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Doncaster

  • 14:25 Blue Square Lightning Novices' Chase 2m 110y

  • (grade 2) £30,000 added 5yo+ 5 ran
  • Winner: £
  • Going: Good to Soft, Soft in places
  • Surface: Turf
    Weighed In
  • Winning time: 4m 8.50s
  • Off time: 14:25:47

Folly Edges Lightning Thriller

Last Updated: 06/02/10 4:14pm

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Walsh - narrow winner.

Walsh - narrow winner.

Paul Nicholls produced another magnificent training performance as his long-term absentee Woolcombe Folly booked his place in the Arkle Trophy line-up with a comeback victory in the Blue Square Lightning Novices' Chase at Doncaster.

The five-time hurdle winner had been off the track since scoring at Kempton in October 2008 and was sent off at 7-2 as he took on the highly-regarded Mad Max and Ferdy Murphy's course-winning mare I'm Delilah.

Ruby Walsh settled the eventual winner towards the rear in the early stages but appeared confident he could pick up the leaders.

Ferdy Murphy's I'm Delilah made a bold fist of it from the front and a couple of fine leaps meant she maintained her advantage as the field straightened up for home.

As hot favourite Mad Max's challenge petered out, 7-2 chance Woolcombe Folly emerged as the main danger and after a ding-dong battle after the last, it was Nicholls' charge who was named the winner by a nose after a tense photo finish.

Nicholls' assistant Dan Skelton said: "To win a Grade Two first time out over fences is impressive. He'd been off a long time and has had the full MOT, but we wanted to come here and see if he was an Arkle horse.

"I think he's laid down that sort of performance and with Mad Max in third, it gave the form a bit of strength.

"It's only five weeks to Cheltenham and I don't think he'll run again, although Paul could come up with another plan.

"I didn't think he'd won. He must have just put his head down right on the line and then the other horse was back in front again. She's really tough."

Murphy was understandably disappointed to go down by such a narrow margin but feels his game mare has done enough to earn a rematch at Cheltenham in March.

"Ruby said he thought our horse had won jumping the second last but he's come back at us and caught us on the line," said the West Witton handler.

"It's unfortunate but our mare has run well and she'll go straight to the Arkle now."

Nicky Henderson's Mad Max could finish only third but his representative Ben Pauling was not too disappointed and he also looks set to head to Prestbury Park.

"He's run very well and Paul's horse is obviously very good and it's a brilliant piece of training by him," said Pauling.

"Our horse has jumped well and hasn't made any noise after the race, which is good after the problems he had with his wind.

"We came here for the better ground and it maybe wasn't as quick as we expected, but we have no excuses and he'll still go to Cheltenham."

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