Corach Rambler (6-1 Joint-Favourite) became the fourth dual winner of the Ultima Handicap Chase when repeating his 2022 victory in the three miles and a furlong contest on Champion Day at The Festival.
Partnered once again by Derek Fox, the nine year old came from off the pace to get up and score by a neck from Fastorslow.
Winning trainer Lucinda Russell said: “As emotional as Scu and I are, the horse isn’t emotional. He just loves it round here. It’s phenomenal. It’s funny - I was so nervous beforehand because the horse means so much and everyone knows that, but Scu and I went in to speak to Derek [Foxx], and he was so calm and cool. He said he’d just ride the same as last year - it’s just amazing.
“He’s got a brilliant mind. I think the horse has got quite an interesting mind, but I thought he travelled a bit better relatively close to the pace this time. I am just so proud of him today and so pleased for Scu. To hear that he’s favourite for the Grand National is amazing.”
Winning jockey Derek Fox said: “Peter Scudamore said to me half an hour before the race to ride him something similar to last year and not to change anything and to keep nice and patient on him all the way. He always fills me with so much confidence and he gives me instructions as he understands the game so well. The horse was on absolute spot on form. Lucinda took the horse to Carlisle a few weeks ago after racing and he worked really well. He travelled so beautifully all the way through the race. It was unbelievable and I’m just delighted.
“Last year it was better ground and he was always in top gear until late on when he got going. This year with the ground being that good bit slower he travelled so much easier. He is slightly idle in front and I found myself coming down the hill thinking not to go to the front too soon on him and it just worked out beautifully. It is a pleasure to ride him. He picked up after the last then just 10 strides before the line I was hoping there was nothing going to come as he started to look at the crowd and stuff. He is a tremendous horse and has been a marvellous horse to me to get two winners here along with all the other races he has won along the way. I feel very lucky to be riding him as he is a very talented horse. Thanks to Lucinda and Scu for giving me these opportunities. I’m really looking forward to that now (Grand National). He stays well and I think he will run a massive race in that. I’m just delighted with today.
“He has been lightly raced since last year’s race but he finished a good fourth at Newbury in the Coral Gold Cup and I thought a repeat of that run was more than good enough. Lucinda had him in great order today and it all worked out really well. I think the slower ground made the race open up easier and I found the gaps easier. He is just a tremendous horse and I feel very lucky to be riding him.”
Fox told ITV Racing: “He’s just a tremendous horse, he travelled a lot easier today than he did last year even. I found myself at the back three out and I thought I was going to hit the front early on him. Peter Scudamore came over to me before the race and just said, ‘ride him with plenty of confidence and do the same as last year – don’t change anything too much’. He always fills me with great confidence when he gives me instructions that I can do my own thing and ride it as I find it.
“He’s a marvellous horse, the yard favourite really. He’s the horse of a lifetime. I can’t believe it.”
Asked whether it was fun to ride like that, he said: “You need a lot of things to go right when you commit to dropping back towards the back early. But a horse like this, he just it easy because he keeps taking you there. It suits his running style. Lucinda Russell has been brilliant to me. He’s owned by a great syndicate. It’s thanks to Lucinda and Scu for the opportunities they give me, I’m just over the moon.”
Reflecting on how close he is to the horse at home, Peter Scudamore, partner of winning trainer Lucinda Russell, told ITV Racing: “He is an extraordinary character, you can see in everything about him. Is he more of a character than any other? I don’t know. But it is truly humbling. This means… I can’t explain it.”
On Derek Fox, he added: “People ride in different styles, he’s more like Fitzy (Mick Fitzgerald) and I than he is in you (Sir AP McCoy) in style. I’m not being mean to Derek, when he first came to us he couldn’t read, he learnt to read off text messages on his phone, but he has always had an innate sense of a horse – he’s highly intelligent when he gets on a horse and he uses it. He reads now, we joke about books and stuff, he’s a highly intelligent man.”
Martin Brassil, trainer of the runner-up Fastorslow, said: “We’re thrilled with the run, he was really thrown in the deep end on his first run in a handicap and he really equipped himself well and jumped great. We found out quite a bit about him today, he got the trip well and jumped super. We may have bumped into the Grand National winner there as you say, but I’ve a lad at home who will give him something to do! (Longhouse Poet)”
Jonjo O'Neill said of third placed Monbeg Genius: " He ran a cracker and I could not be more pleased with him, except of course, if he had won. He could now go for the Scottish National next month at Ayr but that will be ground dependent as he has to have soft ground.
"If it was on the quick side at Ayr he would not run and we would put him away for this season with a tilt at the Aintree Grand National next Spring at the forefront of our minds."
Gordon Elliott said of fourth-placed The Goffer: "He keeps on galloping as he showed there and with that in mind the obvious place to go with him will be the Irish National at Fairyhouse over the Easter holiday as long as he comes out of this race in good heart."
2.50pm Ultima Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) 3m1f
1. Corach Rambler 6/1 JF
2. Fastorslow 7/1
3. Monbeg Genius 6/1 JF
4. The Goffer 7/1
Distances: nk, 2l, 8½l
Time: 6m 30.55s
2nd winner at The Festival for jockey Derek Fox
3rd winner at The Festival for trainer Lucinda Russell
Corach Rambler becomes the fourth dual winner of the Ultima Handicap Chase after Sentina (1957, 1958), Scot Lane (1982, 1983) and Un Temps Pour Tout (2016, 2017).
THE CRAFT IRISH WHISKEY CO. PRESTBURY CUP STANDINGS
Great Britain 1