I’d Like To Know digs deep for Newbury win

By Sports Desk March 01, 2024

I’d Like To Know overcame a few hairy leaps late in the day to run out a comfortable winner of the Howden Supporting West Berkshire Mencap Handicap Chase at Newbury.

Beaten just a short head into second place by Gary Moore’s Issar d’Airy on his first visit to the Berkshire circuit in January, Chris Gordon’s charge was an 11-10 favourite to go one better in deteriorating conditions.

Sent straight to the lead by Rex Dingle, I’d Like To Know had most of his rivals in serious trouble at the top of the home straight, but his supporters will have had their hearts in their mouths when he stood a long way off the fourth fence from home.

However, he made it to the other side in one piece and while he was far from fluent at the remaining obstacles, the seven-year-old ultimately had plenty in hand as he passed the post five and a half lengths ahead of the runner-up Real Stone.

Gordon said: “He won nicely considering the other horse (Real Stone) came to him three-quarters of the way down the back and took him on. The two of them injected a huge amount of pace into it and they were half going like it was summer ground down to the cross fence.

“They just got racing far too early and I think it just shows you our boy is a gutsy fella to come back and stay on like he did.

“He got very tired on the way back, but it was only his second time over fences, he’s a big horse and fingers crossed he can keep on improving.”

Toss Of A Coin can be expected to go on to bigger and better things after completing a double on the card for champion trainer Paul Nicholls.

A winner between the flags in Ireland last spring, the six-year-old landed cramped odds on his first start for his new connections at Exeter in December and was a 10-11 shot to follow up under a penalty in the Download The BetVictor App “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle.

His task was far from straightforward, with Gary Moore’s Ballybentragh also bringing a high level of form to the table after making a successful start to his career under rules at Sandown.

It turned into a straight shootout between the pair from halfway up the home straight and having been sent to the lead from flag-fall, Toss Of A Coin found plenty once challenged to prevail by a length and a half in the hands of title-chasing jockey Harry Cobden.

Nicholls had earlier struck gold with 7-1 shot Kruger Park, who readily extended clear of his rivals in the Howden Supporting West Berkshire Mencap Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle under Freddie Gingell.

“He’s an improving horse who has been very mentally backward and slow. He ran off the course one day at Taunton last year and it just took him a few runs to learn,” Nicholls told Sky Sports Racing.

“He was unlucky not to win at Fontwell the last time, he was a little bit green, but today he was much more professional and Freddie gave him a great ride. I’m delighted with him.”

The father-and-son team of Dominic and Ben Ffrench Davis combined to land the Get Best Odds Guaranteed At BetVictor Juvenile Hurdle as Ithaca’s Arrow upset favourite Le Fauve.

The latter was a 5-6 chance off the back of finishing fifth behind Triumph Hurdle favourite Sir Gino at Cheltenham on his most recent outing, but 7-2 chance Ithaca’s Arrow travelled strongly throughout and pulled clear on the run-in to score by four and a half lengths.

“It’s been a frustrating couple of runs with this lad, we got beaten a short head at Sandown first time out and we really fancied him at Kempton (next time) and the run was too bad to be true. We got him scoped afterwards and he was actually as sick as a dog,” said the winning rider.

“We got him back for Ludlow and he actually went for his girths turning in and got beaten a short head by a horse going for the Fred Winter (Boodles at Cheltenham, Royal Way), so he deserved to win today.”

Following a string of placed efforts, the Venetia Williams-trained Martator (5-2) finally came good over fences in the Focus Novices’ Handicap Chase.

Jockey Charlie Deutsch said: “He takes a bit of knowing and it’s took me a while to find the winning line on him. He’s quite keen, but the more you pull the faster he goes almost, so I was having to use the other horses to slow him up.

“I’ve hit the front soon enough actually, the way he’s travelled past them and then he’s got a little bit lonely in front, but I’m really pleased.”

Williams and Deutsch doubled up in the Play The BetVictor Predictor Handicap Hurdle as 13-2 shot Tanganyika led his rivals a merry dance in the rain-softened ground.

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