/ Racing

Fast lands Sandown touch for Nicholls

Updated: Saturday, 07 Jan 2012 20:59

Hold Fast - impressed when running away with the 32Red Handicap Chase under Ruby Walsh
Hold Fast - impressed when running away with the 32Red Handicap Chase under Ruby Walsh

Hold Fast landed a bit of a touch in the 32Red Handicap Chase for Paul Nicholls.

Having opened in the betting a 6-1, the former Howard Johnson-trained eight-year-old was sent off the 7-2 favourite.

He was 12lb better off with Rileyev for a seven-length beating at Newbury earlier in the season and as that rival toiled, it was left to All For Free to fly up the hill to pass Tanks For That for second, seven lengths away.

Nicholls last won the race in 2008 with none other than Master Minded.

Walsh said: "He met the first of the Railway fences wrong but managed to get over them in one piece. He was quite clever.

"He travelled well across to the Pond fence and really stayed from there."

Owner Graham Wylie said: "It's a pleasant surprise because relatively speaking he's still a novice and he hasn't had a lot of racing because he's had problems with his feet.

"Ruby said he still felt like he was learning and hopefully there's some more progress to come.

"I'll leave the plans up to Paul but he might get two and a half miles."

Earlier in the day Kells Belle (2-1) claimed the 32Red.com Mares' Hurdle and her trainer, Nicky Henderson, felt it was mission complete for his charge.

This Listed prize increased Kells Belle's stud value immensely and it had been on the trainer's radar for some time.

Victory looked unlikely turning for home as Kim Bailey's 13-8 favourite Kaffie was clear and going well, but Barry Geraghty managed to wind his mount up and she pulled a length and three-quarters ahead on the run-in.

"This was absolutely the plan," said Henderson.

"I don't think she's going to win a David Nicholson but it was very important to get her some black type. She'll jump a fence next season before she goes to stud."

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