Forward Plan swoops late to grab Coral Trophy

By Sports Desk February 24, 2024

Forward Plan came from the clouds to deny Al Dancer victory in the Coral Trophy Handicap Chase at Kempton.

Dylan Johnston was positive from the off aboard the grey Al Dancer, making full use of his 5lb allowance aboard the Sam Thomas-trained runner in the three-mile feature.

Despite looking a sitting duck at the top of the straight as half a dozen jockeys appeared to be travelling better than Al Dancer, one by one they began to come under pressure.

Flegmatik, Killer Kane, Bowtogreatness and Blackjack Magic were giving chase but approaching the last, Al Dancer appeared to have them all cooked.

However, despite his chance seemingly having disappeared on jumping the second last, Forward Plan got a second wind and began to make ground and when he met the last running, he had momentum firmly on his side.

Anthony Honeyball’s charge, beaten just a short head in the Great Yorkshire Chase last time out, fairly flew up the run in and came home a comfortable length-and-a-quarter winner for Ben Godfrey.

“This race was always on the agenda for this lad and we were always going to go to Doncaster because we thought it would suit him and it did,” said Honeyball.

“We got beat a nose at Doncaster and you just think ‘are we going to get that chance again?’. But he is a horse who is just progressing nicely and our initial thought today was the going had gone too soft, but he’s proved he does go on it and today was three miles, rather than three-mile-two.

“Doncaster is definitely home games for him and we will be back here with him, that’s for sure. We were always working back from this and you can’t do anything about the weather.

“We were all geared up to run and he’s not going to run again until Aintree, so we thought if the ground is too soft today and that finds us out, at least we’ve got a nice race to go to in the spring where the ground might be better. Now it doesn’t matter what the ground is like at Aintree.

“He’s not very big, but he travels and he’s a handy horse who you can put where you want. I suppose he’s handy for races like this because he can travel away and he has a few gears. You have obviously got to be good enough to have a few gears and he had enough in reserve (stamina wise) to use them.

“Aintree will be next, the race we won with Sam Brown a few years ago.”

Honeyball also reserved plenty of praise for Godfrey, who was celebrating the biggest success of his fledgling riding career.

He continued: “It’s one of the biggest wins of any jockey’s career, it’s a £150,000 race and in a handicap what is there worth more than that?

“Ben has been based with us since he claimed 7lb. He just knows the horses and is learning to be cool and calm in a race.

“He’s gaining some great experience in races like this and on this horse in particular and it’s really standing him in good stead. He’s finding himself in the right places quite often which is not an easy thing.”

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