Fuji Flight gives out-of-form Venetia Williams a welcome winner at Newbury as Cheltenham Festival looms | Race News
Venetia Williams enjoyed a welcome winner ahead of the Cheltenham Festival as Fuji Flight hit the mark in the BetVictor Play Pick 6 For Free Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase at Newbury.
Williams has made no secret of the fact that some of its riders are currently under bad weather, with the manager having fielded just two winners out of 22 riders in the previous 14 days.
However, Fuji Flight (3/1) was clearly in top form as they eventually took the lead from Charlie Deutsch before following up with a length and a quarter winner over Major Dundee.
Williams was delighted to have another winner on the board and reports that Cheltenham hope to have avoided any on-court illness so far.
She said: “He has a short, choppy stride and doesn’t convince you that he can do anything fast, and he was going all out and needed every yard today.
“We have a lot of dirty noses so it will shorten the return journey a bit. But they are not dirty and Cheltenham’s main horses have thankfully kept away, although you should beware of one slipping through the report.”
The Press Man appears to be the leading contender for the Williams Festival, and the manager added: “The Press Man won the Dipper but the Turners are a yard and a half shorter. The decision will be based on the pitch but it looks like one three mile.”
Indy Five set for Newbury return
David Dennis is planning a return to Newbury for Indy Five (7/2) next month after pulling away from rivals in the Play Pick 6 And Win £1000 Veterans’ Handicap Chase.
The 12-year-old was paired with Stan Sheppard and the pair were firmly in control last time out, coming home nine-and-a-half lengths clear of Saint Xavier with Prime Venture in third.
Indy Five is now ready for the BetVictor Conditional Jockeys’ Veterans’ Handicap Chase back at the Berkshire venue on April 2.
Dennis said: “He has a very high cruising speed and when he gets into a rhythm he can be very difficult to hold back.
“He qualifies for the Veterans conditional jockeys final here next month. Jack Andrews will ride him as he couldn’t make weight today.
“He’s our eighth winner this season – he’ll run soft, but not bottomless like he was when he went to Sandown.”
Punctuation (11/8 favourite) made it two over two for Fergal O’Brien and Paddy Brennan in the Download The BetVictor app novice handicap hurdle.
Bred and previously owned by The Queen, Punctuation was a 110,000 guineas buy at the end of 2020, but after failing to win in four starts for Charlie Longsdon last season, owner Grant Leon sent him to O’Brien, which brought him back on the winning track.
He worked hard to beat Irish Hill by a length and a quarter, but O’Brien, who also won the Greatwood Gold Cup with Paint A Dream, took the positive from his victory.
He said: “Paddy said a lot of things went wrong and he got bumped and he still won. I think he’s on a high but he’s got huge action and must dig into the ground. There is no plan.”
Brennan added: “Sometimes you get it wrong and you still win. Like before he made a few mistakes and I had very little confidence to get this far but he pulled me out of it. a hole.”
Bold Plan followed up their win at Market Rasen last month with victory in the BetVictor Non-Runner-No-Bet At Cheltenham Seniors’ Handicap Hurdle.
Trained by Evan Williams and ridden by his daughter Isabel, the 17/2 shooter defied track concerns to a fierce three-quarter-length triumph over Dorking Boy.
Winning owner William Rucker said: “We weren’t sure the track would suit him because it’s a long straight and easy to get lost in, but he proved us wrong, luckily. We took it out of the field point to point and I’ve had it for a long time.”
Black Poppy fended off a determined challenge from Straw Fan Jack to claim back-to-back wins in the Make Your Best Bet At BetVictor Handicap Hurdle at Newbury.
Kerry Lee’s charge had to dig deep to triumph at Hereford in late January, heading for the line before finally pushing back in front for a neck verdict and it was a similar story in Berkshire.
Kicked out of the 6/4 favorite, Black Poppy jumped last with a slight advantage over Straw Fan Jack, who had failed to shine in his last three races.
However, the runner-up gnawed that lead to the line, even appearing to get ahead at one point, only for Black Poppy to answer jockey Brendan Powell’s insistence again and prevail by a short header.
The Visit Irish Store Sales With ITM Open National Hunt Flat Race final went to Weveallbeencaught (100/30) for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and jockey Jordan Nailor.