Tout cut for Hennessy as Zarkandar fluffs last
Un Temps Pour Tout was promoted to third favourite for the Hennessy Gold Cup after taking full advantage of a desperate last-flight mistake by Zarkandar to win his hurdle prep for Newbury.
On a topsy-turvy day for champion trainer Paul Nicholls – who landed an across-the-card five-timer but also saw Southfield Theatre fall at the last when in front in the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton – the sight of the long-absent Zarkandar unseating Sean Bowen when bang in contention will have been a major source of frustration.
It has been a long road back for the four-time Grade 1 scorer, who had not run since returning jarred up from the French Champion Hurdle in June last year, but on a positive note he showed he retains his ability – not that Bowen saw the bright side.
"It was very frustrating for me as I don't get rides like that very often and I think he would have won quite well," said the jockey. "He was cantering and all he need to do was pop the last but he just came up a bit too soon, landed on it and I fell off."
Un Temps Pour Tout was being pressed by Zarkandar approaching the last but went on to win by two lengths, and shortly after the race his Hennessy price was cut to a general 12-1 (from 16).
His trainer David Pipe said: "He always improves for his first run as he takes a lot of work to get fit, so this is a nice prep for the Hennessy.
"He's in the Betfair Chase, where there'll be a smaller field, but the Hennessy is the race we'll probably go for – he'll be off his right handicap mark, so that seems the sensible route."
Nicholls double strike
Prior to the Zarkandar drama, Paul Nicholls bagged a double with Bowen playing his part with a clever ride on Arpege D'Alene in the three-runner 3m1f novice chase.
With the three fences in the home straight omitted due to the low-lying sun and only Wotzizname for company following Definite Outcome's fall two out, Bowen tucked in behind his rival before allowing last season's Pertemps Network Final runner-up to dash clear in the final 100 yards.
Caid Du Berlais, winner of what is now the BetVictor Gold Cup two years ago, brought up the second leg in the 3m½f handicap hurdle to provide conditional jockey Stan Sheppard with his third Saturday winner in a row.
Madden back with a bang
Grand National-winning rider Niall 'Slippers' Madden is a rare visitor to Britain but he returned to the scene of his greatest triumph with a valuable victory on Thomas Brown.
"It's great to be back and ride a winner here," he said. "Harry's wife and my girlfriend are sisters, so that's how we know each other and hopefully I've left a lasting impression."
Thought for the day
It was an up-and-down day for Paul Nicholls and the same applied to Sean Bowen. The unseat on Zarkandar will hurt but he showed the hallmark of a top jockey with his patient ride on Arpege D'Alene.