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Champion Court cheltenham 01/01/2012

Champion Court: Paddy Power Gold Cup target after victory

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham (  

Champion Court lands Silver Trophy spoils

Report: Cheltenham, Wednesday

MacMillan Cancer Support Silver Trophy Chase Handicap (Grade 2) 2m5f, 5yo+

IT WASN'T pretty but Champion Court dug really deep to fight off the plucky Menorah and land the Silver Trophy under a delighted Ian Popham.

The jockey, who has had his fair share of injuries over the past two years, punched the air with delight as the 15-8 favourite battled back to deny Menorah.

A classy renewal of this limited handicap also included Hunt Ball and Ghizao but it was the Martin Keighley-trained eight-year-0ld who came out on top.

Easter Meteor and Carrickboy, both running from out of the handicap, set a strong pace from the off, putting the emphasis on jumping. 

Hunt Ball lacked fluency in that department and had to be niggled to stay in contention.

Up front, Easter Meteor got the better of his battle with Carrickboy and went for home under Aidan Coleman.

However, he was soon joined by the consistent Champion Court, who got to the lead after the second-last.

Under heavy pressure, Menorah - runner-up at Aintree just 13 days ago - stayed on strongly to join the leader at the last and wrestled a minor advantage on the run-in.

But Champion Court was not to be denied, battling back to land a narrow verdict for Popham.

"He deserved to win a race like that," said a delighted Keighley. "He has been in at the deep end for most of the season.

"I would think that will be it and a he will enjoy a nice summer break. We will look to come back here in November for the Paddy Power Chase."

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