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Cheltenham

  • 15:15 StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle 2m 110y

  • (Grade 3 Handicap) £100,000 added 4yo+ 15 ran
  • Winner £56,950 2nd £21,370 3rd £10,700 4th £5,330
  • Going: Soft, Heavy in places
  • Surface: Turf
    Weighed In
  • Winning time: 4m 6.90s
  • Off time: 15:19:27

Garde La Victoire wins for Hobbs and Johnson in Greatwood Hurdle

Last Updated: 16/11/14 6:37pm

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Garde La Victoire sees of the challenge of Vaniteux (far side) to win the Stan James Greatwood Hurdle.

Garde La Victoire sees of the challenge of Vaniteux (far side) to win the Stan James Greatwood Hurdle.

Garde La Victoire put the seal on a hugely-successful Open Meeting for Philip Hobbs when taking the Stan James Greatwood Hurdle at 10/1 under an inspired frontrunning ride Richard Johnson.

Few renewals of the Grade Three handicap hurdle can possibly have been run at such a slow early pace and it was at least 15 seconds after the start of the race before the field broke into anything more than a canter.

But Johnson always had his mount to the fore and although the well-backed Vaniteux and Clondaw Warrior both emerged on the scene - along with a host of other challengers - around the home turn, Garde La Victoire had enough left in the tank to repel them.

At the line, he had a length and a quarter to spare over 7/2 favourite Vaniteux, with Clondaw Warrior (5/1) third and Blue Heron staying on for a never-nearer fourth.

Hobbs paid tribute to Johnson's awareness of the prospect of an unusually slow pace in the race.

"We had talked about it," he said. "There's no better man to do his homework on these things and he said that if it looked like nothing was going to go on, he would keep him handy.

"He was just a little bit keen early on and then he settled and jumped beautifully. I think he would have won at Aintree the other day except for his jumping.

"He'll stay over hurdles this season. He's only five, so I think we'll do that. The fact that he settled better helped his overall performance.

"We thought we might have two winners over the three days, maybe three. I can't remember having six winners at any big meeting so we'll enjoy it while it lasts.

"Realistically it's down to the whole team at home. Without the staff at home nothing happens.

"We probably haven't got the ammunition as some of those going for the trainers' title, but winning these big prizes certainly helps."

A jubilant Johnson, who went on to ride a seventh winner of the meeting in the concluding bumper, added: "It's amazing. To come there thinking you might have one winner is great and anything more than that is a bonus.

"We thought he'd run really well. He was growing last season, maybe he's improved a bit and I don't think he's finished improving yet."

Despite forced to settle for second place again, Nicky Henderson insisted he wasn't disappointed with defeat for Vaniteux.

"Some of mine are not quite there yet and Philip's are absolutely on fire," he said. "But I was pleased with Vaniteux - he travelled well, jumped well and ran on."

Barry Geraghty said he was looking forward to the rest of the season with the five-year-old, who carried top-weight of 11st 12lb.

"It was hard work for him out there in that ground," said the jockey. "But he's got class and his class took him into the race. It was a satisfactory start and he's going to be fun."

Third place, just three-quarters of a length adrift, went to the 10st bottom-weight Clondaw Warrior, whose trainer Willie Mullins was on duty at Punchestown.

Rider David Casey was pleased with his mount's effort, saying: "He made a small mistake two out, which put me on Richard's [Johnson, rider of the winner Garde La Victoire] heels a bit and set me back.

"But the winner and second just pulled out more. I was happy with my run."

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