25 November 2023

Four-star Cobden makes afternoon at Ascot count

25 November 2023

It threatened to be a somewhat strange afternoon for Harry Cobden as he headed to Ascot while his King George champion Bravemansgame made the trip to Haydock for the Betfair Chase, but the leading jockey delivered a thrilling four-timer on a drama-filled day in Berkshire.

Paul Nicholls had made the decision to give Daryl Jacob the leg-up on his star staying chaser in Merseyside, and channelling one of his owners, Sir Alex Ferguson, shuffled the pack and pointed his stable number one in the direction of Ascot to represent Ditcheat in a high-class few hours of action.

Cobden had played the willing team captain throughout the week and although happy to state his disappointment about not riding Bravemansgame, also cited his willingness to make the most of a full book of rides down south while the Gold Cup runner-up travelled north.

He wasted little time getting on the scoreboard and in his first ride of the day helped Farnoge establish himself as one of the yard’s leading novice hurdlers.

However, there was bigger still to come and after Shishkin planted himself at the start of the Nirvana Spa 1965 Chase, Cobden took full advantage aboard his key ride of the day, owner Johnny de la Hay’s Pic D’Orhy.

Although having to work harder than envisaged aboard the now eight-time fences winner, it was job done and prize-money secured, before the day got even better when De la Hay’s Blueking D’Oroux continued his rise up the hurdling ranks with victory in the Coral Hurdle.

That made it three winners on the day for both himself and Ditcheat and with Bravemansgame still to run, he spoke honestly and pragmatically when saying: “It’s obviously a shame not to be on him.

“I had a chat with Paul earlier and whatever happens happens and I think he probably should win. I had a good chat with Daryl and he knows what he is doing, but at the same time, we’re all in the same camp aren’t we.”

Cobden’s day would end with a fourth victory aboard the supremely exciting debutant Regent’s Stroll, a horse the 25-year-old can begin to dream big about for the future.

But it was clear that the ultimate team player had events at Haydock at the forefront of his mind with his Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up falling short in his Betfair Chase assignment.

“There’s normally more bad days than good ones, but I’ve had four good rides today and they’ve all won so I’m very pleased, Cobden added.

“It’s never nice to see Bravemansgame get beat and I haven’t spoken to Paul or Daryl yet so it will be interesting to get their thoughts later on.

“He’s a special horse and the flagbearer for the yard for the past two years. Any horse you ride in the Gold Cup and come down to the last upsides, they are special for you and really hard to get hold of.

“It’s a sad day to see him get beat, but he will bounce back and I’m sure they will get him back and I’m sure the target now will be the King George.”

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