Oscar Whisky and Barry Geraghty on their way to victory at CheltenhamPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Oscar fights off old foe Taquin to land Dipper
Report: Cheltenham, Wednesday
Cheltenham Pony Club Raceday Novices' Chase (Registered The Dipper Novices' Chase) (Grade 2) 2m5f, 5yo+ new course
OSCAR WHISKY splashed his way through the puddles and the mud on a miserable day at Cheltenham to defeat old foe Taquin Du Seuil.
Trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Barry Geraghty, Oscar Whisky, the 5-6 favourite, was far from his most fluent but Taquin Du Seuil was unable to match him in the closing stages.
Strong wind and heavy rain made conditions testing for the four runners and only 11 of the 17 fences were jumped, which may have played into the hands of Oscar Whisky who appeared to need plenty of urging from the saddle to lift his frame over the fences.
He was tracked throughout by Taquin Du Seuil, who had defeated Oscar Whisky when conceding 5lb earlier in the season, with jockey Tony McCoy looking to pounce late on.
Turning for home the four runners were lined up across the track but it came down to a match race between the big two approaching the final fence.
The duo jumped it together but Taquin De Seuil landed rather too steeply, checking his momentum, and he was unable to claw back Oscar Whisky in the final run to the line.
Henderson said: "Barry was very clever as he was quite keen not to force it early on this time. He didn't want it to turn into a slog in a bog and figured he would have more chance of beating the other horse for toe rather than in a battle bearing in mind he wasn't that off being a Champion Hurdle horse.
"We'll put him in the Arkle but two and a half miles was his premium distance over hurdles so the Jewson is probably the way we'll go."
Oscar Whisky was cut to 6-1 (from 8) for the Jewson Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival by BetVictor and to 8-1 (from 10) for the same race by Paddy Power. He remains a 10-1 chance for the race with William Hill.