Calgary Bay (left): broke McCoy's Cheltenham losing streak in fine stylePICTURE: Edward Whitaker
Calgary Bay cruises to Dipper Chase success
Report: Cheltenham, Thursday
Dipper Novices' Chase (Grade 2) 2m5f
CALGARY BAY staked his Cheltenham Festival claims when proving far superiorto his four rivals, both on the flat and in the air, to land a comfortable victory on his first attempt at 2m5f.
Sent off at 11-4, the Henrietta Knight-trained giant fought Tony McCoy in the early stages, despite Paddy Brennan settinga good pace aboard Tom George's Tartak, and powered himself over each fence like it was merely a twig.
A sole mistake five from home, when serial blunderers Kealshore Boy and The Cool Guy were tailing off, barelybroke the six-year-old's stride and he cruised effortlessly passed Kicks For Free to share the lead with Tartak jumping three out.
Ruby Walsh got to work on Kicks For Free shortly after and the winner was never in danger after seeing a terrific stride somewhere outside the wings of the final obstacle in the colours of Tim and Camilla Radford.
Coral halved the winner to 10-1 second favourite from 20-1 from the Arkle, while William Hillgo 16-1 for the RSA Chase.
Trainer Henrietta Knight: "mistake probably did him some good"PICTURE: Edward Whitaker
However, Knight hinted Calgary Bay may swerve this year's festival. "He's massive and like Best Mate came to us from Tom Costello," she said.
"We've always liked him, from the time we saw him loose school in Ireland, and when he jumps he nearly lands too far out over the other side, but he's a fast jumper and very keen to get on with it. That mistake at the top of the hill will probably do him some good."
"He'll probably go for the Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown and as he's closely related to Grey Abbey and The Grey Monk, three miles shouldn't be a problem.
The 11-8 favourite Kicks For Free finished a further two and three quarter lengths back insecond followed ten lengths later by Tartak, who weakened dramatically approaching the last.