Alan delighted with Edwardstone despite defeat
When you beat the champion two-mile chaser in the Cheltenham dress-rehearsal, yet get pipped in the last stride by a 14-1 shot, defeat can be hard to swallow.
But as Alan dissected Edwardstone‘s agonising head reverse by Editeur Du Gite in the rescheduled Grade 1 Clarence House Chase at the home of steeplechasing on Satruday – odds-on favourite Energumene was only third – he found plenty of positives in Edwardstone’s performance in what after all was merely the dress-rehearsal.
And Alan promptly confirmed that last year’s Arkle hero would return to Prestbury Park in March for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Remember, Energumene was turned over by Shishkin in this race last year, yet he reversed the places in emphatic fashion in the Queen Mother Chase at the Festival.
Alan is not predicting that history will repeat itself, but he was anything but down-hearted as he stood in the enclosure reserved for the runner-up.
He said”I am not happy to have got beat, but I am very happy with the run. Edwardstone was just a bit fresh and started to tank down the hill. Tom (Cannon) said he had to bring him back just a wee bit.
“The horse has probably used a bit of energy up getting there, but, though at the last I thought we might go away and win, full marks to the winner.
“However, I am pleased because I needed to get this run into him in order to have him spot on for the March meeting.”
Edwardstone, who was settled early on towards the rear of the six-strong field, actually wore down the trailblazing Editeur Du Gite after the final fence before in a real head-bobber to the line Gary Moore’s horse inched ahead again in the shadow of the post.
Alan, who has scrapped plans to give Edwardstone another run in the Game Spirit Chase in a fortnight’s time, added:”He will go straight to the Festival. I did not want to wait for Newbury, because if that meeting had been abandoned I would have been in real trouble, so that is why we came here.
“Edwardstone is fit enough, but he thrives on being active and needed this race to take the edge off him. Kempton over Christmas was a virtual non-event for us as he only got to the fifth and that did nothing for him, really.
“On reflection, Edwardstone was just a bit gassy today. I did stress to Tom beforehand that this was not the be-all and end-all, so I am perfectly satisfied.”
Energumene, who did not jump with his customary boldness, was beginning to struggle when he walked through the second last, which he needed to fly to keep him in the argument, but it seems that bookmakers can sometimes be a forgiving bunch and they can’s split him and Edwardstone in their ante-post market for the Queen Mother, the pair both being offered around 2-1.
Put March 15 in your diary, and doubtless I’ll get plenty of readers reminding me “Beware the Ides of March”.