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‘That’s probably the best he’s ever run’ - Clinical Pic D’Orhy blitzes Ascot Chase rivals

3 minute read

Paul Nicholls recorded a record-breaking fifth Grade 1 Ascot Chase courtesy of a sublime round of jumping from Pic D’Orhy.

PIC D'ORHY winning the Ascot Chase at Ascot in England.
PIC D'ORHY winning the Ascot Chase at Ascot in England. Picture: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

The Paul Nicholls-trained Pic D'Orhy added a second Grade 1 success to his CV by going one better than when bumping into Shishkin in the Grade 1 prize at Ascot twelve months ago.

Harry Cobden made his intentions clear from the outset, sending Pic D'Orhy straight into a definitive advantage from flag fall and in all truth, the order scarcely changed throughout much of the two-mile five-furlong top-level contest.

Charlie Deutsch looked happy to sit off the front running Pic D'Orhy throughout the first circuit but as the leader continued to make gains on his rivals out in front with some spectacular leaps, one of Britain's leading Gold Cup contenders L'Homme Presse jumped left-handed.

Whilst L'Homme Presse continued to prove far from fluent in the jumping department, Pic D'Orhy and Harry Cobden were beginning to put a show out in front.

The chasing trio, L'Homme Presse, Ahoy Senor and the big outsider Sail Away began to close in down the back straight, but Cobden had plenty up his sleeve following a tactical breather and the pair turned for home with over half a dozen lengths to spare over their nearest pursuers, and with a sparkling leap at the second last, the race was soon in safekeeping.

Yet another spectacular jump at the final flight sealed the deal as Pic D'Orhy and Harry Cobden strolled clear for a commanding five-and-a-half-length success from L'Homme Presse back in second.

It was a ninth success over fences for the son of Turgeon and a return to winning ways following his excellent second-place finish to Banbridge in the Grade 2 Silvianaco Conti Chase at Kempton last month.

Nicholls, who was saddling a fifth winner in the Grade 1 prize, said of the superb performance: "I enjoyed that immensely and when he jumped the first, I thought 'well he is going to take some beating'.

"At that trip today, it was a fantastic ride from Harry, we were always going to be positive.

"L'Homme Presse wasn't jumping great, he was jumping left a bit and flat out and I knew what Harry was doing, he gave him a little breather, then kick in the belly turning in and away we go.

"He's so good at that distance we don't need to step up to three miles at the moment. Ultimately, he would get it and next year we can have another talk about it (King George).

"I don't know why after all his races, but he seems to be improving – today was the best I've ever seen him look and probably the best he's ever run.

"To put good horses in their place like that was fantastic.

"The stiffer track probably suited him and last time at Kempton he was giving 3lb to a very good horse in Banbridge, but this track seems to bring out the best of him, he stays strong over that trip.

"It was a fantastic ride and that is why Harry is vying to be champion, he's riding like a champion jockey."

Paddy Power cut the winner to 6/1 for the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham in March but Nicholls suggests his high-class nine-year-old will skip the Grade 1 contest in favour of a defence of his Melling Chase crown at Aintree the following month.

"I suspect now we will go straight to Aintree," continued Nicholls.

"He's had a hard race there and I have Stage Star and Hitman to run in the Ryanair – Stage Star is in great shape. He's had a hard race today and he was trained for today and now we will train him for Aintree.

"We went to Cheltenham with Kauto Star after he won here and he got beat and I think if you have a hard race here, it's a tough ask to then go to Cheltenham, so we will give him plenty of time.

"It's a great race to win. Rockforce won it, Silviniaco Conti and Cyrname – what a horse he was. This horse is altogether different to train than Cyrname who had a million problems, this horse has got it all and he keeps improving. I'm really pleased.

"Next year we could have a conversation about the King George. I have no doubt in a year's time he will get the trip and it might just bring about the best in him. I'm sure Johnny (de la Hay, owner) and I will be having a chat about that."

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