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What We Learned

Britain's slim Arkle hopes, a December Gold Cup pointer and top jockey showcases his talent - three things we learned this week

It has been another busy week in the world of racing. Here we pick out three things we learned . . .

JPR One could be best of the British two-mile novices - but Arkle looks Ireland's for the taking

Cheltenham's final fence/hurdle curse struck again on Friday to the horror of JPR One backers as he managed a passable impression of Galopin Des Champs' Turners mishap from 2022.

He was running away with the Arkle trial until that point, backing up the high regard he is held in by Joe Tizzard, and could easily cement himself as Britain's top two-mile novice chaser in a division lacking depth.

The Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown in three weeks' time would seem an obvious target, although the trainer hinted he may look for an easier option to allow JPR One to regain confidence.

JPR One flies over the last at Cheltenham on Friday before slipping and unseating Brendan Powell moments later
JPR One flies the last at Cheltenham on Friday before slipping and unseating Brendan Powell Credit: Edward Whitaker

Beyond that, the size of the task if connections go the Arkle route, was laid bare in a cracking beginners' chase at Navan on Saturday, which had a stronger line-up than most British Grade 1 novice races will have all season.

Facile Vega won with the minimum of fuss and is now joint-favourite for the Arkle with several firms alongside his Supreme conqueror Marine Nationale.

Inthepocket was an eyecatcher in second and could easily take top rank in the two or two-and-a-half mile division, while Saint Felicien has big potential if Gordon Elliott can correct his tendency to jump left.

JPR One's chances up against that lot and more are slim, but there should still be plenty of nice prizes to target.
Sam Hendry

December Gold Cup pointer in Paddy Power

Stage Star was an impressive winner of the Paddy Power Gold Cup, and his future looks bright, but the Saturday feature also provided a notable pointer to his stablemate's chances in a big handicap chase at Cheltenham next month.

Five of the last six winners of the Virgin Bet December Gold Cup failed to land the previous month's Paddy Power Gold Cup and the third, Il Ridoto, will surely be a leading player.

Il Ridoto (pink) ran well behind stablemate Stage Star, who narrowly avoided coming down at the last
Il Ridoto (pink) ran well behind stablemate Stage Star, who narrowly avoided coming down at the lastCredit: Edward Whitaker

Il Ridoto was outclassed by last season's Turners 1-2 – he would have finished a bit closer if avoiding some scrimmaging after three out – but confirmed the form of his course-and-distance win over Fugitif in January.

His rider Freddie Gingell told ITV: "He ran a lovely race. They went quite quick over the first two and he was caught on the back foot a bit, but he ran very well."

A greater emphasis on stamina on the New course will play to the strengths of Il Ridoto, and all five of Paul Nicholls' December Gold Cup winners were beaten at the November meeting on their previous start, including four in the Paddy Power Gold Cup.
Jack Haynes

Top-tier Cobden at his brilliant best

Harry Cobden showed us on Saturday why he should be considered one of jump racing’s finest jockeys.

In Cheltenham’s opening JCB Triumph Trial Cobden’s mount Burdett Road raced keenly at the back of the field and his jumping left plenty to be desired, but the rider never panicked. Even when the pair turned for home in sixth he knew the talent of the horse underneath him and once the finish line came in sight Cobden shifted gear and eased Burdett Road to a six-and-a-half-length victory.

That was good, but the best was still to come.

Burdett Road: winner of the Grade 2 JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham
Burdett Road: winner of the Grade 2 JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle at CheltenhamCredit: John Grossick

Taking the ride on 4-1 favourite Stage Star in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, Cobden positioned the Turners winner towards the head of affairs throughout and after slingshotting into the straight the race looked secure.

However, Stage Star had other ideas and the seven-year-old took a chance at the final fence, nodded, sprawled, and all but stopped. 

Cobden should be commended for simply staying aboard, but to galvanise Stage Star up the Cheltenham hill for a four-length success was something special and showed that, in the big moments, there are few better.
Joe Eccles

Read more here:

'His class kicked in' - Facile Vega 3-1 for the Arkle after impressive chase debut win 

Superb Stage Star completes perfect Paul Nicholls plan despite dramatic final-fence error in Paddy Power Gold Cup 

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Published on 19 November 2023inWhat We Learned

Last updated 18:00, 19 November 2023