Homme Public ensured Henry Brooke could celebrate his first-ever victory at Cheltenham in the SSS Super Alloys Arkle Challenge Trophy Trial Novices’ Chase but he was fortunate to do so after a final-fence blunder from JPR One.
The favourite looked to have done everything right the whole way round as Brendan Powell set a scorching gallop.
Coming down the hill before the turn for home, it possibly looked like he had gone too fast as the three other runners all closed up, including Homme Public.
However, Powell had saved plenty on Joe Tizzard’s six-year-old and no sooner had he given the others a sniff had he shot clear again and seemingly put the race to bed.
He cleared the second last in style and with just one fence left to negotiate, it appeared the UK had a rock-solid contender for Arkle glory but, as many before him have found, the last at Cheltenham takes some jumping and he landed too steeply, giving Powell no chance.
Suddenly Homme Public, having looked booked for second, was left in front and while Petit Tonnerre gave him a fright, he won by two lengths.
“If anything, he didn’t love the ground today. He just never really took the bit like he would normally,” said Brooke.
“His jumping was very good and Brendan went a nice gallop out in front. I came to join him but Brendan slipped away down to two out. I’ve missed both two out and the last, but he’s very good, he’s nimble on his feet, he knows where his feet are.
“Brendan’s misfortune has maybe been my luck today, but I was just saying he’s had a harsh fall but he could be a lot worse. They are both OK and they live to fight another day and that’s the main thing. There are people in worse circumstances right now and we’ve got to think about them.
“He’s a willing partner and that’s what you need on the big day and hopefully he will be there for many more.”
Foxy Jacks provides Morris with another UK success
Mouse Morris made another successful raid to Britain as Foxy Jacks claimed the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on Friday.
Morris has already struck on British shores this term with Gentlemansgame in the Charlie Hall, and his nine-year-old produced a superb round of jumping in the hands of Gavin Brouder to hold off Dan Skelton’s Latenightpass in a thrilling finish.
The trainer is of course no stranger to success at Prestbury Park, but was delighted with his charge who provided him with his first winner at the track since First Lieutenant struck at the Festival in 2011.
“It was very tenacious, he’s not simple but got a great ride, he jumped super,” said Morris of the 9-1 scorer. “I thought he was in great shape coming here, but there are 30 fences to jump and jumping is not what he is noted for. These sort of races change his mind a little.
“It was his first time over the banks and I couldn’t be happier. There are a lot of days he hasn’t delivered which makes these days good.
“He has been running well this year, he won the Midlands National and was third in the Kerry National, so something has happened to him.
“I don’t think weight matters to this fella, it is just getting him on his day. He belongs to great people who love the craic and we will go where we can have some fun.”
Gordon Elliott’s pair of Delta Work and Galvin fought out the finish of the cross country at the Cheltenham Festival in the spring but finished down the field in their return to action. Both have a return in March on the agenda, but Elliott is keen to see how Delta Work (sixth) comes out of the contest having failed to sparkle in the second half of the contest.
“Keith (Donoghue) actually said for the second half of the race he never jumped which he usually does and he was a bit sore pulling up. So we will have to see how he is,” said Elliott.
“Cheltenham is the plan in March, but once he’s OK in the morning that is all that matters. You can see in the second half of the race he never jumped like he can.
“In fairness we were happy with the run, if we got beat today we wouldn’t have been disappointed but he never jumped for the second half of the race, he just wasn’t right.
“Galvin (eighth) ran very well, he just hated the ground and we’re very happy. March is the plan and it will probably be one run over hurdles and that is it.”