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Press Release 15th December 2023 Cheltenham

By Graham Clark

Venetia Williams praised the patience shown by connections of Cepage who responded well to cheekpieces to secure a first victory in almost three years in the Unibet Middle Distance Chase Series Veterans’ Handicap Chase at Cheltenham today, day one of The Christmas Meeting.

Restricted to just one start in each of the two previous seasons the admirable 11-year-old showed he still has plenty of life in him after winning the second race in the extended two and a half mile series which was created by Unibet as part of a five-year deal with The Jockey Club earlier this year. 

Demonstrating a clear appetite for the stiff uphill finish at the track the 11-2 chance, whose last victory came at Chepstow in January 2021, powered past Le Ligerien, winner of the first race of this season’s series at Kempton Park, late on before clearing away to prevail by seven lengths under Charlie Deutsch from Lord Du Mesnil. 

Williams said: “He is still rattling around here at a rate of knots. All credit to owners (The Bellamy Partnership) for giving him the time come back from various injuries. It has taken me this long to put the cheekpieces on him, but I was keen to reserve them for a decent race. 

“He is a quirky horse. Jess, who is leading him up, and is my assistant, rides him all the time. Even at the age he is now, which is 11 going on 12, he has to be legged up in the barn otherwise he might bolt. He is still daft as a brush. 

“It is fantastic this series. The three-mile series has been a success, and it is lovely to see Cheltenham stepping in with this. The original plan a month ago had been to bring his partner in crime Ibleo here, but circumstances over the weekend flip flopped as to who was going to run here. 

“There isn’t another one of these races until the middle of next month so he might come back here New Year’s Day. They went a good gallop there in that race and it was nice to see him finish as he did. 

“He has only one once here before at the January meeting before the (Covid) pandemic then he ran well in those pandemic Festivals.”


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