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Press Release 15th November 2023 Cheltenham

By Graham Clark

Tom Cannon has likened partnering Edwardstone on the racetrack to riding a ‘horse into battle’ and he believes the triple Grade One winner will be ready to ‘do his best’ on his seasonal return in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham on Sunday (November 19th). 

In what is shaping up to be a red-hot renewal of the Grade Two contest, which is also set to include the return of multiple Grade One scorer Jonbon from the Nicky Henderson yard, the Guildford-based rider is looking forward to renewing his relationship with the nine-year-old.  

After winning the Grade One Betfair Tingle Creek at Sandown Park on his return last season, the Kayf Tara gelding failed to add to that success in three subsequent outings culminating with defeat in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. 

Despite Edwardstone ending last term on a low-key note, Cannon believes his old ally will be ready to do himself justice in the two-mile test that Barbury Castle Stables handler King has previously won with Sceau Royal in 2018 and Uxizandre in 2014. 

Cannon said: “Edwardstone has been good at home. I schooled him on Monday, and I schooled him last Monday as well. He seems very fresh and well in himself and I’m looking forward to Sunday. 

“It is going to be a good race, but he doesn’t have any easy races now with the level he is at. He was meant to run in this race last season, but the ground was on the quicker side so he swerved it. He won first time out last year and he will be ready to go and do his best.  

“He enjoyed it on Monday when I gave him a jump and he is a pleasure to have around and be involved with. He is a magnificent horse not just to sit on but to look at as well. 

“You get some horses that are good that might be small, but when you get on top of him it is like riding a horse into battle. He is a big strong brute of a horse that has got all the power in the right places.”

Although Edwardstone was well held on his most recent visit to Cheltenham back at The Festival in March when finishing fifth in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase the 32 year old feels he will be a different proposition this weekend. 

He added: “He was struggling down the back with me in the Champion Chase as he normally takes you into a race very easily. 

“I knew at the top of the hill that I had to ask a few questions of his jumping down the back, and he responded, but I used my petrol up earlier than I liked. 

“Once we jumped three out and turned in I wasn’t holding on to a lot of horse which I think was there for everyone to see really. 

“That wasn’t Edwardstone at his best, but we should see a different side to him at the weekend.”

While Cannon is excited about being re-united with Edwardstone he believes the outcome of his next assignment will give connections a guide as to whether to stick at two miles or step him up in trip - something the Grade One-winning rider feels he would have no issue with. 

Cannon added: “His pedigree suggests he will get further, and he ran further than two miles over hurdles and ran well. On his day he is a very quick two-miler which he showed in the Tingle Creek last season.  

“He probably wasn’t at his best after that, but we will see how we go in the race on Sunday and go from there. 

“As he is getting bit older now, and with a few younger horses coming through, it might give us options if we go up further in trip.

“This is a case of testing the water with him and it is a nice place to go. I’m sure this will answer a few questions about where he will go for the rest of the season.”

One thing Cannon believes has been key to Edwardstone’s rise to the top over fences is the astute handling he has been given by multiple Grade One-winning trainer King and his team. 

He added: “He was always given every chance time wise to do his best as a chaser. It was a well-trodden path that Alan used and had mapped out for him. 

“That novice chase season when he went on and won the Arkle was a masterclass in bringing a horse on and training it for the day, which is something that I hadn’t been involved with before.

“That season he came on for every race and at Cheltenham he was absolutely simmering and for me that was an eye opener seeing the attention to detail that went into every race.”

All winners are well received by jockeys, however there are some horses that evoke extra emotions.  

And for Cannon that is exactly the feeling he receives when passing the post in front on Edwardstone, who provided the jockey with his first Grade One triumph in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown Park in 2021.  

He added: “The wins on him are the ones you look back on and are proud of. It is nice that I rode him in his novice hurdles, and I’ve been lucky enough to keep riding him pretty much the whole way through. He has done a heck of a lot for me, and he is a horse you look forward to riding. 

“You look forward to sitting on him at home and he is one that people ask about all the time and being involved with a horse like that is nice. 

“You see a few coffee mugs with his colours on and Christmas cards with him on and it brings home to you what a special horse he is to the public as well his owners, and to me and everyone at Barbury Castle Stables.

“It means a lot winning him as I know how much it means to the owners as they bred him as well so there is an extra bit of enjoyment for them as he is not just a horse that they picked up at the sales. 

“It means more to me that the owners are getting more enjoyment out of it and hopefully there are still more great days ahead.”


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