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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor