The Nicky Henderson-trained Champ (4/1) flew up the hill to catch Minella Indo and 5/2 favourite Allaho just before the line in the £175,000 Grade 1 RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase, giving the trainer his third winner of the week and a record 67th succcess at The Festival.
The eight-year-old had it all to do approaching the final fence, but thundered past both Allaho (5/2 favourite) and Minella Indo (3/1), defeating the latter by a length, with the Willie Mullins-trained favourite a further length behind in third.
Champ, ridden by Barry Geraghty for owner J P McManus, was named after former multiple champion jockey A P McCoy. The King’s Theatre eight-year-old was sent off at odds of 4/1.
Winning trainer Henderson said of Champ:
“He’s a horse with a wonderful temperament and attitude, and to be fair his fall [at Cheltenham on January 1] didn’t do that much damage. It was a horrible fall though. We really wanted to have another race but there was nowhere to go. He did have a racecourse school, and to be fair Nico [de Boinville] has done a lot of work with him, particularly in the indoor school, even yesterday morning he jumped half a dozen poles. Everyone has worked hard, it goes without saying, but Nico takes a lot of credit with this one.”
2.10pm RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)
1 Champ (J P McManus) Nicky Henderson 8-11-04 Barry Geraghty 4/1
2 Minella Indo (Barry Maloney) Henry de Bromhead 7-11-04 Rachael Blackmore 3/1
3 Allaho (Cheveley Park Stud) Willie Mullins IRE 6-11-04 Paul Townend 5/2f
Distances: 1, 1