a very high level of form and some solid foundations to build from.

“The Neom Turf Cup looks ideal. Everyone has been very complimentary about the track in Riyadh, and we think it’s a track that will really suit him, and obviously the prize-money is very good, so we had to consider it.

“The Saudi Cup meeting is a very important festival now and it’s great to be going there with a couple of good chances.”

The Ballydoyle handler will also saddle St Leger fourth Tower Of London in the Red Sea Turf Handicap.

O’Brien said: “Tower Of London has had a good long break all winter. We’ve aimed him at the Red Sea Turf as we think both the trip and nice ground will really suit him.

“We certainly think he’s a horse that’s going to progress a lot this season, so he could be a horse that goes onto Dubai after this.”

Jamie Snowden is considering adding Ga Law to the Ryanair Chase field after his taking Cheltenham success on Trials day.

The eight-year-old finished fifth in the Festival Grade One last season, his second run at the track following victory in the Paddy Power Gold Cup earlier that term.

He returned to Prestbury Park to run over the same trip in a valuable handicap on January 27, the last meeting there before the Festival, and prevailed by a length and three quarters in a pleasing performance under Gavin Sheehan.

That run has inspired connections to think about putting Ga Law forward for another run in the Ryanair Chase at the Festival, for which he will require supplementing as the entries have closed.

“I think we’ll end up supplementing him for the Ryanair,” said Snowden.

“He won the Paddy Power Gold Cup the previous year and he would have won the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster but he had a nasty fall at the last and that kind of derailed us a bit last season.

“He still finished fifth in the Ryanair last year but he probably wasn’t in the sort of form he’s been in this time around.

“It was nice to see him back on track winning the feature handicap on Trials day and off the back of that the Ryanair looks the right race for him.

“He won the Paddy Power on the Old course but I think he ran an even better race the other day on the New course.

“The New course, which is more of a test of stamina, perhaps suits him more than the Old course, which is more of a test of speed.

“He ran well in the Ryanair last year when not in the form that he’s in now so hopefully he can go there and run a decent race.”

Snowden also provided an update on Reach For The Moon, who was bred by the late Queen and is owned by Queen Camilla and Sir Chips Keswick.

Twice placed at Royal Ascot in his days on the Flat with John and Thady Gosden, he made his hurdling debut at Sedgefield earlier this month and finished fourth when coming home lame.

Snowden said of the gelding: “He was a bit sore off the back of that first run over hurdles, we’re going to give him a moment to get over that and take him out of the Supreme Novices’.

“We’ll give him time to get over it and then come back in the spring.”

Windward Islands Volcanoes remained in control against Barbados Pride, as they secured first innings honours on day two of their West Indies Championship encounter at Kensington Park, in Jamaica, on Thursday.

The Volcanoes capitalised on the solid platform laid by Jeremy Solozano (86) and Kimani Melius (53) to post a 111-run lead, after their first innings reply to the Pride’s 214, ended at 325. Pride in their second innings, are in a spot of bother at 72-4, trailing by 39 runs, with Akeem Jordan, on four, set to be joined by Shane Dorwich when play resumes on Friday.

Scores: Barbados Pride 214 & 72-4 (24.1 overs); Windward Islands Volcanoes 325 (98.1 overs)

Solozano and Melius, who posted 123 on Wednesday’s opening day, added 23 and one to their respective overnight scores on 63 and 52. But Johann Jeremiah (32), Kavem Hodge (26) and Sunil Ambris (72), maintained a steady tempo to the innings, to the point where even with their dismissals, the damage was already done.

Ambris scored quickly in his 79-ball knock which had two sixes and nine fours, with Shemar Springer (29) capping the innings where runs are concerned, as the lowered order batsmen failed to trouble the score.

Jomel Warrican led the Pride’s bowling with 5-59 in 24.1 overs, inclusive of seven maidens.

Captain Kraigg Brathwaite (18) and the rest of the top order again failed to get into rhythm, and again it has left the Pride’s struggling. Zachary McCaskie (nine), Sheyne Moseley (16) and Jonathan Drakes (20) all fell to four different bowlers which basically summed up their poor run of form in this encounter.

It is now left to be seen if Kevin Wickham can repeat his first innings heroics with some assistance from Dorwich and others to possibly keep the Pride alive in the contest.

The 2024 West Indies Championship second round fixture between the Jamaica Scorpions and the Combined Campuses and Colleges is evenly poised after day two at Sabina Park on Thursday.

The hosts ended the day 259-6 from 73.1 overs, trailing CCC by 48 runs on first innings.

38-year-old Chadwick Walton, playing his first season of first-class cricket since 2019, led the way for the Scorpions with a masterful 168 off 245 balls including 16 fours and five sixes.

Walton shared in a 169-run opening partnership with Carlos Brown, who was the Scorpions’ next highest scorer with 48.

No other batsman was able to make any meaningful contribution as 17-year-old leg-spinner Zishan Motara ripped through the bulk of the Jamaican batting on the way to figures of 4-69 from 22.1 overs.

Earlier, CCC ended up being bowled out for 307 off 97 overs, adding a further 47 runs to their overnight score.

Jonathan Carter finished 135* off 217 balls against three-wicket hauls from Gordon Bryan and Ojay Shields and two wickets from Abhijai Mansingh.

Full Scores: Combined Campuses and Colleges 307 all out off 97 overs (Jonathan Carter 135*, Shamarh Brooks 36, Sion Hackett 30, Zishan Motara 28, Gordon Bryan 3-66, Ojay Shields 3-78, Abhijai Mansingh 2-37)

Jamaica Scorpions 259-6 off 73.1 overs (Chadwick Walton 163, Carlos Brown 48, Zishan Motara 4-69)

A well-played century by Jyd Goolie upstaged Ashmead Nedd’s six-wicket haul as Trinidad and Tobago Red Force tightened their grip on the West Indies Championship contest against West Indies Academy at Conaree Sports Club, in St Kitts.

Goolie’s 113, his second First Class century, propelled Red Force to 329, a first innings lead of 166, which West Indies Academy is struggling to get to, as they ended Thursday’s second day at 84-3. Mbeki Joseph, on 34, and captain Nyeem Young, on three, were at the crease for West Indies Academy, who are still 82 runs behind.

Scores: West Indies Academy 163 & 84-3; Trinidad and Tobago Red Force 329 (115.4 overs) lead by 82 runs

Earlier, the 26-year-old Goolie, who resumed on 15, patiently played his way to top score in the Red Force innings, stroking 10 fours and two sixes in the 248-ball knock. His partnership with Amir Jangoo (40), who added only 16 to his overnight score of 24, easily pushed Red Force past the 35-run deficit from overnight.

However, both were later included in Nedd’s six scalps, along with Tion Webster (nine), Anderson Phillip (16), Jayden Seales (zero), and Jason Mohammed, who went for five on Wednesday’s first day. Bryan Charles was left unbeaten on 25.

Nedd ended with 6-78 in 36.4 overs, including nine maidens, with support from Joshua Bishop, who had 3-116.

Like it was in their first innings, West Indies Academy’s top order again failed to really fire, leaving them with an uphill task to not only overturn the current deficit, but to also put a substantial score on the board to challenge the Red Force, if they are required to bat a second time.

Bryan Charles removed Rashawn Worrell (12) and Ackeem Aguste (34), while Anderson Phillip accounted for Kadeem Alleyne, who went without scoring.

The Leeward Islands Hurricanes have asserted their dominance over the Guyana Harpy Eagles in their second-round West Indies Championships match at Warner Park in St Kitts. After posting a commanding first innings total of 352, the Hurricanes through some excellent bowling restricted the Harpy Eagles to 188, establishing a substantial lead. Batting a second time, Hurricanes were 52-1 leading by 216 runs with nine wickets in hand.

Resuming their innings from an overnight score of 299-6, Rahkeem Cornwall (39) and Jeremiah Louis (3) pushed the Hurricanes to a final total of 352. Cornwall, adding 15 to his overnight score, secured the second half-century of the innings, while Hayden Walsh Jr contributed an unbeaten 20 off just six balls.

Ronaldo Ali Mohamed, who had claimed 2-49 overnight, continued his impressive performance, finishing with figures of 5-69 from 19.5 overs.

In response, the Guyanese side struggled against the spin of Daniel Doram and pave of Jeremiah Louis. Ali Mohamed (41) and Veerasammy Permaul (34) offered resistance, preventing a more-dire situation. Kevin Sinclair contributed 29, during some lower-order fight.

Doram led the bowling attack with figures of 4-40, supported by Louis with 3-42. Despite the individual efforts, the Harpy Eagles found themselves trailing by 164 runs.

At the close of play on Thursday, the Hurricanes were 52-1 in their second innings, extending their overall lead to 216 with nine wickets in hand. Mikyle Louis, who scored 113 in the first innings, continued his form with an unbeaten 37. Keacy Carty  is also at the crease on one. Kofi James contributed 14 before falling to Permaul.

Trinidad and Tobago's Head coach Brian Haynes has named the trio of Rio Cardines, Derrel Garcia and Larry Noel among seven overseas players in his young Soca Warriors squad for their upcoming Concacaf Men's Under-20 Championship assignment.

The twin island republic will host Group D, which includes Canada, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines, at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo. They will open against St Vincent and the Grenadines next Friday, before tackling Dominica on February 25, and Canada on February 27.

Haynes's side is now in the final phase of their preparations following two warm-up fixtures against Jamaica, and one against their senior Soca Warriors counterparts. They first defeated Jamaica 3-2, but lost the second contest 1-3, and that was followed by a 1-2 defeat to Angus Eve's senior outfit.

Despite those results, Haynes in a recent interview, expressed pleasure with his team's display for the most part.

“We need to have some consistency. We have to work on being much more effective on offence. I think we do a good job getting the ball from the back to the midfield and to the top of the 18-yard (box), but the final product has to become better,” Haynes reasoned.

“All we have to do is keep working hard no matter what happens. We concentrated for the most part...I am thankful it is happening now and not in the tournament. While we didn’t win the game, the experience they got here is something you cannot get in practice,” he added.

The inclusion of the seven overseas-based players meant the tactician was impressed by their rendition, as he initially declared that their selection would be dependent on the quality they could add to his team.

“This (local) group here has made me proud, and I am saying I love it. We have good players coming from overseas, but we have good soccer players here in Trinidad, and if the guys that are coming in are not challenging these guys, this is what I am going with,” Haynes said prior to finalizing his squad.

Only the group winners will progress to the next phase of the Concacaf Under-20 tournament to join the top teams –United States, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic –ranked in that order.

Jamaica's national 400m champion, Sean Bailey, is celebrating a significant personal milestone as he has announced his engagement to long-time girlfriend Denae McFarlane. Following a proposal in a romantic setting on Valentine's Day, the 26-year-old athlete shared the joyous news via Instagram, declaring, "She said yes!" The engagement comes at a pivotal moment in Bailey's career as he prepares to secure a spot on Jamaica's team for the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris this summer.

Bailey, the younger brother of Jamaican sprint icon Veronica Campbell-Brown, has steadily risen among the world's elite 400m runners. In 2023, he solidified his status with notable achievements, including a personal best of 44.43 at the Drake Relays. His remarkable victory over Olympic gold medalist Kirani James highlighted his prowess and set the stage for a successful season.

The two-time national champion continued his stellar performance by claiming his second national title in July, clocking an impressive 44.48 to fend off a fast-finishing Antonio Watson, the eventual world champion. Despite injury setbacks at the World Athletic Championships in Budapest, where he finished fifth in the final won by Watson, Bailey signed a professional contract with Adidas.

As Bailey focuses on his Olympic preparations, his fiancée McFarlane, a former standout from Edwin Allen High School, has also made a mark in the world of athletics. Currently pursuing academic studies as a senior at the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP), McFarlane has showcased her talents on the track.

While McFarlane may not have reached the heights achieved by her fiancé, she has proven herself as a quality athlete. Hailing from the parish of Clarendon, McFarlane has represented her university with distinction, earning recognition such as the 2023 All-Conference USA Second Team in the 100m Outdoors, All-Conference USA Second Team in the 4x100m Outdoors, and 2023 All-Conference USA Third Team in the 60m Indoors.

 

 

Footballers who are the victims of discrimination could have the opportunity to meet with the alleged perpetrator as part of a “first of its kind” restorative policy being launched by Major League Soccer and its players.

There are more eyes on football in the United States and Canada than ever before, thanks in no small part to Lionel Messi’s blockbuster move to Inter Miami last summer.

Ever-evolving MLS and the Major League Soccer Players Association have now launched a new jointly aligned anti-discrimination policy ahead of next week’s 2024 season kick-off.

The league says the policy “is the first of its kind in professional sports in that it is centred on restorative practices, prioritising education, prevention, training, and cultural awareness”.

Sola Winley, MLS’ chief engagement and inclusion officer, said: “To bring something like this to bear is no small task.

“It takes not just a lot of smart minds, but a lot of big hearts to think outside of the box, to build a culture that’s rooted in dignity and respect.

“And to build a culture that can be a leader not just in the soccer and football landscape around the world, but in the sports landscape and beyond.”

Eric Harrington, MLSPA general counsel, said: “By embracing culturally inclusive training to prevent discrimination and restorative practices to remedy it when it occurs, we can prevent discrimination and support players who are harmed by it while providing a pathway of healing for everyone.”

MLS, the MLSPA and non-profit Black Players for Change worked together on the development of the policy and a new intercultural awareness training programme, which is required for all players and staff.

New England Revolution goalkeeper and Black Players for Change president Earl Edwards Jr said: “All players deserve to play this game free of discrimination and to have our cultures welcomed, included and respected.

“This innovative policy is a significant step in building a more inclusive game for all of us and for setting an example for all of sports.”

Under the new policy, restorative plans include the option for an alleged offender to make amends with those harmed by their conduct.

 

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Furthermore, those that accept responsibility and partake in a restorative plan will face less severe discipline from the league than if they deny committing the act and are subsequently found to be untruthful or misleading.

“The players have an option to participate if they want to,” Winley added. “We’re not forcing that.

“Our hope is that there’s pathways to the players coming together, to apologise, for the players to hear the work that others have went through. We create that space and that environment for that to happen.”

‘Playing As One’ workshops ran during pre-season, with MLS greats involved in helping to, among other things, explain banned terms and develop cultural awareness in a league with 80-plus nationalities.

“What we’ve decided is that the best way for us to do that is to build bridges of understanding, have conversations that are based on curiosity,” Winley said.

“To give grace to people when they make mistakes but, to be clear, we are moving from a position of strength and not from a position of weakness. And to be compassionate doesn’t mean that you’re weak.

“It’s easy just to suspend people. The hard work is in the rehabilitation and reintegrating, and we have made a commitment to do the hard work.

“That might not always be preferred in a court of public opinion, but if we’re true to our values and if we’re true to the goals that we have, then we feel good about the process and feel very good about what the outcome of this will be.”

Cheltenham Festival-winning jockey Jamie Moore has announced his retirement from the saddle on medical advice following a fall last year.

Moore, 39, is the son of trainer Gary and the brother of Josh, Ryan and Hayley – all of whom are well-known faces in the racing industry.

After starting out in 2001, Moore was the champion conditional rider at the end of the 2003-04 season when based in Somerset with Martin Pipe, for whom he rode his first significant winners in graded events.

Naturally much of his riding was on behalf of his father and it was the popular chestnut Sire De Grugy who became the horse of a lifetime for both when winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham in 2014 – one of 17 victories, with Moore in the saddle each time.

Moore rode 968 winners across his career and took the 2014 Scottish Grand National on Al Co for trainer Peter Bowen in the same season that Sire De Grugy was on the Grade One-winning streak that saw him named British Jumps Horse of the Year.

A heavy fall at Lingfield in late November last year left the rider with a fractured vertebra as well as broken ribs and a broken nose, with doctors advising him not return to the saddle as a result of the injuries he sustained.

In a statement issued via the Professional Jockeys Association, he said: “It is with huge regret that, following my last fall in November 2023, I will not be returning to race riding.

“After being checked by top neurologists and spinal specialists, and taking advice from Dr Jerry Hill and the doctors who’ve seen me the most in my career – Dr Rizwan Ghani and Dr Lucy Free – I have been medically advised not to race ride again.

“I would like to thank everyone who has stuck by me and supported me throughout my 22-year career. Obviously I have been very lucky to have such a good trainer in my father Gary, who’s always supported me, along with his brilliant, faithful owners. My mother Jayne and my wife Lucie have also always been there for me.

“Back to the start and my first boss, Mr Pipe, who helped me become champion conditional. To every other trainer and every owner I’ve ridden for; my agent Dave Roberts; my sponsors; all the brilliant stable staff and the PJA and the Injured Jockeys Fund, who have always been so supportive.

“Finally, to the best place you could wish to work – the weighing room. To all the physios, tea boys and ladies, nurses and weighing room staff who have made each day of going to work much more enjoyable.

“And to all the brilliant jockeys and valets past and present who I’ve made lifelong friends with. I will hugely miss the weighing room. There have been some ups and plenty of downs but everyone is always there for you. You’ve all been top class.

“It’s impossible to put into words how thankful I am to each and every one of you.”

Dale Gibson, executive director of the PJA, added: “Jamie unfortunately suffered more than his fair share of long-term injuries and missed the equivalent of four years race riding during his career as a result, but his remarkable fortitude and appetite for race riding shone like a beacon throughout his career.

“Jamie was and will remain universally popular within the weighing room and wider racing industry. His down to earth, no-nonsense approach alongside his genuine love of the horse (should) be wholeheartedly applauded.

“He also served his colleagues and the PJA exceptionally well as southern-based National Hunt safety officer since December 2019, as well as being a dependable source for general advice to the PJA and younger jockeys both on and off the racecourse.

“Jamie has been a pleasure to represent and will be sorely missed in the weighing room. We wish him, his wife Lucie and their family all the very best and we look forward to seeing him on a racecourse soon in his second career.”

Moore’s father expects his son to become an even more integral part of the family stable and said to Racing TV: “I’m very proud of him, you’re proud of your children anyway, aren’t you? But he’s done really, really.

“He was champion conditional one year, thanks to Martin Pipe. He always wanted to do it from the age of 14 and he’s done remarkably well.

“It’s a shame he didn’t quite make the thousand (winners), but at least he’s come out in one piece.”

Of Sire De Grugy the trainer added: “He was just an unbelievable horse who was Jamie’s best mate really, it wasn’t just the Champion Chase, it was the Celebration here (at Sandown) and the Clarence House. What he did that season was unbelievable.

“I can’t go on forever and him and Josh work very well together. He was in Newmarket last week doing his (training) modules so something will happen in the new future hopefully.”

Fergal O’Brien’s Springtime Promise continued on an upward trajectory with an impressive victory in the Jane Seymour Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown.

An experienced point-to-pointer with two victories in that discipline for Gary McGill on her CV, the bay changed hands to join O’Brien ahead of the current season.

She made her debut for new connections with a two-length win at Huntingdon in January before going on to land another novice event at Sedgefield later the same month.

At Sandown she stepped steeply up to Grade Two company for the Weatherbys Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide-sponsored Jane Seymour, starting at 11-1 under regular jockey Connor Brace.

In a field of seven she ran a pleasing race and jumped neatly throughout to pull away on the approach to the line and secure a three-length victory, extending her winning streak to five consecutive races both under rules and otherwise.

“It was a very good run, her form really stacked up from Huntingdon,” O’Brien said.

“It was hard work for her at Sedgefield, but Connor always thought she’d be better in a better run race.

“She jumped and travelled really well. She didn’t pull, she was a bit too keen in her other races, but today was perfect for her and she saw it out very well – we’re over the moon with her.

“She’s very straightforward, very honest, she’s a good ride at home and she’s very easy to do so she’s got loads of potential.”

Springtime Promise is entered for the Ryanair Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and was cut from 50-1 to 33-1 with Betfair for that race, which has been won for the past two years by winners of the Jane Seymour.

O’Brien added: “I’m delighted for the Keeping The Dream Alive syndicate, we’ll have a look and see what the ground comes up like at Cheltenham and see where we can go next.”

Elsewhere on the card Dan Skelton’s Etalon caught the eye in the Team Forces “Ubique” Handicap Chase, a race he won under Harry Skelton by nine lengths as the 4-6 favourite.

The success is the latest instalment in the gelding’s chasing career, which started with a win on debut at Newbury and continued when he was triumphant in a Warwick novice in January.

Skelton said: “We didn’t really have a hold-up in the autumn, but he was a bit slow to come to hand. He’s got his act together now and was always going to be a chaser and saw it out well today.

“I do think for now he is a two-miler and on balance he’s going to miss Cheltenham and go to Aintree, we will run him in the Grade One novice chase there (Maghull Novices’ Chase).

“We would like to aim high and see if we can create something and with the greatest of respect, if he can’t win a Grade One he will get another chance to run in the Grand Annual in the future.”

The Castel Royal Artillery Gold Cup went the way of Major Will Kellard, who rode Jamie Snowden’s Farceur Du Large to a six-and-a-half-length victory as the 13-8 favourite.

The winning horse was one of a trio in contention over the last fence, where Fil D’Ariane fell and hampered Broken Halo, leaving the grey to gallop home and add this prize to his Grand Military Gold Cup title.

Search For Glory collected his third win of the season when taking the Surehaul Mercedes-Benz Novice Hurdle at Clonmel.

The Gordon Elliott-trained gelding was already a Grade Three winner coming into the race having taken the Singletons Supervalu Stayers Novice Hurdle at Cork in December.

He was not the favourite for this Grade Three, however, and started at 5-4 under Jack Kennedy as Eddie and Patrick Harty’s Harvard Guy was at the head of the market at 8-11 in a field of three.

The early stages of the race were run at a canter and the contest eventually developed into a sprint, with Search For Glory easily able to pull away and triumph by four and a quarter lengths after showing some reluctance when making the running.

“He actually did it well in the end and just didn’t like being in front,” Kennedy said.

“Once he got to the top of the hill he didn’t mind coming back around this way, but going away from the bend had been tricky.

“I wouldn’t even say he is better going left-handed, he just didn’t enjoy making the running.

“It worked out OK as he was always going to pick up and he actually showed more gears today than he ever did.”

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