Hewick makes triumphant return to Sandown and claims Oaksey Chase

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Hewick justified Shark Hanlon's decision to bypass the Punchestown Gold Cup and also not defend his bet365 Gold Cup crown, as he took the Grade Two Oaksey Chase at Sandown under Rachael Blackmore.

The eight-year-old, who won the American Grand National Hurdle at Far Hills in October, was going well in front in the Cheltenham Gold Cup when he suffered a heavy fall when last seen. Hanlon decided to swerve Punchestown as a result and his astute placement paid dividends - not that it was as easy the 6-5 favourite's odds would suggest. Hewick was bowling along in front, pestered by First Flow, when he made a mistake early on the final circuit in the extended two-and-three-quarter-mile affair. Blackmore had to be patient thereafter and it was not until three out that he got back on terms. The 11-year-old First Flow still had an advantage in front under David Bass, yet Blackmore persisted and a scintillating jump at the last, where the pair came close together, saw the pair take over and Hewick's stamina kicked in. He ground out the victory margin to four lengths at the line. Hanlon said: "I'm thinking the whole time should have I gone for the be365 Gold Cup, but just with the fall he got at Cheltenham I thought this was the right thing to do for the horse to give him a confidence boost. His season is only starting because he is a summer horse. "Rachael was absolutely brilliant as she always is. I'm very sorry for Jordan (Gainford) that he is not here as he has made the horse for us. He will be back, and Rachael knows he will be back but until he does come back we have a great sub. "He always comes off the bridle. There is no race he has ever run in that he didn't come off the bridle. He came off the bridle at Cheltenham, but Jordan said three strides before the fence he was coming back on the bridle again. There is one thing we know about him is that he would have come up the hill. "I don't know if we were good enough to beat Willie's (Mullins horse, Galopin Des Champs), but we would have been knocking on the door for second or third. "He is back here today in front of a great crowd and on a lovely track. The ground was a little bit soft for him, but there is nothing that can be done about that. This morning I came across on the flight and I said that I was glad I had him in this race not the bet365 Gold Cup because of the ground being that little bit softer. "He got home a little bit quicker than I got off our Aer Lingus flight today as we were delayed by four hours from Dublin and I thought we would never get here. We are here, but it may take us four hours to get home now. "He stays and stays and Rachael is so good at thinking. When he made his mistake she took him back and filled himself up and the next thing he came back on the bridle again. That is what is he does. He is a miracle horse. He has been some horse for me."

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