The champion jockey spent hours in the sauna to get down to one of his lightest weights of the season, 10st 1lb, on Cache Fleur. He said: "I was still a pound overweight, but luckily at the end he won easily enough for it not to matter. He made it easy for me, too, always travelling in a rhythm. And he jumped superbly."
Cache Fleur and Country Member were always in the leading group as Gaelstrom took over at the second fence. The mare made a gallant effort to become the first of her sex to win the jump season's last feature race, and had her field on the stretch by the second circuit. But Cache Fleur and Country Member joined her in the air three out, and it was the Pipe runner who found the ability to quicken in the closing stages.
Gaelstrom stayed on bravely for third, in front of top-weight Cogent, who was never nearer. He was followed in by Mr Boston, Fighting Words, Zeta's Lad and Grange Brake, but in a trouble-free contest the race only ever concerned the first four. Jenny Pitman's candidate Superior Finish came in last of the 11 finishers.
Cache Fleur's owner, Jersey-based Brian Kilpatrick, bought the gelding as an unbroken three-year-old in a field in Ireland. He said: "I actually went to look at another one, but while I was inspecting it Cache came up behind me and nuzzled the back of my neck, so I had to have him." The horse has proved a faithful, consistent servant; he has now won 13 times and been out of the money only four times in 35 races.
The Whitbread card is the only one in the calendar where Cheltenham and Aintree winners rub shoulders with Derby candidates, but in the Thresher Classic Trial the Epsom contenders were put in their place by 25-1-shot Pentire, who came with a sweeping run under Michael Hills on the outside to pip Singspiel by a neck.
Balliol Boy, who will next be seen out in York's Dante Stakes, led from the start and kicked on again after his rivals closed in the straight. Singspiel, eight lengths behind Celtic Swing at Ascot last year, proved the best of Sheikh Mohammed's pair and hit the front inside the final furlong, but was caught close home. The French challenger Tremplin found nothing under pressure and beat only one. Pentire, who has no Classic entries, goes next for the Dee Stakes at Chester.
One of the leading 2,000 Guineas candidates, Sri Pekan, is undergoing physiotherapy after pulling a muscle. The Paul Cole-trained colt's participation at Newmarket hinges on how he fares in a gallop on Wednesday.Reuse content