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Cheltenham

  • 14:25 Steel Plate And Sections Novices' Chase2m 4f 110y

  • £20,000 added 4yo+ 6 ran
  • Winner £12,512 2nd £3,696 3rd £1,848 4th £924
  • Going: Soft (Good to Soft in places, Cross Country: Good, Good to Soft in places)
  • Surface: Turf
    Weighed In
  • Winning time: 5m 20.00s
  • Off time: 14:35:12

Champagne West leads home Colour Squadron for Hobbs 1-2

Last Updated: 14/11/14 6:35pm

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Champagne West holds off the challenge of Colour Squadron to score under Richard Johnson.

Champagne West holds off the challenge of Colour Squadron to score under Richard Johnson.

Champagne West proved more resolute than stablemate Colour Squadron to take the Steel Plate And Sections Novices' Chase.

Urban Hymn took them along for most of a race considerably affected by the removal of the four fences in the home straight as a result of low sunshine.

Jumping the third-last fence, which in practice actually proved to be the last obstacle, Champagne West moved up to challenge the leader and quickly went to the front with Colour Squadron slipstreaming the winner.

Tom O'Brien did his best to nurse Colour Squadron into a position in order to throw down a challenge but the 7/2 winner found more for Richard Johnson to pull away again and score by three and a quarter lengths.

Urban Hymn was eight lengths back in a respectable third, with Dell'Arca fourth.

"It's very testing ground now that the rain has soaked in and the more we open it up, the harder it's going to get for some of them," said Johnson.

"He was just more grown up today than at the start of last season and you'd say he was a very exciting one for the future on the basis of that. Three miles is going to be his trip, but when the ground is like that two and a half is fine and that's obviously going to give us more options."

Sky Bet installed the winner at 14/1 for the RSA Chase and 10/1 for the JLT with spokesman Michael Shinners saying: "Despite the lack of fences, you couldn't help but be impressed by the winner who progressed well over hurdles last season but always had the look of a potential star chaser."

Hobbs said: "It was a promising performance over two and a half miles but it bodes even better for three miles as that's where I think his future lies.

"He was just a bit keen in his races over shorter last season but he's beginning to grow up and beginning to relax more and I think he'll be a good horse in time.

"He was a bit careful at the third fence but I was quite happy to see him do that. I suppose we didn't learn too much about his jumping because most of the fences were taken out but he jumps well enough. He should continue to improve."

The trainer was also keen to praise runner-up Colour Squadron after the race.

"His attitude has been called into question a few times which I think is a bit unfair," he said.

"He's run some good races in the past and run against some good horses. I think he's run against another good one here."

Urban Hymn's trainer Malcom Jefferson rued the omitted fences, only slightly tongue in cheek. "Mine is a good jumper and I think health and safety is taking over a bit much," he said.

Jefferson views Urban Hymn as a high-class prospect. "He's a big horse, but a really lovely mover," he said. "Better ground will suit him better and he could be one for the RSA Chase back here in March."

David Pipe said of Dell' Arca: "He ran his race, it was a hot race and he'll come on for it."

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