NORTON trainer Tony Coyle plans to send Son Of Flicka over a longer trip after his “old age pensioner” ran a “blinder” in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.
The ten-year-old was given a soft lead in the two-mile, five-furlong contest and stayed in front until just after the second last, when he was swallowed up by the field and finished 11th.
Son Of Flicka won this race two years ago and Coyle was starting to get excited as the runners came down the hill before his gelding ran out of gas.
That led Coyle to state his fivetime winner will now be targeted at races over three miles and above - with some summer jumping targets on the radar.
“I’m delighted with him. He’s run an absolute blinder,” said Coyle.
“He wants three miles now. He’s a ten-year-old and they had him for tow just coming down the hill.”
Added the North Yorkshire handler: “I’m over the moon with him.
I was surprised how soft a lead he was given. We didn’t want to lead.
That wasn’t the plan. We wanted to make it and then drop him back into fourth or fifth.
“But Dougie said he got an easy lead and he used it. They just quickened away and he just hasn’t got the speed of them now. He’s an old age pensioner but there are good races to be won with him over the summer.
“He stayed on for quite a while.
It’s three miles for him from now on.”
Son Of Flicka was the best of the four North Yorkshire trained horses who were going for glory in the Grade 3 £80,000 contest.
Yesyoucan, trained by Brian Ellison at Norton, was prominent early on but was later pulled up before the last while town colleague John Quinn’s Calculated Risk made a mistake at the second hurdle when in midfield and could only finish 22nd.
Ifandbutwhynot, saddled by David O’Meara at Nawton, was held up towards the back of the field in the early stages and made some headway without ever threatening to get into contention - eventually coming home in 15th place.
The race was won by Whisper (14-1), who stayed on gamely to beat Get Me Out Of Here by a short head.
Coyle is now focusing on Lucky Landing, who he hopes will get in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase on Friday.
“I think he needs one to come out and he is in,” he added. “He will love the drying ground so I hope they don’t put too much water on it. He has got a chance so we will see.”
Sire De Grugy answered all the doubters by romping to victory in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Gary Moore’s eight-year-old was the class horse in the field in the absence of last year’s dominant winner Sprinter Sacre but questions remained about his ability to handle the undulating Prestbury Park track following two previous defeats there.
He produced an emphatic response - handing out a six length hammering to Somersby.
The 11-4 favourite made his challenge at the second last and powered up the hill to victory.
Jockey Jamie Moore, brother of three-time Flat champion Ryan, received a rousing reception from the crowd and from his colleagues, who filed out of the weighing room to give him a guard of honour as he brought his mount back into the winner’s enclosure.
“That was quite special,” he said.
“We are all good mates in there.
They know I don’t get many big race winners. It was tremendous when they came out - unbelievable.”
Captain Conan, the 7-2 second favourite, was never travelling in the race and was pulled up before the seventh.
O’Faolains Boy (12-1) landed the knockout punch in a fierce scrap with Smad Place to win the RSA Chase. The pair jumped the last almost side by side and, in a prolonged battle up the hill, it was O’Faolains Boy who found a little more to win by inches.
Faugheen (6-4 fav) hacked up for trainer Willie Mullins and jockey Ruby Walsh in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle.