ELGIN ON TOP IN GREATWOOD
Trainer Alan King was delighted with the performance of Elgin, who ran out the neck winner of the feature £100,000 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham this afternoon.
The 10/1 shot travelled comfortably on the rain-softened ground for jockey Wayne Hutchinson and was one of a number of horses still in with a shout as the field turned for home.
However, the five-year-old, who was bred by owner Elite Racing Club and carried 10st 8lb, responded well to his rider's urgings to repel the challenge of runner-up Misterton, with previous winner Old Guard a further four and a half lengths back in third.
King was delighted with Elgin after the race.
"That was a great performance," said King
"My other horse (William H Bonney, who finished fifth) ran a mighty race and I thought he probably travelled the better of the two. He's probably got a bit tired in this ground on his first run back.
"I've been placed in this race a lot of times but never won it before. He's a proper horse - he's race fit. He won well at Ascot last time out and I thought this race might come a bit quick for him - it was only 15 days ago - but he came out it very well. My only real concern was the ground to be honest - it was the unknown. He seemed to handle it well though - we've probably gone two and a half miles today going wide looking for the better ground. Wayne's given the outside to no-one.
"I was going to give him a run on the Flat this summer but, as he'd been on the go for a while, I thought I better give him a break. He really benefitted from that.
"We'll see how he comes out of it but we might go to Ascot (for the Ascot Handicap Hurdle - previously the Ladbroke Hurdle) just before Christmas. He's progressive and a tough horse. I'm delighted to train a big winner for the Elite Racing Club - they're a proper organisation and bred this horse.
"Elgin had issues with his knees as a young horse - he started out with James Fanshawe but never ran for him.
"My horses have actually been running well but we've just been hitting the bar of late. We've won some big races already this season though with the likes of Smad Place (winner of the Old Roan Chase at Aintree) and this fellow and I'm happy with them.
"There's nothing like a winner here though."
WAYNE WORKS HIS MAGIC FOR ELITE RACING ON ELGIN
Jockey Wayne Hutchinson would not be denied his line when ensuring Elgin raced on the ground deemed best for the horse to land Sunday's feature race at Cheltenham's November Meeting.
Riding for trainer Alan King, and in the colours of the horse's owner/breeders, Elite Racing, Hutchinson won the £100,000 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, steering a wide course on the five-year-old. A 10/1 chance, Elgin beat Misterton (10/1) by a neck, with former winner Old Guard (8/1) four and a half lengths back in third. Gallant top-weight The New One ran another superb race to finish fourth.
Hutchinson said: "He needed his first run at Chepstow and the improvement was there to go and win at Ascot two weeks ago. The boss said 'let's go and roll the dice again' and it's paid off. He was in good form at home and he [King] has produced him again on the day.
"I had a torrid run round there on the outside and there was a bit of arguing for it, but he's a big honest horse and I was just able to hold it. He's an honest horse and kept taking me there. It was a good performance but he was a good novice last year.
"I'd like to hope there's more to come, he has a great engine and plenty of other attributes. He coped with the ground, but has won on good, so he's versatile. I was long at the last and he kept sticking his neck out on the run to the line.
"All plaudits go to the team at home. We are just here on the day to steer them round."
MISTERTON RUNS CAREER-BEST IN SECOND
10/1 chance Misterton finished second by a neck to Elgin in the £100,000 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle for trainer Harry Fry and jockey Tom Scudamore.
Fry said: "It doesn't get much closer. He's run a career-best and I'm delighted with him. He's been beaten a neck from a pound out of the handicap. Brilliant run. The horse has given his all - he's jumped, he's travelled, he's done everything right."
Third, four and a half lengths behind Misterton, was the Paul Nicholls-trained, Bryony Frost-ridden Old Guard.
Nicholls said: "I'm delighted with him - it was a very good run. He kept battling on in the home straight and it looked like it was hard work out there on the ground. He showed that he could handle the ground, and he may have wanted slightly better conditions, but I'm thrilled with him. He got slightly outpaced going down the hill but he then stayed on again.
"I think we'll look to step him up in trip now and the Lanzarote Hurdle and potentially the Coral Cup are races that could suit him."
And The New One, Nigel Twiston-Davies' popular nine-year-old, finished fourth under Richard Johnson.
Twiston-Davies said: "It was a very good run, giving lots of weight away. It's hard work in that ground. But I'm delighted we ran him - we were worried about running him, but he's done really well and beat all the ones he wasn't meant to beat! There was just some that were too well-handicapped."
GUARD A FINE THIRD FOR FROST
The Paul Nicholls-trained Old Guard (8/1) finished a fine third in the £100,000 G3 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle under 5lb conditional Bryony Frost.
The six-year-old son of Notnowcato stayed on gamely up the punishing Cheltenham hill to fill the placings as Alan King's 10/1 shot Elgin held off Harry Fry's Misterton (10/1) by a neck to land the extended two-mile event, with a further four and a half-lengths back to Nicholls' charge in third.
Frost, who landed the mallardjewellers.com Novices' Chase aboard Black Corton yesterday, said: "It was a brilliant run. Now he is getting an older and more mature horse, he wants a bit of a trip I think these days.
"The ground was maybe a bit too soft for him but he didn't really cry out on that ground.
"He just struggled to go with them at the top of the hill when they turned on the speed a little bit and I just wasn't able to go with.
"I lost two lengths on the field and I wasn't able to latch on to them quite as much I would've wanted to and then he stayed up all the way up the hill.
"You will see this horse improve again as he goes up in trip. It's not been a bad weekend for me, that's for sure."
Richard Johnson steered top-weight The New One (7/1) to fourth place and Britain's champion Jump jockey was pleased with the nine-year-old son of King's Theatre's performance, commenting: "He has run a great race. He is a star and I am sure he will be back here for the International Hurdle in a few weeks time."
3.00pm £100,000 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m ½f
1 ELGIN ALAN KING 10ST 8LB WAYNE HUTCHINSON 10/1
2 Misterton Harry Fry 10st 0lb Tom Scudamore 10/1
3 Old Guard Paul Nicholls 10st 7lb Bryony Frost (5) 8/1
4 The New One (IRE) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 12lb Richard Johnson 7/1
5 William H Bonney Alan King 9st 9lb Mitchell Bastyan (5) 12/1
6 Nietzsche (Hood) Brian Ellison 9st 9lb James Bowen (5) 12/1
7 Jenkins (IRE) Nicky Henderson 10st 0lb David Bass 5/1
8 Project Bluebook (FR) John Quinn 10st 6lb Brian Hughes 40/1
9 Tigris River (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Joseph Patrick O'Brien, Ireland 10st 13lb Barry Geraghty 14/1
10 Chesterfield (IRE) Seamus Mullins 10st 4lb Daniel Sansom (7) 25/1
11 Mohaayed (Tongue Strap) Dan Skelton 10st 0lb Harry Skelton 9/1
12 Ivanovich Gorbatov (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Joseph Patrick O'Brien, Ireland 11st 0lb Aidan Coleman 20/1
FELL 2 OUT London Prize (Sheepskin C/P) Ian Williams 10st 2lb (5lb ex) Tom O'Brien 9/2 Fav
Non-Runners: Flying Tiger (Going), Amour De Nuit (Going), Top Othe Ra (Travel)
Distances: nk, 4½, 1, 1, 8, ½, ½, 6, 2½, 30, 3¾
Tote Win:£12.10 Places:£3.60, £3.30, £2.90 Exacta:£157.70
To view a replay of the race, please click here -