COTTAGE OAK is being aimed at the Foxhunters’ Chase at Cheltenham in March after winning the first hunters’ chase of the new season at wintry Kelso.
Formerly trained by Gordon Elliott, he swept to an eased-down four-length win over Sacred Mountain yesterday in the CGA Foxhunter Trial Open Hunters’ Chase. Now with English-based handler Joe O’Shea, he was a first winner under Rules for Paddy Gerety and carries the colours of Richard Hewitt, who bought him privately last season.
Hewitt said: “He was bought to run at Cheltenham and that is what he will do. The plan is to go to Haydock and then on to the festival. I think he will take all the beating at Cheltenham if he gets good ground.”
Tim Walford-trained Fentara could also be heading for the Festival after her romp under Daryl Jacob in the mares novices’ chase. “She may end up in the Kim Muir Chase or National Hunt Chase and the EBF Final at Newbury could be an option along the way,” he said. “She needs soft wherever she goes.”
Our Joey landed the 2m 6f novices’ hurdle for Hawick father and son combination George and Jonathon Bewley.
“We’ve always thought a lot of this horse and he was idling a bit in front because he had led for a long way,” Bewley senior said. “He’s also been a bit unlucky and deserved to get back in the winners’ enclosure.”
Nigel Twiston-Davies, meanwhile, has unearthed another gem in The New One, whose bloodless success at Warwick on Saturday, has fuelled understandable Cheltenham Festival dreams.
The New One (1-2 favourite) routed the opposition in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, maintaining an enviable record which totals just one defeat in last year’s Festival Bumper. His jockey, Sam Twiston-Davies, said: “The sky is the limit.”
The trainer added: “He seems to have so much speed and staying power and it’s a shame we haven’t really learned anything, as some of the others didn’t go in the ground and he wasn’t tested. He won but we still don’t know enough about him and that encourages me to look at the programme book and find another two-and-a-half-miler for him in order to give him some more experience.”
The New One now looks set to return to Cheltenham on 26 January before a crack at the Festival in March, with the Neptune race there looking his favoured option.
Team Twiston-Davies also took the concluding bumper with Pure Science (5-1) a nine-length winner, while former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander sparkled in a spin before racing.
Rigadin De Beauchene (5-1) put the icing on the cake of what has been a bountiful start to the month for trainer Venetia Williams when getting up in the shadow of the post to deny Godsmejudge and the gallant Pete The Feat in the Betfred Classic Chase.
The eight-year-old put his jumping issues behind him under a determined Robbie Dunne to pull the race out of the fire after he was seemingly booked for third at the second-last fence.
Dunne intentionally steered a wide course on Rigadin De Beauchene in the straight, a ploy that paid off as the combination reeled in the battling leaders with 50 yards to travel to win by half a length.
Williams said: “Robbie swept wide into the straight and managed to get the horse to meet the last fence on a good stride which I think was very important.
“His owner Andrew Wiles hopes he may emulate his half-brother Miko De Beauchene and win the Welsh National next season.
“I think Andrew might have reservations about him going for the Grand National itself though. He’s had issues with his jumping.”