Racing: Fundamentalist's flaw puts My Will on his way to the Festival

My Will, denied victory on his last appearance because of flaws in his jumping technique, benefited from the errors of others at Cheltenham yesterday to take the afternoon's Grade Two feature, the Dipper Chase. The horse who had beaten him at Windsor two weeks previously, See You Sometime, came down at the third fence and the hot favourite Fundamentalist, who had had My Will well behind at Prestbury Park in November, went at the tenth.

But there was no question of a victory by default; as See You Sometime's trainer Seamus Mullins sagely remarked: "They are there to be jumped, aren't they?" With rank-outsider Tom Nail pulling up before the tenth, the open ditch in the back straight, only My Will and El Vaquero were left in the contest, a two-and-a-half miler for novices. My Will, well suited by the distance and easy underfoot conditions, was the first of the pair under pressure but responded to Ruby Walsh's urgings, headed his sole rival two fences from home and stayed on determinedly up the testing final hill to prevail by four lengths.

The near-black French-bred five-year-old has always been held in the highest regard by trainer Paul Nicholls and booked his ticket to the Festival with yesterday's gritty display. The two-mile novices' crown, though, has been ruled out. "He'll have a break now, and we'll look for something back here in March," said Nicholls, "but it won't be the Arkle, he's not fast enough. I was slightly worried about running him today - I didn't decide until yesterday - as he'd had a hard enough race at Windsor. But he seemed well in himself and we didn't have much to lose by giving it a go."

And quite a lot to win, a first prize of £20,300. Owner Andy Stewart added to his bank balance just over an hour later when Walsh kidded and coaxed the enigmatic Le Duc to win the day's richest race, the £23,200 two-mile, five-furlong handicap. Stewart became rather flouncy when the Irishman cried off his Le Roi Miguel to ride the same stable's Azertyuiop in the King George VI on Boxing Day, but the pair seem to have kissed and made up, to their mutual benefit. Walsh and Nicholls started 2005 in fine style with a 329-1 three-timer, for they also teamed up in the opener with Cornish Sett, whose owner Peter Hart achieved his life's ambition of a winner at Cheltenham with his first runner at the track.

The huge disappointment of the afternoon was the performance of well-backed 4-7 shot Fundamentalist, and the cheers that arose from the bookmakers at his departure seemed in poor taste, even if the first three races had gone to market leaders. The seven-year-old is an exciting talent and his uncharacteristic lack of commitment at the obstacles made uncomfortable viewing. He did not actually fall, but barely took off and gave Carl Llewellyn no chance as he crashed through the birch. Fundamentalist walked away apparently sound, but he had raced like a horse who was hurting somewhere. Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies' first reaction was to have another go sooner rather than later. "He didn't have a cut at them, which is unlike him," he said. "We'll have a look at him, but we'll have another run as soon as possible to get this out of the way."

Another of the game's quirky characters, Westender, won his first race for more than three years when he took the two-and-a-half mile hurdle. The blinkered nine-year-old, who finished second in the 2003 Champion Hurdle, was trying the distance for only the second time but took the task to his rivals as he set off in front at a brisk gallop under Timmy Murphy, leaping fluently throughout. Monkerhostin and then Big Moment tried to close, but Westender's class and, on this occasion, bravery prevailed and he had nine lengths to spare at the line.

Murphy and Pipe also made it a happy new year with a double when top-weight Korelo came from last to first to inch home in the final stride of the three-mile handicap hurdle, but it was less so for Tony McCoy, who picked up a seven-day ban for careless riding on third-placed Gotno Destination in the closing bumper.

Suggested Topics
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn