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 cross-country thriller
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.
"He wasn't able to win normal handicaps off his mark and he gets outpaced in his races but he stays all day and jumps brilliantly so something like this is perfect for him," said Nicholls.
"We'll come back in the spring for the festival's cross-country race and I just hope the ground isn't too soft. I also hope Angela (Tincknell) will let me enter him for the National as he would certainly stay and jump round."
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.
French raider Pasquini Rouge stayed on to take third.