Racing: Azertyuiop rated above Best Mate

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The Independent Online

Tony McCoy will be forced to miss the valuable on Paddy Power Gold Cup day at Cheltenham on Saturday week after picking up a one-day ban for his use of the whip on Tresor De Mai here yesterday.

Tony McCoy will be forced to miss the valuable on Paddy Power Gold Cup day at Cheltenham on Saturday week after picking up a one-day ban for his use of the whip on Tresor De Mai here yesterday.

Tresor De Mai, a 12-1 shot, won by a short-head after a tough struggle with runner-up Fox In The Box in the three-mile handicap chase.

Earlier, in the Haldon Gold Cup, McCoy finished second on Seebald as Azertyuiop showed he will be a tough nut to crack in the major two-mile chases this season.

Defying top weight on his reappearance, the reigning Queen Mother Champion Chase hero beat six rivals to cement his position as ante-post favourite to record back-to-back victories at Cheltenham in March.

Bookmakers were impressed with the five-length defeat of Seebald, who was getting 18lb. Ladbrokes cut the Paul Nicholls-trained seven-year-old to 6-4 from 2-1 for Festival glory.

Azertyuiop led at the second-last in the hands of Ruby Walsh and the 6-4 favourite went on to win comfortably. His stablemate Kadarann was a further six lengths away in third. Two other former Champion Chase winners, Flagship Uberalles and Edredon Bleu, trailed home fifth and sixth respectively.

British Horseracing Board jumps handicapper Phil Smith later put Azertyuiop ahead of triple Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Best Mate as the best chaser in training in Britain.

"You can crab as much as you like about how poorly some of the others in the race performed today, but I view Seebald as a very good yardstick to judge Azertyuiop by," Smith said. "Best Mate is on 175, but after today's performance Azertyuiop will go higher, to a rating in the high 170s."

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