Ashkazar sweeps past Junior to record a first win of the season at 20-1PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Ashkazar leads home one-two-three for Pipe
Report: Saturday, Cheltenham
Skybet.com Handicap Chase (Class 2) 3m, 4yo+
ASHKAZAR led home a superb one-two-three for trainer David Pipe as he came from last to first under a perfectly judged ride from Timmy Murphy.
Stablemate Junior looked to have done enough under 5lb claimer Conor O'Farrell as he bravely got the better of a prolonged battle with Chartreux, but 20-1 shot Ashkazar finished with a late rattle to foil Junior on the final climb to the line.
Pipe also ran Raslan and Buena Vista in the race and for a long way it looked as though Chartreux, under stable jockey Tom Scudamore, would be the winner. But he could never shake off the attention of Junior as the two started to pull clear down the back straight.
Junior regained a clear advantage after the second-last before Ashkazar made up an incredible amount of ground from the rear to sail past both his stablemates down the centre of the course.
Pipe nominated the Ladbrokes World Hurdle or the Pertemps Final, which he won with Buena Vista last year, as potential Cheltenham Festival targets for the winner.
Pipe said: "I had a one-two-three once at Taunton but that's my first and almost certainly my last at Cheltenham!
"I thought Chartreux would be the best of the lot and he looked like that for a long way. Ashkazar has gone up in trip and was trying three miles for the first time but he's obviously improved for it. He's always been in and out but he ran a good race last time over two and a half miles.
"We'll have to look at the World Hurdle or the Pertemps. He had to stay well in these conditions; it's not like it's good ground.
"With Ashkazar it all depends on which side of bed he's got out of."
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