Iain Turner has hinted that connections are leading towards a tilt at the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase with the exciting Threeunderthrufive (8-13 Favourite), after he sealed a fourth victory over fences in good style in the Grade Two Wigley Group Hampton Novices’ Chase (3m) at Warwick this afternoon. Today’s card at Warwick is the most valuable ever staged at the venue, with £278,500 on offer in prize money – 39 per cent above the previous best of £202,000.
Plenty have suggested that the National Hunt Challenge Chase would be the most likely destination for the Paul Nicholls-trained seven year old, who set a relentless gallop from the front under Adrian Heskin in soft conditions.
The son of Shantou never looked like being passed as he went on to score by three and a half lengths and he will now head to Cheltenham with a chance of landing a £25,000 bonus from today’s sponsor, the Wigley Group. The bonus rewards connections, including stable staff, of a horse who can go on and win one of three novices’ chases at The Festival™ after landing today’s contest.
Iain Turner, who is racing manager to owner Max McNeill, hinted that the Grade One Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase was the most likely destination for Threeunderthrufive – setting up a potential tussle with stablemate Bravemansgame at The Festival.
Turner said: “I think we’ll go for the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase (as opposed to the National Hunt Chase). Everyone’s saying things like he is a proper stamina horse but he is not short of toe and for those who looked at the times at Cheltenham saw they compared favourably with Nube Negra and Politologue. He’s not slow and he has jumped round Cheltenham – which neither Bravemansgame nor Galopin Des Champs have done.
“We made the mistake last year of running Escaria Ten in the National Hunt Chase because we thought it was the easier option than the Grade One and we ended up bumping into Galvin, who’s now the second favourite for the Gold Cup! Behind us that day was Remastered who could have won a Ladbrokes Trophy and Snow Leopardess who won the Becher Chase, so you learn.
“Adrian (Heskin) is probably not going to be able to ride in that race this year and he has a phenomenal record on him, so I think we’ll go for the Grade One for all that he’ll be entered for both.
“The bonus is a fantastic incentive and fair play to the Wigley Group for offering it, it was the reason we came here and didn’t go to Lingfield to be honest. Both were similar prize money and when the bonus was put up by the sponsors – which rewards everyone down to the stable staff - it was a no-brainer not to come.”
The seven year old could well have another start in the meantime, with Turner adding that he could head for a valuable race at Lingfield Park this coming Friday if he comes out of this run in good shape.
He added: “We might go to Lingfield now on Friday, we’ll see how he is. We put him in just in case just to have a look at, but I think Paul is back from Barbados next week so he can make the call himself. He’s actually out for dinner with Max this evening and I think if he was beaten it would have been evens the pair about who cancelled first!”
Winning jockey Adrian Heskin told ITV Racing: “I think that was the sharpest he has been over fences. He was really on the bridle the whole way round, jumped real sharp and I am delighted with him. He had a bit of a look around at the back of the last but I’m thrilled with that performance.
“He got a bit lonely in front and needs a bit of stamina brought into his races. Unfortunately we had to do the donkey work today but when he has a bit of company in a stronger race I think that will straighten him out.”