Umbrigado’s dramatic triumph for David Pipe and David Noonan in the Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury left owners John White and Anne Underhill dreaming of realising their long-held ambition of a winner at the Cheltenham Festival.
Their steadily-progressing seven-year-old travelled strongly throughout the two-and-a-half-mile contest, and under a confident ride by Noonan prevailed after jumping the final fence three lengths down and with three horses still in front of him.
The 13-2 chance fiddled that obstacle but it did not impair his momentum, and when The Big Bite veered left towards the water jump Umbrigado took advantage of being wider than his foes, his strong finish launching him to a length and length and a quarter success over Killer Clown and the wayward last-fence leader.
Umbrigado holds entries in two races at the Festival and was cut from 14-1 into 10-1 for the Paddy Power Plate with the sponsors.
Umbrigado won a dramatic contest at Newbury
However, Pipe is mindful that the Festival is sooner than ideal, and said: “We entered him in the Grand Annual and the old Mildmay of Flete at Cheltenham but weren’t sure, and today’s race was a good payday in its own right.
“Coming into today I wasn’t certain about the ground, but David gave him a great ride. He’s a strong traveller, but doesn’t always find as much as you think he will in a finish. What we had today was a bit of luck with the leader hanging, and we were in the right place to cash in.
“Regarding Cheltenham we will go by the owners and see what they want to do. They would love to have a runner with a good chance, but whether it’s the two-and-a-half-miler on Thursday or the Grand Annual on Wednesday it could come a bit quick.”
Noonan deserved this big-race success and his mount will now be brim-full of confidence following three wins since going chasing.
David Noonan spoke to Nick Luck following Umbrigado's victory
He said: “I planned to settle him halfway back and give him a bit of room. He’d idled a bit when taking the lead at Wetherby, but today he battled well on ground that was the best he’d run on.
“Even at the last I was confident I wasn’t out of it, and he powered to the line. He hasn’t had an overly-hard race, and he’s adaptable in the way he can be ridden.”
Hitman has his sights set on Aintree rather than Cheltenham following a bloodless triumph for Paul Nicholls and Bryony Frost in the BetVictor Novices’ Chase at Newbury.
The Ditcheat handler was quick to name the Manifesto Novices’ Chase on Merseyside as the next port of call for the 1-7 winner, who overcame a minor mistake at the first in the home straight, four out, to score by nine and a half lengths from Captain Cuckoo.
Nicholls said: “I didn’t think he necessarily had enough experience for Cheltenham and he’ll go to Aintree for the Grade One over two and a half miles.
“Today he’s put in a clear round, which was beautiful to watch. The only way it might change is if the ground was very testing, when I wouldn’t be afraid to switch him back to two miles.”
Sir Ivan put in an immaculate round of measured jumping to gain a deserved first success of the season in the BetVictor Veterans’ Handicap Chase.
Harry Fry’s 11-year-old had placed in his last three starts and then been prevented by the weather and unsuitable ground conditions from taking up further engagements.
But after gaining ground at the majority of the obstacles here, the 8-1 shot targeted long time leader Valadom in the straight, overhauled that rival at the last and kept on under pressure for Lorcan Murtagh to score by a length and a half.
Fry praised the consistency of his winner, saying: “He has run well in veterans’ chases and keeps running to his mark, and I thought Lorcan got a great tune out of him.
“He was due to go to Exeter which was called off, then he was in over hurdles at Huntingdon, but when I got there the ground was bottomless and I took him out, and decided to wait for this.”
Tom Buckley enjoyed a winning first ride at Newbury aboard Always Resolute (6-1) in the BetVictor Seniors’ Handicap Hurdle.
The Ian Williams-trained gelding picked off his rivals in the long home straight, staying on strongly to beat Eaton Hill two and three-quarter lengths.
Buckley, who is attached to the Charlie Longsdon stable, said: “He’s run around Cheltenham which is a stayers’ course and also over two and a half miles at Wetherby. He was very slick with his jumping and put his head down when he saw the gaps.”
After bagging the featured Greatwood Gold Cup with Umbrigado, David Pipe completed a double when Iron Heart resisted the late surge of Java Point in the BetVictor Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.
The bottom-weighted 9-2 joint-favourite was confidently handled by Fergus Gillard, but after going clear lasted home by just a neck.
The Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Bumper went to Charlie’s Glance, who scored by five and a half lengths under Harrison Beswick from Our Jester and Silent Revolution for trainer Andrew Martin.
The Alex Hales-trained Millers Bank (7-1) took the BetVictor Handicap Hurdle, keeping on too well under Harry Bannister for Highway One O Two and Hasanabad.Click here to claim your FREE Racing TV Jacket!
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