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Press Release 13th November 2022 Cheltenham

By Graham Clark and Nick Seddon

County Meath trainer John McConnell is always to be respected on his visits to Cheltenham and he added to the three winners he saddled at The Showcase last month when Fennor Cross (3-1) came home in front in the Grade Two Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Trial Novices’ Hurdle over an extended two miles.

Partnered by Simon Torrens, the five year old Elzaam gelding made steady progress to take the lead entering the final furlong and stayed on well to win by three and half lengths from Ukantango with another three and a quarter lengths back to 2-1 Favourite Springwell Bay in third.

John McConnell said: “That was great and credit has to go to Andy O'Brien who owns him with some other guys. He rang me the other day and said what about this race and we said we’ll see.

“The horse has been in great form since his win here a few weeks ago and we said we’d have a crack at it. He’s still improving and when he won the last day he was still a baby so it was a good performance. I don’t know if he’s Supreme quality but it certainly gives us something to think about, but this is a Grade Two so who cares!

“He won well and goes on any ground really so the Supreme is something to think about but we’ll take this. He’s tough and he hasn’t missed a beat all year on the Flat or over hurdles. He’s very easy to train and if they were all like that it would be a pleasure. He’s very relaxed so travelling isn’t a worry to him – he could probably drive the lorry to be honest! I don’t know what we’ll do, this wasn’t the plan until Monday so he’s entitled to have a break now and maybe we’ll bring him back for spring ground, we’ll see.”

Olly Murphy, trainer of the second Ukantango, said: “He ran very well, that was a step up in grade and he ran a funny race really – I thought he was going nowhere at the top of the hill and he was in front at the bottom of it! He’s run well and I don’t know what we’ll do next as he’s had a very hard race but we’re very happy.

“I don’t know if we’ll go down the handicap route or the Graded route but we’ll see what kind of mark he gets.”

Jonjo O’Neill, who saddled the third Springwell Bay, said: “He ran well and just wasn’t good enough unfortunately, that’s the bad news! We’ll see what he’s like tomorrow and we’ll take it from there, but he’s a nice horse and we’re happy with him.”

The November Meeting came to a close with the Listed Autism In Racing At Cheltenham Open National Hunt Flat Race over an extended two miles which saw an impressive success from Gentle Slopes (12-1), who provided both trainer Milton Harris and jockey Harry Cobden with a second Cheltenham success this weekend.

Always in a prominent position, the five year old Gentlewave gelding took a decisive advantage turning for home and went on to win impressively by four lengths from School Days Over.

Milton Harris said: “The run here last time was just a nonsense. They walked. This is a proper horse and I said to Anwar (Badri, owner) if he runs badly again I’ll look a fool.

“He is the apple of my eye. It is Anwar’s first winner here. I met him in a clothes shop though you wouldn’t know to look at us! He is much better dressed than I am. We just had a chat and he started picking my brains. I’m delighted for him as he has supported the yard. This is the most expensive horse that I have ever bought (£90,000 at the Tattersalls Cheltenham Festival Sale in March).

“What happened last time was a nonsense. We booked Harry today and he has had no say in decisions. He has made his mind up what he is going to do. He is a good horse. I think we will be going for graded hurdles now. He will make into a nice chaser. I’d say we will look for a maiden hurdle then go for the Challow Hurdle but that is what I’m thinking out loud at the moment and we will talk to the owner first.”

Anwar Badri, the winning owner, said: “It is a dream to have a winner here. It is really amazing and I’m elated.

“It was a total farce the last race. The pace was slow and turned into a sprint then he got blocked but he picked up at the end. One would say why didn’t I put the mortgage on today but I was not that confident.

“Milton as I’ve said before is a character and a half. He is got an amazing team and I don’t know how drives them. I’ve huge respect for his team. I’ve been involved with racing for 12 years and I’ve been involved in syndicates but to own your own horse is chalk and cheese. Milton with his character and humbleness is great.”


Name 1st 2nd 3rd
Chris Gordon 2 - -
Milton Harris 2 - -
Gavin Cromwell IRE 1 1 1
Tony Martin IRE 1 1 -
Patrick Neville 1 1 -
Ben Pauling 1 1 -
John McConnell IRE 1 - 2
Nigel Twiston-Davies 1 - 2
Dan Skelton 1 - 1
Joe Tizzard 1 - 1
Kim Bailey 1 - -
Richard Donohoe IRE 1 - -
Kerry Lee 1 - -
Paul Nicholls 1 - -
Joseph O’Brien IRE 1 - -
Oliver Sherwood 1 - -
Jamie Snowden 1 - -
Gordon Elliott IRE - 3 -
Fergal O’Brien - 2 1
David Dennis - 1 -
Sam Drinkwater - 1 -
Harry Fry - 1 -
Ann Hamilton - 1 -
Nicky Henderson - 1 -
Richard Hobson - 1 -
Mouse Morris IRE - 1 -
Gary Moore - 1 -
Olly Murphy - 1 -
Tim Vaughan - 1 -
Anthony Honeyball - - 2
David Pipe - - 2
Richard Bandey - - 1
Ray Cody IRE - - 1
Martin Keighley - - 1
Alan King - - 1
Laura Morgan - - 1
Norman Lee - - 1
Jonjo O’Neill - - 1
Sam Thomas - - 1

Chris Gordon takes the Fairfax & Favor Leading Trainer Award by virtue of also having a fifth-placed runner.


Name 1st 2nd 3rd
Jonathan Burke 2 1 -
Tom Cannon 2 - 1
Harry Cobden 2 - 1
Paddy Brennan 1 2 -
Peter Carberry 1 1 -
Gavin Sheehan 1 1 -
Sam Twiston-Davies 1 - 4
Brendan Powell 1 - 2
Simon Torrens 1 - 2
Harry Skelton 1 - 1
Mr Jack Andrews 1 - -
David Bass 1 - -
Kieren Buckley 1 - -
Michael O’Sullivan 1 - -
Richard Patrick 1 - -
JJ Slevin 1 - -
Sean Bowen - 2 1
Nico de Boinville - 1 -
Keith Donoghue - 1 -
Robbie Dunne - 1 -
Mr Rob James - 1 -
Alan Johns - 1 -
Jack Kennedy - 1 -
Danny McMenamin - 1 -
Jamie Moore - 1 -
Luca Morgan - 1 -
Darragh O'Keeffe - 1 -
Stan Sheppard - 1 -
Kielan Woods - 1 -
Aidan Coleman - - 1
Mr Joey Dunne - - 1
Liam Harrison - - 1
Daryl Jacob - - 1
Jonjo O’Neill Jr - - 1
Tom Scudamore - - 1
Adam Wedge - - 1


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