TONY McCoy enjoyed a winner on what is almost certain to be his final visit to Fakenham when steering Artifice Sivola to an easy success in the King’s Lynn Handicap Chase yesterday.
After finding himself out of luck in his three earlier rides at the West Norfolk track, the soon-to-retire 19-times champion jockey ensured he kept up the momentum on his farewell tour with a win aboard the 8-11 favourite. Despite pecking at the first in the extended two-mile contest, the Lucy Wadham-trained five-year-old proved a cut above his rivals to cruise home by 20 lengths.
McCoy said: “It was nice that Artifice Sivola won, although I didn’t think that after the first where he pecked but he then got a bit of confidence.
“He was the one I had most hope for as the others had bits of chances. This horse had good enough form and his last two runs were pretty solid.”
Aviator made a pleasing impression on his first start over timber with a stylish victory in the Norwich Novices’ Hurdle.
Given a patient ride by Jack Quinlan, the seven-year-old mastered 6-4 favourite Needless Shouting after putting in a fluent jump at the last before being pushed out to win by a length. Winning trainer James Eustace said: “You would think he would enjoy further, the fact they went so quick helped. There was just a moment before the last that I thought ‘would he go by or not’, but he went by them.
“If he comes back to the Flat form he had on the continent he could be useful. He will run in a novice hurdle with a penalty.”
Tom Scudamore made his sole ride at the track a winning one as De Kerry Man (1-2) completed a quickfire hat-trick of wins in the Cromer Handicap Chase for David Bridgwater. Although producing a few sticky jumps, the seven-year-old defied a welter-weight of 12st 5lb to hold off the fast-finishing Dashing George by three and a quarter lengths.
Scudamore said: “His jumping was pretty good, as for a small track they take a bit of jumping here. He enjoyed that and from a long way out I could see I was going better than anything else. His last run was only eight days ago and it might have been that his recent exertions caught up with him. I am not sure how much he had left in the tank, but the winning post came in time.”
It was a case of reverting to plan B for Tom O’Brien aboard Azabitmour in the EPDS Racing Welfare BTO Series 2015 Handicap Hurdle.
Having looked reluctant to race the 9-2 shot was left around 12 lengths behind at the start of the two-and-a-half-mile contest. As the race progressed, the five-year-old warmed to the task to work his way into the contest between the final two hurdles before quickening away to win by seven lengths. O’Brien said: “I was meant to be second or third but he dug his toes in at the start so when they jumped off I had to go to plan B. Luckily he didn’t give too much ground away and he did it very nicely in the end.”
Meanwhile, Gold Cup winners Kauto Star and Denman will be joined by four-times World Hurdle hero Big Buck’s in a Retraining of Racehorses’ parade on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.
The former Paul Nicholls-trained trio will be the star attraction among a string of 10 horses that also includes David Pipe’s 2008 Grand National winner Comply Or Die and the high-class hurdler and chaser Grands Crus. Di Arbuthnot, chief executive of RoR, said: “To have Gold Cup, Grand National and World Hurdle winners in the parade is fantastic and it will be great for the Cheltenham racegoers to see so many old favourites.
“However, just as important from the charity’s perspective are those horses that have channelled their talents into a whole new discipline.”