Racing-Index Blog

Cheltenham flops were both sick horses

26th March, 2012 - Posted by Elliot Slater - Comments Off

David Pipe’s Grand Crus and the Jessica Harrington-trained Steps to Freedom, both of who were strongly fancied for their respective races at the recent Cheltenham Festival but ran way below expectations, have been found to have been sick horses and have been presented with valid excuses for their disappointing efforts, writes Elliot Slater.

After being well fancied in the horse racing tips Grand Crus was sent off a well backed 6/5 favourite for the Grade 1 RSA Chase having looked outstanding in his first three outings over fences which included a facile win in the Feltham Novices Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day. The Horse racing betting news had even tipped him as the banker of the whole meeting.

After travelling well enough for the first two-thirds of the contest the grey was niggled along by Tom Scudamore after the third last and was a spent forced before the final fence, eventually trailing home just fourth of the nine runners behind Nicky Henderson’s brave Bob’s Worth.

Pipe now reports that the previous year’s World Hurdle runner-up scoped badly after the race and clearly was not himself. Connections have decided to call it quits for this season and are already looking forward to bringing the gelding back for all the top three-mile events next term.

Steps To Freedom was strongly fancied by many Irish fans for the opening Supreme Novices Hurdle having been unbeaten in his three previous starts over hurdles, including a brave defeat of Prospect Wells at Cheltenham in November. The son of Statue of Liberty was never travelling well in the big race though and was soon driven along at the rear of the field and was unable to get into the action, eventually coming home a distant 13th in the contest won by Donald McCain’s Cinders And Ashes. On returning home to Ireland he was found to be coughing and to have an infection, but Harrington believes he will be fully recovered soon and could take his chance at either Fairyhouse or the Punchestown Festival before the season is over.

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