/ Racing

Bolster bounce back to form at Cheltenham

Updated: Saturday, 25 Jan 2014 17:07 | Comments

The Giant Bolster clears the last just ahead of Rocky Creek in the Argento Chase
The Giant Bolster clears the last just ahead of Rocky Creek in the Argento Chase

David Bridgwater's faith in The Giant Bolster was vindicated once again as his flagbearer returned from a period in the wilderness to win for the third time on Cheltenham's Festival Trials Day.

A resounding seven-length beating of Hennessy runner-up and 6-4 favourite Rocky Creek in the Argento Chase was his greatest achievement at the meeting so far, as it surpassed handicap wins in both 2011 and 2012.

The Argento is a recognised Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup trial, and as The Giant Bolster has finished second and fourth in the previous two renewals of the blue riband, Bridgwater was easily persuaded to send him back to his local course once more in March.

Despite three laboured efforts so far this term, Tom Scudamore still dashed from Doncaster to partner the 6-1 chance, who reaped the benefit of first-time double headgear to have the Grade Two in the bag before the last.

"I said to Tom, this is emotional stuff," said Bridgwater.

"He goes so well at home and if you looked at the paper, you'd say he was a certainty.

"But I thought he was a certainty at Aintree and he unseated, and then he got beat in a handicap hurdle off 145, and how did that happen? We put a hood and visor on him, and he was in his own little world out there.

"He's back in the mix for the Gold Cup again. Something has got to finish third and fourth, and we'll be happy with that."

Paul Nicholls said of Rocky Creek: "He didn't get home and he can improve on that. I had a problem with him after the Hennessy, he missed a couple of weeks. Daryl (Jacob) got off and said he should go for the National, so we'll think about it."

Nicholls did get on the scoresheet when Lac Fontana (4-1 co-favourite) hacked up on his handicap debut in the finale.

Nick Williams plainly has a huge prospect on his hands in the impressive Le Rocher.

Initially campaigned in France, the Richard Johnson-ridden 2-1 chance put down a marker by taking the Finale Hurdle at Chepstow and took another forward step by coming well away from Kentucky Hyden and Vicenzo Mio in the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial.

Williams must now consider the Triumph itself and said: "It's not every owners' cup of tea and these owners ran one in the Triumph and it probably wasn't the right horse.

"I think this one could well be. He's handled the course and won on better ground in France, but no decision has been made."

Donald McCain's Indian Castle struck at 14-1 in the Timeform Novices' Handicap Chase.

Feltham hero Annacotty set off at the head of affairs and still had a narrow advantage under top weight approaching the last.

He was unable to quite hold on, with Indian Castle doing just enough on the run-in to get home a length and three-quarters in front.

"I was disappointed he didn't finish his race off the last day at Wetherby, but he looked a different horse today," said McCain.

"I know the owners would be keen to come back for the Festival, maybe for the novices' handicap or something, I don't know."

Wishfull Thinking rolled back the years by landing the freebets.com Trophy Chase he last won three years ago.

Sent off at 9-1 against 3-1 favourite Double Ross, seeking a Cheltenham Grade Three hat-trick, the veteran showed his old sparkle under the in-form Johnson to edge Sam Twiston-Davies on the run-in.

Trainer Philip Hobbs said: "It's amazing, he's 11 and we still really don't know if he's a two or three-miler.

"I suppose it's back to conditions races now. Aintree is ideal, while there's still the place money in the Champion Chase and the handicaps here to consider."

Red Sherlock (9-4) maintained his unbeaten career record with a gutsy display in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle.

David Pipe has always thought highly of the son of Lady Cricket, who won some good races for Pipe's father, Martin.

Scudamore was a little short of room at the bottom of the hill but managed to extricate himself and it soon became a battle with the Irish raider Rathvinden.

Despite Barry Geraghty looking confident on Willie Mullins' raider, he never closed the gap to less than a length and Red Sherlock pulled away to win by two and a half at the line.

Pipe said: "He keeps progressing. I thought the market had it right and Willie's was the horse to beat. He stays well and might get further so I'd imagine he'll have entries over two-five (Neptune) and three miles (Albert Bartlett) at the Festival."

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