Emotional scenes were played out in the Kempton Park winner’s enclosure after part owner Trevor Jacobs watched Editeur Du Gite successfully defend his Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Handicap Chase crown 12 months on from celebrating victory in the same race from the confines of his hospital bed.
Having been forced to watch the Grade Two contest on a television at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth after being diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome earlier in 2022 Jacobs showed the giant steps he has made when joining friends and family at the Sunbury track this time around.
In a race that was not short of drama with Malystic pulling up early, and favourite Boothill departing mid race, it was left to Editeur Du Gite, who had been previously well held in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter and Shloer Chase at Cheltenham, to battle it out with the hat-trick seeking Elixir De Nutz.
Although without a victory to his name since winning the re-arranged Grade One Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham in January the gelded son of Saddex was not to be denied on this occasion with regular rider Niall Houlihan getting the perfect tune out of his partner.
Despite the late rally of 2020 winner Nube Negra over the last it was not enough to stop the Gary Moore-trained 5-1 chance from registering victory by three lengths to become the third dual winner of the race behind Special Tiara (2014 and 2016) and Voy Por Ustedes (2006 and 2007).
Jacobs said: “Last year I was in a hospital bed shouting as I couldn’t move this time last year. Coming here today I was shouting again, but I’m here and lucky to be alive let alone anything else.
“All the bells were ringing on the intensive care bed as everyone thought I was having a heart attack, and I was shouting and balling (when he won last year). They couldn’t believe it, but that was the first big winner I had.
“I died twice in hospital, and they brought me back. I’ve said it before the nurses in the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth were just lovely. They were fantastic.
“This is my life. Every Saturday I would put the television on and watch the racing all day. I used to give the nurses a few tips, and some of them won. They wanted me to give them the winner of the Grand National and I said you’ve got no chance as it is a lottery.
“I had 11 months in intensive care and then I had four or five months in rehab. Now I’m home and I’m doing rehab every day and I’m getting there every day.”
A trip to Newbury in February now awaits Editeur Du Gite for the Game Spirit Chase according to Moore ahead of a potential outing in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Moore, who also saddled the winner of today’s Coral Welsh National (Nassalam) and Grade Two Coral Finale Juvenile Hurdle (Salver) at Chepstow, said: “It is the first time he has been able to dictate this year. The rain hadn’t quite got into the ground yet and it is the first time he has had his ground this season.
“He will go up again for this probably. He is probably a little bit better going left-handed than right-handed. He will probably go to Newbury for the Game Spirit then we will take it from there.
“He is not getting any younger and he is only going to last so long. He looks like he is back to his best now and he will probably have a go at it now (the Champion Chase).”
Tweed Skirt signed off her career on the racetrack in perfect fashion when giving Robbie Dunne a winning spare rider after powering clear of her rivals late on in the Ladbrokes Get Best Odds Guaranteed Handicap Chase to complete a double on the card for trainer Nicky Henderson.
The six-year-old Martaline mare, who is now set for a spell at stud, quickly put matters to bed between the final two fences in the three-mile contest before crossing the five lengths clear under Dunne, who was deputising for Nico de Boinville who was stood down with a hand injury.
Eric Windsor, member of the Just Four Men With Rose Tinted Glasses syndicate, said: “I think the plan for her is to go to Walk In The Park now.
“It was always the plan for her to go to stud. We took her to Newbury last Wednesday and pulled her out at the last minute because of the ground.
“The Seven Barrows team entered her here today and Doncaster on Friday and they decided to come here in a handicap as opposed to a Listed race.
“It was great for the whole team, and we always knew she could do it. She has had a few niggly things go wrong in the past but today she was unbelievable.”
The Ladbrokes Christmas Festival concluded with the Ladbrokes Fanzone Mares' Handicap Hurdle, which went to Martha Brae (Dan Skelton/Harry Skelton, 17-2).