Handy Andy (left) jumps the second last fence on his way to winningPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
run comes to an end
Report: Cheltenham, Friday
Opus Energy Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase 3m½f, 4yo+
IT WAS thought we had found another Hunt Ball but fast improver Standing Ovation couldn't go on from his Wincanton win last weekend as the David Pipe-trained 15-8 favourite, running in the colours of the late David Johnson, could only trail home seventh here, well beaten behind the 15-2 winner Handy Andy.
Standing Ovation, whose winning run began a month ago off a rating of 94, has since won four races in quick succession and from Saturday would have to race off a new mark of 133. Three of those victories came at Wincanton, including an authorative success in last weekend's Listed Badger Ales Trophy, but he never looked as comfortable around Prestbury Park's undulating terrain.
The son of Presenting was carrying a 7lb penalty for this quick reappearance, effectively meaning he was 6lb well in, but he never really jumped as well as he can, ballooning some of his obstacles and the writing was on the wall as he kicked into the straight.
The winner was recording his first success at Cheltenham, having looked for all the world as if he was going to score at the last meeting when he went six lengths clear up the run-in only to stop and finish fourth. This time, however, Colin Tizzard was in no doubt of victory and the seven-year-old saw out the hill well enough to see off 50-1 chance Charingworth by two and a half lengths.
"I said to Mikey [Legg] not to hit the front too soon. He looked the winner the whole way around," said the winning trainer.