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Honeyball rewarded for rolling the dice as Blackjack produces the magic at Wincanton

3 minute read

Anthony Honeyball explained that running Blackjack Magic in the 62nd Badger Beer Handicap Chase was just an ‘afterthought’, but connections were suitably rewarded as the progressive eight-year-old kept on dourly to land the staying prize.

Trainer : Anthony Honeyball.
Trainer : Anthony Honeyball. Picture: Harry Trump/Getty Images

The Mosterton handler's contender tracked the pace throughout before pressing on into the lead with a good jump at the fourteenth fence.

Blackjack Magic rounded the turn travelling kindly in front but was chased all the time by the Paul Nicholls-trained pair Threeunderthrufive and Frodon. The latter, who landed the contest twelve months ago, soon began to feel the pinch under his welter burden of twelve stone and it quickly became a match between Blackjack Magic and Threeunderthrufive.

A slightly slicker leap over the final two fences meant Blackjack Magic had the advantage and although the 3/1 favourite Threeunderthrufive continued to chase down the 5/1 chance, all he could do was chase in vain as the Anthony Honeyball-trained runner went on to score by three lengths. Frodon battled on well once headed and finished a further fourteen lengths behind in third.

Honeyball said: "The betting had it right all morning it seems.

"We thought he would need it a bit. It was not a 17-runner affair, so we thought let him take his chance and have a round of jumping and that is what we have done.

"He wasn't really targeted like Sam Brown and Forward Plan, who were always coming here. He was just an afterthought. The options weren't there for us, but he is a novice stepping forward and we thought he might have a chance.

"The race at Uttoxeter must have worked out quite well and I think people were climbing on the back of that. His best form for us was on soft and heavy. He always held that advantage.

"I thought Threeunderthrufive would eventually pick us up just with fitness telling us on a but that was very good.

"It was a very good boost. I was worried we were going to get beat. He is obviously one to catch fresh, but he looked big and burly to me.

"We feel he wants a bit of daylight so he had to start out bit wide but he managed to come in and have a nice economical round. He was saving all the time. He has got a bit of speed to him and that enabled him to get a fill of the lungs. It is funny how it has come right for him."

An outing in the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury next month seemingly beckons for the runner-up Threeunderthrufive according to trainer Paul Nicholls, with stablemate Frodon potentially heading to Kempton Park on Boxing Day for the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase.

Nicholls said: "Threeunderthrufive ran a belter giving a bit of weight away. He is in the Coral Gold Cup off 10st 6lbs and he won't get a penalty and won't go up in the weights so that is a positive and he is likely to go there.

"He has run a cracker. He was giving more than a stone in weight to the winner. If he jumped a bit more fluently over the last two, he might have been closer. There is a big handicap in him somewhere.

"We thought all week it might be tacky enough for Frodon, but he has run a solid race to finish third. He is in the King George, and he might run in that on decent ground. He might be better off in that if there is a small field off level weights as opposed to running off a big weight in a handicap.

"Bryony said he just wants slightly better ground, but he has run a super race."

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