Bryony Frost to the fore again as Milansbar makes light work of Warwick test
Milansbar, with more letters in his form than numbers since finishing second in the 2016 Midlands Grand National, became the latest chaser to be rejuvenated by the talents of a pair of blinkers and Bryony Frost for a shock win in the Betfred Classic Chase.
The partnership were in perfect harmony from flagfall at Warwick on Saturday and Milansbar, a mulish participant in the Welsh Grand National a week ago, never saw a rival in those blinkers after jumping away the attentions of favourite, but less fleet-footed jumper, Missed Approach on the last circuit.
Cogry gave vain chase around the home bend in the Grade 3 feature but was consigned to another big-race second after his Scottish Grand National defeat by Vicente last April.
Winning owner Robert Bothway was ecstatic as much with the win of his Neil King-trained veteran as with the kiss his winning rider gave the 80-year-old, along with the dream of having a Randox Health Grand National runner.
Bothway said: "We had hoped to run him in the National last year but Neil's horses had a bug and we decided against it, but Aintree here we come now."
Paddy Power reacted with a 50-1 first show for Aintree, and Betfair Sportsbook went 66-1 about the 11-year-old.
Frost will be hot property in the build up to the National and said: "I’m qualified to ride in it and that would be cool. You’ve got to get there first and get a ride and you never know what’s round the corner. I’ve been around the fences and the day gets you buzzed.
"If you’ve got a good partner, you’re going to have masses of faith. You have to be brave, swallow the nerves and keep kicking. Going into war with someone you have loads of faith in is a cool feeling."
Milansbar certainly fitted that bill on Saturday as Frost gave him a refreshingly different reference.
"I was getting to know him going down to the start and just finding out who he is," she continued. "He’s a polite, big, lovely-striding horse.
"Neil said he jumped and stayed all day and to believe in him. He said I might need to scrub a long way, but it wasn’t like that at all. My arms are more tired than my legs. He’s been an absolute pleasure and romped home."
The National date remains in the hands of matchmaker Phil Smith, the BHA's retiring senior handicapper, with Milansbar winning off a mark of just 134, but Bothway will settle for his biggest winner in a lifetime in racing.
"I have been around horses all my life and rode in point-to-points when I was young and thin!" added Bothway, who is very much part of King's Marlborough team.
Assistant trainer Richie O'Dea said: "He is not just an owner but a family friend - he drives the tractor, does the gallops and cuts the grass. He's unbelievable, and so is this win."
Just a week after sulking round in the Welsh Grand National before having to swerve a faller and getting rid of Trevor Whelan, Milansbar was also transformed by blinkers, which were added in a schooling session this week after the Chepstow disappointment.
O'Dea added: "He was like a five-year-old before the race today and after it!
"He jumped and travelled today, which he hasn't done for a long time. It's a great boost for the stable to have another big Saturday success."