Imperial Cup: Victorious Victram raises Irish hopes

The Irish laid down a marker here yesterday in the traditional skirmish ahead of the forthcoming battles in the Cotswolds. Victram, trained by the suitably-named Adrian McGuinness, lasted home by a neck off bottom-weight to land the Imperial Cup, and if he is one of the footsoldiers his success bodes well for the crack troops this week. McGuinness concurs. "I think," he said with twinkling understatement, "that the boys have a strong hand."

Victram, an 8-1 shot, appeared in the thick of the action between the last two obstacles and, under determined handling by a 5lb-claimer, Andrew Lynch, repelled the late thrust of the Gary Moore stablemates Dusky Warbler (20-1) and Verasi (33-1). It was a fine comeback for the 21-year-old on his first ride after a 10-week lay-off with a broken arm.

McGuinness trains just 12 horses near the beach at Lusk, 10 miles from Dublin airport. Versatile Victram, who won last year's Irish Lincoln over a mile on the Flat, is the star, and made up for his disappointing run as favourite for the Pierse Hurdle at Leopardstown in January, when he was pulled up. "He banged a leg when he hit the first," said McGuinness. "He was sore and swollen, but not lame, and five days in the sea put it right. I thought there was a big handicap in him and although I agree that Irish horses tend to be rated harshly in Britain, they got it about right with this one."

Even the 4lb penalty for yesterday's win was never going to get Victram into Friday's County Hurdle, so the £75,000 bonus offered by bookmakers Sunderlands should the Imperial Cup winner score at Cheltenham will remain unclaimed. The Festival finale, though, is the target of Dusky Warbler, cut from 20-1 to 10-1 after his sterling effort.

Killaghy Castle is bound for Cheltenham, too, but not this year. The six-year-old won the Grade Three handicap hurdle designed for horses bred to be chasers of the future and certainly qualifies; for the 1972 Gold Cup winner, Glencaraig Lady, is his great-aunt. "We'll probably put him away for next year now," said his trainer, Nick Gifford, after the bay powered up the hill to beat Sharajan by three lengths, "and I'd hope we'll be talking about one of the Festival novice chases this time next year."

The Findon handler reported Straw Bear, his candidate for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle on Tuesday, in prime nick, a fact underlined by the victory of his galloping companion. "He and Killaghy Castle work together," he said, "and I know which one goes the better." Gifford's wish for easy ground is set to be answered, with up to half an inch of rain expected before Tuesday. The going is currently good, good to soft in places.

The health of Afsoun, one of the market leaders for the Triumph Hurdle on Friday, is under a watching brief. The four-year-old was in dull mode yesterday morning after failing to clear his manger overnight, and although trainer Nicky Henderson has not yet pressed the panic button he was keen to stop the pre-Festival rumour mill spinning.

"He's done all his work so there are no worries on that score," he said, "but it is unlike him not to scoff the lot, and he was quiet as well, which is also unusual. We'll be keeping an eye on him for the next couple of days." Bookmaker reaction was as muted as the horse; he remains at around 5-1 third favourite.

Twenty-eight horses, including all the major players, stood their ground for the Gold Cup at yesterday's five-day declaration stage. The safety limit is 24 and the final field will be assembled on Wednesday.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops
films
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'
TVGrace Dent thinks we should learn to 'hug a Hooray Henry', because poshness is an accident of birth
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
art

Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax

Arts and Entertainment
Convicted art fraudster John Myatt
art

News
The two-year-old said she cut off her fringe because it was getting in her eyes
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Sales Manager

£60k - 80k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game