It was a hugely successful end to the racing week for Wiltshire trainer Emma Lavelle at Newbury as her up and coming chaser De Rasher Counter scored in the £245,000 Ladbrokes Trophy Chase, just a day after Paisley Park cemented his place as Britain’s best staying hurdler with victory in the Long Distance Hurdle.
In a race many now describe as being behind only the Grand National in terms of staying handicap chase races in Britain, De Rasher Counter showed that his handicap mark of 149 pre-race was way off as he hit the front fully four fences from home before staying on for a very impressive victory.
A True Victory for Stamina
Before the tapes went up all the talk had been about superstar trainer Nicky Henderson and his four strong team including ante post favourite Ok Corral, but the Lambourn handler could do no better than fourth this time as his Beware The Bear (25/1) came home best of his quartet under Jeremiah McGrath.
With Ok Corral weak in the betting all morning, Colin Tizzard’s West Approach had been the one for money and he eventually went off the 13/2 favourite, though he succumbed to a blunder at the seventh and fell out of contention.
Other well-fancied runners such as Cabaret Queen and On The Blindside were barely sighted on a day it appeared best to come from way off the pace.
Dingo Dollar, a 12/1 chance for Alan King and the leader for most of the way, faired best of the front-runners in coming home fifth but the second, third and fourth; The Conditional (20/1), Elegant Escape (15/2) and the aforementioned Beware The Bear were all held-up to make their challenges and all grabbed very valuable cheques for their places.
Their running style was in fact what made De Rasher Counter’s performance in victory all the more impressive given that he was never far away from the lead under young 5lb claimer Ben Jones.
Tracking the leaders and in fact moving upsides them at the 15th of twenty-one fences, De Rasher Counter was showing great stamina but it was thought for a while that the 12/1 chance would have to give way at some point to those coming from behind.
Instead he was pushed into the lead with four to jump by Jones and despite the challenges coming from everywhere with seemingly fresher horses arriving off the pace, he was punched out and stayed on incredibly well to eventually score by one-and-a-half lengths.
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More to Come from Lavelle Team
That victory capped a terrific week for both trainer and jockey after they combined on Wednesday to win at Hereford, the double marking Jones’ 24th victory of the season and Lavelle’s 19th but it has been about quality for the handler, not quantity.
After Paisley Park’s win in Friday’s Long Distance Hurdle confirmed him as Britain’s best staying hurdler, hardening his position at the head of the market for the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, De Rasher Counter’s win was further proof as if it were needed of Emma Lavelle’s undoubted qualities as a trainer.
More is sure to come from this horse, and Lavelle, and it will be incredibly interesting to see where he turns up next having taken what is sure to be quite a rise in the weights.