Tote Win: £6.40 Tote Place: £2.40,1.50
Straight Forecast: £22.22 Exacta: £20.40
Jackpot: £26,528.11 carried forward to Hereford, 8th Jan
Placepot: £36.50, Pool: £154007.8, 3073.99 winning tickets
Quadpot: £20.10, Pool: £10969.89, 402.43 winning tickets
A dramatic conclusion to this Grade One event, with CAPTAIN CONAN steering a straighter course than Colour Squadron to nick a race he should never really have won. Trainer Nicky Henderson had suggested that his French import would need the race and that looks a fair assessment given he seemed to have a bit of a blow down the far side, however he responded well to pressure and was back chasing the leader before the home turn. Although off the bridle again turning in, he was the only one to keep tabs on Colour Squadron. In truth he looked likely to have to settle for second but, as the leader wobbled all over the place, Barry Geraghty's mount kept a much straighter line and nicked the race by a short head. Whilst quotes for the Supreme Novices' were bandied around, it's hard to see him winning a speed race like that given he hasn't run on ground quicker than soft and he also looks a stayer in the making. This race wasn't run at a fast gallop and this large scopey son of Kingsalsa could have done with a stronger gallop throughout in all likelihood. Given time he is more likely to make his mark at the top level over fences so is unlikely to be rushed by his canny handler. Runner-up Colour Squadron in all likelihood threw this race away, having run around coming to the last flight before hanging to his left, and looking to run out, in the final 200 yards. When straightened up by Richard Johnson he ran on again, and would probably have caught the winner in another few strides, but the race was lost. He had looked a bit green during his win at Newbury but nothing like this, and it was probably not a huge surprise to connections as they looked reluctant to make the running with him. However with no other rival prepared to go on Johnson, who knows his horse stays well, had no option. The Old Vic gelding wasn't entirely fluent at his hurdles in the second half of the race, getting in too close on more than one occasion, and will need to hurdle with more alacrity if he is to play a part in the Supreme Novices'. Having said that, a stronger pace to chase rather than making his own will help, and he isn't one to take lightly given the race often goes to horses who stay the trip well. There was a yawning gap back to Magnifique Etoile who just seemed a little outclassed on this step up in grade. Charlie Longsdon's charge travelled quite kindly for the first half of the race but when the tempo lifted before the home turn he was made to look a little one-paced. He's not one to give up on yet and will be of more interest back in lower grade next time, although his penalties may make him hard to place. The disappointment of the race was Prospect Wells, who was the first of the big players to be niggled along. He too was left behind by the first two, and it was interesting that Ruby Walsh reported him to have lost his action. Holes can be picked in the former flat horse's form and he now has something to prove, with connections perhaps ruing the decision to turn him out quite quickly here after his solid Ladbroke run. Different tactics were tried with High Storm (held up) and he was pulled up before two out, having come under pressure very early on.