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Press Release 9th December 2022 Cheltenham

By Graham Clark

Tim Vaughan might have been left reeling after seeing Le Milos leave his yard in the autumn, however his dreams of having a runner in the Randox Grand National were bolstered after Eva’s Oskar secured the most valuable win of his career at Cheltenham today, day one of The International.

The Cowbridge handler appears to have filled the void left by the subsequent Coral Gold Trophy winner after the gelded son of Shirocco took another step forward to run out a game winner of the feature Dahlbury Handicap Chase.

One of five still holding every chance at the second last the 8-1 chance, who filled the runner-up berth at the track on his latest start, pressed on into a narrow advantage over eventual runner-up Spiritofthegames on the run to the final fence.

Following a sustained battle on the climb to the line it was Eva’s Oskar who was to emerge victorious by half a length under Alan Johns with the staying on Undersupervision a further five lengths adrift back in third.

Vaughan said: “He has been super consistent this year. The only concern was the ground – it is not that he doesn’t handle it but it (softer ground) just slows everyone else down.

“Alan said after riding Madera Mist I’m not sure if this ground will suit him but he is flying and we took our chance. He stuck on doggedly and I’m delighted.

“Bar one today at the top, he was foot perfect and he is maturing. He has got an out and out staying pedigree. He has just got a bit more speed about him. We put the visor on him and it seems to have sharpened him up.

“It is nice for the horse, me, Alan and the owners who are lovely people.

“I went through all the form and funnily enough the owners said early can we win and I said yeah we can but we could finish fifth beaten three lengths it was that competitive race. I’m just we glad we came out on top and I love it.”

Before outing over the famous Aintree fences beckons in April, Vaughan has hinted that the Coral Welsh Grand National, which he was trimmed into 16-1 for by Paddy Power, at Chepstow on December 27th could be next.

He added: “It (the Welsh National) is definitely a thought, why not? If it came up soft we would definitely look at it. The view was if he didn’t come here and win he wasn’t going to win a Welsh National.

“I said if we win at Cheltenham we can go with a penalty if we want to. He would need to take another step forward to win a Welsh National but a longer trip and softer ground would put more things in our favour.

“He is battled hardened and the right age. He has had a couple of runs and he should been tough enough to come out again in that amount of time so I’m not dismissing it all.

“I had in my head the Eider would be the race for him then possibly a Grand National. That would be a lovely dream and nice for the owners and us as a yard to have a runner in that sort of race.

“We should just sneak into a Grand National and I think you need to be about 143 so that should put us into the bottom weight for it.”

Previous winners of what is now the Dahlbury Handicap Chase include , Rubstic (1975) and Mon Mome (2008), who both went on to win the world’s greatest chase at Aintree.

Trainer David Bridgwater admitted there is ‘no better place’ to taste victory after Dame Du Soir (8-1) ended his 206-day wait for a winner in the Cf Roberts Electrical & Mechanical Services Mares’ Handicap Chase.

After finishing sixth in the extended two mile prize 12 months ago the nine year old mare demonstrated the best of battling abilities when prevailing by a neck under Lily Pinchin to go one better than on her two previous starts at Huntingdon and Plumpton.

Bridgwater said: “When you need one there is no better place (to have a winner). When you haven’t got the horses you can’t compete.

“She was 19lbs better off this year just because she wasn’t right last season and she tumbled down the weights. I thought last year she would have been placed off 11st 8lbs on her back but she made a mistake the last.

“You ain’t got to be a rocket scientist to work out with 19lb off her back she was not going to be far away.

“I wanted to go to Fontwell on Tuesday, but Graham Clarkson (joint-owner) wanted a day out here. It was the obvious race to have a go at as she was so well in.

“She just kept galloping and Lilly was brilliant on her. When you have a jockey as confident as what she was that makes a big difference.”

Fergal O’Brien moved on to the 99-winner mark for the season after Punctuation (9-2) made four wins from as many starts under Paddy Brennan when landing the Catesby Estates Handicap Hurdle by three and three quarter lengths.

O’Brien said: “It was Paddy’s call to come here. I was worried about the being a bit quick but he loved the ground. He jumped so well and when he wanted him he was big.

“Paddy is four from four on him but he has always got on and understood him. He has been well placed by Neil Jukes at home and Paddy. They have put him in the right races and he has found his rhythm.

“He was better than ever today and we are delighted. We will look at coming back here in January as Paddy says he loves it here. He loved the hill and the occasion.”

Captain Morgs, who is named after England cricketer Eoin Morgan, finally gained an overdue change of luck when book ending a 26-1 double for trainer Nicky Henderson in the concluding Citipost Handicap Hurdle.

Responding well to first time cheek pieces the 7-2 chance ended a winless run stretching back over a year when making his first start over three miles a winning one by seven lengths under James Bowen.

Henderson, who landed the opener with Attacca, said: “He has deserved one. They are a great team that he belongs to The Albatross Club. You have to wear this ridiculous yellow tie otherwise you get fined!

“They are a great team but it doesn’t appear that any of them are here. I suspect they are at Christmas lunches in London if I know them.

“He is a good little horse. He is consistent, consistently second. When he was second at Kempton to Call Me Lord, Nico (de Boinville) was a bit frustrated so I put the cheek pieces on and that helped.”


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