Ahoy Senor back in business as Cotswold Chase success puts him in Cheltenham Gold Cup contention

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Runner-up in the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase on his only previous visit to Prestbury Park, the eight-year-old had struggled this season in open company and was winning for the first time since taking the Mildmay Novices' Chase four starts ago.

Derek Fox was content to track Bryony Frost and Frodon on the first circuit and although Sounds Russian shot clear during the second lap of the New Course, a juddering error from Ruth Jefferson's charge four from home gave the pack chance to close the gap and most crucially Ahoy Senor the opportunity to ensure an all-northern finish to this Grade Two contest. Neck and neck jumping the last, the duo were soon embroiled in a terrific tussle up the Cheltenham hill with Ahoy Senor prevailing by one and a half lengths and Grand National hero Noble Yeats a further length back in third. Betfair went 10-1 from 50s for the blue riband in March, while Coral offer slightly bigger odds of 12-1. Russell said: "I'm really pleased. It is just the excitement of having a horse of that quality again. He's always been good, but he just had to learn about it and today I think he just came of age. "In my mind, I thought he was going to take a lead and when he came into the paddock, Derek said I'm just going to go forward, and I thought 'great', and actually he was right, because it let him get his freshness out of him and then let Frodon give him a lead. "He is just fantastic with the horse and they both trust each other and the confidence that he has got has been fantastic. I'm delighted and it is nice to see our monster back. "I'm just pleased with him as I thought his jumping was OK and when he came round that bottom corner and accelerated, I did get a bit excited. "I really hope he'll go to the Gold Cup. Whatever happens, he will definitely get an entry." The Kinross-based trainer lost her father Peter this week and spoke poignantly in the winner's enclosure at how much Ahoy Senor had meant to him. "It is very emotional. My dad was a fantastic person and he was so proud. He'd been ill for a year, I remember being in tears at Newbury when he (Ahoy Senor) won the John Francome Novices' Chase," she said. "It was good in a way, because I spent a year saying thank you to dad and I appreciated him. "As he went on in his life, racing meant more to him. He'd talk to me about about which races we were going to and he'd phone me before the race and after the races and I will miss that intensely. "This horse, he was interested in and loved and really wanted him to do well. "Dad ran down a bit. We had two winners at Kelso and he was a little bit frailer at that point and he only went to hospital for 24 hours.

"To everyone, just say thank you to your dad, just tell them how much they mean to you, because I had the chance to do that. Say thank you.

"It was dad that set me up, dad that has given me that desire, that determination. He'd be very proud today and I'm really going to miss not phoning him on the way home."

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