UN TEMPS POUR TOUT WINS ULTIMA HANDICAP CHASE AGAIN
The David Pipe-trained Un Temps Pour Tout (9/1) became just the third horse to win the Ultima Handicap Chase, the third race on day one, Champion Day, of the Cheltenham Festival, on two occasions, after recording back-to-back successes in the contest with a superb performance under Tom Scudamore.
Successful in the race last year, the eight-year-old had to carry top-weight in this year's renewal of the three miles and one furlong event. The son of Robin Des Champs kept on gamely in the closing stages to fend off the sustained challenge of Tom George's Singlefarmpayment, the well-backed 5/1 favourite by a short-head.
Gordon Elliott's Noble Endeavour (15/2) was three and a half-lengths behind in third, with a further seven lengths back to 33/1 shot Buywise.
Nicholashayne trainer Pipe, recording his 15th winner at the Festival, said: "It's so good to get a winner. It's hard enough to get a runner here so it's great.
"To do it under top-weight is a great performance from the horse off 7lb higher than last year. I think this race looked ultra-competitive but fair play to horse and jockey, they were superb.
"It was very similar to last year. He got a good start and, whilst they came and challenged and I thought that he might be just be getting tired two out, he found a lot under pressure.
"This is the Olympics of racing each year and you are judged on how you perform here, maybe too much but that is how it is.
"Tom gave him a great ride. I thought he was getting tired two fences out but he kept on well for pressure. He is not an overly big horse but he is neat and economical over fences and comes up when Tom asks him.
"He is a very good horse on a going day. He is not always like that but you could tell today from an early stage, he was going to run a big race.
"I thought he was in good form at home and he was very gutsy here. He has won at two Cheltenham Festivals and a French Champion Hurdle so it is great."
Pipe, Scudamore and owners Professor Caroline Tisdall and Bryan Drew team up again in the next race on the card, the Grade One Stan James Champion Hurdle, with 2015 Weatherbys Champion Bumper winner Moon Racer.
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SCUDAMORE IN TIME WITH TEMPS
Un Temps Pour Tout, owned by Professor Caroline Tisdall and Bryan Drew, won back-to-back runnings of the Ultima Handicap Chase, but needed every inch of Cheltenham's run-in to fend off Singlefarmpayment.
The pair were as one heading for the line, where the Tom Scudamore-ridden 9/1 shot Un Temps Pour Tout prevailed by a short-head from the 5/1 favourite. Noble Endeavour and Buywise took the minor placings.
Scudamore, having just ridden his 10th Festival success, heaped praise on winning trainer David Pipe, ably supported by his parents Martin and Carol. He said: "The Pipes are geniuses. Nothing more needs to be said. The team do all the hard work. David does the training and leaves the riding up to me.
"Sometimes you come here and plans get changed, but David said all the way through keep it simple. He's a very good horse, but he can run a funny race - he made no show in the Hennessy, ran an odd race in the Long Walk, but today he was up and travelling and attacking his fences. I'd like to ask him what he's thnking.
"Un Temps Pour Tout is a different horse in the spring and loves the hill. I remember A P [McCoy] saying to me after getting beat around here that he doesn't stay. I agreed with him, stupidly, but he obviously does stay.
"I knew halfway up the run in that I was going to get there. He is so tough and jumps brilliantly. I rode the exact same race as I did last year and everything has worked out.
"I'd love to ride him in a four-miler one day, be it the National or some other race. He's very versatile, and could go back to France this year, although I leave it all to David.
"Every Festival winner gets better - it is brilliant. I am so pleased for everyone."
NO PAYMENT FOR GEORGE
Singlefarmpayment finished second by a short-head to Ultima Handicap Chase winner Un Temps Pour Tout, victorious for a second year, in a photo-finish.
Ridden by Adrian Heskin and trained by Tom George, the Milan seven-year-old won a novices' chase at Cheltenham in December and was sent off the 5/1 favourite here.
"I'm thrilled with him - it's just gone the wrong way on the line," said George, who trains in Gloucestershire. "A very good horse beat him and he's run a very good race. He looked like he was getting back up on Un Temps Pour Tout.
"He jumped very well and the only thing that didn't go to plan was the result at the end of it, but the horse doesn't know that."
Heskin added: "He's run a wonderful race."
NOBLE FOR THE IRISH NATIONAL
15/2 chance Noble Endeavour, who finished third in the Ultima Handicap Chase today over three miles and one furlong, may well go for the Irish National over three miles and five furlongs next.
Gordon Elliott, the eight-year-old's trainer said after the race: "He jumped great and travelled well and did everything right with a lot of weight - I am delighted. All being well he will go for the Irish National (Fairyhouse, April 17) next."
Fourth home was 33/1 Buywise whose trainer, Evan Williams, commented: "The horse has run well.
"I thought we had lost him as his winter form hasn't been good. He ran well in the BetVictor Gold Cup again but since then, when I put the visor on him, it has been absolutely dreadful.
"But spring has come and he runs well around here so I am absolutely delighted.
"I imagine we might rock up to Aintree, he has run well round there, or maybe come back here in April. He loves the place so maybe the Grade Two race in April will be the target as he has won it before."
This was Buywise's third try at The Festival and he has finished fifth, fourth and fourth.
2.50pm Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
1 UN TEMPS POUR TOUT (Professor Caroline Tisdall & Bryan Drew) David Pipe 8-11-12 Tom Scudamore 9/1
2 Singlefarmpayment (N T Griffith & H M Haddock) Tom George 7-10-13 Adrian Heskin 5/1 Fav
3 Noble Endeavour (Chris Jones) Gordon Elliott IRE 8-11-11 Davy Russell 15/2
4 Buywise (Hywell Jones) Evan Williams 10-11-02 Adam Wedge 33/1
Distances: sh, 3½, 7
Time: 5m 59.77s
Tote Win: £12.20 Places: £3.10; £2.00; £2.20; £9.00
David Pipe - 15th winner at The Festival
Tom Scudamore - 10th winner at The Festival
BetBright Cup - standings after 3 races
Great Britain 2