3 minute read
11/8 favourite Thunder Rock justified his position at the top of the market to land the feature £30,000 Listed Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at Carlisle yesterday afternoon.
Irish raider Mahler Mission set out to put his proven stamina to good use at the head of affairs as he took the field of runners along for the majority of the two-and-a-half-mile contest. Eventual winner Thunder Rock settled into a nice rhythm back in third and always looked well placed by Sean Bowen, who was partnering the son of Shirocco for the first time.
The pace began to lift and although Thunder Rock made a mistake at the third last, he continued to make smooth progress, picking up smartly to take up the running over the final flight, before staying on strongly to score by three and a half lengths with Mahler Mission back in second.
Bill Baxter finished a further ten lengths away in third.
Winning trainer Olly Murphy said: "He's a horse with a big engine. I came here thinking that if he didn't win, he would probably go back over hurdles. He is not the most robust horse in the world, but he's got a big heart, and he wants it - and when a horse wants it, you're three-quarters of the way there.
"I discussed the Coral Gold Cup with Max [McNeil], but I thought a 20-runner handicap probably wouldn't be for him just yet.
"He was rated 146 and I imagine he'll be the guts of 150 after today so he's a horse that probably wants to step up into open-graded company. There's a 2m4f Grade 2 at Ascot over Christmas and he could go for something like that and see how we go.
"It's very early to be talking about the Ryanair [Chase, at The Cheltenham Festival] but this is the first step up the ladder and he'll keep chasing for the time being. He's a gritty horse and I'd love to have another 10 like him because he has a fantastic attitude."
Winning jockey Sean Bowen added: "I missed three out but on the whole, his jumping was very good and the minute I gave him a squeeze from the back of three out, I was back on it. I never really had a moment's worry.
"He jumped really well and straight off. He winged the first and we were straight into a rhythm. I wouldn't see any issue with fences and that is definitely his trip for now."
Max McNeill, who owns Thunder Rock in partnership with Ian Dale, continued: "It was a bit of a Cup Final for him today in terms of where do we go.
"You're standing at the station; could we go left or right. Could we stick over hurdles if he didn't run well today or were we going to keep over fences.
"He missed the third last a bit, but I think on that performance he's going to have to stay over fences. He's an exciting prospect, he really is."