Finian's Rainbow last as Captain Chris wins
Report: Ascot, Saturday
Amlin 1965 Chase (Grade 2) 2m3f, 4yo+
CHAMPION CHASE winner Finian's Rainbow finished last of the four runners on his seasonal return as he got bogged down in testing ground trying to give weight to his rivals.
Richard Johnson elected to take the shortest route on Captain Chris and that tactic reaped dividends as he won at odds of 7-2 to notch just a second win since he won the Arkle at Cheltenham in March 2011.
For Non Stop, who raced in rear throughout, got up to snatch second from the front-running Ghizao with Finian's Rainbow already beaten when he clambered over the final fence.
Captain Chris had finished third behind Kauto Star in the King George last season and winning trainer Philip Hobbs said Kempton's Christmas feature is very much on the agenda again.
Paddy Power went 10-1 about Captain Chris winning the King George as Hobbs said: "I would imagine that is where he will be going now.
"He is better going right-handed, although his schooling has been better this year, and he was third in the King George last year so I don't think the [longer] trip is an issue."
Finian's Rainbow was sent off odds-on to make it eight wins from ten races over fences but he never got in a position to challenge under Barry Geraghty.
With Johnson and Captain Chris keeping close tabs on the Daryl Jacob-ridden Ghizao, Finian's Rainbow went about things in his own time and when he made a mistake racing down the side of the track he already looked like he had plenty to do.
Heading up the rain-soaked home straight, the weight of 11st 11lb took its toll on the nine-year-old and he did well to complete the course after making a horrible blunder at the final fence.
Trainer Nicky Henderson said: "Barry said ignore the run and blamed the ground, the ground and then the ground again. You either go on it or you don't when you get into extremes of going.
"It does complicate things as we haven't learnt anything at all except not to run him on soft ground again."
Finian's Rainbow was shunted out to 12-1 (from 6-1) by William Hill for the King George after this sorry display.