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13th April 2024 Aintree


Saturday 13th April

Cruz Control (9-1) put up a bold front-running display to win the William Hill Handicap Chase (3m 1f). The seven-year-old held on bravely in the closing to won by a length from Sam Brown, winner of this race two years’ ago.

Successful jockey Stan Sheppard told ITV Racing: "I think he's probably quite a good horse and in a year's time he might be back here in the big one. I think. He's pretty smart.

"We measured him about a year ago and he was eighteen two and a quarter (hands), so he's a big boy. This was only his second run over three miles over fences. He's run over two and a half a few times and then ran in the Eider Chase over four, so the trip was no problem today."

Winning trainer Tom Lacey: “Funnily enough, I was stood where I was to watch Thomas Patrick win the same race [in 2018] and I just thought, this is going too well, because you’re watching horses missing fences in behind and thinking you are getting punished every time you miss one. I know he got in tight to one, but no, it was a good performance. He was always unexposed over three miles; he’s not done a whole lot wrong in a year, he’s just unlucky to lose at Doncaster and he got chinned at Newcastle on one occasion, but otherwise he’s not done much wrong.

“This has been his style of running. Although he appears to be quite a slow horse, he’s such a big, long-striding horse who’s covering ground. He’s taking one stride to other horses’ two. Stan did very well to stay on him when he did make a bit of a mistake.

“Potentially he could be a Grand National horse, yes. We’ve always said, joking, at home that he could be a National horse, especially if you have a wet spring, but he won’t be doing that on good ground.

“He’s by Saint Des Saints and they are generally out and out stayers, but we’ve nursed him and I’ve been reluctant to step up to three miles, because although he’s seven he’s still a frame [of a horse]. We’ve tried to give him time to mature and I think he’ll just get better and better - hopefully.”

Anthony Honeyball, trainer of runner-up Sam Brown, said: “Sam Brown has had an amazing season. It is just tough as he is 12 now, and he is running off 154, but quite rightly so. It is sort of frustrating, but I never felt we were going to quite get there.

"He has run an absolute blinder. He is a cracking horse that has had an amazing season.

"Aidan Coleman said one day when we went to the Peter Marsh that the ground wasn’t as soft as you think, and he liked that. He will go on any ground, but he said he probably is better on better ground.

"The first time I really noticed it was when he won here, and it was proper spring ground, and Aidan said I told you he liked it like that.

"In a race like this you are going to hit a proper flat sport against younger legs. In the veterans race last time out he was able to hold his own all the way through the race.

"We jumped out to be handy, but we knew we were going to be slotting back, and I’m surprised he stayed in it for so long. When we dropped out it was a case of Freddie (Gingell) not panicking, and he didn’t. We were too far back turning in to have any hope, but he sensed he was on the way home and away he went.

"He is in the bet365 Gold Cup, and that is two weeks from today, so he could probably go do that as he saves a bit, but that is as long as he is 100 per cent at home.

“That will be the end of the season for Forward Plan as he has just petered out. He wants three miles on a flat track as I think three miles one (furlong) just stretches him as we found out in the Badger Beer.

"It looked like he was going to come there and win. He has finished second in the Great Yorkshire Chase, he has won a £50,000 race and the Coral Trophy, and then finished third in a £100,000 race here so he has had a good season.

"He is dangerously handicapped in these types of races. We might have to go back to the Badger Beer next season if the ground is good.”


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