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10th December 2021 Cheltenham

By Graham Clark

Groom Izzy Davis received the perfect present before taking up maternity leave to give birth to her first child as her pride and joy Commodore secured an “awesome” success when galloping his rivals into submission in the feature Betfair Handicap Chase at Cheltenham. 

The 37 year old, who is due to give birth on January 18th, celebrated a winner on her final shift before taking time off from the day job with winning trainer Venetia Williams.

Having been pursued by 2020 Gold Cup runner-up Santini throughout the early stages of the three and a quarter mile prize the striking grey made his featherweight tell as the race wore on to press into a clear advantage up the home straight.

Although Irish raider Mister Fogpatches, from the yard of Peter Fahy, emerged as a potential danger from the chasing pack he could never get on terms with the nine year old with 15 lengths separating the pair at the line. 

It was a first Grade Three success for Commodore and Davis said: “It was quite intense and I was expecting him to win like that. I was trying to hold it together. He was class and it was brilliant.

“He always runs well fresh and he ran well in the race last year until he unseated Charlie (Deutsch). He travelled and jumped. He was awesome.”

Despite preparing for motherhood in just over a month’s time Davis insists she will be back looking after horses as soon as time allows.

She added: “Of course I will come back into working at the yard as I’ve got boys like him to come back to and look after. 

“I will probably take six months off then come back in when the horses come back into training in the autumn.

“We decided not to find out what sex the baby is and keep it as a surprise which is exciting.”

As for winning trainer Williams she described the round of jumping displayed by Commodore on his first victory since scoring at Sandown Park in March 2019 as “remarkable”.

She added: “This is Izzy’s last day working today and she has worked for me for too many years to remember. She has looked after Commodore since he first arrived. I told her, ‘I hope you kept your legs crossed in the closing stages!’

“It was remarkable and such a joy to watch. Being a grey he is quite striking. He is such an intelligent jumper and of course Charlie gave him a great ride. His relentlessness and accuracy of his jumping was just amazing.”

The victory was also a welcome boost to joint owner Caroline Watson, who was back on the racetrack having recently undergone a hip operation.

Williams added: “It has worked well as Caroline (Watson) who jointly owns him had a hip operation and she was very keen not to miss him.

“Originally we were going to run him before the operation and we had a bit of a hold-up so we couldn’t. She was ready to go again and luckily so was the horse.”

Assessing future plans a trip to Warwick on January 15th for the Grade Three Agetur UK Classic Handicap Chase could be next on the agenda for Commodore. 

Williams added: “One thing I will say is that the Ascot race I put him in next weekend he won’t go to but I think we need to keep him going left-handed. The Classic Chase is a possibility.”


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