First Lieutenant: first chase success at the highest levelPICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos)
First Lieutenant flies to Grade 1 success in Bowl
Report: Aintree, Thursday
Betfred Bowl Chase (Grade 1) 3m1f, 5yo
FIRST LIEUTENANT scored a richly deserved first chase success at the highest level when edging out Menorah to land the Betfred Bowl under rising star Bryan Cooper.
Second in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, the Mouse Morris-trained eight-year-old relished the greater test of stamina and battled bravely to the line to record a 7-2 victory. Favourite Silviniaco Conti was back in third.
Twice a Grade 1 winner over hurdles, First Lieutenant put in some phenomenal leaps on the Mildmay course and took Cooper to the front two fences from home.
However, the young jockey was eager not to ask his partner for too much too soon and instead let Menorah and Richard Johnson take a narrow lead.
Menorah, pulled up in the Ryanair Chase, produced two stunning jumps of his own at the final obstacles and for a moment looked like he'd hold First Lieutenant.
But Cooper had judged things perfectly and and got a sustained burst from his willing partner to land the near £85,000 first prize.
Silviniaco Conti, sent off at even money, made a bad error six fences from home and was always playing catch-up from that point, although to his credit he finished with vigour to be a close third.
Cooper said: “He jumped brilliantly and took me to the front at the second-last. I was keen not to go for everything and just held on to him and he's picked up well from the back of the last.”
Morris added: “He deserved that. He's got a big heart and jumped super for Brian. He's not run a bad race all season, running well behind all those good horses, and I'm so pleased for the horse.”