The rewards of winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup are many and varied but victory on Sizing John three weeks ago earned winning jockey Robbie Power the position as first jockey to the horse’s owner, Alan Potts.
That union, in particular on horses trained by Colin Tizzard, notched its third Grade One in two days on Saturday when Finian’s Oscar ran out a smooth three-length winner of the Betway Mersey Novice Hurdle to complete an unbeaten season.
Not long after Sizing Cadalco sealed the trainers’ title at the National meeting for Tizzard and Power the jockeys’ equivalent by running away with the Betway Handicap Chase.
Three days ago, Tizzard looked like a trainer out of form, particularly after a disappointing Cheltenham, but three winners on Friday, including the Potts pair, Pingshou and Fox Norton, and Saturday's double capped what has been a fantastic season for the trainer and made one ponder the vagaries of stable form.
Finian’s Oscar, who caused Potts to dip into his pocket to the tune of £250,000 after winning an Irish point-to-point, missed Cheltenham after bruising a foot but that might have done him no harm for Aintree, where hard races at Cheltenham have told on several horses.
“I expect he’ll go chasing next year,” said Tizzard. “He entered for Punchestown but I wouldn’t have thought he would go. Good horses like this don’t come along that often and if we put him away now we can dream. He’s won a point-to-point and he jumps his hurdles big. Everything’s in front of him.”
Potts looked like he might have a fourth Grade One when his Coral Cup winner, Supasundae, landed upsides Yanworth at the last in the Ryanair Stayers Hurdle but, relishing three miles, Yanworth, who had found the Champion Hurdle all happening a bit fast for him three weeks ago, stayed on best to give Alan King a welcome top- level winner.
Paul Nicholls has had to sit back and watch Nicky Henderson steaming clear in the trainers’ title this week – until Saturday, however. He struck back when San Benedeto won the Doom Bar Maghull Novice Chase.
Coming to the last he looked set to win it with Politilogue. The grey was a length up and having put in what appeared to be a winning leap, went two strides and tripped up. At that stage Nicholls must have been cursing his luck because it looked like it had gifted the race to Brian Ellison’s Forest Bihan but Nicholls’s second string, San Benedeto, hunted him down and caught him on the line.
“It’s nice to have a first reserve,” said Nicholls. “It’s been a good week for San Benedeto – he won at Ascot last Sunday. I was keen to run and well done to his owner for going with it. Sometimes fortune favours the brave. Politlogue was unlucky and two mile chasing will be his thing next season.”