Sandown: Top Notch grows in stature with Scilly Isles victory
Top Notch and Daryl Jacob triumphed in the Scilly Isles
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos) Top Notch grows in stature in Scilly Isles By Andrew Dietz 2:32PM 4 FEB 2017
Report: Sandown, Saturday
Betfred TV Scilly Isles Novices' Chase (Grade 1) 2m4f, 5yo+
WHAT Top Notch lacks in size he more than makes up for in heart as he delivered an accurate round of jumping to run out a ready winner of the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices' Chase.
A former high-class hurdler, Top Notch had exceeded expectations in his new discipline with three wins from four starts and took his form to a new high with a career-best performance over fences.
Victory provided owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede – and their retained rider Daryl Jacob – with a third straight success in the race following the exploits of Bristol De Mai and Gitane Du Berlais.
With Amore Alato and Baron Alco fighting out the lead for much of the contest, the strong pace knocked much of the field off their stride, but not Top Notch, who was neat and nimble over his fences and full of running turning from home.
Baron Alco was bravely still in there pitching at the last yet had no answer to the 11-4 winner, who is fast becoming one of Nicky Henderson's favourites.
"You just have to love him as he tries," said the trainer, who was landing a fourth win in the race in the last eight years. "His jumping when he started over fences was okay but he doesn't have the scope. You could see him growing up and now he was able to wing around Sandown.
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"He loved the two and a half miles, so that answered a lot of questions. It would have to be the JLT now. He got the trip well and the extra distance gives him that bit more chance to jump as well."
Nicholls duo disappoint
Top Notch, second in the Triumph Hurdle and fifth in the Champion Hurdle at the last two Cheltenham Festivals, was cut to 8-1 (from 20) by Betfair and Coral for next month's JLT Novices' Chase.
With stablemate Buveur D'Air, originally lined up for this race before being switched to hurdles, earlier passing his Champion Hurdle test with flying colours, it was a highly-satisfactory end to a week of twists and turns for Henderson.
Paul Nicholls suffered differing emotions as Le Prezien finished third and Clan Des Obeaux, backed into 13-8 favourite, was virtually pulled up near the finish as he trailed home last.
"Le Prezien didn't jump well enough," said the trainer. "Clan Des Obeaux was disappointing but I'm also not convinced that's his ground. Some of ours are also running shocking at the moment. It's that time of year."
Baywing bossed his rivals in the Towton under Ryan Day
PICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos)
Also on Saturday
Wetherby: Totepool Towton Novices' Chase (Grade 2) 3m, 5yo+
Baywing ran out an impressive, wide-margin winner under Ryan Day for trainer Nicky Richards.
The winner may have been sent off as the 33-1 outsider of six, but there was certainly no fluke to the victory as he reveled in the testing conditions to beat Calett Mad by 22 lengths.
In an attritional, incident-packed race, The Dutchman fell four from home when still going well, while Captain Chaos departed on the first circuit. Well-backed 13-8 favourite Missed Approach was under pressure from some way out and never threatened.
Baywing holds an entry in the four-mile JT McNamara National Hunt Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival, for which he was cut to 25-1 (from 66s).
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