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Press Release 21st October 2022 Cheltenham

By Nick Seddon and Luke Hawkins

Seddon (10-1) made up for the burden of his name with a roaring return to form in the Abu Dhabi Digital Exchange Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham today, day one of The Showcase courtesy of a fine ride from amateur jockey Ben Harvey.

The nine year old has some smart form to his name as a novice, finishing seventh in the Grade One Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the 2019 Festival, and he looked in fine fettle on his third start since switching to the Irish trainer John McConnell.

Seddon caught the eye when third over two miles at Navan last month and the return to two and a half miles proved to be just the tonic, with Harvey stealing the race in a matter of strides – making a decisive kick for home at the second last flight and quickly scooting clear for a five and a half-length success.

And McConnell was delighted to see everything come together for his charge, who has only been at the yard for weeks rather than months. He said: “I think it was a poor race if the handicapper is listening! He was very good and he’s been flying at home - he’s a horse who’s probably better off when fresh so he doesn’t take much training. He’s been great since we bought him, he ran very well at Cartmel in August and we always had this race in mind.

“We’ll see what the handicapper does with him now but we can always go back chasing. He jumped a few of those today like they were fences! He was seventh in the Ballymore so he’s got a bit of class and I think he’s had a few issues with his feet. In fairness we haven’t had a bad run for him and it’s great for the guys.”

Derek McGeddham collected the prize for the winning owners Galaxy Horse Racing Syndicate and he admitted that they would be having a far from dry night in Cheltenham this evening.

He said: “That incredible, we’ve only had Seddon for three races. We’ve been coming here as racegoers since 1996 and the plan was always to come here and it’s the meeting that we wanted to target. He’s done it absolutely brilliantly and I have to give a bit of credit to the McNeill Family, who sold us the horse and have been very gracious.

“John is a fantastic trainer and it’s brilliant for him and all the team at home. We’ve been going as a syndicate and this is our 17th winner, but he is our first jumps horse ever! It’s fantastic and it’s a great group of people, we’re all friends together and there’s nine of us who own Seddon.

“The night had definitely changed pace from here now! It means the world to us, Cheltenham is such a special place for Irish people and we’re just over the moon to have our little part of it.”

It proved to be a fruitful journey across the Irish Sea for McConnell, who sealed a 54-1 double when striking in the closing Foundation Developments Ltd Maiden Hurdle with Fennor Cross (4-1).

The five year old was last seen finishing a fine third on the Flat at Down Royal last month and he quickly took control after rounding the final bend, stretching clear for an impressive success under jockey Simon Torrens.

And McConnell was thrilled to see everything come together. He said: “We’re delighted, I thought he had a really good chance and couldn’t believe the price he was. The form of his run at Galway was very good and he was very green that day. He’s still a big baby and there’s more improvement in him.

“I’m not sure what we’ll do with now him now, we’ll have to step up in grade but he’s a good horse I’d say and he’s only starting to come into himself. We’ll enjoy tonight and we’ll think about it after, but he could be a really nice horse.

“There might be a Diet Coke Zero or two tonight! We’ve come over with quite a big team and it’s nice to get off the mark. We were really hopeful of this lad and I’d have been disappointed if he didn’t win today so I’m grateful.”

Meanwhile, trainer Henry Daly revealed that he was hopeful that Jimmy The Digger (11-1) would give him some brownie points at home, after striking in the colours of his mother in law Frankie Clarke in the Andrew Malam Lifetime In Racing Award Winner Amateur Jockeys' Handicap Chase.

The nine year old had plenty to do approaching the final fence, but stayed on admirably well under jockey Alice Stevens to snatch a dramatic half-length victory in the dying strides of the three mile and one furlong contest – much to Daly’s delight.

He said: “Two years ago I managed to win a race for my mother here and today I have managed to win a race for my mother in law – I reckon that’s quite cool!

“I was astonished this morning when I saw he was 20-1 and then some lunatics have backed him into single figures at one point! I just find it amazing, there’s people out there who know a lot more than I do! We’ll probably look for another race like this. He’s a fun handicap chaser who runs well and is not very ground dependant.

“Alice has ridden a lot for me now and has been coming to ride for us since she was 17. Unfortunately she can’t ride in races like the National Hunt Chase at the moment as she needs five winners over fences, she’s ridden 50-60 winners in point to points so that should bring her one closer.”

Winning jockey Alice Stevens added: “He was really great and all he did was stay on for me. He winged the last on tired feet and still jumped it well, I probably needed the line in the end but he got home.

“I think he got a bit frightened early on, so I just switched him out wide down the back and he got into a lovely rhythm. He really responded down the hill, so I’m delighted with that.

“It’s just really nice to ride a winner for Henry round here because he’s been a big supporter of mine and I always finished second for him! I’m delighted for the team at home and it’s a great feeling.”


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