04 November 2023

Boothill secures Ascot victory with big leap at the last

04 November 2023

Boothill looked a Graded horse in a handicap when running away with the valuable Byrne Group Handicap Chase at Ascot.

Trained by Harry Fry, he had won his two previous handicap chases but his last four runs had all come at a higher level.

The eight-year-old won the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase at Kempton last Christmas and was not disgraced thereafter but looked a cut above his rivals off a mark of 149.

Sent off the 7-2 favourite, he was nursed into contention by Jonathan Burke as Saint Segal set a scorching gallop.

When the leader began to falter, First Flow and the strong-travelling Frere D’Armes had a chance, but as soon as Boothill put in a huge leap at the last the race was over and he powered four lengths clear of First Flow.

He's entered in the Hurst Park (Ascot, November 25) so we need to decide whether to stay in handicaps or step him up in class again

Burke told Sky Sports Racing: “It was always the plan to come here first but with all the rain we were worried.

“It wasn’t as soft as what the rest of the country is, though, and it was a very good performance.

“He can be keen and he doesn’t miss fences, when he does it can be disastrous but he missed the one near Swinley Bottom which allowed me to fill him up.

“He pinged the last and galloped all the way to the line.”

Fry said: “He’s entered in the Hurst Park (Ascot, November 25) so we need to decide whether to stay in handicaps or step him up in class again.”

Venetia Williams tends to do well at Ascot and her French recruit Victtorino looked a long way ahead of the assessor in the Sodexo Live! Gold Cup Handicap Chase.

Having just his second start since joining Williams, and first over fences, the five-year-old was a long way clear at the last but met it on the wrong stride.

Unanswered Prayers and Yeah Man were closing rapidly but both fell independently and the 20-1 chance won by six lengths.

“It was only his second run in this country and his first over fences, and he was the only five-year-old in the race. I have to say I’m very excited and really thrilled,” said Williams.

“He ran in a novice hurdle at Exeter and was beaten a long way. We won this with Houblon Des Obeaux and he was only six at the time.

“He’s a big horse and always looked in a comfortable zone apart from at one fence. My agent found him in France and his price was bearable for me. The future looks rosy.”

Dan Skelton may have gone north to Wetherby but he will have been watching on with interest as his Knickerbockerglory (10-1) fairly bolted up in the Seat Unique Handicap Hurdle.

In what looked a competitive race on paper, the lightly-raced seven-year-old turned it into a procession.

Fry’s Altobelli did his best to give the yard a big-race double and gave vain chase in the straight, but he was four and a quarter lengths away at the line.

Tristan Durrell may not have even needed the 5lb he was able to claim and said of his first Ascot winner: “We were expecting that, he goes brilliant fresh and he loves the ground.

“If you can get him in front, that’s what he loves, so we were hopeful.”

The winner is now 10-1 for the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham with Betfair.

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