Captain Chris wins Grade One Ascot Chase

Captain Chris in league of his own as Ascot Chase turns into procession

Trainer Philip Hobbs is undecided about whether to head to the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup with Captain Chris after landing the Grade One Betfred Ascot Chase by 19 lengths.

The 10-year-old, sent off the 8-11 favourite to go one better than last year where a shocking mistake at the second last cost possible victory, came home in splendid isolation under Richard Johnson.

Aside from a couple of enthusiastic mid-race leaps, the former Arkle Chase winner produced an otherwise flawless jumping performance.

Sue Smith’s progressive chaser Cloudy Too stayed on to finish second, with the returning Hunt Ball, having his first run for Nicky Henderson, a highly creditable third.

Hobbs said: ‘This was his race. I’m delighted he’s done what we hoped he would – he was very impressive.

‘There’s nothing in March for him except the Gold Cup, so we will consider it. If he goes to Cheltenham, he is only in the Gold Cup, but there is Punchestown to think of and perhaps Aintree, too.

‘I don’t think we can realistically do both Aintree and Punchestown, but there is nothing for him over this trip between now and April.’

‘He might take his chance in the Gold Cup, but we will have to see about the ground.’

‘It is not as if he can’t run left-handed – he won an Arkle there (2011) – but if you could ask the race planners to run the Gold Cup at Ascot or Kempton rather than Cheltenham, it would be appreciated because he prefers going right-handed.’

Johnson said: ‘I think Punchestown is very much in the forefront of our minds, although I think the owners (Graham and Diana Whateley) are keen to run in the Gold Cup.

‘He’s still a high-class horse and while he did win an Arkle, he developed a physical problem after that and he’s preferred jumping right-handed since then.

‘Physically he’s fine, but it might be a mental thing with him now.’

Source: Daily Mail, 15 February 2014


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