BLAKE'S DEBUT CHELTENHAM WINNER LOOKS PRETTY COOLE
Wiltshire trainer Michael Blake trained his first Cheltenham winner today when Coole Cody won the Martin & Co Jewellers Intermediate Handicap Hurdle.
A 25/1 shot, the six-year-old was ridden by Brendan Powell to an all-the-way win by three lengths and three and three-quarters of a length from Mischievous Max (14/1) and Red Indian (5/1 favourite). Diable De Sivola (7/1) was fourth.
Blake trains just ten horses at his yard near Trowbridge, yet Coole Cody was his fifth winner of the Jump season, and he has saddled five on the Flat.
He said: "It feels fantastic. We've had this race in mind for a while because he won a couple of novice hurdles at the end of his novice season and since then we laid him out for this. We weren't worried about the ground because he won an Irish point-to-point on heavy ground, and again at Wincanton.
"We told Brendan to go wide all the way and he rode him beautifully - it looked easy, but I don't know if it was. He only cost £5,000 at Ascot Sales - Wayne [Clifford, the owner] found him and sent him to me. He's a good size and we thought about going over fences with him this season, then decided to make use of his novice status over hurdles for the time being - he'll run over hurdles again before Christmas and then we'll think about fences.
"I've only had four runners at Cheltenham, but to have a winner here is fantastic."
POWELL KEEPS HIS COOLE
Jockey Brendan Powell produced a fine front-running ride on 25/1 shot Coole Cody to land the Martin & Co Jewellers Intermediate Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham this afternoon.
The Michael Blake-trained six-year-old travelled beautifully through the testing ground and the pair stayed on strongly on the run-in to record a three-length victory, with Mischievous Max back in second.
Powell was surprised that he got such an easy lead in a competitive race.
"You never really get an easy lead round Cheltenham but the ground probably played a part in that," said the jockey.
"The other jockeys probably had it in their minds to save as much energy as possible which allowed me to dictate the pace. In the end, he's settled well. He can be a bit quirky but he's done it all right today.
"I was confident when I jumped the second last as I'd been saving a bit all the way round. I had a loose horse for company coming down the hill so, as long as he didn't get in my way, I knew I had a chance. I'd just like to thank Mr Clifford (Wayne - owner) and Mr Blake for the chance to ride him. They were very confident before the race and all credit to them.
"All I had to do was sit and steer and make sure I did not go too quick. Coole Cody is obviously a bit quirky, but this is the first time I have sat on him and Harry Cobden gave me all the information I needed.
"The one thing we thought might stop him was the ground. It was a bit of unknown, even though he ran in a point on heavy, because it is different on the track.
"I was able to save for a lot of the way and got quite an easy lead. I had it in my head that I wanted to save until the bottom of the hill. He has won really well. I have been lucky enough to have a couple of winners here, but things have been quiet for me for the last little while. It is good to get another one."
3.30pm Martin & Co Jewellers Intermediate Handicap Hurdle
1 Coole Cody (W Clifford) Michael Blake 6-11-11 Brendan Powell 25/1
2 Mischievious Max (Colmark Stud Partnership) Joseph O'Brien IRE 4-11-02 J J Slevin (3) 14/1
3 Red Indian (Preston Lodge Stud) Ben Pauling 5-11-08 Nico de Boinville 5/1 Fav
4 Diable De Sivola (Robert Forster) Nick Williams 4-11-04 Lizzie Kelly (3) 7/1
Distances: 3, 3¾, 6
Tote Win: £33.00 Places: £4.90, £2.40, £2.00, £1.90 Exacta: £526.40
ORPHAN INDIAN PLEASES WEATHERBY
Five-year-old Red Indian, third behind winner Coole Cody and second-placed Mischievous Max in the Martin & Co Jewellers Intermediate Handicap Hurdle, was home-bred by Weatherbys chairman and Her Majesty's Representative at Ascot, Johnny Weatherby.
Trained by Ben Pauling and ridden by Nico de Boinville, Red Indian, a son of Sulamani, started the 5/1 favourite and was beaten six and three-quarter lengths by the winner.
Weatherby said: "He was an orphan because his dam [Rafiya] died the day after he was born, so he had a slightly tricky start. He went to Ben [Pauling] last season and was quite sick, so this is really the first season he has been feeling well. He did great - I'm really pleased. Ben is thrilled with him.
"He's inexperienced, and he didn't handle the ground too badly. That was part of thing - to find out would he get the trip and what sort of ground he could handle. We are thrilled."
To view a replay of the race, please click here -