Sire Collonges (black-striped cap): gives a fence more than enough air en-route to winning the cross-country chase by half a length
PICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
Sire Collonges (black-striped cap): gives a fence more than enough air en-route to winning the cross-country chase by half a lengthPICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
Sire Collonges lands thrilling cross-country
Report: Cheltenham, Friday
Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase (Class 2) 3m7f, 5yo+
IT'S not often seven horses jump the last together in the cross-country chase but it was the case here and Sire Collonges and Any Currency, who jumped the final flight in fifth and sixth, finishing strongest to fight out the thrilling finish.
Victory for Sire Collonges was a first on the cross-country course for his trainer Paul Nicholls, who immediately suggested the Crabbie's Grand National for the seven-year-old.
"Mid-race he gets slightly outpaced but Ryan [Mahon - jockey] never gave up. It is horses for courses and he was struggling a bit in ordinary races. I think he'd be a good horse to come back here for the race at the Festival and then go for the National," said Nicholls.
Turning on to the racecourse proper James Reveley and Shalimar Fromentro led David Cottin and Pasquini Rouge, with Nina Carberry on Keep On Track the only other runner still travelling strongly.
However rounding the home turn Imperial Circus, Sire Collonges, Any Currency and Chicago Grey, who had all been outpaced and had got behind, began to stay on, meaning that jumping the last all seven were in contention.
It was Sire Collonges who emerged from behind to forge forward, with Any Currency following him through and closing all the way to the line, but never quite getting there.
"He travelled and jumped so well. He always goes through a flat spot halfway through but all he has done is keep going," said Mahon.
Pasquini Rouge stayed on to take third.