More Potts of gold won at Cheltenham
Alan Potts made his fortune in business through mining for minerals. He also appears to have unearthed some cracking horses for the season ahead, judged by the victory of Pingshou in the final contest at Cheltenham on Friday.
Pingshou and Aidan Coleman come home ahead of their rivals to take the closing British Stallion Studs EBF "National Hunt" Novices´ Hurdle.
It might not have been a win that came without expense though, the delighted Potts last having been seen heading towards the boutique post-racing sale that took place at the racecourse less than an hour afterwards, where the sums of money floating around for horses with little more than potential to their name were bordering upon insane.
Even in the winner's enclosure, it didn't take long for a bloodstock agent to be among the first to offer his hearty congratulations to the winner. Colin Tizzard, who has seen it all before, raised a worldly-wise eyebrow at the sight.
It never pays to get too comfortable when dealing with the horses owned by Potts and his wife, Ann, as Henry de Bromhead found out when the team were moved out from his yard lock, stock and barrel a few months ago to join Tizzard's team in Dorset. This was, after all, by no means the first switch of allegiances for the owner, who made his fortune in mining with the MMD mining business that manufactures equipment for use around the world.
However, although De Bromhead might not fully agree, there was something warming in seeing Potts so heartily congratulate Aidan Coleman for his "brilliant, brilliant" winning ride, while, despite currently battling illness, his wife was able to leave her wheelchair to receive the winner's trophy on the podium.
For Tizzard, meanwhile, who also took the feature staying chase with the newly-blinkered Theatre Guide, he resembles ever more the man who has been handed the keys to the sweet shop.
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"He must be… well, all right, mustn't he?" he said, weighing up Pingshou's success in a hot-looking novice hurdle. "If I recall correctly, when he first arrived they said he'd been a bleeder and had basically been trained out of the field for two years.
"I thought 'I'm not having any of that' and just put him in with the rest of them. Just look at him. He's a lovely lad and he's going to make a chaser."
The trainer had briefly bristled earlier when asked live on Channel 4 Racing whether he had yet made a decision over the participation of Thistlecrack in the King George VI Chase, but quickly returned to his normal, easygoing self, and expanded upon his position.
"The best decisions are usually the ones taken as late as possible and there's no rush, is there?" he said. It hardly at that point seemed worth asking further about the wellbeing of Thistlecrack or Cue Card, given that their stablemates keep giving very obvious clues about the health of the yard on the track.
Theatre Guide could now head for the Coral Welsh National at Chepstow on December 27.
"He stays well and I just didn't think he was quite putting it all in last time in the Hennessy," said Tizzard. "Maybe the blinkers helped or maybe he just needed it. In fact, that's two winners I've had today who have come here after a run two weeks ago – maybe I'm under-doing them all at home!"
He confirmed that stablemate Native River was also a probable runner in that Chepstow race.
"I've got four for it altogether," he said in an interview with Martin Kelly over Cheltenham's public address system. "Like the Gold Cup?" asked Kelly. "No," he flashed back. "I've got five for that."
If Potts has wielded his chequebook as expected on Friday evening, that number could even be six or seven by the time you read this.
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