Racing: Brave Cogent wins the argument
The pair, Dan Fortt and Dick Gilder, were jockey and owner respectively of Cogent, who defeated Cahervillahow by two and a half lengths. Gilder, one half of Pell-mell Partners, is used to racecourse success, though that makes a win like yesterday's no less sweet.
But for the 20-year-old Fortt it was an opportunity in the big-time to be grabbed with both hands. And he did. The young jockey stayed cool and let his free-running horse settle as Merry Master set off in front, and timed his challenge to perfection in the final straight to claim only the 12th win of his career.
It was only on Thursday that Cogent's trainer, Andy Turnell, decided to give the ride to Fortt who, because of his inexperience, reduces the weight his mounts carry by 7lb, replacing his stable jockey, Simon McNeill. Turnell said: 'I didn't have any doubts about Dan's ability, I just felt a bit sorry for Simon. But there's a difference between 10st 8lb and 10st 1lb, and we may just have needed it.'
The bold-jumping Merry Master gave Gee Armytage a super ride in front for much of the contest. He set off at the front with Rolling Ball (who fell at the third), but the pack had his measure down the back straight for the final time. Cogent was never out of the first four, and was led only by the Northern challenger Whispering Steel at the cross fence, the fifth last, where a mistake put paid to the favourite Black Humour's chance.
At the third last, the final open ditch, Cahervillahow was another to threaten, but Fortt knew then the race was his. Fortt said: 'He jumped it and landed running, and was in front at the second last. The race was run to suit me - he takes a pull and the strong pace helped.'
Cahervillahow, giving 13lb, was a bridesmaid once again, three lengths in front of Black Humour, who was followed in by a never-nearer Zeta's Lad, Whispering Steel and Merry Master.
Fortt, a former pony show- jumping international, has been with Turnell since he left school four years ago. His father, Brian, was on duty yesterday, driving his bus round Grays, though passengers may have had an unscheduled stop. 'He may well have pulled over and nipped into a betting shop to watch the race,' his son said.
Gilder, who shares the improving Cogent (who earned a 20-1 quote for the Cheltenham Gold Cup with his performance) and 20-odd other horses in Britain with his brother-in- law Jim Chromiak, flew in specially for the race. The pair take their syndicate name from a Shakespearian rallying cry that sums up well the spirit of jump racing. 'It's from Richard III,' explained Gilder, and declaimed: 'March on, join bravely, let us to it pell-mell. If not to heaven, then hand in hand to hell.'
Yesterday was heaven for Fortt, but perhaps nearer the other for McNeill, who took a cruncher when the day's other Pell-mell runner, Katabatic, winner of 15 races, fell for only the second time in his honourable career in the following race.
Bold Boss, having his first run for Martin Pipe, picked off the front-running Winter Squall before the last to take the Gerry Feilden Hurdle and is now 3-1 favourite from 11-2 for next Saturday's William Hill Handicap Hurdle at Sandown.
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