Chantry House (5/6 favourite) beats Santini to win a dramatic Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham Trials Day, shortening to 14/1 for the Gold Cup in March; owner JP McManus enjoys 4,000th winner; Aye Right takes third for Harriet Graham
Saturday 29 January 2022 16:21, UK
Chantry House booked his Gold Cup ticket as he returned to winning ways with a hard-earned success in the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham.
After being pulled up in the King George when sent off favourite at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, the Nicky Henderson-trained gelding had a point to prove as he lined up under Nico de Boinville for the five-runner affair.
The eight-year-old started as the 5/6 market leader but travelled only moderately at times, inching into the lead as his rivals tired before staying on in determined fashion for a two-and-a-half-length victory.
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Former stablemate Santini kept him honest up the hill for new trainer Polly Gundry, with Harriet Graham's Aye Right taking third place under Callum Bewley.
The triumph was equally notable as a 4,000th winner for owner JP McManus, and Henderson said: "Well I think that's wonderful, nothing gives me more pleasure than doing that and it's lovely that it's at Cheltenham.
"It's here in a proper race at Cheltenham. Well done JP, he's been an amazing friend and supporter and nothing gives me more pleasure, I can assure you. Well done boss!"
He added: "It's fantastic. We had AP's (McCoy) 3,000th - nobody dreamt then he'd get to 4000! We're trying to get to 3,000 and might not be far away actually.
"I'm very lucky. I've always said to everybody that I have the best team of owners anyone could have.
"JP has the most horses and does send me some seriously lovely horses. My job is to get them here."
Of Chantry House, who was sporting cheekpieces for the first time, the Seven Barrows trainer said: "I'm pleased that's done and he's got the job done. He's had a really good blow actually and he was tired, which is why Nico jumped off (after the line).
"If you go back, it's actually his first (competitive) race since Aintree last year. He won a two-horse race at Sandown and went nowhere at Kempton.
"We mooted putting the cheekpieces on months ago, between Nico and AP and myself. We thought about putting them on in the King George, but I thought he was sharp enough - he wasn't.
"He just wasn't sharp enough for that game - going flat out over three miles. They went very quick at Kempton and he was lost after three or four fences.
"We tried the cheekpieces at home and they definitely sharpened him up, so the big question was whether to put them on today or keep them for March.
"I rather felt he had to win today to stay in ballgame for the Gold Cup and therefore he had to have them on.
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"Santini always goes a good gallop, he had to work hard and he did get tired, but he was entitled to and we've got plenty of time, so I think we take positives out of it all.
"If he hadn't won today you'd have to say he'd have no business running in the Gold Cup."