Eagle swoops to land Flat’s final big prize

Daniel Tudhope, on Open Eagle, has time to look back during the November Handicap. Picture: Getty

Daniel Tudhope, on Open Eagle, has time to look back during the November Handicap. Picture: Getty

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OPEN Eagle benefited from an excellent ride from Danny Tudhope as he annihilated the field in the Betfred November Handicap, the final big event of the Flat turf season at Doncaster.

The David O’Meara-trained gelding, a winner at Redcar on Tuesday, made a mockery of his 4lb penalty as he breezed home by 12 lengths.

Tudhope opted to steer a wide path on the 15-2 favourite down the far side of the track as he sought better ground as Jamie Spencer, having his last British turf ride before retirement, led the bulk of the field on Dashing Star on the inner.

Open Eagle was travelling with ease throughout, though, continuing his wider route into the straight before moving upsides Dashing Star with a couple of furlongs to run.

The distress signals were soon evident from Spencer as Tudhope flicked the reins and Open Eagle shot clear, keeping up the gallop all the way to the line to triumph in jaw-dropping style.

Aramist claimed second, with Dashing Star keeping on for third and Communicator back in fourth.

O’Meara said: “It was super. I said to Danny to be brave – either win or get beaten. We’ve had a great year. It’s a huge team effort. We’ve a great team.

“It was a great ride. History says you can go wide and gain a bit of an advantage here, so from stall 18 it made sense and Danny gave him a great ride.

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“There wasn’t an awful lot left for him with this being the last day of the season today and he has all winter to recover.

“If we had as good a season as this again, we would be doing well.”

Tudhope added: “It was a great performance. The ground is obviously a lot better out there [wide] than the middle of the track. It’s been a tremendous season – I’m chuffed.”

Meanwhile, Irish Saint was chopped in the betting for the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival in March after he made an accomplished chasing bow at Sandown.

The Grade Two-winning hurdler jumped impressively in a three-runner novices’ chase over two miles, which he claimed by 10 lengths in the hands of Nick Scholfield.

Although Irish Saint is now available at around 16-1 for the two-mile Arkle, trainer Paul Nicholls feels he could handle further in time.

The Ditcheat handler said of the 4-5 favourite: “That was a good start.

“It’s hard to find races for them at this time of year, but he’s an interesting horse as he’s got plenty of speed.

“He should also be versatile enough to go up to two and a half miles.”

At Wincanton, Southfield Theatre gave his backers a few moments of concern but eventually prevailed in style in the Grade Two Bathwick Tyres Rising Stars Novices’ Chase.

The 4-6 favourite set out to make all and while Horizontal Speed tried to take him on, Southfield Theatre appeared to be in control.

However, Sam Twiston-Davies had to push him along on the approach to the water jump before Southfield Theatre, who had appeared to idle, surged clear for an 11-length win.

Nicholls said: “We’ve been looking forward to chasing with him and the RSA is his obvious aim.

“Whether we go straight to the Feltham now or give him another run, we’ll see.”

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