Racing: Prince gives Hobbs his century

Supreme Prince earned his owner a regal reward and handed his handler his hundredth victory of the season with an impressive triumph in the £100,000 Vodafone Gold Cup at Newbury yesterday.

Supreme Prince earned his owner a regal reward and handed his handler his hundredth victory of the season with an impressive triumph in the £100,000 Vodafone Gold Cup at Newbury yesterday.

Philip Hobbs's 7-1 shot, a course and distance winner on Hennessy day back in November, was up with the leaders for most of the two miles and four furlongs, and took up the running three out when 10-3 favourite Buckby Lane proved one-paced. A last-minute challenge from the 25-1 outsider Horus, who came bursting out of the pack on the run-in to push the leader to a half-length victory, may have worried Supreme Prince's backers, but apparently failed to rattle the man on his back.

"When the other horse came to his girth he picked up again," Paul Flynn reported. "He jumped well and he travelled well, although I wouldn't have wanted them to have gone much quicker. He likes to do it on the bridle and if you have to take him off it early on, he wouldn't be the happiest horse. Things went his way today and he was very good."

Hobbs was also pleased with his charge's performance, but ambivalent about his Cheltenham chances. "We thought he was a very good horse a couple of years ago, but he's never quite got up to the heights we had hoped for," he said. "We might be tempted to run him with a penalty in the Mildmay Of Flete before he is reassessed."

Ireland's Festival hopes were also tempered yesterday, when Harchibald, the 4-1 favourite for the Champion Hurdle, failed to fire in a workout at Navan. "I was disappointed," said his trainer, Noel Meade. "We'll have to see how he is tomorrow."

For those looking past Prestbury Park to an April after-noon at Aintree, however, there was both bad and good news. On the downside, the trainer Paul Nicholls reported that a leg injury would put the well-backed Grand National entry Silver Birch out of action for the rest of the season.

But connections of last year's winner, Amberleigh House, said they were del-ighted with his prep in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster. The 13-year-old had no chance of catching the eventual winner, Run For Paddy, over an inadequate three miles, but stayed on comfortably to finish seventh of eight. Ginger McCain's veteran charge is 12-1 joint favourite with Clan Royal for Aintree.

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